April 16 1856 – D Howard Smith to James Haun

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This is the only letter from family friend D. Howard Smith included in this collection, through from Martha Haun’s letters we know that he and James Haun were regular corespondents.

Georgetown, Kentucky
April 16th 1856

My dear Sir,

Your very welcome favor of the 15th of December last was received sometime to February whilst I was in Frankfort discharging my legislative duties. My engagements at the time and other pressing duties since my return home have prevented me until the present moment from preforming the very agreeable duty of acknowledging its receipt, together with deed enclosed. For your promptness and attention to complying with my request you are entitled to my thanks and gratitude. The deed was properly acknowledged and is now of record in one office, which winds up finally so far as I am concerned. You act as Adam’s guardian &c. For my supposed obligations you may feel under to my pa for having been one of your endorsers, you are fully released. Having confidence in your integrity and uprightness as a gentleman, and knowing you to be my friend, I was willing to serve you. I wish all whom I have befriended in a similar way had been as faithful.

I know you are not a man of much literary pretension, but I must do you the justice of saying that I have rarely received a letter which interested me more then yours. It was truth, yet it was invested with a desire of romance that made it deeply interesting. We ladies must indeed have had a hard time of it. I was forcibly reminded while reading your narrative of the scenes one pioneer mother went through in the early settlement of Kentucky.

During the past year my health was very bad and for months neither I or my friends considered my recovery at all curtain, but thanks to a good and merciful God I am now very much better—though I am not yet as stout as desirable, or as when you last saw me.

I have, strange as it may appear to you, concluded to remove to northern Illinois or Iowa, I have not yet fully determined. With that view I am now offering to sale my farm. If I do not sell privately I intend to offer it at public sale in September next should health and life be spare me. My notion is to do a banking business and to operate in real estate.

My family is growing so rapidly that I feel it to be my duty to go where I will be able to do more for them than I can ever hope to do for them there.

This past winter has seen the severe frost that ever was known in this region before; the oldest inhabitant has no recollection of anything like it. The thermometer stood two weeks below zero and sometimes some degrees below that point. Ice froze 18 inches thick on the rivers. In consequence of the severe winter, the spring is very backwards. Many of the farmers are not done breaking hemp and my little corn has been planted.

Money is abundant and most things very high. Land and negroes are very high; mules and horses are higher then they ever were before  in this state; hogs also high; cattle low and dull; corn dull and more abundant than it has been at this season of the year than I almost ever saw it; hemp $6.59 cash, but has been as high as $88. So you see with this scale of prices that our farmers are poor persons.

Georgetown is getting along about after the old fashion. Occasionally a dog-fight  or some other trivial thing happens to kick up an excitement. This however soon passes away and then everything is as dull as ever. I suppose you heard of the marriage of Dickenson. He went off last November driving a small curricle. His old flame, Miss Jane Leathers, proved the congruence. Green Tucker lost his wife about ten days ago. She died of typhoid fever. Hers has been the only sickness that I know of. The winter and spring so far has been very healthy.

The old kind General Pratt is doing rather badly with his house. Clint West has taken the other house which has well nigh taken all the General’s custom. Bat Thompson is country judge since the death of Finnell. He is as fat and lazy as ever. The old coon has got “sorta galish.”

I am glad to hear that you and brothers are all doing so well. I hope you will all make fortunes and come back to old Kentucky to live, as I hope to do when I move to Iowa. Present my respects to Mrs Haun and the balance of the family and to all of your brothers. Tell Henry P. he must write to me—that I still remember him in great kindness.

Excuse this syrupy sort of letter. I have written you such items as I thought would interest you and just as they occurred to me.

Write to me soon and often. Your letters always interest me. May Peace, happiness and prosperity attend you and yours through life.

Truly your friend and servant,

D. Howard Smith

Sender’s location: Georgetown, KY | Recipient’s location: Quincy, CA
Note from archivist: “Letters written by Mary Haun & Mary Doyle”