Inside the Kent Memorial Library is a special collection housed in the Historical Room. Letters, diaries, account books, day books, scrapbooks, Delphina Clark’s old house surveys, genealogy books and much more reside in the room. The collection provides an insight into what it was like to live in Suffield many years ago. Much of the collection is based on Suffield and regional ephemera. Tobacco farming covers a lot of territory in the room, as does Newgate Prison and various industries. Government documents, gossip and even recipes can be found.
In the past year, a group of people have been transcribing Luther Loomis’ letters. Loomis (1754-1819) was a merchant in town. He built a house, which also served as a store on Main Street, near the Kent Memorial Library and the Veterans Memorial. He owned two slaves, one of them was Tamer who will soon have a Witness Stone to mark her life as a slave. The stone will be placed close to where Loomis’ house stood. Luther Loomis took part in the triangular trade. He owned a sloop that carried goods back and forth from the Caribbean, New England and Europe. Some of the goods he traded in were indigo and coffee. The letters which have been transcribed are related to business activities including the wreck of the ship Hester Maria on which Loomis was shipping indigo to Europe, a note from Zach Hale Negro (in Springfield) and a letter from Alexander King about 4th of July.
Reading the letters require a special kind of patience. The script used back then, is difficult to read. There was no standardized spelling, punctuation or capitalization. But there is a triumph when the letter is deciphered, and you can read it and wonder about its author.
The Historical Room is open to visitors and researchers on Thursday nights from 7 to 8 p.m. A volunteer is available to help. If interested in visiting the Room, please register at the Kent Memorial Library at suffield-library.org or 860-668-3896.