Letters (1841 – 1867)

The Gold Rush Era

In 1853, James Haun and son John departed from their in home in Georgetown, Kentucky for the gold fields of California. They were joined in the winter of 1855, by wife Martha Haun and niece Lizzie Hurst. The letters in this series primarily cover the period of the family’s separation and are closely linked to the diaries kept by John and James during the same time.

The Civil War

In 1861 John Haun returned from California to his childhood home, Georgetown, Kentucky. His daughter would later tell the Feather River Bulletin newspaper that he had returned to Kentucky just before the Civil War to free the family slaves, left behind when Martha Haun joined her husband in California in 1855. Though there is no evince of John’s motivations in the surviving record, by May 1861 he was back in Kentucky and wooing a young woman in Georgetown, Mollie Burns.

John joined the Confederate cavalry, and in 1863 participated in Morgan’s Raid, a six week, thousand mile campaign from Tennessee, through Kentucky and into Ohio, where Morgan and his surviving force were forced to surrender on July 26. Though most of his compatriots found themselves at the Camp Douglas in Chicago, John remained in Ohio at Camp Chase through his 18 month incarceration as a prisoner of war. Following his release he returned to Georgetown, where he remained through the end of the war.

This series mostly consists of letters between John and his sweetheart during his imprisonment, and afterwards, when Mollie went on long visit to relatives.

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