This letter was written by Rufus Hillard (1815-1886), the son of Joseph Hillard (1787-1870) and Roxana Day (1795-1878). He married Martha M. McClure (1819-1883) in December 1840, and farmed near Acworth, Sullivan County, New Hampshire.
Rufus wrote the letter to his good friend, Newton Jackson (1810-1871), a farmer of Cornish Flats, Sullivan County, New Hampshore. Newton was the son of Walter and Elizabeth Jackson.
Addressed to Mr. Newton Jackson, Cornish Flat, New Hampshire
July 18, 1839
Good morrow Mr. Newton,
Sunday about one o’clock, I sit down in my office to write you a little about how the world uses this child. He has been well enuf to work every day. I have not lost but one day and a half to training and 4th of July. I don’t know but they will get this child down yet, but he holds his own yet.
I suppose you would like to know a little what we are about in this world. We began haying the first day of July and worked a little now and then. We have got in 26 loads. We have had very bad weather for haying. We can’t do as you can in the country — run and see the neighbors when it is foul weather. We set out cabbage plants and [potato?]. Tomorrow if it is fair, we shall go to reaping rye. We have got four acres as stout as I ever see in the country — all fit to cut.
It is so dark here I can’t hardly see the mark. It rains down here like Tomstown. Harvey staid home from Market yesterday and we kept him in the barn pitching off hay and he feels sober today. He is glad to lay abed. He goes to market about every day. He has took about $250 dollars since the first of July for green peas and lettuce and string beans and greens. I tell you what, the way they handle the money here is a caution to sinners, don’t you know.
You spoke about Election in your letter. Now I will tell you what kind of a day it was and what we did. It was a cold, rainy [day; the] wind was in the east. We did not do anything to speak of. One of Babcock’s [hired] hands that lives just across the road came in our office and spied that little shooting iron there — you know the one that _____ you shooting to mark. He stumped me for a trade and we traded on the spot and Harvey bought his watch so that I got Harvey’s note for fourteen dollars and fifty cents, a a pocket pistol in the bargain worth $1.50 cts.
Now I will tell you a little about the 4th of July. I started at two o’clock in the morning with Harvey and rode about the city till he got his load [of produce] off and at 5 o’clock left him at the market and such a rumbling with the bells and cannon as you never heard, and see some grand [Military] Companies and music. Then I went to see Charles & Jonathan Hugins [Huggins?] and then we went in the museum ¹ and see all the grand things there, I tell you. You remember how Potter fried the eggs in the hat? Well, instead of frying eggs, he laid it on the table and hit it a rap and took out a young rabbit and a plateful of cakes and _oon.
And the next we went and took dinner, and then took the Steam Boat and went over to Chelsea and see Mr. Lauriat ² go up in the Balloon. Just at 5 o’clock, the Balloon started. It was as long as a large hay stack. I tell you what, he looked droll enuf. Then we went back to Boston and went on to the Common at 7 o’clock. Charles & I went to the State House and looked over to Bunker Hill and see the cannons fired and at 8 o’clock they commenced the fireworks. It lasted till 10 o’clock and if that want worth seeing, I don’t know what was. In three hours, spent $15.00 dollars. Then this child was tired and went home foot.
One thing more, then I shall close. As I was going to one day, I stopt in the office and found a letter. I tell you what, if this child didn’t find the contents, it is no matter if I don’t call a Ninepence much. Now I want you should write me all the news as soon as you can. I have sent 4 or 5 papers and don’t know as you have got them. I have not got none from you except the Detroit Paper. I suppose that you have heard from George efore this time. I shall look for a letter soon. Give my love to Susan and Levina. Tell them to put in a word. Tell Eunice I putty Fanny to have to be dealt with so much. I should think it would kill her — that is a fact. Tell our folks that I am well. Give my love to Sophronia and the Schogan Cake [?] and the new boy if he is anything of a decent chap. When you write, tell me what kind of a day Election was.
Respectfully yours, — Rufus Hillard
Now write without fail. Tell George Horace to write me a letter & I will do the same.
¹ It isn’t clear which museum Rufus refers to. Moses Kimball didn’t open his Boston Museum and Gallery of FIne Arts (corner of Tremont and Bromfield Streets) until two years later. That museum contained a collection of living curiosities, mechanical wonders, paintings, and stuffed animals which Rufus surely considered “grand things.” Kimball purchased his collection in 1839 so it may have opened earlier than was reported in the literature.
² We learn from the letter that Louis Anslem Lauriat (1785-1858) successfully launched his balloon at Chelsea, Massachusetts at 5 pm, 4 July 1839. Newspaper accounts say that he rose to a height of 9300 feet and was in the air about an hour before landing safely at Hamilton. Only two weeks earlier, Lauriat launched his balloon from Chelsea and landed in the Atlantic ocean where it was dragged by the wind for 30 miles before he could be rescued.