Elizabeth Nason Walworth

Date of Birth


Date of Death


Letters Authored


Letters Received


Letters Authored in Collection


Elizabeth Walworth and her husband James Jones Walworth would eventually become remarkably wealthy residents of Massachusetts due to Mr. Walworth’s ingenuity in developing improved methods of steam heating; however, when Elizabeth was writing this letter to her aunt, Martha May Guild, she and James were young and moving to Alton, Illinois from Boston, Massachusetts. It would be a remarkable journey.

The letter chronicled in great detail a journey the couple made in 1837 from Boston, Mass. to Alton, Illinois. The journey included stage coaches and steam river boats, visits to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wheeling, Washington City, where she toured the White House and the U. S. Capitol, Frederick, New York, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, and she describes it all from the peaks of the Allegheny Mountains to the shoreline of the Ohio River. The journey would take her to Alton, Illinois. The following is from the website, “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.”

“Alton, Illinois, just thirty minutes from downtown St. Louis, was a major "jumping on" point along the Underground Railroad. From the Alton area, fugitive slaves reportedly could count on regular support in towns along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, including Jacksonville, Princeton, Ottowa and Quincy.” (1)

Mrs. Walworth captures two extraordinary historical events:

The first one is that she describes a night time encounter with five stage coaches carrying a party of Indians on their way to Washington to sign a land treaty. If one notes the date of the letter, October 30, 1837, written approximately four weeks after the couple set out on their journey from Boston, and then considers that the United States treaty with the Yankton Sioux Indians was signed on October 21, 1837 in the city of Washington, then one must ask oneself, “Could this be the Yankton Sioux Indian council?” I suppose we’ll never know for certain, but just in case, here are some of the signatures on the treaty--Ha-sa-za (The Elk's Horn), Ha-sha-ta (The Forked Horn), Za-ya-sa (Warrior), Pa-la-ni-a-pa-pi (Struck by a Riccara), To-ka-can (He that gives the First Wound), Mau-ka-ush-can (The Trembling Earth), Mon-to-he (White crane), Ish-ta-ap-pi (Struck in the eye), E-mo-ne.

The second remarkable incident that Elizabeth describes is the conflict between the abolitionists and the proslavery folks in which the abolitionist’s newspaper was destroyed twice over. What Elizabeth did not know is that it would be destroyed soon again.
“The Old Rock House (now Lovejoy Apartments), was built in 1834-1835 for Reverend T.B. Hurlbut, pastor of the Upper Alton Presbyterian Church and friend of Reverend Elijah Parish Lovejoy. In October 1837, it was the site of a meeting at which the state Anti-Slavery Society of Illinois was organized, with sixty members. Lovejoy, the minister and newspaper publisher, was present at this meeting but was murdered less than two weeks later as he protected his printing press from a pro-slavery mob.
A section of the printing press that Elijah Parish Lovejoy used was recovered from the Mississippi River -- where the mob had thrown it after killing Lovejoy -- in 1915. The recovered portion is on display at the offices of the Alton Telegraph newspaper.” (1)

(1) “Be a Tourist In Your Own Town,” http://www.beatourist.com/itineraries/itin_ugrnd.asp

Nancy Guild and Martha May Guild (b. 10 September 1803) were sisters. Their parents were Jacob Guild (b. 23 April 1860, d. 6 April 1839) and Chloe May (b. 6 September 1764, d. 26 March 1848). Elizabeth Chickering Nason Walworth was the daughter of Nancy Guild and Leavitt Nason (mar. 3 April 1808); therefore, Martha M. Guild was her aunt. Elizabeth (b. 1809, d. 28 April 1896) married James Jones Walworth (b. 18 November 1808, d. 28 April 1896). They had one child, Arthur Clarence Walworth (b. 29 April 1844) and adopted another, Elizabeth Walworth (b. 5 August 1852).

James, 35, and Elizabeth Walworth, 32, are enumerated in the 1850 Census and living in Newton, Massachusetts. Listed in their household is Arthur, 6. (No explanation as to the age discrepancy of James and Elizabeth).

James, 51, and Elizabeth Walworth, 50, are enumerated in the 1860 Census and living in Newton, Massachusetts. Listed with them in their household are the following: Arthur C. Walworth, 16, Lizzie Walworth, 8. Also, listed is Caroline W. Drummond, 31, Catherine Doherty, 27, occupation listed as domestic, and Bridget Conner, 30, occupation listed as domestic. James occupation is Merchant and his real estate value is $35,000 and his personal value $40,000.

James, 61, and Elizabeth Walworth, 60, are enumerated in the 1870 Census and living in Newton, Massachusetts. Listed in the household are Arthur C, 26, Elizabeth, 17, and Bridget Conner, 34, a domestic servant. James’ occupation is listed as “Manufacturer of Iron Pipes,” and his real estate is valued at $85,000 and his personal property at $250,000. It is noted that Arthur is a student in France.

James, 71, and Elizabeth Walworth, 70, are enumerated in the 1880 Census and living in Boston, Massachusetts. Listed in the household is Lizzie, 27, and a domestic servant, Nellie Pearl. James’ occupation is now listed as “Steam Heating.”