May 10 1854 – Martha Haun to James Haun

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A long chatty letter written over the course of several days, in which Martha Haun discusses her brother-in-law Dave’s activities, relates hometown news, fondly recalls the past, and expresses her worries over Lizzie’s probable fate, should she remove to California without her niece.

May the 10th 18541

My own Sweet Husband,

I received a letter from you last Sunday week dated March the 18th, and one from John on the same day, dated March the 5th,2 and, oh, what a pleasure to hear that you were both well and hearty, and to handle the same paper that your dear hands had handled. I considered the last good news. Although you live lonely and rough, yet you are well and making money, and I assure you that is not the most unpleasant life we can live in this world. Besides we are looking forward to better days. You do not know how I have buoyed up my spirits this Spring thinking that this summer you will make enough to come home with next Winter.

I have situated myself as comfortable for this year as I can possibly be with you away. I had written you in another letter that I have the house entirely to myself since the first of March and took Tompson Finnell and his wife to board with me, and the dentist is a day boarder, so I have three boarders and Finnell is very accommodating. The Negroes are all hired out except Bet and Sam. I have enough for company and enough to keep me busy. I do not know how I could do any better than I am doing under the circumstances. I do assure you I leave nothing undone that I can do for the credit and welfare of myself and family. In the right I will persevere. If my mind is spared me to the last day of my life, oh, there is such a satisfaction in doing right that I would not vary from it, if I knew it, for all this world could give—I mean in matters of importance.

Dave is still down among the Lloyds. I got a letter from him not long since saying that he had got to plowing and his health was improving. The kin are all well. Mr Moore and Liz was in last Sunday. Liz has joined the Presbyterian church. Mrs Mitchell has been to see me two or three times. She broke the ice herself for friendship. The sewing society has been meeting at my house for two months or more. I refused to join and they said they would keep it there until I joined. I told them under the circumstances to put my name down for I was tired of them it was not convenient at all times to have them.

Oh how I think of you every time I go to do anything in my garden—of how you used to work in the old garden.

In the morning I sit down again to finish this letter I commenced it last night. I have just got a letter from Dave this morning. His health is improving he was at Dick Lloyd’s when he wrote but makes Dave Lloyd’s his home. He says he has written to you and to H.P. lately. He says he has not got money to come to Georgetown if he wished and he says down there is as good a place to study law as anywhere else and he will commence it very soon.

Mr Hands school has just started out to the woods to have a picnic. I have been fixing Lizzie and standing on the corner, Mrs Web and myself, all the morning to see them march out. A great many have gone, all my family but myself. I did not feel well enough to go today. Frank Rankin come down and offered to take me in a buggy and so did Tom Burbradge and several others but I went last year and got so tired I would not go this time. Liz looked very pretty. She is growing very fast and is very interesting. She is going to make a smart pretty woman. You have no idea how much she is admired. She talks about you and John so often. She loves her uncle better than anybody else living. She often says she don’t get any petting since her uncle left. She says you are the only one that ever petted her any in her life. When ever I talk of going to California she says she will go if she has to run off and if ever I should go there I am bound to take her, for she is left in such a situation that we will have to take care of her or force her from us, and that I cannot nor will not do. She had as well or better have no father than to have one to do as hers does. He has never written one line to anyone of us since he left last

fall and he does not seem to care anything for his children. They would be better off if he was dead, for he is doing no good upon earth and I would not be surprised at any time to hear of his death. I never will give Liz up to anyone on earth until she marries if I have to divide the dress on my back with her. So wherever I go she goes, for no one else has she to care for her but me and I am determined to keep her with me until she leaves me willingly and that will never be, I well know, until she marries. She is all my comfort now. I have none other but her. She loves her dear uncle so much more than she does her farther or any other man living.

Never will I forget the Weeks they have all been so kind to me. The Doctor, Mrs Web and Will all say they are a-going to do everything they can to get you to go South when you come back from California. The doctor is down there now. He has bought out his brothers interest and has it all to himself now. Oh my sweet, I am as I have ever been, ready to obey your wishes or commands. So anything you may grant me to do, you have but to say it and it will be done. Just make your calculations and arrangements to suit yourself and they shall suit me, but I do hope we will see each other before this time next year either here or in California.

Our church is luke warm at present and has been for a long time. We have been trying to raise money enough to paint it all over again. It needs it very much. We have got nearly enough to do it. Emma Smith writes that she is pleased with San Francisco. Tom Johnson is in New Orleans on his way to this place. He will be here in a few days and he expects to go back in the Fall, so says Margaret Johnson. Frank Powell went back this Spring with stock. They are looking for the Osbornes now, I believe, everyday.

Young Jim Topass was shot last week down at the White Sulfur by a fellow by the name of Glass. He was shot with a shot gun loaded with balls. Two went in the chin, one in the mouth, one in the left cheek, and two in the neck, one on each side. One in his neck has not been got out. Notwithstanding all these shots he is getting well. It was about some girl—George Topass is candidate for jailor with about a dozen others. Brother Kelly and Pres Thompson has quit New Orleans for good. Kelly is here in town. He says he made nothing there, besides, he would not live there on any account, so he says. Pres will be up in a short time. He says he knows it is the most wicked place on earth. I do believe Georgetown is more dull than I ever saw it in my life.

John says I did not tell him who Bert Johnson married. Well, he married Hellen Lofton, sister to Bled Harmon’s wife. Tell John if he comes home next winter he will find the boys pretty much as he left them. They all inquire for him often and say they wish he would come home. The girls come to see me right often. Julie Davis and Adda White was here last night until bedtime. By the by, Tom White has all of his property advertised for sale. He wants to go to Missouri if he can sell. Sam Thompson has moved his family out to his mother’s until fall, when he says he will move to Missouri, but no one believes he will. He went out this spring again to look it. John Thompson and his wife has gone to Illinois to spend the summer and as soon as they left Sam moved out to the old lady’s. People think that is just where he has been wanting to get all the time and believe he will stay there. Samy comes to see me every once in a while. She sends her love to John. Billy Roy is still waiting on Ruth Downey.

Oh, you have no idea how much happiness I anticipate with you and my dear boy when you get back. I have commenced making and fixing some little presents for you when you come. Oh how happy we will be to set and talk together or walk about together. I have long since determined if we ever get together again to be happy under all and every circumstance. I so firmly believe you will be at home next winter that I have got to be quite cheerful. I think this sumer God will prosper you and you will get enough to satisfy you.

Frank Rankin wants to go out, he says, very much. I fold him the other day. I see him every day. He eats at Mrs Web’s and is at my door everyday and talks a while. I told him I was determined to go out next spring if you did not come this winter and wrote me you did not know when you would come and he said if I could bear his expenses he would go with me. That was all that kept him from going. He had not nor could not get money to bear his expenses. But I do hope you will come home next winter, that you will be successful this summer and make enough to satisfy you.

My husband, this is a bright beautiful morning but cold. That is the sort of weather we have. I feel this morning more cheerful than I did last night when I wrote the balance of my letter and read yours. I cannot to save my life read a letter from you without crying. Please write often to me the people of Georgetown seem to feel a great interest in you and made frequent inquiries about you. The mail will be in in a few moments and I must stop writing. I am your devoted wife until death. Oh, think how long we have lived together how we have struggled through trials and difficulties together do not forget me. I must close. Write to me as often as you can. When I get a letter (some of your letters) I cry over for a week or two, and some of them again. I do not cry when you write of your hardships and disappointments in getting gold. Oh, God, how miserable I feel, but the last one was a comfort. I did not cry much over that. You seemed to be cheerful. Sometimes when I get a letter and you seem to be unhappy I feel like I want to start right off and help you and try to be a comfort to you. I have no doubt but I have suffered ten thousand times more in mind than either of you have done. I could not have suffered more in mind and lived than I have done. But I have cheered up with the hope that the time will soon pass off and you will be at home and then I think from the way you write you are doing better, and are better satisfied, and that comforts me.

Now farewell my darling husband and sweet boy. Oh, with what delight I look forward to the time when we shall see each other. Let us keep up our spirits and look forward to the time for I fondly hope it is not far distant. Write to me, both of you, and be truthful. I remain your devoted wife until death and mother to my son. Yes, a true and devoted mother and wife,

M. Haun

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 Thursday August 4 1854.
  2. John recorded the composition of this letter in his diary of March 5 1854.