“Dear Dear Husband” Timeline & Letters

Early Lives Apart: 1806-1834

1806

Robert Harper Griswold is born (dies in 1882)

1820

Helen Marie Powers is born in Cincinnati, Ohio (dies in 1899). Her parents are Julia Collins and Edward Powers (a shoemaker)

1825

Robert Harper Griswold becomes cabin boy for the Ann Marie, a packet ship commanded by his brother Augustus Henry Griswold (1789-1836), bound to Canton, China

1828

Robert Harper Griswold become Second Mate on Cambria under his brother, Augustus Henry Griswold; Cambria: built by Kensington, Pennsylvania; length: 108 ft., 2 in.; launched in 1826; 5 years in service; average westbound passage: 41 days; shortest westbound passage: 30 days; longest westbound passage: 48 days; was a whaler, 1832-1862, then “sold foreign”

Helen Maria Powers’ father dies

1831

Robert Harper Griswold promoted to Captain of theFlorida (Black Ball or Old Line); working for the Black X Line; Florida: built by Smith & Dimon, New York; length: 123 ft., 0 in.; launched in 1822; 7 years in service; average westbound passage: 35 days; shortest westbound passage: 26 days; longest westbound passage: 68 days; Sold to Philadelphia registry; in guano trade before whaling; sold in San Francisco in 1861, lost in Arctic in 1871

1833

Robert Harper Griswold becomes Captain of the Thames by March 1833, sailing for John Griswold, Jr.’s, London Line

1834

Helen and mother return to Collins family hometown of Guilford, Connecticut

Captain Robert Harper Griswold commands the Sovereign (London-Black X Line), continues until 1835; Sovereign: built by C. Bergh & Co., New York; length: 124 ft., 2 in.; launched in 1830; 5 years in service; average westbound passage: 39 days; shortest westbound passage: 22 days; longest westbound passage: 57 days; wrecked, Squam Beach, N.J., Feb. 17, 1835

Early Voyages: 1835-1838

1835

Captain Robert Harper Griswold commands the Toronto (London-Black X Line), continues until 1844; Toronto: built by C. Bergh & Co., New York; length: 135 ft., 3 in.; launched in 1835; 15 years in service; average westbound passage: 36 days; shortest westbound passage: 23 days; longest westbound passage: 50 days; New Orleans Packet, 1849-51; wrecked, Jan. 2, 1851

LETTER: 1835, to Captain Robert Griswold

Courtship & Marriage: 1840-1841

1840

Captain Robert Harper Griswold and Helen Maria Powers (of Guilford) are married, on November 9

Captain Robert Harper Griswold and Helen Powers Griswold travel to London together the first time as husband and wife, depart on December 23, three months after they are married

Motherhood: 1841-1843

1841

Captain Robert Harper Griswold purchases the 1817 William Noyes, Jr. house and nearly 16 acres in Old Lyme, CT from Richard Ely (1783-1844) for $3,000

Louise Augusta, first child of Capt. Robert Griswold and Helen Powers Griswold, is born, on October 8, (dies in 1896)

LETTER: 1841, Helen Griswold to Captain Robert Griswold

1843

Captain Robert Harper Griswold navigates the Toronto during a fierce storm of gales winds and lightning striking the boat. Passengers award the Captain with silver tankard in appreciation

LETTER: 1843, Helen Griswold to Captain Robert Griswold

Home & Children: 1844-1846

1844

Helen Adele, second child of Capt. Robert Griswold and Helen Powers Griswold is born on March 19, (dies in 1913)

Captain Robert Harper Griswold commands the Northumberland, continues until 1850; Northumberland: built by Westervelt & Mackey, New York; length: 150 ft., 0 in.; launched in 1844; 13 years in service; average westbound passage: 35 days; shortest westbound passage: 17 days; longest westbound passage: 60 days; Abandoned at sea, lat. 47, lon. 27, N.Y. – London, Dec. 4, 1857

Captain Robert Harper Griswold navigates the Northumberland during a difficult passage and receives a letter of thanks from the passengers

LETTER: 1845, Helen Griswold to Captain Robert Griswold

Family Matters: 1847-1850

1847

Robert Harper, Jr., third child of Capt. Robert Griswold and Helen Powers Griswold, is born on January 28, (dies in 1864)

Captain Robert Harper Griswold, Helen Powers Griswold, and eldest daughter Louise Augustus Griswold travel to London, on May 11

1850

Captain Robert Harper Griswold commands the Ocean Queen, continues until 1855; Ocean Queen: built by C. Bergh & Co., New York; length: 175 ft., 3 in.; launched in 1850; 5 years in service; average westbound passage: 33 days; shortest westbound passage: 23 days; longest westbound passage: 52 days

Florence Ann, fourth child of Capt. Robert Griswold and Helen Powers Griswold, is born on Christmas Day (dies in 1937)

Last Years at Sea: 1851-1853

1851

In April, the Griswold Family, without Florence, sailed the Ocean Queen to London, and returned by July 8

1852

Julia Powers, Helen Power Griswold’s mother dies, on January 7

1854

Captain Robert Harper Griswold’s uncle John Griswold, owner of the Black X Line, transfers management of his shipping firm to others

1855

Captain Robert Harper Griswold retires from his life at sea to devote himself to business interests at home

Retirement: 1858-1864

1864

Robert Harper Griswold, Jr. (“Robby”) dies of diphtheria in September

Financial Issues: 1870s

1875

Captain Robert Harper Griswold sells parcel of land south of the house for $1,200

Captain Robert Harper Griswold has three mortgages on the property totaling $4,000 (eventually released in 1881)

1876

Florence Griswold attends the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia

Helen Adele exhibits several of her paintings and Egyptian antiquities in the Old Lyme Centennial exhibition

1878

The Griswold girls and their mother open the Griswold Home School; it closes in 1892

End of an Era: 1880s

1882

Captain Robert Harper Griswold dies; he is buried in the Griswold Family cemetery in Old Lyme

1896

Louise Augusta Griswold dies in a carriage accident

1899

Helen Powers Griswold dies from Bright’s disease

1900

Helen Adele Griswold is committed the Hartford Retreat for the Insane (now the Institute for Living)

1913

Helen Adele Griswold dies at the Hartford Retreat for the Insane (now the Institute for Living)

1937

Florence Ann Griswold dies on December 6 of cancer at home; she is buried in the Griswold Family cemetery in Old Lyme


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