Oliver Bolton Describes His Father's Death


Background Notes

Nathaniel Bolton, a widower, was living with his son Oliver in Maine when he died in his early seventies. Oliver wrote to his sister Huldah and her husband Blake Dean in Oakham, Massachusetts describing his father’s final days of life. Oliver’s account is difficult to read. Nathaniel’s death was painful and protracted, and Oliver clearly disapproved both of his father’s heavy drinking and of his “unreconciled” state—that is, his lack of Christian submission as death approached.Oliver Bolton used very little punctuation. Periods have been added sparingly for readability. His spelling has been maintained.

Transcription of Primary Source

Oliver Bolton to Huldah and Blake Dean, 1820

Piscatiquis Maine July 17 1820…

Dear Brother & Sister, I now take my pen in hand to inform you of the Death of our aged father. He Departed this life July 15, Saturday evening half past 10 oclock. His disorder was the universal Dropsy taken about the midel of March . His legs & Bowels terrible Bloated, Had the Doctor 3 times or 4 on purpose Besides accidental times But to no purpose…I was up & Down Day & night with him 9 weeks, sometimes 4 & 5 times in a night which almost overcame me. He was something of a trial. But I still felt glad to think he was with me as there was 7 of us in a family & 5 is no more…Father was awfully terrified at the thot of Death, Judgment & eternity. I spared no panes in conversing with him. I ast him if he had not a Dieing testimony to relate to me But never a word. He sent for me once to come in & pray with him which I did I felt interested for his eternal salvation…His senses held good to the last moments I think which was my prayer that they mite. He was the most unreconciled person I ever saw…I cant Describe the situation he was in… Could I se[e] you I could relate the whole of fathers conduct. You no as well as I what he was in the habit of. But too shocking to relate he went out of this world longing, hungering & thursting for spiritus lichuor. I debared him from it a few hours before his Death. [I] told him said I Father I Dont no But you will Die a drunkard But I am determined you shall not Die Drunk nor your breath to stink of rum & it did not…Father said he should like to [die] in Oakham and be Berryd [buried] with his wife But he was Decently intered within one mile of my house…We are all in health at this time. Had another Daughter Born call her name Huldah Jane Bolton. That makes 4 girls. I am the only one to bare up the name Bolton…Oh, Huldah, there are but 2 out of 7 left. Let us strive to enter to that rest that remains for the people of God. Blessed be God… Put your children in mind of eternity, do thy Duty…may the God of pease Bless you and yours. Amen. Remember me to the old folks.

O. Bolton

Our affectionate love to you all O. Bolton

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
Oliver Bolton to Huldah and Blake Dean
Probable Date: 
July 17
Nathaniel Bolton Papers
Old Sturbridge Village