Lydia F. Walker Papers
Seamstress, Fiskeville, R.I.
Papers, 1850-1912. Bulk, 1877-1902.
Size: 0.75 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 774
Processed by: Rick Stattler, March 1997
©Rhode Island Historical Society
Lydia F. Brayton was born on March 2, 1848 in the village of Fiskeville, in the southeastern part of the town of Scituate, R.I. She was the daughter of farmers James M. Brayton (1817-1889) and Julia A. Battey (1825-1905). She had two brothers and a sister: Charles A. Brayton (1850-1902) and Frederic E. Brayton (1854-) were both farmers of Fiskeville, while sister Lucy E. "Lula" (Brayton) Remington (1860- 1949) married Frederic A. Remington, a dairy farmer of Fiskeville, in 1896.
Lydia married Pardon Sheldon Walker (1840-1873), a Fiskeville dentist, on May 29, 1873. He was the son of Emery Walker (1806-1878) and Elizabeth Wilbur (1805-1878) of Scituate. The marriage only lasted just over three months before Pardon's death in early September.
Lydia was an accomplished seamstress, and seems to have worked briefly at Slater Mill in Pawtucket shortly after her husband's death, but she became an invalid in 1876, and was largely bedridden for the rest of her life. She continued to do sewing and knitting, and lived with her parents. After her father's death, her brother Frederic was the head of the household. Lydia died on July 2, 1903.
These are some other close relatives that appear frequently in this collection:
Grandmother Harriet (Ramsdell) Battey (1803-1884)
Grandfather Horace Battey (1793-6/9/1881)
Named after her grandmother Lydia (Fiske) Brayton (1780-1838).
Grandma Fiske is unidentified (1877, 1880), possibly her brother Frederic's mother-in-law, or an unmarried sister of her late grandmother Brayton.
Uncle Benjamin F. Searle (1821-1896)
Aunt Abby (Brayton) Searle (1810-1891) (Lydia's father's sister)
Uncle Tillinghast W. Brayton (1814-1906) (father's brother)
First cousin Lydia F. (Brayton) James (b.1842)
Great-uncle Esek Ramsdell (m. 2/25/1827)
Uncle Alexander A. Battey (1827-1910) and wife Mary (d. 1898);
Albert S. Walker (brother-in-law)
Susan (Durfee) Walker (1840-1930), husband's sister-in-law, wife of Robert
Battey, H.V. Samson Battey of Rhode Island... (Published by author, 1932), pages 40, 73-74
Brayton, Clifford Ross. Brayton Family History, Volume 1 (Albion, N.Y.: Published by author, 1978), 101, 189-191, 293-294
Wilbor, John Reid. The Wildbores in America, Vol. 2 (Baltimore: King Printing, 1938), p. 49 (gives Emery Walker family).
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Scope and content:
The core of this collection consists of eight diaries kept by Lydia Walker as a widow in Fiskeville, written between the ages 28 to 51. The diaries have brief entries, detailing weather, health, sewing work done, the activities of her family, birthdays and anniversaries, and important local events. Family members are central to this diary; Lydia was dependent on her parents, brothers and sisters, and frequently saw a variety of other relatives. The courtship of her sister by Frederic Remington is described in the 1885 diary. Walker was an invalid, largely restricted to bed. There are daily accounts of health and a desperate assortment of medicines. The following are typical passages: "I sat up hour in the sun in kitchen first time out there in five weeks." [3/6/1877]; "I some better sat up longest time since have sick walked across bedroom by dragging my foot." [4/4/1877]; "20 weeks since I was taken sick" [4/8/1877]; "My limb drawn up all day" [1/7/1880]. Her health improved gradually; she was doing some housework in 1881, and being treated by Dr. Samuel Chase in Providence by 1883. She was still very ill by 1886: "I am taken sick with chills and spasms. Dr. Clarke here to see me." [12/31/1886]
Despite her affliction, Walker contributed to the family economy. She gives almost daily descriptions of sewing done, mostly for family use, some for sale. She also did knitting, ironing, and some cooking for family. Account books in back of diaries detail expenses and receipts for sewing. Some 1886 entries describe painting: "I finished painting panel of Hollyhocks." [12/10/1886]; "I did painting on felt tidy" [12/14/1886]. The diaries are a wonderful resource for local history, but as the author was often confined to bed her activities might be of little general interest, other than her small sewing business.
The collection also includes about fifty letters received by Walker from friends and family, dated 1872 to 1902. There are also papers from other family members: account books kept by father James, brother Charles, and mother Julia Brayton; correspondence and other papers relating to her sister Lula Remington's family; and a record book for the Shawomet Lyceum in Warwick.
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This collection was the gift of Howard Fraser in 1991, with the exception of the last two diaries, donated by Richard A. Molloy in 1972.
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The correspondence was received in envelopes addressed to Lydia Walker in Fiskeville. Only those envelopes containing additional information were retained.
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Lydia Walker diaries. 1877, 1880, 1881, 1883, 1885, 1886, 1897, 1899.
Folders 1-5. Lydia Walker letters received, 1872-1902.
Folder 6. James E. Brayton. Accounts for produce sold, 1853-1857
Accounts with Israel Brayton, 1866-1870.
Folder 7. Charles A. Brayton. Account book, 1891.
Folder 8. J.A. Brayton & Co. Account book, 1892-1894 (Julia A. Battey Brayton?)
Folder 9. Remington family. Lucy Brayton receipt from Providence Furniture Co., 1885
Lucy Brayton letter from J.W. Brayton, 1895
Letter to Thomas H. Remington, 1897
Wedding of Lydia Remington to W.H. Brown, 1903
Three letters to Lydia Brown, Millville, Mass., 1903
Birth announcement sent to Frederic Remington, 1912
Folder 10. Louise Remington. Two school copy books, undated.
Folder 11. Shawomet Lyceum. Constitution and minutes, 1860-1862.
Folder 12. Misc. letters. Invitation to James M. Brayton & wife, 1850
Letter, Sarah ___ to Aunt Harriet Battey, 1888
*** Lydia Walker to Mother, 1897.
Folder 13. Miscellaneous. Marriage certificate of David Reed and Jane White, 1850.
"Lines on the Death of William L. Chace", Hope Mill, 1873.
English and Classical School grad. program, 1876
Putnam Lecture Course, 1878-1879
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Diaries - 1877-1899
Invalids - Rhode Island - Scituate
Fiskeville, R.I. - Social life and customs
Scituate, R.I. - Social life and customs
Textile crafts - Rhode Island - Scituate
Warwick, R.I. - Societies and clubs
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