1851: William B. Hale to John Henry Elliott

John Henry Elliott

The author of this letter was William B. Hale who was a career banker in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and later New York. He also dabbled in owning newspapers.

Hale wrote the letter to John Henry Elliott of Keene New Hampshire. Elliott was born in Keene in 1813 and graduated from Harvard in 1835. He married Emily Ann Wheelock in 1848 and they had 3 children.

Elliott was a director of the Cheshire railroad, president of the Cheshire bank, and in 1892 he gave the city the land and buildings for the Elliot Hospital. He died in 1895.


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[Addressed to John Henry Elliot, Esq., Keene, New Hampshire]

St. Johnsbury, Vermont
31 December 1851

My Dear Elliott,

How do you flourish? How is Cheshire County – the Ashuelot Railroad – the city of Keene – Banks & Banking in New Hampshire & the Republic generally? Tis an age since I’ve seen anybody or heard anything from the civilized parts of the Earth. The last tidings we have here are (or is) that Mr. [Napoleon] Bonapart died a short time since on the island of Helena on his way to the Red Sea and that his property fell to his loving Marie Louise. Is there any truth in the rumor?

But what I want is this. Can you tell me what’s been done, or is doing, or will be doing, in regard to the debt of our pet as Banajah has it. Do sit right down & devote half an hour in giving me the history of the Ashuelot [Railroad] from July 1st last to the present time. I presume that the debt is to paid by the rent, from the fact that I have never been dunned for my assessments as stock to clear off the liabilities of the concern. Does the Connecticut River Co. still run the road according to contract? In course it does – but does it save itself in the operation? Is there any call for the stock? What’s its cash value in Keene or hasn’t it any? What’ll Mr. Teden give me for a few shares & pay in books at cash prices?

But you’ll begin to think by this time that I’d better answer my own questions. Well o well. I’ll ‘hold up’ on the Railroad except to add one other? Are you yet the Treasurer of that mighty corporation?

The doings of the Cheshire Co. to pay their debts I like – with one exception – the guaranty of interest on their new stock should terminate in about ten years & all the stock comes under the same category.

What are your Banks doing? How’s Mr. [Zebina] Newell & Mrs.? My special regards to them. If you please – including my wife’s. Also to my venerable ‘Munch’ & his amiable daughter. Ditto to Mrs. Elliott, albeit my acquaintance with her, much to my regret, is exceedingly limited. Shall hope to see you sometime in Keene & shall be happy to ‘look upon your face’ in N. J. – which, notwithstanding my invidious insinuations to the contrary, is by no means a place to be sneezed at – The Graeme forfend!

Shall hope to hear from you when you have a little spare time to throw away. When will Mr. [Zebina] Newell quit cashiering? The last time I saw him he thought he shouldn’t stay in the business a great while, but he was then suffering from a headache & felt blue. Perhaps when he does leave you, I shall apply for the place & then again perhaps I shant.

Do you see ‘Uncle Henry’ ever? I take it the Ashuelot Co. owes the Winchester Bank yet. Does the old gentleman ‘stick out his chin’ at you? You see I ought to have stopped a page ago.

Yours in memory of former tribulations, — William B. Hale


For a good history on the Ashuelot Railroad, click here.


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