1846: William McIntyre Fletcher to Asa Fletcher, Jr.

This letter was written by William McIntyre Fletcher (1823-1904), the son of Asa Fletcher (1781-1862) and Lydia Heywood McIntire (1781-1858) of Moscow, Somerset county, Maine. William wrote the letter to his brother, Asa Fletcher, Jr. (1813-Aft1880). He wrote the letter from Pembroke, New Hampshire, where we learn he had recently closed the select school he had been teaching.

William married 1st, Lavinia Rowley (18xx-1856), and 2nd, Mrs. Sarah Ann Spittle. Lived in East Boston. Children George (b. 1854) and Lavinia (b. 1861). By the mid 1850’s, William had settled in East Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked as a ship carpenter or “ship wright.”

William’s letter contains a paragraph devoted to the wonder of mesmerism—a relatively new pseudoscience not yet well understood, that included an element of clairvoyance, among other things. If we are to believe William’s tale, his subject (a “young lady”) was able to travel from one village to another in Maine along a road quite familiar to him (but not her) and she was able to describe the scenery as they passed it with remarkable clarity and accuracy.

[Note This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published here by express consent.]

V0011094 A practictioner of Mesmerism using Animal Magnetism

A practitioner of mesmerism using animal magnetism on a woman.


Pembroke [Merrimack county, New Hampshire]
April 11th 1846

Dear Brother and friends,

I take this opportunity to write you once more and to let you know how I am getting along, whether you want to hear or not. I should think from your not writing that you did not much care about hearing from me but I shall trouble you this once. I had a very good success in my school last winter and gave general satisfaction. I calculated to have made a visit home after I closed my school and should have done so had not some events transpired over which I had no control that hindered me from so doing and I should have been extremely happy to have visited my friends in old Moscow, and in fact there is no place on Earth that so many endearing recollections cluster around as ones native place And when fond recollections reverts to the bygone days were I, in all the innocence of youth, used to roam over the hills of my native country and used to enjoy the society of my young associates, the tear of sorrow will intrinsically flow to think that it is possible that I never shall see those places in this world. Be that as it may, I am resigned to the will of Providence.

Tell Mother not to trouble herself too much about me for that will do me no good and herself a great deal of harm, but I have to confess that I trouble myself too much about her for I think there has not a day passed over my head since I left home but I have thought of her and her welfare. When I shall be at home is unknown to me. I have commenced a great undertaking of late and if I accomplish it, it will take me a number of years. I don’t see fit to let you know what it is at preset but you will find out  some day. I do not know where Amos is now but I suppose that he is somewhere in Massachusetts and likely you know where he is better than I do.

Write to me without fail as soon as you receive this for you must know that I want to hear from you for I have not heard a word from any of my friends in Moscow since last fall. Now write me all the news; write how business is down there and how much damage the freshet has done, and all about the young folks. Let me know what Andrew is up to this spring and if Albert is married and all the rest of the nonsense that you can think of for I have lonely hours enough [and reading letters is] the best way I can fix it.

I have got the art of Mesmerism and practice it where I am. I have a young lady that I put to sleep and she will tell anything. She went with me the other night down East—as they call it—and she described every house from Bingham village up to yours as well as I could. She even told what kind of trees there were before Mr. Beker’s house and she described our buildings as well as I could myself, and better too. She said that you or Father had got a new store. When you write, I want you to let me know if it is so or not. She said that Mother was a knitting in the corner with glasses on and Father was a talking and she said that you was a reading in a newspaper and Elizabeth was rocking the cradle and I thought that she told a very reasonable story—especially the last part of it.

Now write and fail not the very day you receive this for if you do not, I am afraid you will forget it and if you do, will not hear from me again till I hear from you. Direct your letter to Pembroke. So I remain your true brother and friend till death,

— William Fletcher, Pembroke, N, H.

Excuse bad writing for I was in a great hurry. Give my best respects to Albert and Andrew and Susan and all enquiring friends.

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