Aurore Eaton's Looking Back: The story of Mary and John Elliot of Manchester
In the northwest corner of the east side of the Valley Cemetery in Manchester is a sturdy granite monument with Gothic-revival embellishments and the names “Harvey” and “Elliot” carved in bas relief on the base. Here is the resting place of Mary Elizabeth Batchelder Harvey Elliot and several of her close family members. Mary’s deep concern for the health and well-being of Manchester’s citizens, which she shared with her second husband, Dr. John Seaver Elliot, would result in their enduring legacy — the Elliot Hospital in Manchester.
Mary was born in 1823 in Northwood, New Hampshire, the daughter of Levi and Mary Batchelder. In 1841 she married John M. Harvey who was two years older and the son of John and Adeline Harvey, also of Northwood. The couple soon moved to Manchester. A city directory listing indicates that John found work with the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. He died when he was only 27 years old in March 1848 of consumption (tuberculosis). Mary faced another unbearable tragedy a few weeks later in May when her little daughter Arianah died of whooping cough at the age of three.
Mary’s second husband was John Seaver Elliot. He was born in 1802 in Boscawen, New Hampshire. His father, also named John, was nicknamed “Methodist Elliot.” He may have been the first Methodist in Boscawen, and he was also a traveling preacher. He, his wife Sally, and their children moved from Boscawen to Chelsea, Vermont, where they lived for several years.
The family moved back to Boscawen when John was about eight years old.John attended the local district school, and prepared for college at Salisbury Academy in Salisbury, New Hampshire. After graduating, he began studying medicine with Dr. Austin George in Boscawen. He also attended lectures at Dartmouth College and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. John graduated from Dartmouth Medical School in 1821 and was officially recognized as a medical doctor in 1826. He started practicing in Strafford, Vermont, in 1829 and moved to Pittsfield, New Hampshire, in 1839. Dr. Elliot was later commissioned as surgeon of the Eighteenth Regiment of Militia of New Hampshire.
In 1833 Dr. Elliot married Asenath (Bean) Randlett, in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. Asenath, born in 1810, was the daughter of Francis Bean of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, and the widow of Jefferson Randlett, who had died in 1830. Dr. Elliot and Asenath moved to Manchester in 1844. His first cousin from Boscawen, Mary Ann Elliot Morrison, had lived in Manchester previously, and would return there with her family in the 1850s. Mary Ann was the wife of Elinus J. Morrison, the subject of the previous “Looking Back” series.
Elinus lost his life in the famous Confederate Raid on St. Albans, Vermont, in 1864. In June 1849, John S. Elliot, Jr., Dr. Elliot and Asenath’s 13-year old son, died. The cause of his death is unclear, but that summer Dr. Elliot, as the City Physician, had the awful task of coping with a cholera epidemic in the city that killed 25 to 30 people. His close associate, Dr. Thomas Brown, perished in the outbreak. And, sadly, Asenath Elliot herself died on October 8 of consumption. Dr. Elliot was left alone with his five-year old son, George Francis Elliot.
On August 1, 1850, Dr. Elliot married Mary Elizabeth Batchelder Harvey. The couple, with young George, continued to live in Manchester and were well respected in local society. In a family history published in 1918, the author wrote, “Dr. Elliot was accounted one of the skillful practitioners of his time. Beside his professional ability he also possessed remarkable sagacity, shrewdness and foresight in business matters.”
Mary and Dr. John S. Elliot were together for 26 years. When Dr. Elliot died in November 1876, he was buried alongside his first wife Asenath and their son John, Jr. in Manchester’s Pine Grove Cemetery. Mary Elliot died in May 1880 and was buried with her first husband, John Harvey, and her parents in the Valley Cemetery. Through the provisions of her will she assured that a general hospital would be founded in Manchester, but it would take a decade before the doors of the new institution could open.
Next Week: Mary Elliot’s will, and the beginning of the Elliot Hospital.
Aurore Eaton is executive director of Manchester Historic Association; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org