The Face of Bristol, New Hampshire’s Margaret Hall (Sleeper) Fling (1828-1908)

Mrs. Margaret Hall (Sleeper) Fling. Photograph taken in Boston MA, circa 1875-1890s.

Mrs. Margaret Hall (Sleeper) Fling. Photograph taken in Boston MA, circa 1875-1890s.

She was born Margaret Hall Sleeper on 20 November 1828 in Bristol, Grafton Co. New Hampshire. Her parents were Reverend Walter & Nancy (Plaisted) Sleeper. According to the History of the Town of Bristol, New Hampshire, Margaret’s father was one of the very early members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Bristol, New Hampshire and became an ordained clergyman, ordained a deacon on 25 June 1816. He operated a grist mill, was gatekeeper of the Mayhew Turnpike tollgate on North Main Street.

She was the youngest of three children, and the only girl. By 1850 she was the only one of the children still living at home. Possibly she was named after her great-grandmother, Margaret (Scribner) Sleeper. She may have been brought up in a very strict manner. Even when this photograph was taken of her, probably later in life as her hair is shown white, her hair style and demeanor are quite modest and restrained.

mfling-glassesCertain parts of her finery demonstrate affluence, such as her velvet dress, the detailed buttons, and the well-made pince-nez (eye glasses) with chain. [Editor’s note: the popularity of this style of eye glasses peaked around 1880 to 1900 again helping to date the photograph. Teddy Roosevelt wore this style.].

In 18 December 1855, at the age of 27, she became the wife of Lewis Wells Fling, an mfling-buttonsattorney who had graduated from Norwich University and Dartmouth College, and had set up an attorney practice in Bristol NH, where she lived in 1853. He was a widower, whose wife had died the year before, after a year of marriage.

Lewis and Margaret Fling had four children: Charles Willis, Harry Sleeper, Eva Maria, and Anna Sleeper (see genealogy below. The photograph here shown of her was taken at Holland & Roberts, 10 Temple Place, in Boston MA. The photograph’s imprint says 1887, and because it is known to have been in business before this date, possibly this is the year it was taken, though the former owner dates this photograph to the 1890s.mfling-hair

I am providing close ups of Margaret’s hair, glasses and the buttons on her dress, because each show a meticulousness and care in dressing.Margaret, like most women of her time, was left out of the town history, except for a brief mention.  As a clergyman’s daughter she probably had some schooling, but the extent of it is not known.  She also was probably used to participating in her community, and doing “good works.”

Margaret H. (Sleeper) Fling was called Margarette on her death certificate, showing she died 6 November 1908 in Bristol NH of nephritis. She is buried in Pleasant St. Cemetery, Bristol NH. She left behind a grieving husband and her children. Her spouse joined her a few years later. See her genealogy directly below.

=====GENEALOGY of Margaret Hall (SLEEPER) Fling======

SEE “History of the Town of Bristol, Grafton County, New Hampshire, by Richard Watson Musgrove: Book 2, Genealogies, “The Sleeper Family” pp 389+

Thomas Sleeper & Joanna of England, Hampton and Kingston NH
Aaron Sleeper & Elizabeth Shaw of Hampton and Kingston NH
Moses Sleeper & Margaret Sanborn of Kingston NH
David Sleeper & Margaret Scribner
John Sleeper & Elizabeth Tilton

Rev. Walter Sleeper & Nancy Plaisted

Margaret Hall Sleeper (this story is about her, see photograph and biography above) was born 20 November 1828 in Bristol, Grafton Co. New Hampshire, the daughter of Reverend Walter Sleeper and Nancy Plaisted. She married a prominent attorney named Lewis Wells Fling on December 18, 1855. He was the son of Abel & Hopestill (Harlow) Fling. He was b. 6 Dec 1824 in Windsor VT and d. 20 April 1917 in Bristol, Grafton Co. NH. They were the parents of 4 children. Her husband was later a State Senator from New Hampshire. She died on November 6, 1908 in Bristol, Grafton County, New Hampshire and is buried in the Homeland Cemetery in Bristol. See his bio below, and Fling Family Genealogy.

Hon. Lewis Wells Fling from History of the Town of Bristol NH by Richard W. Musgrove, Part 1

Hon. Lewis Wells Fling from History of the Town of Bristol NH by Richard W. Musgrove, Part 1

Who’s who in New England, A.N. Marquis, Vol 2, 1915
FLING, Lewis Wells
Lawyer, b Winsdor VT Dec 6 1824; s. Abel and Hopestill (Harlow) Fling; student Norwich U., 1844-7; A M Dartmouth 1872; m. Maria Currier of Wentworth NH Apr 26 1853 (died 1854) m2d) Margaret H. Sleeper, of Bristol NH Dec 18, 1855 (died Nov 6 1905). 2 children, Charles W., Eva M. Began practice at Wentworth NH Nov 1851, removed to Bristol 1853; mem NH Senate 1871, 1872. Democrat. Methodist. Mason, Home: Bristol, NH
Children of Lewis Wells & Margaret Hall (Sleeper) Fling:
1. Charles Willis Fling, b. 27 August 1856 Bristol NH; d. 25 November 1922 in Bristol NH. He m 18 June 1878 Abbie Etta Seavey, daughter of Amos & Jan (Grey) Seavey. She was b. 12 Oct 1858 in Alexandria NH. Children [FLING]: Lewis Seavey, and Eva. Occupation: Judge. Buried Homeland Cemetery, Bristol NH [See his bio and photo]
2. Harry Sleeper Fling, b. 2 Feb 1859 in Bristol NH; d. 27 Feb 1861 ae 2y 0m 25d
3. Eva Maria Fling, b. 11 May 1863 Bristol NH; m. 24 May 1883 in Bristol NH to Oscar F. Fellows, son of Milo Fellows [SEE Fellows Genealogy]
4. Anna Sleeper Fling, b. 4 Nov 1866 in Bristol, Grafton Co. NH; m. 22 Aug 1889 in Bristol NH to James H. Pitman, son of Elisha D. & Mary E. (?) Pitman. He was b. abt 1861 in LaGrange, Troup, GA. She studied music at the NE Conservatory of Music Boston and was a teacher of music at Southern Female College, La Grange GA. Her husband was a lawyer. Children: [PITMAN]: Jim Fling and Anna May

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One Response to The Face of Bristol, New Hampshire’s Margaret Hall (Sleeper) Fling (1828-1908)

  1. Jeff Ward says:

    You can date the photo much more precisely when you realize that the partnership of Roberts and Holland only lasted for 2 years – 1886 to 1888. See this reference:

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