This letter was written by James Patten (b. 1750), a son of Matthew Patten (1719-1795). Matthew was born in Ireland and came to America in 1728. He became a justice of the peace in 1751, and a judge in 1776. He kept a diary from 1744 to 1788 that has been an important resource for historians.
James wrote the letter to his brother David Patten (1761-1836). David was a surveyor and schoolmaster in his hometown of Bedford, New Hampshire, as well as town clerk. He never married but lived at home with his spinster sisters.
Another sibling mentioned is Alexander Patten (1765-1841).
Addressed to Mr. David Patten, Esq., of Bedford, New Hampshire.
I take this opportunity to let you know that I am well and blessed be God for it. I have been looking for a letter from you for more than 7 years. The last letter I received from you was dated March 31, 1800. Since that time, I received one letter from Alexander and one from Joseph Patten dated January 13th 1803. [That] is all the letters I have received from home since that time. I call at the Post Office often to to find letters but find none. I have not had the least word from home for near 3 years. I grow very uneasy to hear from my friends and neighbors. This summer I work my place myself. If this comes to your hand, I wish you to write me a letter as soon as you can.
Obed Lincoln and family is well. Patterson’s and Smith’s families are all well as far as I know. Crops of corn is very good and hay heavy but wheat is hurt by growing so large that it could not stand up. This summer has been very wet.
There is a great talk here of a war with Britain but time will determine that. There has been a call here for men to make up their cotton, but the sun (?) hired out as many. [The] business of shipbuilding goes on briskly here. There is 5 [ships] on the stocks in Marietta – the largest of them [weighs] 360 tons and the least 80 tons.
I remain yours, — James Patten