Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 6th. CFA Tuesday. 6th. CFA
Tuesday. 6th.

Morning cold but the weather was clear and the day fine. I went to the Office, but not early as my wife was quite sick with a bad cold caught some days ago. I began to be alarmed about her and was exceedingly doubtful of the expediency of her going to Medford as she proposed. For this purpose I called to see her father to know whether her Mother would go in the Carriage to carry her home, but I was unable to ascertain as he could not be found. I then went to the South end of the town to obtain the Dividend upon the Shares of the Boylston Market for October, and one unclaimed for April last, which the Treasurer, Mr. Knapp gave me an order to obtain.1 I was occupied in this manner all the morning.

Sidney Brooks called to see me for half an hour and I took the opportunity to ask him concerning the most expedient way of conveying 37here the remains of my brother. He appeared to hesitate considerably about it but said he would attend to it.2 He delayed again so now he goes tomorrow. All this being over as I was returning home, I met Abby in her Mother’s Carriage and so found her positively gone. The consequence was a lonely dinner at home, and a return to the Office in the afternoon to remain until John3 came with the Chaise as my Father had promised to take me to Quincy. I remained reading a file of Newspapers of an ancient date 1809 at my Office until the time when he came and I immediately started on the return. The ride was cold but not unpleasant though I was glad to reach a warm room. I found the family at tea and with them Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Foster and Mr. Degrand. Miss Foster is now staying with her Aunt.4 They returned home before nine and soon after the family retired.

1.

JQA owned 12 shares in the Boylston Market purchased at $100 a share. The April dividend was at the rate of $2, the October at $3.50. John Knapp, the treasurer, was a counselor with office at 14 State Street; the Market was at Washington and Boylston streets. See M/CFA/3; Boston Directory, 1829–1830.

2.

See above, entry for 15 Sept., note. CFA seems to have been led to ask his brother-in-law’s help because of Sidney’s New York residence. See further, JQA to Sidney Brooks, 7 Nov. 1829 (LbC, Adams Papers).

3.

JQA’s servant John Thomas.

4.

Elizabeth Anne Foster (1802–1875), visiting her aunt, Louisa Catherine Catharine Smith, at the Old House, was the eldest of the thirteen children of the J. H. Fosters. She was AA’s grandniece. See vol. 1:99, 155, 157, and Adams Genealogy.

Wednesday. 7th. CFA Wednesday. 7th. CFA
Wednesday. 7th.

Morning clear and weather warm, so that the weather was fine when we started for the purpose for which I came out—Surveying or overlooking a survey to be made of the old farm on Penn’s Hill. My father presuming that I am the only son likely to remain in the State is desirous of giving me information which he never possessed in the same circumstances and of which he felt very much, the want.1 I am therefore induced to consent to the arrangement which breaks up my home considerably.

We started after breakfast, our party consisting of my father, Thomas B. Adams, Mr. Humphreys a Surveyor from Weymouth, two men to carry the Chain, and myself.2 We started from the upper Comer on the old Plymouth Road above the old House, the Birth place of my father and his Father before him. Our Survey was of a lot of land including the two Houses and about one hundred and eight Acres of land.3 The boundaries being rather irregular and a portion of it fresh Meadow, it was quite a slow affair so that it was nearly four before we were thinking of a return home. I obtained some 38acquaintance with this property which I never had before and perhaps attached a little more idea of value to it than heretofore although in truth it is most unmanageable property as to any change to be made of it. But; after all property is but a pure business in this life giving more care than pleasure. And if I could only feel sure of being beyond any want, I should care but little what my father’s pursuits might be. I returned considerably fatigued from the exercise. We of course dined late and though I attempted same kind of conversation with my father it resulted in nothing as we both of us inclined to sleep. I therefore retired early.

1.

After three days in the woods and swamps, JQA wrote that the survey was of “lands which I have owned twenty-six years, without knowing how they were bounded, nor even where some of them were” (JQA to LCA, 11 Oct., Adams Papers).

2.

Lemuel Humphreys was the surveyor, William Spear and one Baxter, the chain bearers (JQA, Diary, 7 Oct. 1829).

3.

The Adams farm, at the foot of Penn’s Hill in Quincy, was established by Deacon John Adams, CFA’s great-grandfather. The house on the northern side was the home of JA’s parents (and is now called the John Adams Birthplace), that adjacent to it on the southern side was the home of JA and AA after their marriage in 1764 (now the John Quincy Adams Birthplace). See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:15, note, for a fuller account and same, p. 256 for a drawing of the homestead made by Eliza Susan Quincy in 1822; also Waldo C. Sprague, The President John Adams and the President John Quincy Adams Birthplaces, Quincy, 1959. The houses, given to the city of Quincy in 1940 by the Adams family, are in the care of the Quincy Historical Society and are open to the public.