Remnant of a Tragedy
Some documents, though not explicitly mentioning the explosion, still bear scars from the disaster. The account book below once belonged to Dr. Nathaniel Ledyard, one of the victims.
These images come from the center of the book. Dr. Nathaniel labeled each neighbor and under his or her name indicated the services rendered for the person or the items purchased by the client. What kinds of services were entered into the book? Notice that the second page ends abruptly in April 1766.
The explosion ended Ledyard's life as well as his entries in this account book. Soon thereafter, however, his wife claimed the book as her own. The third page, labeled June 2, 1766, clearly identifies the new owner of this object with the words, "Hepzibah Ledyard her Book 1766." This declaration signifed the transfer of the document from husband to widow. Though not mentioned explicitly, the tragedy of Nathaniel's death underlies Hepzibah's writing.
The next two pages continue in Hepzibah's hand and with a fresh renumbering as page 1. At times, as she closed accounts with her husband's old clients, she returned to the beginning of the book. Hence, the appearance of her handwriting in some of the earlier pages after 1766. Did the nature of the items mentioned in these accounts change after Nathaniel's death? In what ways do disasters today leave unspoken scars on the landscape?