Thursday, December 27, 2007

March 16th 1849

Among the papers in the files of my grandmother, Hazlettle Brubaker Phend, is a photocopy of a letter written in 1849. The thing that struck me most about the letter is that even though times change, basic human nature really doesn't. The things that concern us now, concerned them also - the birth of children, the health and well-being of family and friends.

The letter was sent by Sophia Elizabeth (Hazlett) and James Dunfee to their son and daughter-in-law, William and Catherine (Jones) Dunfee. Sophia and James are my 4th great grandparents. William and Catherine are my 3rd great grandparents.

Lakeville, March 16th 1849

Dear William, we received your welcome letter bearing date of March 2nd and was much pleased to hear that you are well and in good health and that you have a living Mother and daughter and I feel to thank God for his mercies toward his creatures. How we would like to see you all and this little grand daughter which numbers 21 for us. On reading your letter Lucy cried out, well done for Will, I wish I was there now, and Sarah said, I guess that William don’t forget me yet for he says that his babe looks like what I did when I was a babe.

Now I will tell you that we are all well at this time and so are all your friends here and they seem all to be looking ahead for themselves. I did hear some weeks ago that father had rented some of his fields and that George is going west in the fall, but this is all I can tell about them as none of them have been home since Henry and I were sick last fall.

Mary and little ones are well. She has had her dower set off this Spring. She has the most of the old home stead, 120 acres and Henry is about finishing his plowing this spring and he is quite rugged and hearty again and I can’t tell what he will go at next.

Aunt is well but She hung her lip at not having her name mentioned in your letter.

Your father thinks he will be to see you this Spring if we keep well. He would have been out last fall if we had not taken sick. We were sick from September till beginning of winter.

Jonathan and Marye An are both well but I don’t know how they like your compliment as I have not seen them since. Give My best Respects to Oliver Quick when you see him again.

William this is a Short letter from your mother, I could fill a little book if I were to write perticlers but this I will Say that Henry Dunfee is not the very worst boy in the world, he’s like yourself, he feels kind hearted towards us, the rest your father will say when he comes, So farewell. My dear Children.

James and Sophia E. Dunfee

To William H. Dunfee and Catharine B. Dunfee


Some notes regarding the letter:

  • Lakeville is in Holmes County, Ohio. The 'recently born grand daughter' mentioned in the first paragraph was the first child of William and Catharine Jones Dunfee, Laura Virginia, who was born January 25th, 1849. Laura Virginia was the 21st grandchild of James and Sophia. I come up with sixteen, so far. The ‘Counties of Whitley and Noble, Indiana’ reports that James and Sophia had thirteen children, but I have names for only ten born between 1811 and 1839. That 28 year time span certainly allows for additional children and would also account for the 'missing' 5 grandchildren.
  • Lucy and Sarah, also mentioned in the first paragraph were the two youngest children of James and Sophia Dunfee. (Lucy born in 1834, and Sarah in 1839)
  • George, mentioned in the second paragraph is most likely William’s older brother who was born in 1815 and settled in Dekalb county prior to 1850.
  • Henry, mentioned several times is probably William’s youngest brother, James Henry, who was born about 1828 and settled near the WhitleyCounty line in Aboite Township, Allen County in the late 1850’s.
  • The ‘father’ mentioned in the second paragraph, is in all likelihood Sophia’s father, whom I believe to be Jonathan Haslett who was 78 years old and living in Ashland County, Ohio with his granddaughter Eliza Dunfee (aged 39), according to the 1850 Ohio Census records.
  • Mary and ‘little ones’ is probably a reference to William’s older sister, Mary Bonnet, who had five children and lived near Lakeville and whose first husband had died in 1847. Mary remarried in March 1850 to James Lovett. They lived in Washington Township, Holmes County, Ohio.
  • I have not been able to determine exactly who the ‘Aunt’ is. There is a Catherine Dunfee 'daughter of G. & M. Dunfee died July 27, 1851 aged 57y 9m' buried in Evergreen Bethel Cemetery, Jefferson Township, Whitley County - the same cemetery in which James and Sophia are buried. It seems logical that Catherine is a sister of James, thus she could be the aunt that was 'disappointed at not having her name mentioned.'
  • Jonathan and MaryAnn is a reference to William’s younger brother, Jonathan who settled in Whitley county, Indiana in the early 1850’s. Oliver Quick could be MaryAnn’s brother or father.
  • About 1850, James and Sophia Dunfee came to Whitley County, Indiana. Most of their known children also came to Northern Indiana and settled in DeKalb, Allen, and Whitley counties, at about the same time or a few years earlier. The only child known to have remained in Holmes county, Ohio was Mary Bonnet Lovett.


Jasia said...

What an interesting letter! And how wonderful to have something that old!

Lee said...

"Aunt is well but She hung her lip at not having her name mentioned in your letter."

A picture of my aunt Elsie shot through my mind when I read that line. She would behave the same way if she were overlooked. LOL...