1842: Elizabeth (Knapp) Hustis to Laura Ann (Luddington) Hustis

This letter was written by Elizabeth (Knapp) Hustis (1783-18xx), the wife of Joseph Hustis (1774-18xx). She wrote the letter to her daughter-in-law, Laura Ann (Luddington) Hustis (1814-1900), the daughter of Lewis Luddington (1786-1857) and his wife Mary Polly Townsend (1792-1879) of Carmel, New York.

The dateline heading of the letter does not include the year but I was able to determine the year based upon the reference to John and Laura’s first-born daughter, Mary Elizabeth Hustis (1841-1883), who was born in December 1841.

John Hustis prepared for college at the Academy in Fishkill, in Dutchess County. After graduation he studied law a year in the Yale Law School, then in the office of Jeremiah Hine (Y. C. 1815), of Carmel, N Y, and was admitted to the bar in 1836, in company with his classmate VanSantvoord, in New York City. He began practice in the city of Albany, N Y, but in 1837 went directly to Milwaukee, in the new Territory of Wisconsin, where he engaged in the real estate business, and in 1840 erected the first brick block in that place. Between 1840 and 1844, John Hustis of “Milwaukee” purchased no fewer than sixty plots of government land in various counties in Wisconsin.

In 1851 he removed with his family to Hustisford, a village on the Rock River, about forty-five miles northwest of Milwaukee, laid out by him and bearing his name. In 1837 he had encamped there, sixteen miles from any cabin, bought a claim, and built a house. In 1846 he built a dam across the river and erected a sawmill, and five years later a flour mill. In 1868 he returned with his family to Milwaukee, but continued to spend a large part of his time in Hustisford, and later made his home entirely at the latter place. He was well read especially in literature and science. Mr Hustis enjoyed excellent health until a short time before his death, which occurred September 20, 1907, in the 97th year of his age He received the degree of Master of Arts in course in 1836. Source: Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University, June 1908.

Elizabeth wrote the letter from her home in Phillipstown, New York. We learn from her letter that a measles epidemic swept through the town in the spring of 1842, killing a significant number of the children and particularly in the village of Cold Spring — a small village fronting the Hudson River in the town of Phillipsburg. Remarkably she records that rumors allow as many as 171 new graves in the cemetery that deadly spring.

Stampless Cover

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to John Hustis, Esq., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Phillip Town [New York]
April the 28, [1842]

Dear daughter,

Page 1

With pleasure I take my pen to tell you I received your letter on the 18 of April. I some times thought that you and John had almost forgotten us. No one but a mother knows the anxiety a mother has for their absent children. I looked for John but in vane. I thought he had returned home. I heard your father was in New York, but did not hear that he said he was a going to the West.

We have had a very stormy Spring and great deal of mud to travel in. We have not been to Church but a few Sabbaths in a good while, the traveling was so bad. We have a very good pastor and a man of talents. He is to be installed in May. Some of the new rule folks has left the church, I think not for the better. Mr. Armstrong has left Montgomery and I heard he had gone to Buffalo. He’s made more division in the church then all the ministers that ever we had.

There has been a good deal of sickness at Cold Spring and a great many deaths. It has been said there was one hundred and seventy-one graves opened in four months – the most of them was children and many of them with measles [remainder of line illegible].

Page 2

I have not seen any of your father’s family this winter. I want to see them, I think. They are like myself. They want to see you and John and the little stranger and as for the name that your sister which for I would be might please you. Your mother and John’s two grandmothers was named Mary and the name of E. J. will one, but if you name it Sarah, I have no objections.

Is John to come out when you return to old Phillips or can’t he leave his business when you come. [I’d like] for Samuel to come home when you and John was here that I might see you together once more, but I fear that never will be. As soon as you have made up your mind what time you will return, write and let us know when we make look for you. I now begin to count the months and the weeks….May it be the will of the Lord to bring you all safe here. Your father wants to see you and John and the little stranger and sends his love to you both.

This is the second day of May. It is cold and stormy. The spring is very backward. Mrs. Heths has been good through the winter. Betsy T. has gone to housekeeping. She sends her love to you and John and says she would be pleased to receive you to her Father’s before she left home. She expects to go to housekeeping in June. Your friends often inquire when we have heard from you. Merriam Read is to be married on Thursday next. Theadore’s two daughters grow very fast. _____ E. often talks about Uncle John but says he must not like her grandmar away. I hope to see you soon. Yours affectionately, — Elizabeth Hustis


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