1848: Richard Hunt to David Brainerd Hunt

How Brainerd and Mary might have looked

How Brainerd and Mary Ann Hunt might have looked

These two letters were written by Richard Hunt (1782-Aft1848) to his son David Brainerd Hunt (1814-1895).  Richard was married to Ann Humphrey (1783-1849). Brainerd’s siblings were Samuel Hunt (1810-1878), Charlotte Hunt (1812-1845), Richard Baxter Hunt (b. 1816), and Edward Warren Hunt (b. 1819).

Brainerd was married to Mary Ann Gaylord (b. 1817-1894) in 1841. The 1850 Census shows them residing in Williamsburgh on Long Island, just across from the East river from Manhattan. With a limited education, Brainerd began his business career at the age of 18 in a Brooklyn, New York dry goods store, and after clerking for some years he engaged in business for himself. But failing health compelled him to give up for a time, and he subsequently acted for others in the same line of business. In 1865 he removed to Montclair, New Jersey where he resided for many years, and was one of the founders of the First Congregational Church.

Stampless Letter One

Stampless Letter One


Addressed to Mr. D. B. Hunt, No. 158½ William Street, Williamsburgh, New York

Attleboro, [Massachusetts]
June 20th 1848

To my dear son D.B.,

I feel uncommon pleasure in once more having it in my power to acknowledge the receipt of one more letter from your hand dated 1st & 8th inst. — a pleasure I began to fear I never should again realize. Little did I think when I wrote you last winter that I should have to wait till summer before I received any reply. Little did I expect that your Ma would have worried away four months with ______ & other physical evils that we should have broken up our ancient & venerated encampment & gone through the heart sickening process of removing to a new habitation & the labor & toil of tearing down and building up again in order to prepare a place where we might lay down our heads & rest in quiet without one word of condolence or sympathy from you! Surely I did not expect it nor had I any right to expect it. It was not like D. B. or any other kind & sympathetic child or brother! Never did you tax my patience & confidence & fear quite so heavily before.

What is the matter that B. don’t write was an everyday expression in our family for months. But enough of this kind of stuff. Bless the Lord, I have once more heard that he is in the land of the living concerning whom there is hope. And not only so, but in a situation to earn his daily bread. One thing that made me more solicitous to hear from you was that I might learn your whereabouts so that I might talk with you & tell you how the Lord was leading us &c. For more than two months (or ever since the first of May) have I been trying thro’ the medium of Samuel & your Uncle R.’s folks to learn where to direct a letter so that you would get it. But it was not till about the time I received your letter that I learned by Mrs. Ropes that you resided in Williamsburgh.

You seem to want to know how we get along &c. Your Ma’s health has been poor but has generally been able to drag about. We have had a great deal to do & your Ma thought she must try to so what she could. Caroline has not been very stout generally & one week was pretty much wholly laid by. Havren has been twice attacked with erysipelas — the last attack was on the 12th inst. It was very threatening. Dr. Martin visited him 3 times. He was laid by 5 days. Seems pretty well now. I have had to be very busy & have made pretty long days, moving generally 18 hours out of 24. My health of course has been very good tho’ I sometimes get quite tired. But I always get rested by morning.

O what a mercy it is that for more than 7 years I have not had my labors interrupted so much as an hour by sickness. We have been engaged ever since we moved in improving & enlarging our buildings. We have shingled our corn barn — about the size of the one at the old place, shingled a wood shed 22 feet by 14 & built an addition to the house 20 by 20 feet containing a wash room with 2 boilers set, & a Milk room & shoemaker’s shop, an entry & piazza. Do you ask how I like my situation? I would answer that I have not been able to tell how I like it.

June 21st, 2 o’clock A.M.

Last night as I tried to pen the last line, such a spirit of slumber came over me as compelled me to desist. I have arisen this morning thus early to finiah this scroll & send it with my milk to Pawtucket, to which place I’ve requested all my correspondents to direct their communications to me for the future as we go regularly there twice a week. I will just advert once more to your last letter & say that I was never more pleased with a letter bearing the impress of your hand than in seeing that. I found it in the Old So. Attleboro P.O. (To which place I don’t wish to have friends ever direct their letters to me again!). I seized it & hastened towards home (which now is not by the way of Birch_hid but by the sepulchers of our ancient friends & some of late. I took it to the spot where peacefully reposes the dust of [your] dear Charlotte & seating myself on the venerated mound, opened & read the interesting scroll. Never did I read a letter with a greater rush of effecting ideas & tender emotions existed in my mind. But dear C. heeded it not! Not one emotion swell her once gentle & sympathizing bosom!  O how changed! O, I love to pass over that dear spot!

I was sorry to hear that your dear Mother Gaylord was still so severely afflicted. O how changed the scene with her. She who lately took the lead on domestick affairs with so much energy & vigor, now obliged to be waited upon & enduring pain & distress. Thus is life!

I received a letter from [your brother] Richard Baxter a few weeks since. His health was tolerable, but his spirits well nigh broken down. Poor fellow. I pity him, but I expect the Lord will take care of him. He complains of your neglecting him but not writing him. I hope you won’t do so anymore, but write him often & tender him your sympathy & advice if you are able to give any. I was surprised to hear you talk of coming home! When you had not so much as written me any line for towards 6 months, then to hear you talk of coming home with your family was not quite astounding. I hope nothing may prevent my seeing you & your dear wife & babies. But your Mother has been trying to go to Natick & I want she should stay there several weeks to rest. I expected to have carried her thither this week but I can not till next. But perhaps not at all. Should we go next week & she conclude to stay 3 or 4 weeks, it might be more convenient for you to defer your visit for a week or so as she would wish to be with you all the time.

Ever since we removed everything in the house has been in very unsettled state. Our goods have been lying in heaps & no more beds set up than we wanted to occupy. But we are in hopes that we shall get things regulated by & by. We found our house very dirty & everything about the house in wild confusion & it has not gotten settled yet. Your Ma has had a trying time. I wonder she has held out as well as she has. As for work, I think it probable that you and your wife may find enough to do. I have gotten some grass to cut & many bushes tho’ the latter I have just let out by the job. As the price of flour has been very high this spring, I have purchased by the quarter, hoping & expecting that it would be cheaper. But I don’t mean to wait much longer. I have thought also as you were at head quarters of flour, I had better get you to take a barrel along with you when you came if it was convenient & I would pay you & also a jog of syrup so that we might have a sweet time of it. But it is getting to be time I went to milking so I must stop.

Give my love to your dear wife & babes & take a share for yourself. So good morning. Your father, — R. Hunt

Stampless Letter Two

Stampless Letter Two


Attleboro [Massachusetts]
Monday Morn 2 o’clock A.M.
July 10, 1848

Dear Brainerd,

I went to Pawtucket last Saturday morning hoping & expecting to meet you & your dear family at the Depot or hear where or when I might expect to meet you. But instead of this, I got a letter from you stating that it was uncertain whether you come at all! As you seemed to be doubtful whether we wanted to see you at all! This struck me with disagreeable surprise, especially at first, as I took your letter to be in answer to a short letter I forwarded to you last Wednesday, wishing you to let me know when & where I might meet you & convey you & yours to our new humble abode. But by looking at the date, I found it to be the same date as was that of mine I wrote you last and that it was in reply to one I wrote you nearly a month ago.

Now B., I cannot remember what there was in that letter, even, which should lead you to think that we should not want to see you. The fact was that when I wrote that letter, your MOther & even Caroline were quite run down with hard work among dirt & rubbish & taking care of our workmen & I had been trying to find an opportunity that I might relieve your mother by carrying her to Natick &c. and tinking it would not be desirable that she should be at home all the time you might be here. Perhaps I intimated (for I don’t remember certain) that it might be advisable for you to postpone your visit till after your Ma’s return. But far was it from me to say anything that you might construe into an unwillingness to have you come at all & as I heard nothing more from you, I expected you on or about the 4th & W & C. went to Pawtucket on that day expecting to meet or hear from you. But as he did neither, and thinking you might delay coming on account of what I had writtenm I wrote again telling you that your Ma had gone to Natick & that the “tall grass” was waiting for your scythe to cut it down. And I meant to have you understand that we should be glad to see you.

Now, D. B., the case lies here. Your Ma is in Natick & I expect she will be there for several weeks. I heard from her on the 5th when she was much the same as when I left her on the 30th. But the Dr. thought  he & time & rest would patch her up. The rest of us are in usual health. In consequence of rainy weather & being weak handed, our haying is behind hand and I want you very much and that you should come immediately. If you have not already started ere this reaches you, I wish you would pack up without delay and start for Attleboro and when you are at C. Falls, if you go there. You need not go to Lanesville for you will meet with nought but strange fares there, but shape your course for the Read neighborhood where I trust you & yours will meet with a hearty welcome.

As it may be uncertain when a letter from you might reach me, I think it will be best for you to stop at C. Falls and deposit your family baggage at Mrs. Tripps and yourself walk on the railroad to our house, or till you get to the third bridge after the bridge that crosses __ River, & when you are on that bridge you can see my barn lying at the North East about ½ mile distant. There take the County Road & follow it to H. Ides & you will see the old Thurber Place at your left. And old John & your Carry-all & another hand if you wish will be at your disposal to convey your family to our house. The distance is hardly three miles.

In [your brother] Samuel’s letter of last week, he requested you & yours to visit him without fail. Give my love to your dear wife & g.children.

So good morning. Your father, R. Hunt


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