Religion and Social Movements

April 7, 1860: Alice Watts Enjoys A ‘Sugaring Off’

[jpshare]On April 7, 1860, Alice Watts was a dreamy, headstrong 15-year-old who attended school while helping to run her family's farm in Peacham, Vt.

Alice Watts in her late 'teens.

Alice Watts in her late 'teens.

She was smart and bookish, and her mother Roxana Watts, had reluctantly let her go away to school the previous year more than 100 miles away because she was offered free tuition. In a letter, Roxana explained her daughter was

...rather a wild girl, but she is an extra schollar and that is almost all she is worth for she dont want to work much.

Alice hoped to follow her three older sisters' path to independence. They were the first women in the family to earn money outside the family farm. Her sister Sarah worked at the Lowell textile mills, and Chastina and Clara were teachers.

She went off in the fall of 1859 to Castleton Seminary, where her stepbrother Lyman was teaching (hence the free tuition). On Jan. 1, 1860, Lyman gave Alice a diary. She would keep it for almost her whole life. Three days later, her mother summoned her back to the farm because she needed Alice's help with chores. Alice was moody and depressed, and her father enrolled her at Peacham Academy, two miles from the farm.

On April 7, 1860, Alice Watts wrote in her diary:
Went to the woods and enjoyed a “sugaring off.” Was very
pleasant. Miss [Lucy] Perry called—rode up to the door this afternoon. Have
learned two lessons for a wonder but that composition. Made some cake to
day—my first attempts in culinary business for a long time. –15 +3 I am
very negligent not to read but—
We'll have more from Alice Watts' diary.
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Molly Landrigan

    April 8, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I always loved “sugaring off” parties and they always served donuts and dill pickles to accompany the maple syrup on snow.

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