1836: Augustus Dana to Henrietta Turnbull Dana

How Augustus Dana might have looked

How Augustus Dana might have looked

This letter were written in December 1836 by Augustus Dana (1798-1873), son of William Dana (1745-1809) and Mary Bancroft (1752-1831) of Belpre, Washington County, Ohio. Augustus was married to Polly Burch (1802-1874).

Augustus addressed the letter to his niece, Henrietta Turnbull Dana (1816-1842). “Hetta” married George Benedict (b. 1815) in June 1839 but died less than three years later. Henrietta’s parents were John Dana (1781-1827) and Catherine (“Katie”) Walton (1787-1871) of Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Ohio.

Augustus wrote the letter just below Mt. Vernon, Indiana, where the Wabash River flows into the Ohio River. We learn from the letter that his Steamboat Monroe is prevented from traveling farther up the Wabash River due to flowing ice and intense fog.

Click here for additional correspondence between these two relatives.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Miss H. T. Dana, New Haven, Gallatin County, Illinois

Steam Boat Monroe
December the 28, 1836

Dear Niece,

I am now just below Mt. Vernon and the sea is so thick that we could hardly land at that place to put out freight. The reason that I write you is because I do not expect to find you at Shawneetown. If I had of known what I now know I might have given you five days more notice and then, Hetta, you would have had plenty of time to have met us there and went to Nashville with us. But at this time of year there is no such thing as making any correct calculation when a steamboat will be at a certain point. I wish you could go with us to Nashville for we have a very pleasant company of ladies aboard.

The river is high and full of ice and we can’t run nights. If so I can come and see you before I return, I will do so for we don’t expect to return until spring opens. We will play from Nashville to the mouth of Cumberland. We have had a tedious trip so far but we have made money all the time. We have broke a main shaft since we left Louisville but we had another on board. Notwithstanding the ice and other difficulties to encounter, we have fine times and such a getting up stairs you never did see. O Lord, gals, I am just from ______ — I come for to learn a ho-down dance, such a gitten up stairs you never did see.

Give my respects to your Ma, Mr. & Mrs. Michel, your sisters & all the friends. Yours in haste, — Uncle Gus


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