‘All of our set’

Regina Shober Gray by [Edward L.] Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
Even on holiday the diarist Regina Shober Gray[1] could not escape anxieties about the health of family members – indeed, her sister Lizzie was beginning a fatal decline, and would die later in the year.

Marion, Massachusetts, Thursday, 24 August 1865: A clear cold autumn day, which makes us bundle up in shawls enough for an Arab Sheik! I came back from Boston, in the rain storm of Tuesday – and did not bring Ella G[ray].[2] Her cough is troublesome again and her mother[3] is afraid of the dampness here – which has certainly been very chill and penetrating for the last two weeks; a very different air from the soft, balmy, almost oppressive warmth of the earlier part of our visit.

Lizzie Shober[4] is better – but I think she and Mary [Shober][5] will be glad to get away from here. They are engaged this morning making a cross and triangle of white flower and evergreens for the funeral of a young sea-captain, who died a few weeks since of dysentery in some West Indian port – he leaves a young wife not 20 years old and a babe. Was a fine young fellow and his death excites a great deal of regret & sympathy in the place. His body arrived yesterday, and is to [be] buried with masonic ceremonies to-day. Miss Tallman is making a wreath for the same use.

Frank & Sam [Gray][6] left us yesterday p.m. and will start for Umbagog on Friday, Ed. Gray[7] accompanying them. The crowd at the hotel is breaking up – every day some party drops off; and by the last of next week all of our set will be gone. We shall not get our trip to New Bedford, for which I am sorry. But Mary & I are intending a sail to the Light House from a sort of sense of duty – as one of the resources of the place, we ought to avail of; of course we shall be sea-sick.

…Mary & I are intending a sail to the Light House from a sort of sense of duty – of course we shall be sea-sick.

We were to have gone yesterday, but the boat was engaged to a large party for a trip to Falmouth – they had a dreadfully rough time – ladies frightened and sea sick and drenched to the skin, waves sweeping the little barque from stem to stern. They really had an alarming and most uncomfortable experience, being stranded on a sand-bar for three hours in this rough sea.

Sunday, 27 August 1865: Our last Sunday in “Sippican”; we all go home on Tuesday p.m., and oh what a pleasant comfortable home it is to go to – and what a precious welcome awaits us there from the “beloved physician”[8] we have deserted so long.

The crowd at the Hotel has thinned out greatly – but leaving happily the pleasantest still there. The last three weeks have been pleasanter for Mary and the young people than the first three. They made a nice bright circle among themselves. We have missed Frank & Sam and Robt. Peabody much these few days past…

The crowd at the Hotel has thinned out greatly – but leaving happily the pleasantest still there.

Tonight there will be the sacred concert at the Hotel; tomorrow if possible we shall run down to the Light House – and then pack up for “home, sweet home!” Frank, Sam, & Ned and supposed to be at the Grafton Notch [in Maine] to-day. Philad. letters bring news of the death of little Minnie Worthington, the babe whose birth about a year ago cost the life of its mother, my cousin Mary W.[9] Poor little thing, it is safe in the “Father’s” bosom – even those who love it best would hardly ask otherwise for it – so soon, so sweetly sheltered.

On Thursday we drove to Merry’s Pond, a charming drive to a lovely sheet of water – the next day a party, three wagons, went off under Lizzie Shober’s guidance…

Continued here.


[1] Hedwiga Regina Shober (1818–1885) was married to Dr. Francis Henry Gray 1844–80. Entries from the Hedwiga Regina Shober Gray diary, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.

[2] Dr. Gray’s niece Ellen Gray (1854–1883).

[3] Sarah Frances Loring (1811–1892) married William Gray in 1834.

[4] The diarist’s sister Elizabeth Kearney Shober (1821–1865).

[5] Their sister Mary Morris Shober (1816–1873).

[6] Mrs. Gray’s elder sons Francis Calley Gray (1846–1904) and Samuel Shober Gray (1849–1926).

[7] Sallie Gray’s son – and Ella Gray’s brother – Edward Gray (1851–1907).

[8] The diarist’s husband, who had spent the summer weeks at home in Boston.

[9] Mary Morris Kimber (1832–1864), who married Dr. Joshua Husbands Worthington in 1860.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

3 thoughts on “‘All of our set’

  1. Death was so frequent not so long ago–and still is in many places today–and at every level of society. As I do my own family history, I have often wondered how they bore it, year after year. Deep faith, I suspect.

  2. I look forward to these posts from Regina’s diary – do you plan to collect them in a book? Also, I was wondering if you know how Regina was educated?

    1. Thanks, KT! I am editing the first six years of the diary, covering the Civil War period, and hope to publish it in a single volume. Mrs. Gray often mentions the girls with whom she attended school in Philadelphia — I can’t recall off-hand the name of the school, which was that of the schoolmistress (and so, I think, no longer in existence).

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