This letter was written by Hubbard Fenn (1814-1884), the son of Joel Fenn (1781-1825) and Hannah Curtis (1792-1876). Hubbard wrote the letter to his brother, Nathan Fenn (1824-18xx). References are made to other siblings, Joel and Jennet Fenn.
Hubbard Fenn’s obituary appeared in the 9 September 1884 edition of the New Haven Register (New Haven, CT):
Wallingford. Deacon Hubbard Fenn died this morning about 8 o’clock after several weeks suffering from heart disease. The deacon has always been connected with the Baptist Church and was one of its strongest supporters and added to its finance in time of need. A man of sterling honesty, deep convictions and a successful business man, his loss is great. He was about 68 years old and until recently of the building firm of Fenn & Wooding. He leaves a widow.
Hubbard Fenn provides interesting commentary on the split in the Baptist Church in Cleveland society over the issue of slavery. He also describes the unsuccessful attempt by Samuel Lewis to gain the Governor’s office in Ohio by running as an independent on an Anti-slavery platform.
Addressed to Mr. Nathan Fenn, Norwich, Connecticut
August 4, 1846
Your letter I received a few days ago and was somewhat surprised to get it from the place from whence it came. I wish all were as punctual as you are to write. I received one from Joel about the first of June and I have not yet answered it. I intend to in the course of a day or two. Jennet left here about the 5 of June in the evening I got Joel’s letter. Jennet was calculating to stop a week or two in the State of New York when she got there. She thought other-ways and kept on. I got a letter dated Branford June 30. She then said she had been at home 2 weeks. She found most of her folks sick. William A. W. was still in Branford at the foundry not very well.
You know that my circumstances are such that it is impossible to interest you so you will excuse me for writing a short letter this time. The facts are these: there is no one that you know and so it will not interest of to hear of their prosperity or adversity, their marriages or deaths.
Our relations at Medina are as well as usual. Uncle [Theophilus Merriman Fenn] has not been well since early last spring; has the inflammatory rheumatism. His son Charles Fenn [is] living in the town of York, Medina County, is about as well off as any man in the town. He thinks of building a house this winter and he wants one better than anyone else. He wants that I should do it for him. I think I shall make him put it off one year — I think he will not be ready this fall. I have just given him the bill of timber and lumber. He is one of the best kind of men — lives in a pleasant place and it will [be] a good job for someone.
You seem to have a wish that I should come or rather go by the way of Norwich when I go home. That is the thing that I should like to do but I think it will not be best for me to think of doing it. It will be late before I leave here. It will probably be as late as the 20 of October before I shall start so I think it best to abandon the idea. I have to go to Massillon & Medina before I start East. You wish to know how long I think of staying when I get there. I have made my mind up to stay through the winter and I may [stay] longer. It will depend some on Jennet’s health there.
As for me, I am strongly attached to Cleveland. I have enjoyed excellent health here. This is a very pleasant place and I am acquainted with most of the men who are carrying on business. I have had no trouble in getting work. Things are at this time rather dull and this winter, in all probability, work will not be plenty. Crops are abundant here this year here. Wheat now about here is bringing only about 50 cents per bushel. Flour is from $2.75 to 3.25 per barrel, and almost everything at the same rate. A person can live cheaper here than in Connecticut.
This you will see is a new style of writing as the arrangement is new. It is rather a foolish mistake of mine.
Perhaps you would like to know something about the state of religion in our midst. People here are more engaged, I should think, on almost [every] other subject than on this one. The Baptist Church numbers about 300 members. When I came here, it was about 350. Their proslavery character is destroying them. We have no minister — no settled one, I mean. Anti-slavery sentiment is gaining ground fast. This fall is the time to elect a Governor and through the state, we calculate to get 25,000 votes. In some towns in this county we are stronger or were last spring than either of the parties, yet they carried their men in most of the towns by uniting and I think that will be the case this fall. Our candidate — Mr. Samuel Lewis ¹ — has invited both the Whig and Democrat Candidates to discuss with him their views and policy of government. Both have refused to do it. He wishes to travel with them so all & let the people have all of their views and then judge for themselves which are the most beneficent for man and the country. This also they will [not] do.
The weather is warm now and has been very pleasant through the summer. It [is] rather dry and if it holds so long, I think it will be rather unhealthy here. My health is good and has been ever since I came to the state. Wages is $1.25 per day.
This is from your roving brother, — Hubbard Fenn
¹ Samuel Lewis gained public recognition in Ohio by serving as the Superintendent of Common Schools. He was appointed by the Ohio Legislature in 1838 and set about to establish standards for teachers and schools to raise the quality of education in Ohio. He met with much opposition, however, as he attempted to finance the reform through property taxes. Frustrated and suffering from ill health, Lewis resigned his position the following year, but remained in politics. He ran for Governor of Ohio in 1846 on an abolitionist platform but received less than one percent of the votes cast in the election.