February 12 1855 – Martha Haun to James Haun

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Still on her visit to Iowa, Martha Haun relates the everyday activities of the family there, and expresses her desire to see her husband and son at home before long.

February the 12th 18551

My dear loved husband,

I commence this letter with the faint hope that you will get it sometime or other. Owing to the deep snow that has fallen out here in this western county we have had but few mails recently. The cars having been stopped, or nearly so, by the snows. I should have gone home by this time, had the cars been running. Today it is raining slowly and melting the snow away. I suppose it will all be gone by morning. I can get home in four days from here on the cars and will start in the course of a week. I dread the trip, it makes me sick to travel on them, it affects me like sea sickness and I vomit like a sick child but stop vomiting as soon as I get off of them. I do not get over the effects for several days.

Billy G. says he is going to give me some of his double distilled whiskey to take home with me for you when you come. I will take good care of it for you and hope it will not be long until you tap the cask in old Kentucky and drink a toast to your loving and devoted wife, and after the toast give her one long and loving embrace. Oh what a happy day to me will that be–but now I am anticipating again and whenever I get to thinking that way about you I get so impatient for that day to arrive that I scarcely know how to pass the time. I must try to wait the best I can.

Billy G. works hard and has as little satisfaction with it as any man I ever saw. He has surely been more cursed in marrying than any man I ever saw and bears it better. He is very kind to me and treats me like a sister. He took me out yesterday to see the country. There is some beautiful country here and some again pretty rough. Sant has a very pretty place. He is now offering it for sale; he asks six thousand dollars for it. I asked him what he was going to do or where going. He said he did not know, that he was tired of staying here that he would like to live in New Orleans
or Lexington, Kentucky. John Graves talks of leaving the country Jane has such poor health here. They think the climate is too cold for her. I told John to hold on until you come back, that probably you would go to a new country and we could go together. I wrote to John sometime ago and told John what Sant said about Billy G. and cautioned him about lending him money should he make applications for it, but this keep to yourselves, do not tell H.P. anything about it. Billy said he was going to write to you in a few days.

W.G. gets up of a morning and makes a fire in the kitchen and brings up two buckets of water, fills up the tea kettle, makes a fire in the dining room and one in his wife’s room, and then comes
up stairs and calls Pauline, and makes a fire in my room. Pauline gets the breakfast and sometimes Nancy gets up in time enough for breakfast but more frequently does not get up until the balance of us are all done eating. Oh it makes me feel like if ever I have it in my power to wait on you and make you comfortable again it would be such a pleasure to me to do it. Jane says that I have done more work this winter since I have been here than Nancy has done in five years. She hires a girl to come to the house to sew and she does less work than any other woman I ever saw in my life in any circumstances.

John said in his letter that he had almost forgotten everything he ever knew. Oh how sorry it makes me to think of him now in his young days buried in those mines deprived of everything like enjoyment or society when his feelings are young and he naturally wants society and could enjoy it, to be so totally deprived of it. So hard it is on him at his age to live as he has to there. I so much fear it will crush his spirits and make an old man of him in feelings before he is hardly a man at all, but you are with him and can see the effect it has upon his mind, and as you are his farther must surely love him as well as I do, and I will have to let you be the judge of how long you keep him there. I do not think he is happy. He writes too much like a man of mature years and like one that has felt and known disappointment and sorrow. Oh if I could only see him happy. If I could only have him with me and try to make him happy it would be some comfort to me. I want to see you both, God only knows how much. I sometimes think you may forget me or become indifferent about me, but know if you do it is more than I ever can be toward you–and do not I beg you let my darling child forget me…

Tell me in your next letter if you have set any time to start home, and if you have, when it is. You must not come unexpectedly but let me know when to look for you so as not to excite me too much. When you get to New York or New Orleans you must telegraph me from there so as to let me know when to look for you. You have been there two years and have not said a word yet about coming. Now I think it is time you would say something about it. W.G. says he fears you may not get your gold safe home, what you do make. He says there is some of the eastern checks that are not good, but he says you will know best whether to ship it or sell it—

I will write to you as soon as I get home and let you know how I find the folks there, so you may look for a letter the next mail after you get this. The church is getting along as it did when you left. Not much change any way. Jerry Stevens has moved to Lexington to keep a boarding house.

Now I must again say goodbye. Oh how much oftener will I have it to write? Jane and John Graves and all the kin send there love to you and John. Farewell, farewell my sweet 
husband and darling child. I remain your loving and devoted wife until death,

M. Haun

If I could only send a kiss to you both—but I will have to keep them until you come—


Metadata: Sender’s location: Sabula, IA | Recipient’s location: Nelson Creek, CA
  1. James Haun recorded the receipt of this letter in his diary March 30 1855.