Louisa Lord was born on July 9, 1810 in nearby Ipswich, Massachusetts. Her father was a prestigious judge who remarried when Louisa’s mother died. Interestingly enough, her brother grew to become a prominent political persona, even having an affair with Emily Dickinson.
This remarriage was a source of frustration for Louisa, who decided to stay with her guardian, Abigail Trask.
Louisa was staying with the Trask’s as part of Abigail’s program for young women who wanted to learn domestic chores. Louisa’s decision to stay with the Trask family allowed for her to live with them for the rest of her life.
Louisa’s main duties as a ward of the Trask family included taking care of their son, Charles.
These duties included teaching him his daily lessons, looking after him, etc. She also aided with the Trask family’s day to day tasks, such as cooking and cleaning. Louisa was also an avid writer, journaling every day after she was done with her daily chores. Charles and Louisa maintained a warm and loving relationship even after he went to Yale, as is evidenced by their numerous letters.
These diaries provide a wonderful insight into Louisa’s daily life, and most importantly, her trip with the Trask family to England. Louisa spent almost two months on the St. Petersburg, a ship that was partially owned and captained by Charles Trask.
It is through this journal that we gain the most insight into just how much Louisa cared for the Trask family. She often mentions how worried she is they will all become alcoholics (alcohol and spirit being the worst thing in humanity’s possession, in her opinion) due to the fact that the Trask’s often had to drink brandy to keep their sea sickness at bay. A particularly heartwarming event occurs when Charles climbs up to the top of the mast, attempting to look out over the ocean. Abigail and Louisa are incredibly frightened, and of course, Louisa journals about the incident in great detail. It is through this entry that her devotion to the Trask’s becomes obvious. While there are many speculations as to why Louisa was so devoted to the Trask family, the most obvious reason for her devotion is the fact that the Trask family took care of her
We also learn much about Louisa’s personal beliefs. She was an incredibly religious woman, as is evidenced by her various memberships in religious groups such as the American Temperance Society. The participation in these groups was mostly funded and fueled by Abigail, who was just as religious as Louisa. Of course, during this time period, the main form of socialization was church, and thus, most people were much more religious than the average person today. This religiosity allowed for a much more moralistic time period, and thus Louisa’s aversion to alcohol is not necessarily astonishing.
Various certificates explaining the different religious societies Louisa Lord was part of.
As we can see, Louisa was a real human being, and her life as a woman in nineteenth century Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts was certainly noteworthy.
2017 SCORE Project