1838: Dr. Samuel Mallory Hunt to Charles G. Havens

What Dr. S. M. Hunt & Maria Havens might have looked like

This letter was written by Dr. Samuel Mallory Hunt (1798-1880), the son of Japeth Hunt (1711-1808) and Azubah Gillit. Dr. Hunt was married to Maria Havens (1808-1885) in 1823. She was the daughter of Mordecai Havens.

Dr. Hunt addressed the letter to his brother-in-law, Charles G. Havens (1808-1888), of New York City. Charles G Havens was an attorney, real estate investor and art collector who was related to the New York Livingston Family. He died unmarried and left an estate worth about three million dollars.

The following biography for Dr. Hunt was found in the History of the Town of Marathon, New York:

Dr. S. M. Hunt, son of Dr. Japheth Hunt, was born in Marathon, on the 30th of October, 1798. His grandfather settled on a farm now owned by A. S. Johnson, known as the Comstock place. His father settled on the east side of the river where the Marathon House now stands; there S. M. Hunt was born. He finished his education in the Homer Academy, then one of the most famous educational institutions in Central New York. He studied medicine with Dr. Pelatiah Brooks and, after receiving his diploma, practiced his chosen profession in Killawog, Upper Lisle, Maine and Marathon. He held the office of justice of the peace, judge of the Court of Common Pleas and justice of the sessions. In 1852 he returned to Marathon, where he afterwards resided, with the exception of a few years at Killawog. He was married, at the age of twenty-three, to Maria Havens, daughter of Mordecai Havens and sister of Dr. Daniel and Charles G. Havens, the latter a prominent lawyer of New York city. Their children were D. Deloss and Duray Hunt, now of Marathon, and Dr. De Forest Hunt, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Mrs. C. A. King, of Albany. Dr. Hunt was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge at Marathon, which suffered an irreparable loss in his death.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Charles G. Havens, Esqr., 55 Wall Street, New York [City], New York

Union Village [New York]
August 2, 1838

Dear Brother,

I have been rather dilatory in writing to you since my return from the City, I have been waiting in order to collect some intelligence worth communicating and yet do not find any particularly interesting items. I returned by the way of Albany and purchased my hardware at that place. The whole amount of my bills of goods purchased is $2410.00, for which I owe at New York $1111.37 and at Albany $193.17, making $1304.54. The times have been rather hard in the country and people have been more cautious than formerly in getting credit at the store. The season was extremely backward and gloomy to the farmer until about the first day of June when the sun let out some extra rays as though taking pity upon poor fellows upon the teraquesics ____ mean to make up the season by intensity. Consequently we have experienced quite a favorable change in the vegetable aspect and prospects. Probably there never was a period since the settlement of our country when the earth has teemed with such an abundance of the necessaries of life for man and beast, for which we have great reason to rejoice. Cattle are selling extremely high here such as will answer for your citizens to devour so that I have come to the safe conclusion that the Graham reform ¹ does not progress very rapidly in your City.

In regard to business in the mercantile line, I have succeeded as well as I could expect considering the times. I have sold and credited into good hands about $800 worth and have taken cash and butter to the amount of $300, having purchased considerable of an amount of domestic goods and have had to expend considerable cash. I have sent the interest to T. Lynde and he agrees to suspend the time of payment a year or longer if I wish. I am collecting in my old debts as fast as possible. I fear, however, I shall not be able to meet the demands due this fall from my creditors in the City although I have in most instances made contracts with people to pay me this fall. What I fall short in collecting I shall have to hire for five or six months for I must if practicable fulfill all engagements punctually.

The fact is, as you well know, I have not got capital enough to carry on the business alone with sufficient life and velocity. There cannot be any mistake about the event as the operation will be perfectly a safe one. Yet I should like to have a good partner with me who could invest $1500 or $2000 in the business with me. We could then keep up a more full apartment which would tend to draw [page torn] from a greater distance and give more interest to business. If your business would permit, I should be glad to have you take a share as your living in the City would afford facilities for purchasing and transmitting pay for goods.

I was unfortunate this season in having my goods detained about a week by a break in the Chenango Canal only a few miles above the place of depot (the Chenango Forks). But since then, business has gone on quite regularly on the Chenango Canal, and they have a daily packet in operation between Binghamton & Utica. The packet, however, only goes to Hamilton. Then passengers are taken in the stage to Utica in time to take the morning cars so that passengers can travel from here to New York [City] in 48 hours.

I have relinquished the practice of medicine and intend to pay a strict attention to the mercantile business and give it a fair trial believing that I can by a prudent management accumulate more than by the practice of medicine and ultimately succeed and do a good business.

We have (I mean all the family in its departments) generally a good health since I saw you and nothing in their circumstances occurred in any way worthy of notice. Your father talks of trying to make an accession to his farm instead of buying out Hart though I suppose he has written you on the subject. Consequently, you are better informed on the subject than I am. We have had an uncommon warm summer here so far though the heat is not so intense for a few days past. I don’t know how you can live pent up in the City under such an accumulation of caloric.

August 10th

P. S. My letter not being in a state of readiness when the mail went out last week, I close it at this time by observing that nothing has occurred here worthy of note the last week.

Crigen & Henrietta have however been here on a visit and I learn that you have been somewhat liable to make a small donation to Henrietta on account of a certain boy in question. It appears she has finally had one of her own but as it was rather a premature birth, perhaps you may erase the legality of the payment on that account. I understand it was conceptis quince mense. But I must close or I shall be too late this time for the mail.

Yours truly, — S. M. Hunt


¹ The “Graham Reform” is a reference to the diet advocated by Sylvestor Graham (1794-1851) who believed that vegetables and bread made with unbolted wheat meal should be consumed exclusively and in limited amounts.


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