Rowell family papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

The siblings in the Rowell family, a Quaker family of Loudon, New Hampshire, recorded their responses to such national social and political issues in a series of correspondence among themselves as well as other acquaintances. John F. Rowell, Perley Rowell, and Sarah Ann Rowell discussed many national and local issues in the letters they exchanged throughout the period of 1849-1854.

John F. Rowell graduated from common school in Loudon, and then went on to assist at district schools in Weare, Lee, and Pembroke, New Hampshire. From 1851-1853 he attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania but never graduated. He eventually acquired a position at the Friends' School in Providence, Rhode Island, where he remained for 20 years. In 1875 he retired from teaching, moved to California and became involved in both agriculture and the lumber industry. The year of his death is unclear, but he was still living in 1885, when a history of his hometown in New Hampshire was published. John F. Rowell never married.

Perley W. Rowell was born in 1823, and married Caroline Clark in 1869. They had two children, Sarah W. and George W. Clark. The family lived in Loudon, where Perley engaged in local politics and community concerns.

Very little is known about Sarah Ann Rowell. She did attend school in New Hampshire, and she may have spent some time at a women's college in that state as well. She also spent some time as an editoress of a Loudon newspaper, The Star. In 1852 she suffered a severe illness, and it is unclear if she ever recovered from this illness. However, there are no letters addressed to her or written by her after that year.

Moses A. Cartland, born in 1805, was school master of two schools in New Hampshire, one at Weare and one at Lee, from 1834 to 1853. He appears frequently in the correspondence in this collection. He maintained a close relationship with the Rowell siblings, as well as other former students. He instructed both John and Sarah Rowell, and presumably Perley as well. A practicing Quaker, Moses was involved in the Friend's Society in New Hampshire, attending yearly meetings and other events. Early in his career he was a teacher at the Friends' Yearly Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to being an educator, he was very active in local and state politics, running for district representative as well as Post Master in New Hampshire.

Moses A. Cartland was an active abolitionist. He worked as contributor, printer, and editor of many publications, some of which were vocal about the abolition of slavery. Cartland was the editor of White Mountain Torrent, The New Hampshire Journal of Education, and New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture. He was also a correspondent for the National Era and the Independent Democrat. He was the second cousin and very close friend of John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker poet and vocal abolitionist. Cartland was involved in many of Whittier's early pursuits in journalism and publication, as well as being a personal confidant. Moses Cartland's brother Joseph Cartland was the superintendent of Haverford College circa 1850 -1853, the period when John F. Rowell attended.


The History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties, New Hampshire Edited by D. Hamilton Hurd and Published in 1885. Retrieved on November 1, 2005 from

Shackford, Martha Hale. "Whittier and Some Cousins." The New England Quartlerly. Vol. 15, No. 3. (Sep. 1942), pp. 467-496

Tindall, George Brown and David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History. Sixth edition, Volme One. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004. pp. 619-626.

Scope and Contents

The Rowell family papers, spanning the years 1846 to 1894 (bulk dates 1849 - 1853), preserves the letters exchanged by a Quaker family of Loudon, New Hampshire, recording their responses to significant social and political issues of the period leading up to the national crisis over slavery and states' rights. Ninety-eight items of correspondence, school compositions and a penmanship copybook, and school leaflets comprise the collection. The collection is broken into three series, and arranged chronologically within each series.