Letter from CHARLES MARSH to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated January 11, 1859.
My dear Brother
In looking over Jacksons Geolog. Surv. of N.H. more carefully
since you left, I have found another notice of Infusorial silica, in which Mr J.
states that he has seen bricks made from the silica found in the town of "Bluehill
(near Castine) Maine which were "so light as to float like pumice stone until
saturated with water when they sank to the bottom."
I infer however from what precedes that they were intended only for fire brick. I presume you can easily ascertain whether the manufacture is continued & to what uses the bricks have been applied.
My information in regard to the intentions of the Directors of the Vt. & Canada R.R. appears to have been incorrect. I had it however from our representative Chapman who is an especial croney of director Bates of Northfield & I supposed it therefore reliable.
Dr. Hazen informs me that at a post mortem examination of Lucy Cushing who died
while you was here her heart was found to weigh (with its contents) 64 ounces. Her
My register of rain & melted snow for 1858 foots up at 35.67 inches (which I believe to be correct), last year it was 45.42 in. At Craftsbury the quantity was (for 1857) 47.10 in -- The most remarkable storm was on the 16th of Sept. (1858). The rain began in the night & continued till 7½ P.M. with great violence. Seeing in the evening of the 15th that a storm was brewing I examined the gauge to free it from dust & insects & am confident that it was not afterward disturbed by boy or other depredator. the quantity caught was--by two careful measurements-- found to be 3.96 inches. I was so much surprised at so unusual a quantity that I preserved, & still have it.
I have been enjoying an unusual "spell of weather" yesterday & today. Friday was
warm +38 at 2 P.M. & [was?] dropping fast. in the night the wind
worked round to the west (from south) & blew with great constancy (with a force
about 4 pr. register) till Saturday night, when it ceased till Sunday evening.
Coming then from the north & blowing thence till now with a force varying from 1
to 3. At 7 a.m. Sunday the mercurial standard was at -11. At two P.M. +6. at 9 P.M.
-11.3 giving a mean for the day of -5.4 On Monday morning it stood at 7 A.M. -22.3
at 2 P.M. -17 at 9 P.M. -27.3
giving a mean of -22.2 for the day. at 10 in the evening it was at -29. at 11 P.M. -32.5 This morning (Tuesday) at 7 it is -39.
After the cold morning of the 24 Jan. 1857 Prof Young late of Dartmouth Col. published a list (taken from the meteorological register kept at the college. of the coldest days for 23 years previous. The coldest mean for a day, being on the 23d of Jan. 1857, it was -23.3. The next was Jan. 4 1835, mean -22.7 next Feb. 6 1855 mean -19.3 & on the 29 Jan. 1854 the mean (next highest) was -17.7-- so that yesterdays mean has been exceeded but twice during that period.
Finding at half past 5 this morning that the mercury was at -38 at my
window I carried the Thermometer & a little distilled mercury in a glass cup
across the bridge hoping to see it freeze, & tho I kept it there till 6½ I was
disappointed it obstinately remained fluid-- notwithstanding I suspended the cup by
a string from the fence near Chapmans & from a bush under the bridge. The lowest
readable point upon my standard mercurial is -39 the clamp (securing the tube)
covering the 40th deg. & its reflection by lamp light rendering the position of
the mercury uncertain for a deg. or two below. The lowest point reached by
the spirit thermo. was -45 at 6 A.M.
Thro the day yesterday (Monday) the indications of the mercurial & spirit Thermos. was at 11 A.M. merc. -19 spt. -21 at 1 PM merc -17 spt -19.2. at 6 P.M. merc -21.5 spt -24 9 P.M. merc -27. spt. 30.2 11½ P.M. merc. -35 spt. -38. From which you can judge what the indication of the mercurial would have been at 6 this morning, the difference, (if as above,) being 3 degrees--when at the lowest point there was a barely perceptible current of air from the north. I was out at one time more than half an hour & certainly suffered much less than I have frequently, when the merc. was at +20 or +25 with a wind--tho, I burnt one of my fingers by firmly grasping & a piece of iron which had been exposed to the full effect of the cold--the sensation was very much like that produced by heat & the smarting afterward & a feeling of soreness was still more so.
-39 on the morning of Jan. 24. 1857 is the lowest point reached by Prof Youngs thermo. according to his article --
The mercury now 8½ A.M. stands at -34 spirit -37. With much love to sister Caroline & to George Your affectionate bro.
[The following is written upside down at top of the page beginning "Woodstock Vt."] When the merc. was at -27 the Barom. read 29.705 at. ther. +14 this morining merc. -39 --Ba. 29.535 at. +6.
References in this letter:
Charles Thomas Jackson (1805-1880) published many studies of on the geography of New Hampshire, including Final Report on the Geology and Mineralogy of the State of New Hampshire. Concord, NH: Carroll & Baker, 1844.
Charles Marsh (1821-1873), Marsh's youngest brother, maintained the family farm in Woodstock until his death. He and Marsh frequently corresponded about barometric pressure, precipitation, mountain heights, and other natural and meteorological phenomena