October 12 1865 – Mollie Burns to John J Haun

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Mollie writes cheerfully of visits from young men and a bad tooth ache.

Thursday October 12th 1865

Mr J. J. Haun, dearest of friends,

As I cannot see you tonight, which I should like to do very much, I consequently have concluded to write, being desirous to know if you are convalescent or still an invalid. You must take better care of yourself for somebody’s sake, if not your own.

I have been attending church every night Mr Walk from Paris has been holding a protracted meeting at your church. He has made a good many additions to the church; they immerse them just below here and quite a number of the girls at the orphan school have joined. They come here to dress after being immersed, Clifford and some of the older girls came with them. I have been to see her often, and have a chat every night after church. She says if you should come down and do not come to see her she would never forgive you.

I entertain my beaus in regular country style, having accommodations for both man and beasts. Dick T. came in last Sunday evening, had his horse put up, took supper, and we then went to church, came home and he stayed till ten o’clock. I was not aware that you were criticizing me the night of the circus, or that I was exciting any feelings of admiration in the breast of the one I desired most to please on that occasion. You speak of one of the managers assisting me to a seat and putting his arm around my waist; the seats were very unsteady, which was the reason he did it. I intended to ask you if you noticed it but something prevented and it then slipped my memory. I did not know you noticed it. Did Joe and Millie see it, or did you speak of it to them? I would just have that show man to know, that my waist is not to be considered public property to be encircled by anybody that might choose to do so.

Cousin Fannie and myself will be over one day next week to spend the day, but do not know what day, as we are controlled by circumstances but I expect to return with her as I have given her my promise to stay, and help her quilt and do some of her fall sewing. I received a letter from home the same day yours came. Cousin Fannie is very nicely fixed down here, and if you choose to come down one day and stay till the next I think you would enjoy your visit very much. Cousin Fanny is a great hand for young folks and takes a great deal of pain to entertain my visitors. We both have our own fun together. She says she is going to inform you of my flirting with the country boys down here. I tell her that it would just please you to know I am enjoying myself.

I have been quite well but have another sore tooth. Cousin Fannie made me take a bottle of camphor, one of laudanum and a bottle of whiskey to my room one night to try the soothing influence of all, but to no effect. The pain still predominates. I seen stars for certain until, being worn out, after midnight I just concluded to drink whiskey until it put me to sleep. Cousin F. makes us all get up so soon, but that morning she said she felt so sorry for me. hearing one pace my floor, she let me sleep as long as I wanted to.

Sallie McConnell, now Mrs Waits, is at church every night. She is now living out in the country at her husband’s father’s home. I have become acquainted with her new brother and sisters, and like them very much. There is rather a large family and most of them grown. They seemed to be thought a great deal of here. 

But as I am getting sleepy I shall close, biding you good night. I shall simply reply verbatim to the signature of your missive,

Write soon and often,


Metadata: Postmark: Midway, KY | October 13
Sender’s location: Portland, KY | Georgetown, KY

October 31 1864 – Mollie Burns to John J Haun

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In this partial letter, Mollie writes to John Haun on the receipt of the ring he crafted for her in prison, telling him of her sister’s welfare and a petition to free another Georgetown POW.

Monday Morning
October 31 1864

Kind Friend,

I did not receive your letter until the 25th although it was written on the 16th. The ring arrived safe with the letter. I can wear it, but it is rather too small. You have forgotten, I guess, that my 
hand, like myself, has its usual share of flesh. Two years is sufficient time to forget such trivial matters in. I prize it very highly, think it very pretty.

Dora is in Henry County1 but we hear from her often. She has quite a nice little school of 30 scholars. It is out the last of November. I am going down and then we are going to Louisville as we were disappointed this summer in not getting there.

Mrs Kershaw and Mrs Bonner, formerly Miss Laura Heady was to see me on Saturday. Laura has married quite a fine looking man with plenty of cash. She came over dressed very fine, with a splendid horse and buggy of her own. She lives just 7 miles from Danville. Just imagine you hear Charles Hatten give a long sigh. I think from Dora’s letters she also meditates something rather strange, from the way she speaks of a certain one of the male sex.

I met with Mrs Webb at our church last night. We have a new preacher, quite an intelligent and pleasant man. Mrs Webb thinks him superior to any since Noland.

You speak of spending another winter in Camp Chase. I should call on someone to make endeavors to release you first. I expect Mr John Lemon will be released. His friends drew up a petition here, and sent it to Washington on his behalf. Johnnie Barkley shot himself, but it is just a flesh wound.

Metadata: Postmark: Georgetown, KY | November 1
Sender’s location: Georgetown, KY | Recipient’s location: Camp Chase, OH
Note: “Dated Oct 31st 54, Received Nov 3rd 54”

May 1 1864 – Mollie Burns to John J Haun

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A letter of love and news from Mollie Burns to John Haun, in prison.

May 1st 1864

Dear Friend,

It is Sunday, and I have stolen away to my room to commune with you for a while before going to Sunday School. Sister Fannie is in spending the day with us. She is living away out of town as I think, at Mr Eason’s place, and the little Hats keep up too much noise to think of attempting writing near them.

It is a very pretty day. There will be quite a large baptizing at three this evening which I shall attend and look for you and me too as you use to attend them. About half of the college and Mr Farman’s girls will be there as usual every spring.

I do not remember whether I told you of John Roach’s death in my last or not. He killed himself with whiskey. I attended Gabbie’s infare1. I never had more fun in all my life, and they had the prettiest set table I have seen for a long time. Such as Mrs F. in her exquisite task alone knows how to set a tabled loaded with all rare delicacies, and an abundance of music. Gabbie looked as sweet as a peach, Billie as though every cloud has a silver lining. He told me that he thought he had accomplished wonders in getting Minnie. Barnie and Jennie are also united in the holy bonds of wedlock. I was invited to attend, but it being in the morning at three I did not go. I could not get up to attend my own wedding at such a time, as I told Jennie. But I knew I would be up all night at Mrs F.‘s and did not wish to appear dull and uninteresting. Miss Lizzie Mills marries a Federal Colonel the last of this month.

I received a letter from Dora yesterday. She sends her kindest regards to you. Andy Jenkins or Reed arrived yesterday. I wish that you could enjoy this lovely May day associating with friends and home. I suppose you can fully realize the full import of those two little words “At Home” as you have been one of the many that has forsaken all, home and friends, to harken to your country’s call, which few know how to appreciate till lost.

I am corresponding with a Mr John H Collins from Mississippi, a prisoner at Rock Island though Albert Crumbaugh’s influence. Jimmie is still in Canada. I was quite surprised when I received the letter from R.I. I answered it requesting him to tell me how he got my address, and he wrote me word that A.G.C. was quite an intimate friend of his. His letters are very interesting, and he, like you, is willing to excuse bad penmanship if I only will consent to a correspondence. You must manage to get here some way to see us before going back into the army.

I have not much news to communicate at present, as our little town affords none. Tommie L. says howdy. I intended going to Louisville, Missippi, Annie Price, Dora and myself on a visit the later part of June or the first of July, as Brother Spruell says, no providence preventing. Mike Barlow is still here. Quite a number received letters from their friends in the south yesterday.

You have not shaved since you left. Well you know what I admire and think is most becoming. If you must, primp when you come to see me, but I shan’t be particular if I could only have a short look at you, if long ones are not allowed.

Write soon. As you know Mollie, or Chalk, likes to hear from you often.

Your friend,

Mollie C Burns

Lots of ___________

Metadata: Postmark: Georgetown, KY | May 2 1864
Sender’s location: Georgetown, KY | Recipient’s location: Camp Chase, OH
Note: “Dated May 1st, Received May 5th”

undated – Martha Haun to James Haun

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Though undated, this letter from Martha Haun to her husband, was most likely written shortly after Dave’s return March 1854.

…mind to hear it with all the fortitude I possibly can another year. You must then come home or send word for me to come.

Mr Moore says whenever you write to me to go out, that you intend staying there, and I want me to come. Then, he will do anything in his power to get me off and will assist me to go any way he can but he says I ought not to think of going unless you wrote positively for me to do so. I am willing to do what you think is for the best. Dave lost his trunk at Louisville. I did not get it until last Monday. He was expected to get it—

I wrote you in a previous letter that Louis Offutt and the widow Patterson were married. Old Henry Prewett is married to a Mrs Walker of Louisville. He is her third husband. She is fifty four years of age and has four children, all grown but one boy twelve years old. He is with them. She is a very nice woman. Lou Chambers is anxious to go to California. She says she will go if ever she gets money enough to take her— Tom Holtzclaw has just left. He come in to see if I would board him a few days until they get ready to leave. They are in a bad fix. Old Henry has left them the bag to hold. They must get away the best way they can. The poor old woman is nearly crazy.

The church is in a very luke warm condition at present. No one is preaching for us but old brother Smith. The old man will make me read all your letters to him. He says you write so satisfactory, he loves to hear them read. He always sends his love to you.

Dave tells me John has grown a great deal. Tell the little scamp he must not grow and change so much I won’t know him when he gets back. I want him to look like my own precious boy when he comes. You may well know I asked Dave a few questions about you.
Now, let me say to you, for my sake do not come across the plaines when you start for home but please come the quickest way–and one other thing: do not take me by surprise, for it would overcome me too much. It would be too much for my nerves. Let me know when you are coming, and when you get to Cincinnati or Louisville telegraph me. Please comply with this request. Let me get a letter two weeks at least before you come.
Mrs Weeb is pestering me all the time. She just sent word to know if I was going to perfume my letter and what with. She said she had just sent her husband one and perfumed it. He is in the South. I must stop this nonsense and bid you goodbye for this time.

My own precious husband. Oh how I would like to send you a kiss–my life, my love, my all. Farewell! Tell my boy I will write him by the next mail. Write me often.

Your devoted wife until I cease to exist,

M. Haun

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

June 23 1855 – Martha Haun to James Haun

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Martha Haun relates the latest Georgetown news, and continues to debate traveling to California. The enclosed news clippings, which have not been retyped, are “The Wife’s Reply” 1 and an unknown poem dated from Burlington Iowa, August 15 1852.

My own dear husband,2

I last week wrote John a long letter of three sheets of paper. I was very low spirited at the time. I wrote having been quite unwell for a week or ten days. Any how, I have spells of low spirits that I cannot avoid. I have probably said something about your cold way of writing to me that I ought to have kept to myself. If there is any thing wrong you will look over it. I endeavored to write the truth exactly as I felt at the time, but I want you to do as you please about coming. You ought to know your own business and your duty better than I can tell you. I cannot see for my life how I am to get away from here or feel any degree of satisfaction in leaving. I had much rather stay one year or 18 months as I am and for you to come home then then for me to go out there now. I got a letter from Dave yesterday saying he would not now probably go to California until fall. He said he was very tired of staying there in Iowa but would have to stand it a while longer. Now I want to you to write to me when you will come as soon as you get this and if you say positively you will not come within a year or 18 months I will go out with him, though I had much rather you would come than for me to go there.

Irwin Stevenson told me to tell you to write him a letter. He sends his best respects to you and says if you will write to him and give him any encouragement he will go out himself. He says to tell him if he is doing well to stay until he has made enough to do him. I told him I would do no such thing and to hush talking that way, that you ought to stay there.

[torn] not to write to you com home
[torn] knows how bad I want to see you
[torn] there from Dave saying he was
tired to [torn] ying in [torn] but had no money to come away he went there to get money from Sant to take him to California. Sant has not got it yet. As soon as he gets it he will come back here and get ready to go to California and you must write as soon as you get this and tell me if you will come home in a year, or if you will not, promise that I will go out with him. So no more of this at present.

Our church is in a very luke warm condition. We have John Ganes to preach for us once a month. The members seems very indifferent only when he preached. Dr Alex Keens got up here to his father’s three weeks ago very ill. They thought he would die in Louisville but they got him up here and he lay ten days very low. He took a notion he would go back home and they could not persuade him out of it so they started with him and got a few miles below Frankfort when he died. The doctors said he was dying when they started with him, that he was cold to his knees in death. Wallace, you know died about a year a go. The old doctor has out lived all his children except Mrs Elliot.

Old General F. Counroy has got back to town looking like a ghost. He has been sick a long time. I wrote you all the news in John’s letter. I told you how Moore told me never to ask a favor of him for Lizzie unless I would give her up to him altogether. She would rather die than go to him. So she will stick to me go where I will, unless I force her away from me, and that I cannot nor will not do. She is anxious to go to California and if I go I will take her. I can’t leave her nor part from her, for she clings as closely to me as if she was my own child, and she is a credit and pleasure to us, or ought to be, for she is pretty and smart. Dr Craig and Paul Rankin brought Bob Keen’s old house and gave it to Harrison Rankin. Old Mrs Caldwell is dead. Beri Glass has bought Levi Brewett’s house at six thousand dollars. Harvey Graves is living in Thornton Johnson’s old house until he gets another built on his, for his daughter Norah and Jim Henry gets married soon. Clint West is talking about renting Barkley’s tavern for five years. John West is doing as he was when you left. There is a set of them always setting about the taverns. Clint John and J. Webb, Tim Pullin, Lou Adams and all that set. Sam Thompson says he is going to move to Illinois this fall but no one believes him.

I commence again tonight to write my letter. The moon is shining bright through my window and the band a-practicing over at the pool hall for tomorrow. The masons march tomorrow and have a diner. Oh, that music, how it makes my heart ache. It makes me think of my poor boy and times that are past and gone. Lizzie says, “tell uncle I am kicking up my heels in his place in bed,” and says, “I would send him a kiss if I could.” Oh I would die were it not for the affection and life of that child. Take her from me and what would I do. Next week is commencement week here, and there is going to be a ball here on Wednesday night, but I feel no interest in any of these things.

Farlan’s school is in confusion. His teachers are everyone going to leave him. Bat Thompson is boarding here and doing nothing as usual Jack Thompson is broke up entirely and gone to Missouri to his wife’s sister’s. Laziness broke him—

Mr Haun, I must close my letter and now. Let me tell you plainly I do not want to go to California and nothing will make me start, only to know that is the last chance for me ever to see you and my child again. I feel that I am getting too old to go there and run the risk of having to live and die in hardships and privation. I know my child won’t ask it of me, for he has often written to me not to think of coming, and I think if you will think seriously of it you won’t ask it. Had I known the morning you started that at the end of two years absence things would be as they are now, I would have gone then—but after having suffered all this time and to at last have to go is very hard. You will have to do as you please. My happiness is in your keeping, you must remember. So write as soon as you get this and do not delay.

Give my love to my darling boy and accept the love and life-long attachment of a devoted, sorrow stricken wife.

Brother Smith sends his love to you, and Martha, and Ann E. West sends her love to you and says bring her a lump of gold when you come–

Enclosed newspaper clippings: Buck, Ruth, “The Wife’s Reply” Chambers’ Journal.
Untitled verses: Burlington Iowa, August 15th 1852.

April 2 1853 – Martha Haun to James Haun

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In this letter Martha Haun updates her absent husband on events at home.

April the 2nd 1853

My Dear Husband,

I sat down this Sunday night after coming from church to commence a letter to you. I do not expect to finish it tonight.

We are all in good health at this time. Betty has not been confined yet. I am almost out of patience waiting on her. The connections and friends are all well and all of the Negroes.

I will try and give you an account of the proceedings of the church in B.W. Finnell and Shepard’s trial. You know they had appointed a committee of ten to investigate and settle the difficulty. They were nearly three days investigating the matter and making out a report. After the congregation was dismissed last Sunday he requested the members to remain. He then asked if the report should be read. The committee said yes, and their report was that Shepard had acted in a way calculated to deceive Finnell. Shepard told Finnell that he would see him at 4 o’clock in the evening to let him have a negro man and some land on Eagle to pay the debt he owed him. Within an hour after telling F. that, he went to Howard, Smith and Robinson and made a deed of trust and put all of his property out of his hands. Shepard acknowledged to the committee that he had no intention of doing what he told F. he would do, but told him this to get clear of him. Of course the committee condemned that in him.

After brother Smith read the report on Sunday last, Shepard seemed to be very angry and said the report was false and said a great many things to hurt the feelings of the committee and brother Smith also; he was very severe on him. They did not put it to vote that day whether or not the church would receive the report of the committee, but appointed last Friday to settle it.

The members were all there and Jeffy got up and laid the whole matter before the church: all the business transactions of his and Finell’s. The church then voted and received the report, then Jeffy got very angry and withdrew him and his wife from the church. I do not think there was three members on his side. It is my opinion, with some others, that he was determined that the fuss between him and F. should get him out,  for he knew if that had been settled amicably the matter of his child would have been brought up next, and I think he could not stand that. Jeff had B.J.Thompson, D.H. Smith and B. Glass’ testimony taken in the church, but it would not all do him any good. He is now out of the church —

My dear, I resume my writing again tonight.

Yesterday Mrs Holtzclaw and Betty and Betty Moorland and Mrs Keene and myself spent the day at Ben Rinnell’s. Tomorrow we are all going to sister Johnson’s in the country. Sister Johnson told me to say to you for her that she comes to see me every few days and sends her love to you. She comes two or three times a week. I never can forget her kindness to me. In fact, everyone seems very kind to me. I never sit two hours alone. Every one of the ladies in the house flock to my room, and there is every day more or less calls on me. Mrs Powell is very friendly. Though I do say it myself, I know that my society is as much or more courted than any lady in this place, and then they show a disposition to try and make me pass of  my time pleasantly. Dr Keene is so thoughtful and kind to me. I pass my time as pleasantly as I could possibly do under the circumstances, but, oh, away from all that is dear to me on earth–how could I expect much happiness?

But when intelligent men, men whose opinion is worth hearing speak of our fortitude, and say you have taken the proper course, and the wise one for the benefit of our child, and speak in such high terms of your energy and determination, I feel as though I could bear it with all fortitude.

General Johnson come to see me and said he was glad that you had done what you have, that it was the very best thing you could have done. He said he knew you was too good a business man to be wasting your time here. He says he knows you will make money. He urged me to go about among my friends and  spend my time cheerfully and pleasantly.

Emma Smith told me to say to you to make the acquaintance of the young gentleman she sent the letter to by you. She said she wrote to him about you, telling him to do the same. Mrs Holtzclaw says you must be sure to write as she told you she sends her best respects to you. There is so many persons making inquiries about you and saying, “give him my love when you write,” that I could not begin to name them. It is almost everyone in town. Even old Dr Sutton every time he sees me is asking about you. Martha Graves sends her love to you and says she misses you very much at church and you must make haste and come back. She says, “tell him I hope the Lord will prosper him, and every one that you ever had any intimacy with.”

I ride almost as much as I did when I had a buggy. Dr Keene bought a gentle horse on purpose for his wife to drive, and her and I ride often. Bet Mooreland says I must ride with her this summer, so between the two I expect to ride a great deal.

Well we spent the day today with sister Johnson and I will give you the names of the ladies that went from town: Mrs Saunders, Mrs Bradly, Mr Holtzclaw, Mrs Duvall, Mrs Martha Graves, Mrs Hull, and Mrs Keene, Bet Mooreland, Bet Holtzclaw, Gabe Saunders, Mrs Cable and myself. We had quite a pleasant time but, oh, when I sat down to the table at dinner, spread so bountifully with the luxuries of life I thought “now maybe my poor dear husband and child are in want of even the necessaries of…”


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