1834: Alexander Hammond Chamberlin to Peter Chamberlin

This letter was written by Alexander Hammond Chamberlin to his parents, Peter Chamberlin (1767-1839) and Charlotte (Hammond) Chamberlin (1770-18xx) in Petersham, Worcester, Massachusetts. Alexander wrote the letter while visiting his brother, Ebenezer Hammond Chamberlin (1807-18xx), in Edgefield District, South Carolina. Ebenezer was employed in agricultural pursuits in Edgefield District, South Carolina, where he kept 15 slaves (1843). Ebenezer was still residing in the Edgefield District in 1860.

[Note: Family name sometimes spelled Chamberlin or Chamberlain.]

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Peter Chamberlin, Petersham, Worcester County, Massachusetts
Postmarked Park’s Store, South Carolina

Edgefield [South Carolina]
Thursday, [February] 20, 1834

Dear Father and Mother,

My health is very good and I have enjoyed myself very well this winter and brother’s family are all well. It has been very warm  for this some time. I see last Sunday plum trees and peach trees in blossom, and I see corn up four of five inches in height. Brother has sown about forty acres of oats and has about thirty more to sow. It has rained very hard for this five days past and I do not know how much longer it will continue. Brother and myself should have gone to Augusta [Georgia] yesterday if it had not have rained. And now we shall not go before next week for the roads are so muddy that it is almost impossible to get along.

I wish I could describe this country to you but I do not know how to. Take the land together — it is not very good. There is no clover that grows in this country nor any kind of grass that is good for cattle. There is no other fodder than what they make out of their corn. Their cattle suffer very much in the winter for they have no shelter to go under and a great many of them die in the winter.

Father, I know that you would not like this country for it is not so pleasant as where we live. Mother, I think that if you were out here, you would likely catch cold for the folks have no glass windows and they have their wooden windows and doors open when it rains or hails. They have their doors and windows open and I know that would not suit you for I do not like it myself. I will tell you all about it when I come home for I do not know how to write.

I do not know what to write you, I do not much like [to] start back again for it is not a very pleasant time of the year but I think if I wait till May that I will put everything behind hand and if nothing happens, I shall come home before the first of May. I would stay till the first of May [butt] there would be too much work for Father and James to do. Tell James not to fret about me yet, but take good care of the cattle and I will come home as soon as I can. I think about everything. I can see pretty much how everything looks in my mind. I think even of starting next week for Charleston if I can get to Hamburg, but you need not look for me till you see me. Do not fret yourselves about me for I know nothing but I shall get along very well.

I was not going to write to you again but as I had nothing to do, I thought I would make you pay one more quarter of a dollar [for postage]. Gardner promised me that he would write me a letter if I would write to him but he has not been true to his word. I suppose he thought as all the rest of you have that there was no need to write to me if I do not alter my mind. I shall not write again before I get to Charleston so you must all of you ___ up this letter. I am afraid I have wrote so often that you will not like it. You cannot scold because they was not wrote full. I think I have wrote a quarter of a dollar’s worth of it — ain’t worth that to you [but] it is worth that to write it. I have nothing more to write and so goodbye. Give my respects to Gardner and tell him he has not been as his word.

This from your humble servant, — Alexander H. Chamberlin

Ann, you talked of coming to this country. I think that you are better off where you are. If you cannot be contented where you are, you never will be anywhere for there is not so pleasant a [place] in this country as our old kitchen is nor many so handsome rooms. If you don’t believe  me, you may come and see for yourself. You may think that I am homesick but that is not the case. But I want to see you all very much. I think you ought to have wrote to me oftener than you have for I have money enough to pay for all the letters you could have wrote to me.

[Cousin] James Hammond gave me twenty-five dollars and that with what money I had left — if I have no bad luck — will fetch me home. I think that I shall come to Boston if I can get a chance. Maria, you wrote to me that you wanted one of brother’s horses. I did talk of coming home on horseback but I have given it up. You know that I bought one horse and I thought I would not buy another for something might happen to it. I shall come home by water and I have talked of starting but I do not know when I shall.

The last I heard of since Eben’s family were all well. I hope you are all well and that is all I can know about it for I have received only one letter and it is more than four months since I left home. I think you must have been very industrious this winter. I have been very saving of my clothes but I shall want some more when I get home. I thought I would get so you might get me some by the time I got home.

Brother’s little girl can run about the house and is very smart. We have had some weather very warm so that it was uncomfortable hot.

Give my love to all inquiring friends. So goodbye.

This from your brother, — Alexander H. Chamberlin


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