undated gold rush era letter – Martha Haun to James Haun

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Martha Haun writes to her husband about her hopes and plans for the future, and reports on the state of affairs at home, including birth of a son to a slave. The letter closes with three circles marking the place on the paper which Martha has kissed.

…life and oh that thought made my heart ache.

My dear husband, I want you to write me as soon as you can and tell me what you think of doing. Now let me say to you: do not become too easily discouraged. You have gone a long way to try to make preparations for us to settle down in a way that we can enjoy each other’s society and pass our old days, if God give them to us, happy and comfortable, without days and nights being passed in anxiety and dread of not being able to make a living. Oh God what pleasure it would be to me to be able to get us a good little farm and there settle down together never no more to part until death parts us for a little while, for if we are faithful we will meet in heaven. My husband, the one I left all for to live with, and the one that I have spent so many happy hours with, as well as troubled ones. We have buffeted the storm of life together for a long time. We have suffered together and been happy together. Now let us write often to each other and counsel as to what is best to do. We have consented to part for a time, believing it would be for the best. Let us try and not loose sight of our object but bear up, our spirits as good as we can and not put our hands to the plough and look back, but put our trust in God and persevere and we will come off conquers.

Recollect that you have only to tell me what to do and I am ready to obey. If you think that by staying two or three years you would be able to buy a farm here or in any of the states, I think I would prefer it to going there—but if it is your wish and John’s for me to go out there I am willing. You will let me know what you think about it when you find out yourself.

Pa, our poor dear boy, oh, love him for my sake too as well as his own. Be thoughtful of him, and think how much he misses me to pet and love him. Could I see you and him for one short hour what a pleasure! None but my God knows how I love you and how proud I am of you both. What would be this world to me with out you? I would not want to stay a day in it if it was not for the hope that we would all be together again and be happy. Would we not have a heap to tell each other if we were together now? I think I could talk a week myself without stopping. Let us look forward to the time when we will sit down around our own table in our own house with all our servants gathered around, and all of us looking happy and feeling more so, to eat of the little dainties prepared by my own hand. Oh imagine it! With the prospect of a bountiful living, if we would half try to have it. Is it not a pleasure to think of it? Let us keep it in view and do our best to get situated in that way, not forgetting to ask God to bless us in our effort to do so, and having faith to believe he will.

Write to me everything you can, and tell me how John seems to be satisfied, and all about him—and let me ask you to talk freely to him and make him more of a companion for you than otherwise. Make him your confident, and get him to make you his, and, oh, be tender of his feelings. I will write to him in a few days. Give my love to Dave, Jack, Henry, and Cath. I will make a request, simple you may think, but I know with your kind heart you will do it. It is this: from the time the moon changes so that we can see it I want us both to go out at dusk of evening and look upon that bright orb and think of each other and our child and pray to God to spare us to meet again and bless us as a family. We will send up our prayers together to God for our whole family, not forgetting the least servant in our protection. He will stand by those that put their trust in him. We must do our best and then look to him for a blessing…

Saturday night. This letter has been on hand one week tonight. I was slow about it, hoping that Bet would have her baby. She had it this morning at 4 o’clock and is doing well. It is the biggest boy she has ever had. It weighs 12 pounds. She has named it Nat. We have now five fine likely boys. Kit’s child is the prettiest child I ever saw; it grows finely and is very sprightly. Kit makes an excellent mother and takes as good care of her child as anyone…

I will now close this. Betty Holtzclaw says she intends writing to you soon. I cannot think of any news to write more except the death of J.H. Davis. He has been dead two weeks…

Now, my dear dear husband, I must tell you goodbye. Oh that word, goodbye, how loth I am to say it to you, even on paper. What shall I say to you about my own dear child? I feel so much I can say nothing. You know me and know what my feelings are. You can imagine what I want to say, but all I will say is this: my life is bound up in you and him. Were I to know that I would never see you again I could not nor would not live. Remember my sweet husband that it is for you I live, and try to take care of your health and live for me and do not grieve about anything, but keep up your spirits and be happy, let what will come. You know if you get low spirited it will affect your health. If I could know you was happy and in good spirits I would be so much more so. I imagine some times you are unhappy, and whenever I think of you that way I take a good cry. Oh be happy for my sake! Hug my boy for me—he won’t let you kiss him but give him a good squeeze for me.

Forever I remain, your devoted wife,

M. Haun

I send you a kiss at the bottom of this. Where three round marks are, press you lips, there where mine has pressed.

Metadata: Sender’s location: Georgetown, KY | Recipient’s location: Nelson Creek, CA