Monday, May 9, 2016

Keep the register of the thermometer...

More discoveries from the Bemis collection...
(click on images to enlarge them, see transcription below image)

Carroll House April 3, 1845
Dr. S. A. Bemis Sir,
It is the common report
in Lancaster & other places about here that you have
offered a sum of between three and six thousand dollars to
any man that will go on the top of Mount Washing
ton & build a house & stay up there one year &
keep the register of the thermometer three times in
the day. If these reports are facts & you are wanting
any one to engage in this business write me & I will
perform the whole myself or cause it to be done.
We keep a thermometer at our house - and
Shall keep it one year from the first day
Of July ? - ?  & wish you would 
Write me what you will give to
Have that done. I am/ we are all in good health
Yours with respect
Ethan A. Crawford
Pleas post your letter
Carroll House post office
The letter was folded so that the back of the papers served as an envelope. It was addressed to Dr. S. A. Bemis, Boston, Mass (no street number) and closed with a red oval shaped seal. There is a notation that it was received 10th April. It was then folded to the standard "pigeon hole" size that most desks of the time used and perhaps tied up in "red tape" like many of the other Bemis papers.  

We don't know Bemis's response. However, history tells us it took another 25 years for the summit to be occupied throughout the winter for the first time. In 1870-1871, a scientific team including J.H. Huntington (after whom Huntington Ravine is named) over wintered. The photographer team of Clough and Kimball documented the adventure. Some of their photos can be seen here.

Engravings and a detailed history of that expedition can be found here.

According to Julie Boardman's When Women and Mountains Meet, the first women to climb Mount Washington in winter were two of Ethan Allen Crawford's daughters, Eluthera Crawford Freeman and Placentia Crawford Durgin. (How do you like those family names?)

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