1840: Joel Holbrook to Albert Holbrook

What Joel Holbrook might have looked like.

This letter was written by Joel Holbrook (1815-1880), the son of Nathaniel Holbrook (1780-1850) and Hanna Stetson (1777-1839). Joel married Ann Maria Gawith (1824-1888) in 1842. His occupation (in 1850) was given as “Trader.”

Joel refers to his grandfather, Nathaniel Holbrook (1758-1845) – still living at age 82 when the letter was written in 1840.

Joel wrote the letter to his cousin, Albert Holbrook, who may have been a son of Benjamin A. Holbrook (1781-1842) and Esther Thayer but I’m not certain of this.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. Albert Holbrook, Providence, Rhode Island
In care of B. A. Holbrook & Co.

Randolph [Massachusetts]
April 23 1840

Dear Cousin,

Page 1

I received your long looked for letter of the 14 of March on the 19. It is with feelings of great joy that I peruse your sheet which is now before me; for it seems to be filled with a spirit of friendship and parental love. In regard to what you say concerning addressing friendship, it is a matter which I have reflected a great deal upon. I am fully with you that there are advantages derived by a correspondence between friends, and if there is not, it will do us no harm. If what I write is at all interesting, I shall be very happy to write often.

The past winter with us has been a hard one. But how changed the scene. And how lovely the spring (though a cold one).

Lo! the bright and rosey morning
Calls me for to take the air;
Cheerful spring with smiles returning,
Ushers in the new born year.

Nature no in all her beauty,
With her gentle moving long
Prompts me to the pleasing duty,
Of a grateful morning song. ¹

Page 2

Grandfather has been quite unwell the past winter (though as you have said) he stands like the sturdy oak, yet they when they are loaded with ice must knuckle unless they have the warmth of the sun upon its branches. He has been troubled with a cold, but he is smart for him. He has had the utmost care taken of him by his beloved daughter. And she for a few weeks has been very unwell – so much so that she had a physician. She has also recovered so that she does her work. I told Grandfather that I had received a letter from you and he answered that he should like to see you.

Now for a little matrimony. Mary is published to Mr. Danl T. Clark. Cousin Gideon is about getting married to a Miss Hannah Lyons of Stoughten.

How pleasing is the lovely sight!
Oh! how it does my heart delight?
To see the sons (and daughters) of peace agree,
And live in social harmony.

Page 3

There is a very great excitement on politicks. We hear of hardly anything else but Whigs, Democrats, Federalists, Tories, Locofocos – meaning Democrats. The last named party have succeeded in carrying a vote in this and neighboring towns. The Whigs are so mad they begin to swear they will be damned if they don’t starve out the Locos. They send out delegates from place to place for to lecture and they show themselves Democratic, Whig, Republicans, and Jacksonians. We often see wagon loads pass with flags a flying, going to their meetings where they drink hard cider and eat hard crackers and bacon.

I will close for the present. I wish you to write as soon as possible. I should be very happy if you and your family can make it convenient to pay us a visit. – Joel Holbrook

P.S. Please accept my best wishes and give the same to all enquiring friends. Your most obedient, — Joel Holbrook


¹ The first poem in this letter first appeared in a book edited by Elizabeth Hill in 1819 and is entitled, “Spring.” It was later put to music.


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