Frances Henrietta Gifford

Frances Henrietta Gifford

1840 – 1877

Frances Gifford kept a diary from April 1860 through February 1862. The entries reveal a sensitive teenager who read novels, loved poetry, prayed frequently, and saw her waking hours eaten away by a monotonous cycle of household chores and family responsibilities. Frances’ father had died, and it was up to her, the youngest daughter, to help her ailing mother. She was frequently lonely and discouraged. Frances sewed, churned, cooked, cleaned, tended the sick, gathered berries, sold eggs, made soap and candles, and occasionally slipped away for a “pleasant evening” at spelling school or other young people’s gatherings in and around Adamsville.

Frances’ sisters were married with young children, and Frances hoped for a suitor of her own. The first one bitterly disappointed her, but in 1862 she married her distant cousin, Clarkson Gifford, an Adamsville farmer and shoemaker. No diary captures her thoughts and feelings as a young wife and mother, but records show their son Augustine was born in 1863, and Bernard followed 10 years later. Tragically Augustine died in 1874 as did Frances in 1877, age 36.

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Outdoor exhibit panel from the 2020 special exhibition, The Little Compton Women’s History Project.

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