An accidental discovery of letters penned by her great-great-grandfather led Jamaica Plain resident Anne D. Emerson to write a book titled “Letters from Erastus” about the importance of generational values.
Emerson said she came across the 22 letters from Erastus Hopkins—a former state senator—to his daughters “completely by accident” while reviewing materials during a conference at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Emerson said she was “stunned by the letters” and the love and care it showed for the children. She said the letters were written in “a way we don’t talk to our children anymore.”
“It’s a tribute on why we do save letters,” said Emerson. “With emails we have lost something we need to think about.”
The letters spurred Emerson to find out more information about Hopkins, who she learned was a Massachusetts state senator from Northampton. While she was conducting research, Emerson began a correspondence with a cousin who has schizophrenia and is in prison for killing someone. She said the research project became a bridge that built a relationship with her cousin.
Emerson said that the book is weaves together of three stories: the search to find out who her great-great grandfather was, her cousin and his tale and the story of her own life.
She said she hopes that when people read the book they “contemplate on what it means to be a parent” and that “what we pass onto our children and grandchildren comes from us.” Emerson said that people should be “conscious and intentional” on what they pass on.
Emerson, who is retired, said the book took four years to write and that she had the help of a writer’s group in Cambridge. It is her first book and is available at lettersfromerastus.com and amazon.com. She will give a talk about the book at the Roslindale Branch of the Boston Public Library on June 25 at 6 p.m.