December 20 1853 – Martha Haun to James Haun

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In this letter, Martha Haun updates her husband James on her housing arrangements, slaves, and local news, especially the marriage of Emma Smith, the daughter of a family friend, who has agreed to carry the letter personally to California.

December the 20th 18531

My Dear Husband,

I received your most welcome letter of October 28th. It was seven weeks coming. Oh, how, delighted I was to hear you was doing so well, and more than that—you were living tolerably comfortably. You can form some idea of the effect the news had in town when I told  them you was making. I could see so plain a spirit of energy, though none but said they were glad —

Oh, you have no idea how much good it has done me to tell you was making money. It seems to natural to the human family not to want others to get a long better than themselves. Oh, it would be the happiest and proudest day of my life to see you and John land in Georgetown with plenty of money. Then preserver, never give up, and I know you will succeed.

What is the reason you do not get my letters? I know I get all of yours. I wrote every two weeks, and write you ever thing I can. There is five or six letters you have not got—or had not when you wrote this last one. I am well but have fallen off in flesh twenty-five or thirty pounds. I told you and John in several of my last letters about my going to housekeeping. I told you all about it. I discovered it would not do at all to let the Negroes do, as we started out to. I find it is so much better for my happiness and interest to take care of them myself. Kit will have another baby this Spring. Her other child will not be more than fifteen months old when she has another. She is hired out until Christmas to Herriot, and they are more pleased with her than any negro they ever had. Herriot told me himself that he had rather have her than any servant he ever had about him, but says with two babies she could do very little, and he had rather pay fifty dollars for one with out encumbrance. So, you see, it is a hard matter to hire out breeding women and get anything for them, but I know they are making more by raising children than they could do any other way. If Bet and Kit keeps on the way they are doing they will make a handsome little fortune themselves, but the difficulty now is to take care of them and get along so as to raise them. I would be glad if you would send me some money if you have got it plenty. After I get a store I can get along so much better than we did before, but going to keeping house has taken more money just at the time but will not take so much after as boarding, you may rest assured. I do the very best I can—so give yourself no unease about me, but take care of yourself and do the best you can and make haste to make enough money and come back home—

This will be given you by Emma Smith. She gets married tomorrow morning and starts to California. She marries the man she told you about. His name is Rings they are going to San Francisco. He came in expressly for her. He has not been here more than two months. They have been so anxious for me to go out with them. The poor old man Smith has been to see me every four or five days about it. I read him your letter before this last, what you said about my going, and he said I ought not to go unless you wrote for me. He heard I got a letter from you the other day and he came down yesterday and would have me read it to him. He told me to give you his very best love and respects. You must go to see Emma and she can tell you more than I can possibly write.

The church is getting along about as it were when you left. I wrote you a letter three weeks ago on Jeff Shepard’s account. He told me what to say to you for him. I hope you will get it. If you do not, let me know in your next. I also wrote you one of three or two sheets of paper, I have forgotten which, in which I told you everything that would interest you. I hope you will get that also. Let me know. I have written several to John.

Jane Graves is in Lexington with all of her children to spend the winter. She has been to see me and will stay with me a part of her time. She looks thin and delicate. She kissed yours and John’s miniatures a hundred times and tried to cheer me up. She says she knows it is the best thing you could have done. I got a letter this morning from Jake Winter. He tells me his farther has joined the Baptist church. He says he thinks and hopes the old man is not mistaken. I wrote you all about old Uncle Solomon’s death. Henry has come to live with Aunt Mary.

I know I got all of your letters and do not know why you do not get mine. I still hope you will. I wrote a long letter to Dave and have not got an answer. I do not know whether he ever got it—Give my best love to Dave and tell him he had better go to work in the mines with you and John and get money enough and come back with you and let us all live comfortably together once more. Oh, how happy we could be all of us together with plenty of money.

You must be sure to go and see Emma, more particularly if you do not get all my letters. She will tell you everything, though she said she would not tell you a word if I did not go. She only said that when she was begging me to go.

My precious boy take care of my jewel and bring him safe back to me, Pa, and your precious self with him. I will try and bear the separation believing it is for your good. Keep in good spirits and preserver and I know you will succeed. The servants are all well and the children are growing finely. I wish you could see this last boy of Bet’s. He is an uncommon child, he is so big and strong and lively. He is not quite nine months old and he can spring up and walk around a chair as quick as if he was two years old. I tell her she gets better every one she has and that she is fit for nothing else but to have boys. Lizzie ran in just now and told me to go to the door and listen to them shouting over at the Methodist church. It is their quarterly meeting and Dick Keene is a-shouting. I will write you again in a few days. I have written so much and so often lately that I have not much to write now. I do hope you will get all of my letters. So farewell my sweet husband. My love to my boy and David.

Your devoted wife until death,

M. Haun

P.S. Lizzie says tell uncle to kiss John for her and tell John to kiss Dave for her and tell Dave to kiss Uncle for her so you will have some kissing to do if you obey her. She is well and going to school.


Metadata: Sender’s location: Georgetown, KY | Recipient’s location: Nelson Creek, CA
  1. James Haun recorded the receipt of this letter in his diary on March 28 1854.