1845: William Mitchell to Sarah (Mitchell) Hatch

Junius Hopkins Hatch, Jr.

This letter was written by William Mitchell (1786-Aft1850), a lawyer, who was married to Sarah C. vanBuskirk (1791-Aft1850). He wrote the letter to their daughter, Sarah Catherine Mitchell (1815-1851) who was the wife of Junius Hopkins Hatch (1791-1869) and living in Detroit, Michigan in 1845. Later, the Hatches would move to Buffalo, New York.

Junius and Susan Hatch had four boys by the time this letter was written; Junius Hopkins Hatch, Jr. (1837-1921), Edward (“Ned”) Nichols Hatch (1840-1912), Albert (“Ally”) Gallatin Hatch (1842-1919), and William Bronson Hatch (1845-1866) who was yet unnamed. The couple had a fifth child, Grace Bierce Hatch (1849-1924) a few years later.

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Addressed to Mrs. J. H. Hatch, Detroit, Michigan

Hoboken [New Jersey]
October 11, 1845

My dear child,

Your last letter took us all by surprise but thank God you have been spared & made the living mother of a living child. From your account, you had been most mercifully dealt with and I rejoice much that your mother was not aware of your situation for you know the love she has for you would have been the cause of giving her many unhappy hours in anticipating evil. Yet she is well aware that the same merciful God can watch over & protect you as well on one place as another, but a kind & affectionate mother’s love you know how to appreciate, and I do most sincerely hope you will use all and every means to guard yourself from all undue exposures. Do not trust your own strength too much. You may in one moment endanger your own life, & that of your dear child. If someone now asks me how many children you have, I can in truth say 4 fine boys. How I come to say you had 4 before, I cannot imagine. Junius & Ned I had seen, but Albert Gallatin I counted double, only having heard of him. The boy without a name must be a fine little fellow – or rather a big fellow. Perhaps you guessed his weight – you say 12 or 13 pounds. Babies are fragile articles. I never weighed one & tis too late even for me to enquire or I would write for instructions.

Your mother is much pleased to hear you are so well satisfied with your help. I always entertained a very high opinion of Coll’d people brought up by the Quakers. They invariably instill into their minds common sense – an article rarely to be met with now-a-days.

I have a number of books I want to send to the 4 boys the first opportunity & your mother has a parcel of sundries she intends getting Terry to send you a few days. I am still without employment & I am sorry to say your mother’s health is very poor. She has frequently severe nervous attacks caused from her bodily labours, and anxiety of mind on account of our very distressed & gloomy prospects. She wishes me to say that if you wish to buy her silver soup ladle marked E.N., you may have it for the value of old silver. It is an old family piece & she would be sorry to have it in strange hands.

I am owing rent for Nov. Quarter 1844 and May Quarter 1845 — and since we moved here, I am owing for one quarter due 1st August 1845 & another quarter will be due 1st November 1845. I have not a single dollar with & something must be done. Besides this, I am owing a grader’s bill & a few small debts – say in all about $150 dollars. I made my situation known to a friend & she agreed to loan me a small amount on the strength of my interest in the Michigan & Indiana lands. It is Mr. Pike that will make the loan, but I told him Mr. Hatch held a deed of my interest in the above lands, in trust, for my wife & her heirs. It is well known, both by Mr. Hatch & myself, that the deed is illegal – I having received no value for it from him, and his reasons for wishing me to give it him was for the purpose of preventing my creditors from giving me trouble should they come to hear that I was interested with the company. Now they have never troubled me. Not a man has even asked for payment knowing it is not in my power to pay. The above I have related to Mr. Pike and as soon as I receive the deed from Mr. Hatch, he will let me have the money. He will hold the deed as collateral security. Now to save me from serious trouble, let me beg of you to see that Mr. Hatch immediately attends to this. Don’t let him wait for any private conveyance, but forward it to my mail addressed to me “care of B. Pike & Son.’

I don’t know when you will get your parcel, Terry having quit the service of Appleton’s a few days since. Hannah had a letter she intended to enclose. Your Aunt & Uncle John Mitchell are residing at Lockport in the last letter I received, they enquired particularly about you and sent their love. When you have time, write Charlotte. She would be pleased to hear from you. Direct ‘Lockport Lower Town’ – your Uncle, I believe, is in the employ of Lott Clarke in some bank but is not satisfied & thinks he shall return to NYork next spring. Your mother, William, Hannah, & Terry write with me in love to you and all the family. Believe me your affectionate Father, — William Mitchell

Your letter by Mrs. Chase was left at Mr. Pikes – nothing said by you that he would return to Detroit neither by him. But many days after he left the letter, he again called at ________ & Dan took to Terry & he told him he was going to the East & in 4 or 5 days he should return & any letters left at No. 10 Spruce Street, he would take. I called there. One man said he went to Detroit the day Terry said he was going to the East. This was a mistake, there is no doubt, but Terry was right, However, I could not learn anything of Mr. Chase or I should have wrote you & also have sent a small package by him.

Your letter to your mother is dated September 8th – mailed the 10th — & your dear mother has been daily and hourly at me saying have you wrote our dear child. I kept putting off to enclose it with the parcel & Hannah did the same. And just as the package was ready from your mother, Terry had some words with one of his employees & left immediately which I can assure you has disappointed us all very much. He has been desirous to go to St. Louis, there being some lands bot by his father in his name “Terrys” & he has been waiting an answer from Collins, who says they have been all sold for taxes. It was Terry’s intention to have taken Hannah & the children & he to turn farmer & raise sheep. He had his barn already built on paper. He had purchased some valuable books on _____ Dogs, Poultry, Sheep, Agriculture &c. He had the theory but the practical was to come after. You recollect your mother had an old saying, “How easy it was to see Aunt Jenny Spin.” I told Jerry he had better go first and see what his property would be & then have his family to come out. The letter from Collins has spoiled his notion for farming. I think he is much better adapted for mercantile affairs & he now intends going West & to take books &c. and sell on the way. Besides, there is some Town Lots he owns in Illinois near St. Louis, which are now beginning to become valuable and he cannot know the real situation of the property till he goes out, and as he now has left Appleton’s, he intends going in a few days. They never had a man more capable or more faithful than he has been, but having so many unreasonable masters & the salary not more than would pay his board & leave a very small amount for apparel has entirely disheartened him. And I should not doubt but that he would do better in St. Louis. Yet I should be extremely sorry to part with Hannah & her dear children. Hannah has had a very severe cough & pain in her side. She looked very unwell, but am happy to say that for some days she is improving in her looks & her cough is much less severe. Julia & Florence have been staying with their mother. Charles we have had in the country & he is a fine, stout, broad-shouldered fellow as ever you saw. Everybody admires him when I take him over to see his mother & you would be surprised to see how rugged & florid he looks alongside his puny & delicate Brother. And your mother takes a great pride in making him look well, even with the very scant allowance he has. And you know if anybody can do this well, your mother can. She has one fault. She makes herself too much a slave to children, by night & by day – from the great fatigue your mother has to endure it is an additional burden to her for she is frequently working till one o’clock ironing &c. & she stands till she nears falls. Some days I take him over & leave him but the poor fellow is so unhappy in New York, I cannot leave him in such a prison. They have no yard – the house 6 stories high – have 3 tier of stairs 20 each to mount to Hannah’s room. They paid $10 per week, & rather than let her leave, they now charge only $8 per week.

Yours dated the 2d October I have this day received having not been at Mr. Pike’s for 8 days, it must have been there many days. I am really sorry that I have been the cause of making you unhappy & you certainly have cause for it. This very day Saturday I was on my way to the Post Office with this letter but on reading yours, I opened it again and all the red I have wrote since. But I have now to keep it till Monday before the mail will leave. I promise you to be more punctual for future & do most sincerely hope you are recovering from your late attacks. Let us have a few lines if you are able for your mother will be very unhappy till she again hears from you. This very day, I got her off to Bergen Point before I received your last letter. She will return on Monday or Tuesday. For several days she has been very sick. The labor of the body & trouble of mind makes a great change in her appearance. You saying you will see her again will cheer her up. Since you have crossed the lake, she cannot see you. Was you at Black Rock, I would have sold all I had rather than she should have been disappointed paying you a visit. I believe her visit to you was the means of prolonging her life to this time. She is constantly bewailing the separation from you. I must give over – not before saying I am highly pleased with your description of Mr. Cripp’s visit you. It will cause your dear mother to shed many tears. God bless you and keep you from all harm. Tell Junius I am anxious to see some of his drawings. I keep all he sends me & I number them & when he is a man, he can see what he did when a child.

They take most correct likenesses now – frame included – for $1 each ‘daguerreotype.’ I wish you had plenty of money and could have yourself & four boys all taken in one group. I should then see Albert Gallatin & the little stranger. Tell the boys I have some books for them.

N.B. Mr Chase read “Church.” Thomas Ford’s nephew, Orlando Brower has been 6 years in St. Croix just yet. Brot from his Uncle 1 Barrel of Sugar… Thomas Ford is poor & in bad health. Betsey will return if he dies. The sugar &c. is a present for your mother. El___ has nothing for me. Trusted my goods & never got paid. T. Ford, had he the means, says I should be paid & that he even now would divide his last shilling with me. I believe him sincere. They all send their blind regards to you, Mr. H., and the children.

Steamboat fare from here to Albany in the Hendrick Hudson – one of the most splendid boats in the world – is 25 cents. She is 340 feet long. Some boats charge 12 ½ cents.

  • The People’s Line brought out Hendrick Hudson, Captain R. G. Cruttenden, in 1845, designed by Isaac Newton and built by John Englis, Brooklyn. Hendrick Hudson measured 1,179 tons, the first steamboat on the Hudson river to exceed 1,000 tons, and was 300 feet length, 40 feet beam, 55 feet over guards and 10 feet depth of hold. The Allaire Works built the engine with cylinder 72 inches diameter by 11 feet stroke. Manhattan ran to Albany in 1845 with Hendrick Hudson.
  • Daniel Appleton

    A man by the name of Terry is referred to several times in this letter. It is conjectured that he was the son-in-law of William Mitchell who married Hannah Mitchell. Apparently Terry worked for the Daniel Appleton & Co., publishers & importers of foreign books, which was located at 200 Broadway in New York City. In 1841, Daniel Appleton began to sell children’s book in his store, which might explain how William Mitchell came to acquire the books he said he purchased for the Hatch grandchildren.

2 responses to “1845: William Mitchell to Sarah (Mitchell) Hatch

  • Barbara Cooley

    What a surprise and what a gift to find images and a transcription of this old family letter! Our family has many letters that were exchanged between the Mitchell, Hatch, and other families but we’d never seen this one.

    Junius Hopkins Hatch, Sr. (1791 – 1869) was an early legislator in the state of New York and also was an early land speculator and settler in the state of Michigan. Junius, Sr. was quite the wheeler and dealer and was very ambitious. Unfortunately, his wife, Sarah Catherine (the recipient of this letter) didn’t have a whole lot longer to live. In this letter it appears she had just given birth to her fourth son, Will, and would give birth to her only daughter, Grace, in 1849. Sarah Catherine died in 1851, I believe.

    They were extremely well-educated, literate and prolific in their letter writing. Junius, Jr. was known as an extremely kind and intelligent gentleman. My grandmother used to play on the steps of the state capitol where his office was located and she thought the world of him. He also was known to be a fine artist and it’s interesting that his grandfather mentions his artwork in this letter.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for saving the content of this letter so that his descendants and others can know about it before it slips into oblivion in some collector’s files.

    Barbara Cooley

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