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Guide to the Hardy Family Papers, 1875-1921

Collection number: MC 235

Size: 4 boxes (1.33 cu.ft.)

About the Hardy Family papers

Hardy Family

The Hardy family of Nelson, New Hampshire, had its origins in seventeenth-century Massachusetts. In 1779, Noah Hardy, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and the ancestor for the individuals described in this collection, moved to Packersfield, New Hampshire. In keeping with family tradition, Noah kept busy as a farmer, cooper, and faithful church steward; in 1811, he was awarded a deaconship. About that time, the residents of Packersfield elected to change the town name to “Nelson,” presumably after the British admiral Horatio Nelson. Noah’s descendants in Nelson took up such occupations as farmer, captain, deacon, pastor, minister, and schoolteacher well into the early twentieth century.

Noah Webster Hardy and Maria Rollins Stone

Noah Webster Hardy (1820-1898) married Maria Rollins Stone (1821-1880) in 1846. They joined Nelson’s First Congregational Church that same year. Between 1848 and 1865, Mariah gave birth to five children. Their second child, Sarah Melville, died at age twenty-one, and very little is known about her. The collection contains letters written by each of their other four surviving children, however: Webster Oliver (1848-1928), Rosette Maria (1856-1943), Edwin Noah (1861-1950), and Carrie Elizabeth (1865-1947). After the death of Maria in 1880, Noah married Sarah E. Wilson (d. 1900); the collection includes some letters by her.

Noah was active in public affairs, serving in various positions throughout his life, including town agent, selectman, representative, Justice of the Peace, State Justice, Census Enumerator, Director of the State Agricultural Society, and as a member of the Republican State Committee. He also published a number of articles on agricultural improvement. His farm spanned nine-hundred acres and included sheep, cattle, bees, and apple and sugar trees.

Webster Oliver Hardy and Mary E. Putnam

The firstborn son of Noah and Maria Hardy, “Web” (1848-1928) went on to become a physician after attending Boston University and Harvard Medical College. He married Mary E. Putnam of Boston (1848-1928) in 1876 and had four children by her. Web’s successful physician’s practice in Winchester, New Hampshire, was terminated by an illness that affected his hearing. Soon after, he and his wife Mary bought and managed a bakery business near Boston. “Dr. Hardy was an intellectual type,” A History of Nelson, New Hampshire (Keene, New Hampshire: The Sentinel Printing Company, Inc., 1968) reports, “had a fine sense of humor, and a talent for writing, especially poetry.”

Rosette Maria Hardy Barker and Thaddeus W. Barker

“Rose” wrote many letters that kept Edwin apprised of his family’s well-being and other matters while he lived in Quincy. She married the Honorable Thaddeus W. Barker (d. 1918). The couple had four children, all of whom died young. Their last child, their first and only son, lived to the age of four.

Edwin Noah Hardy and Nellie May Severy Hardy

Edwin studied at Amherst College and then at Hartford Theological Seminary. He would later earn a Ph.D. at Boston University. When he married Nellie May Severy (1867-1961) of Westboro, Massachusetts, in October of 1890, Edwin was at his first pastorate in South Boston, Massachusetts. Soon after his marriage, Edwin became the pastor at the First Congregational Church in Quincy, Massachusetts. He and Nellie had four children, one of whom died in infancy. The three that lived were Noah Phillips (b. 1892), Miriam (b. 1898), and Christine Nellie (b. 1902).

Carrie Elizabeth Hardy and Alfred Luther Struthers

Carrie lived at home with her parents as a young adult. That changed, however, when she married the Reverend Alfred Luther Struthers (1860-1947) in May of 1890. Struthers had been a fellow classmate with her brother Edwin at Amherst College, and he first met Carrie when he came to visit Edwin’s home in Nelson, New Hampshire. Struthers worked for a time in the early 1890s at the City Mission of Minneapolis, a missionary training institute, though his work appeared to have been more along the lines of fundraising and accounting than of active instruction. The couple had four children, one of whom, Parke Hardy Struthers, became the editor of A History of Nelson, New Hampshire, 1767-1967(Keene, New Hampshire: The Sentinel Printing Company, Inc., 1968). Carrie’s letters to her brother Edwin range from her pre-marital to marital life.

William Prescott Hardy

William (b. 1862) was the son of George Granville and Mary Stevens Hardy, the brother and sister-in-law, respectively, of Noah Webster Hardy. William’s parents did not outlive his tenth birthday, however. From then on, he lived in the household of his uncle Noah. Like Edwin, William went to Amherst College and to Hartford Theological Seminary. His attendance explains why some of the letters from Noah and Maria in the early years are addressed to “Ed” and “Will” at school. Later, William would become a Congregational minister and would serve parishes in California. While living on the West Coast, however, he made many trips home to visit loved ones.

About the Hardy Family Papers

The collection is primarily comprised of correspondence, containing approximately 720 letters and totaling well over 2,000 pages. The letters are organized by primary sender(s) and primary recipient(s). A miscellaneous folder at the end of the collection contains a weather diary for the year 1928, some unidentified correspondence, and an order to James Merrick of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, to repair his fences.

The letters describe an extended white Northern family possessed of formal education, great literacy, and religious activity from the middle to late nineteenth century. Scholars of American religious life, education, courtship and romance, as well as those interested in rural New Hampshire and New England, would be particularly interested in the collection’s contents. Since the Hardy men were a mobile group, historians of American travel might also have some interest in the correspondence, though the letters are not always particularly descriptive of the actual means of travel. Alfred Struthers appears to be an exception, and he has a few letters that detail his birding and hunting expeditions. When recounting a canoeing and duck-hunting expedition with a fellow pastor in Minnesota, for instance, Struthers wrote on September 11, 1893, of the night’s “howling wolves and hoohing and screeching owls [who] did not disturb [but] simply added romance.” His account of an outing in the Moosehead Lake region of Maine, dated November 4, 1894, might also merit some study.

Above all, however, the collection is perhaps most notable for its insights into religious and ministerial life in late nineteenth-century America. Few correspondents provide these revelations better than Edwin Noah Hardy. His letters to his parents while at Amherst College reveal a precocious youth who felt called to God’s ministerial work at an early age. “I find each year more satisfaction and happiness in the study of Gods word and His dealings with His people,” Edwin wrote home on January 17, 1885, “and I think He has some where a work for me to do.” Many of Edwin’s letters in the collection were written during his pastorate at the First Congregational Church in Quincy, Massachusetts. Accordingly, they speak of faith, sermons, and other religious concerns. In addition, since Edwin was involved in various other ministries, the collection contains letters from such correspondents as Boston publishers of The Congregationalist, Mr. Francis E. Clark of the Boston Christian Endeavor, Lyman Abbott of the Christian Union, E. B. Sanford of the National Federation of Churches and Christian Workers, and the Rev. William H. Pheley of the Brotherhood of Andrew and Philip. Some researchers might find Edwin’s letters to Nellie especially of interest in that he confided in her more than in anyone else, offering readers a gaze into his personality. Scholars of religious life could therefore probe the relationship between Edwin’s more personal reflections in his letters to his wife and his messages from the pulpit. The letters of Edwin’s brother-in-law, the Reverend Alfred Struthers, also contains information concerning the life of a professional Christian in Reconstruction and Progressive America.

The Hardy family papers might also be useful in highlighting the cultural history of romance. Edwin’s long tours from home in the pursuit of his evangelical profession often kept him away from his beloved, and the couple’s correspondence are full of romantic sentiments. On September 22, 1887, for example, Nellie quoted from Shakespeare in a letter to Edwin that confessed her desire that “when night comes, that we be permitted to just spend our evenings together, if no more then I could be happy “in my place” and in addition receive the “good night.”’ Nellie’s letters to her distant husband could also be probed for studies of domestic gender relations. On May 6, 1888, for example, she wrote that the “happiest part of that home is the true and devoted husband in whom I can put my trust and feel so earnestly the protection he affords me.” Above all, Nellie’s letters demonstrate that she supported and encouraged her husband’s ministry even at the cost of his absence.

Some other topics discussed in the Hardy family correspondence include education and rural New England life and economics. Edwin wrote extensively of his studies, while his sister Carrie and wife Nellie were schoolteachers and wrote at length of their classes and students. In contrast, the letters of Edwin’s father, Noah Webster Hardy, take accounts of the weather, his animals, apple trees, firewood, hay, sleighs, and small town affairs. Similarly, Rosette’s letters are full of the details of family life and rural living. On January 18, 1890, she wrote to Edwin of a neighbor who bought some hay from their aunt. “He sells milk and ought to pay for his hay,” she reported, “but knowing he is a little ‘hard up’ that has been undecided whether to seek a sale there or not.”

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the University of New Hampshire.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Hardy Family papers, 1862-1928, MC 235, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Purchased from Carmen Valentino (Accession number:2011.05)

Collection Contents

Series I: Edwin and Parents, 1877-1900

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 Noah Webster to Edwin and other children
Box 1, Folder 2 Noah Webster to Edwin and other children
Box 1, Folder 3 Noah Webster to Edwin and other children
Box 1, Folder 4 Maria S. H. to Edwin, Rose, and Carrie
Box 1, Folder 5 Sarah E. Wilson to step-children
Box 1, Folder 6 Edwin to his father and step-mother
Box 1, Folder 7 Edwin to his father and step-mother

Series II: Edwin, Nell, and Children, 1880-1921

Box 1, Folder 8 Edwin to Nell
Box 1, Folder 9 Edwin to Nell
Box 1, Folder 10 Edwin to Nell
Box 1, Folder 11 Edwin to Nell
Box 1, Folder 12 Edwin to Nell
Box 1, Folder 13 Edwin to Nell
Box 1, Folder 14 Edwin to Nell
Box 1, Folder 15 Edwin to Nell
Box 2
Box 2, Folder 1 Edwin to Nell
Box 2, Folder 2 Edwin to Nell
Box 2, Folder 3 Edwin to Nell
Box 2, Folder 4 Edwin to Nell
Box 2, Folder 5 Edwin to Nell
Box 2, Folder 6 Edwin to Nell
Box 2, Folder 7 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 8 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 9 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 10 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 11 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 12 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 13 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 14 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 15 Nell to Edwin
Box 2, Folder 16 Carrie to Edwin
Box 3
Box 3, Folder 1 Children N. Phillips and Miriam to Edwin
Box 3, Folder 2 Nell to son N. Phillips
Box 3, Folder 3 Edwin and Miriam to N. Phillips

Series III: Edwin and Siblings, 1875-1917

Box 3, Folder 4 Rose to Edwin and Nell
Box 3, Folder 5 Rose to Edwin and Nell
Box 3, Folder 6 Rose to Edwin and Nell
Box 3, Folder 7 Rose to Edwin, Nell, and Miriam
Box 3, Folder 8 Carrie to Edwin and cousin Will P. Hardy
Box 3, Folder 9 Carrie to Edwin
Box 3, Folder 10 Carrie to Edwin and Nell
Box 3, Folder 11 Carrie to Edwin (and ENH family members)
Box 3, Folder 12 Webster O.H. to Edwin and various others

Series IV: Other Relatives, 1878-1908

Box 3, Folder 13 Cousin Will P. Hardy to Edwin
Box 3, Folder 14 W.W. Severy to Edwin and Nell
Box 3, Folder 15 Various NH relatives to Edwin and Nell
Box 3, Folder 16 Various NH relatives to Edwin and Nell
Box 3, Folder 17 Correspondence from various other relatives

Series V: Friends/Acquaintances and Organizations, 1882-1907

Box 4
Box 4, Folder 1 Al Struthers to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 2 Al Struthers to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 3 Al Struthers to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 4 Friends to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 5 Friends to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 6 Friends to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 7 Classmates to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 8 Boston Business to Edwin
Box 4, Folder 9 Cushing Academy to Edwin

Series VI: Quincy Parish and Other Business, 1882-1918

Box 4, Folder 10 Quincy parish to Edwin and Nell
Box 4, Folder 11 Edwin – Parish and other business
Box 4, Folder 12 Edwin – Parish and other business
Box 4, Folder 13 Edwin – Parish and other business
Box 4, Folder 14 Edwin – Parish and other business

Series VII: Miscellaneous, 1869-1928

Box 4, Folder 15 Miscellaneous items and correspondence

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