Martha Ballard's Story
Chapter 9

What happened to Foster's wife while he was out of town?

Martha's December 23rd entry, written four months later, tells us what Rebecca Foster said to MB on those two hot days -- the 19th and 25th of August 1789. It is the longest entry in Martha's diary, filling an entire page and parts of two other pages. What you see here (on screen) is just part of that entry.

Although the language is reticent (the word "rape" is not used), Rebecca's tale of "repeated abuses" is almost gothic: "mrs Foster ...Complaind to me that Shee had receivd great abuses from people unknown to her, Such as throwing Stones at her house, Streiveing to get in & lodg with her. after relating those abuses Said that was not the worst Shee had met with Since mr Fosters absence but Shee hoped they would not quite kill her, that they Could do nothing wors than they had unless they killd her. She also Said that Said North had abused her wors than any other person in the world had."

It seems that Martha listened quietly, but said nothing. No questions. No speculation. No gossip. "Shee Seemd Exceedingly troubled when Shee related her tryals, but not being askd any question for information did not descend to particulars at that time, which was the last time I Coverst with her while her Husband was absent," Martha wrote.

But three days later, Martha remembered more...

Martha turned the same diary page on its side and filled the margins on both sides of the page. The case was clearly troubling her.

She "Calld to mind" further details about her August meetings with Rebecca Foster. In fact, she remembered telling -- begging -- Rebecca to keep quiet. "I Begd her never to mention it to any other person, I told her Shee would Expose & perhaps ruen her Self if Shee Did."

So Martha did not just listen quietly to Rebecca. She advised Rebecca to keep the story to herself, warning her that she'd only hurt herself if she spoke up.

What do the official documents tell us about this?

Martha is "at Mrs Fosters" in August of 1789
But Rebecca Foster didn't keep quiet.

Table of Contents

Martha Ballard's Diary

View Text
View Text
View Frames version

 Dec 23, 1789 


December 23, 1789 (Wednesday) - excerpt

Diary entry for Dec. 23, 1789. View Text (link at top) to see text version.