1834: John William Valentine to Martha Valentine

What John Valentine might have looked like

This letter was written by John William Valentine (1812-1838), the son of Elijah Fitch Valentine (1792-1863) and Jane Mahan (1789-1853) of Cambridgeport, Cambridge, Massachusetts. John wrote this letter to his sister, Martha Valentine (1817-1873), approximately five years before her marriage to Andrew H. Newell.

Elijah F. Valentine was a teacher in the public schools of Cambridge and also served as superintendent of the Cambridge Almshouse for several years. John Valentine graduated from Harvard University in 1832 and practiced medicine for several years. He married Sarah B. Brown  the daughter of Deacon William Brown of Cambridge — but died in 1838 of “consumption” [tuberculosis] at his father’s residence. Nine days later, his younger brother James Valentine, died of the same disease.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Miss Martha Valentine, care of Mr. E. F. Valentine, Cambridgeport, Massachusetts

Norfolk [Virginia]
August 27, 1834

Dear Sister,

I received your short letter of the 11 on the 23d and with much pleasure. I would have liked it much better if it had been longer and told more news about Cambridgeport folks &c. &c. I received Father’s letter on the 19th and he did not tell much news neither but I am in hopes that you will in answer to this write me as long a letter as Andrew’s and tell me all what has been done in Cambridgeport since I left home and not forget to tell how many May mornings you have seen, and enjoyed in riding into the country since that happy hour 5 o’clock 10 minutes of the first day of May and how many times has Andrew been and spent the short summer evenings with you and Jane & Charles K. How do they agree with Mary & Maria now?

I don’t expect you will answer all these questions so I will be satisfied with supposing you all have been courted most bratfully all summer just like mother Newton’s Maria.

I began to write to you the day I received yours but wrote only a few lines and was taken sick with the fever & ague which has lasted me in short spells until now, which has mostly prevented me from writing you an answer before. You tell Andrew I will write to him the first good opportunity but stop! tell him I will when I get ready.

You want to know when I am coming home now. I don’t know any more than you do for I may come home in a month and I may not this 5 years; I think you may take the last one as that will come the nearest to it of any. I intend to stop in Norfolk a month or two and if I don’t enjoy any better health in cold weather than I do in warm, I mean to quit the country but not come home if I can get business in Baltimore or New York [City].

Sketch of Cornwallis’ Cave as it appeared in 1850

I have see all Virginia but I would hate very much to leave it. I last week went up the [Chesapeake] Bay to Yorktown and visited and visited the Cornwallis Cave, and that is the last place I want to see in Virginia. So if it would fall my lot to leave Old Virginia, I can go and say that there was nothing worth seeing but what I had seen.

Give my love to all the folks. I hope they are all well & I am in hopes in a few days to be well and at my work again. Tell Andrew & Jane to keep writing and I will answer them one of these days.

Your affectionate brother, — John


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