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Francis Brewer Paine diary

Identifier: C-74
The collection contains the handwritten journal of Francis Paine written from December 10, 1846 to July 17, 1848. The bulk of the journal was written while Paine was living at home and working on his family farm, and though during the winter Paine would teach school in nearby towns and board with other families, his entries from these periods were sporadic. Paine went back and annotated parts of the journal later in life, and there are several entries regarding the course of his later years, the last written in 1893.

When he did keep up with his journal, Paine usually made daily entries discussing the weather and his responsibilities around the farm. Paine was especially attentive in his observation of the changing seasons, and comments often on his likes and dislikes of each. He also frequently discusses his social engagements, regularly noting parties and ‘sings’ attended and who accompanied him there. In addition, Paine’s writing includes reflections on politics, religion, slavery, America’s war with Mexico, the construction of the Vermont Central Railroad, and thoughts about his own future.

The journal is handwritten in a legible script, however Paine often intersperses his entries with words and sentences written in what appears to be Pitman shorthand. Pitman shorthand is a phonetically based shorthand writing system first introduced in 1837 by Englishman Sir Isaac Pitman, and remains to this day among the most popular forms of shorthand writing. Paine may have done this out of concern over his brothers reading his journal entries. On several occasions one of his brothers wrote a note below an entry, teasing Francis about its content.


  • 1846-12-10 - 1848-07-17


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:


1 Box


Francis Paine grew up on his family’s farm in Randolph, Vermont, and was the youngest of eight siblings. Paine worked the farm with his father and brothers, tending crops and sheep during the summer and sugaring maple syrup in the spring. He also served as a school teacher during the winter, teaching around 30 students of varying ages. Paine had an active social life, and wrote regularly about parties, visits, and other social engagements. In addition, he stayed informed of current events, following at least eleven newspapers and journals. An ardent supporter of the Whig party, Paine was strongly opposed to the war in Mexico and slavery. His journal entries combine his thoughts and opinions with descriptions of his daily responsibilities on the farm.

Biographical / Historical

Francis Paine was born on his family farm in Randolph, Vermont on July 17, 1824. His father, Samuel Paine Jr., was born on February 21, 1778 in Sutton, Massachusetts, and married Pamela Chase (b. November 15, 1780) on November 12, 1802. The two settled in Randolph, Vermont in 1803. There they bought a farm and opened a tavern on the main road from Boston to Burlington. The family prospered and acquired further land, and in 1812 Samuel Jr. closed his tavern to focus on farming and raising his growing family.

Samuel and Pamela together had a total of nine children: -Emily Pamela Paine, b. February 22, 1805; d. October 5, 1826. -Albert Bulkley Paine, b. September 18, 1807; d. May 1, 1885. -Horace Hall Paine, b. June 14, 1810; d. February 17, 1864. -Samuel Chase Paine, b. May 16, 1812; d. July 4, 1812. -Laura Prescott Paine, b. July 14, 1814; d. March 13, 1847. -Samuel Chase Paine, b. March 1, 1817; d. June 16, 1886. -Charles Smith Paine, b. November 30, 1819; d. November 21, 1895. -George Storrs Paine, b. February 15, 1822; d. August 3, 1889. -Francis Brewer Paine, b. July 17, 1824; d. March 18, 1896. At the time of this journal, Francis lived at home with his mother and father, as well as three of his five brothers, Samuel, Charles, and George. His brother Horace left for the west with his wife in 1848, and his fifth brother Albert lived on a separate farm in Randolph with his wife. The Paine’s were a successful farm family who owned land in Randolph and on July 13, 1847 purchased an additional 70 acres in nearby Royalton. The Census of 1850 valued the collective holdings of the family’s four households at $6800, with Francis’s worth $1000.

Francis’s nephew Albert Prescott Paine remembered him as, “a teacher; a prosperous farmer; and much given to literary pursuits; active in debating clubs; popular Worthy Chief Templar of the Concord Good Templar’s Lodge, a moving spirit in all church and social affairs; and a Justice of the Peace for many years in Randolph. He attended the public schools and academies of Randolph and neighboring towns, and was a remarkably proficient student. His young relatives were fond of saying: “Uncle Frank ought to have been a minister.” But “Uncle Frank” was too fond of rural life to adopt a professional life; he enjoyed the freedom of the fields and the open air, and music, being, as boy and as man, a ready singer; his mellow bass voice was a fine addition to any choir.”

On May 31, 1850 Francis married Mary Caroline Smith (b. August 24, 1830; d. July 19, 1918) in Randolph, and four years later on June 24, 1854 Mary gave birth to their son Francis Marsena. The two also had a daughter, Mary Ellen, born December 8, 1859. The family moved to Concord, Massachusetts in November 1865, with Francis’s brother George’s family settling nearby. In 1873 the family moved again to Lexington, MA, and Francis Marsena moved out on his own to Hyde Park following his marriage in 1879. By 1893, Francis and Mary moved to Hyde Park as well, living near their two children and three grandchildren. Francis died on March 18, 1896 at the age of 72. Several years later, Francis Marsena relocated the entire family with him to California. They settled outside Los Angeles and Francis Marsena continued to work as a piano tuner. Mary died in California in 1918 at the age of 88.


Paine, Albert Prescott, History of Samuel Paine, Jr. A.D. 1778-1861 and his wife Pamela (Chase) Paine 1780-1856 of Randolph Vermont and their Ancestors and Dependents, Randolph Center, 1923. Written by Francis Paine’s nephew, this book provides an outstanding family history and includes many recollections and journal excerpts by Francis and his brothers. It is available online and through Interlibrary Loan

Census of 1850, Orange County, VT, Microfilm, Seventh Census of the United States, Reel 927.


One diary, as well as supplemental biographical information, organized into one series

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Carmen D. Valentine, American Historical Manuscripts, Philadelphia, PA Catalogue 60, Item 29, $1,500

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States