I went to visit my mother about a month ago. She handed over a whole pile of old letters she had found–dating from about 1825 to 1870–which I am slowly transcribing. Alas, some are just tiny scraps of papers, but there are some real gems in there. This is really exciting for me, because it’s from the Hoovers in Hennepin, IL (my grandmother’s mother’s family) and I had hit dead genealogical ends with both Henry Hoover (my great-great-great grandfather) and his wife Sally.
Henry Hoover apparently went out to California to make his fortune. There are three letters from him back to his family. I have transcribed them exactly as they appear–spelling, capitalizations, and all–but I have added punctuation, which he omitted entirely. I did this so the letters are easier to read.
The first letter:
Putnam Co. Ill
St Joseph April 12 1840
Dear wife I take this opportunity to let you know I am well and I hope you are the same. We have had worry cold and wet for the last ten days. We got here the 11. I have been down in town all the time since looking for Sam but I don’t find him. I saw Joseph Stephens to day. He says he saw Bart in Iowa all well and now is Sam a going to come with how or note. How’s team will be in to morrow, we will load up and [something] the river and wait about a week before we start. I have wrote three times to your before this. I have been Develing [ the Post master all the time I have been here for a letter but don’t find any. Brook is well and high treaded. Otterson was well last Friday we parted company they have not got in yet. I have no news to write it is tolerable healthy in St Joseph. There has been some cholera here but not so bad as we heard. My health so far has been better than common and I am going to keep in so it is rather lonesome here. There is about one thousand [something] for California but still I lack one thing [something] from home. Now wife and children are you all well and doing well. What I don’t write you must think for I cannot think of everything to write so I will wait and see if I don’t see Sara or get a letter before I leave fore the plains. I will let you know if sam comes and what we are a going to Do so I will stop for the present
H. Hoover to S.W. Hoover
Well Sally here we are in St Joseph but no sam yet. We have got all ready for starting over the river but we won’t start over the plains for ten Days yet so I will wait for a letter. This is a solemn Day with us here for we have buried Leny Zerek [?] this afternoon. He died on the Boat Elpasso yesterday about forty miles below here. He died with the inflammation on the bowels. James Simson and Louis Purley was with him but Lou has not come yet. We are looking for him and sam with him. We are all well so far and in good spirits. Tomorrow we cross the river and camp for a spell. Now Sally you must keep your courage and take good care of the blesed little children for I will be back. I need not tell you what to do but do the best you can. Take good care of your self and stay til I come back their. I will tell you more than I dare write now. Sally you must write about the first of June and July and August and direct it to Sacramento City uper California. Now Melissa, how are you, I hope you are well and a good girl, then I will bring you something nice I will yes. Well George John Miles Martin David Julius all be good boys and help your mother and be good to her then I will bring you something fine. Now mind well. Bart has not come yet. I have Nothing to write now but if I get a letter before we start I will write again before we leave. I saw Mr. Donald he got here to day. He says he saw you and he lost the letter you sent. Give my respects to all and every body so fare you well Sally Dear.
Jane I will say a word to you. I am well and full of fun and I hope you are. I have not seen Bart yet but am looking for him to night and then I will tell you how he likes Calafornia. I would like to know how you get a long with selling wood. Jane be a good girl and help sally this summer and keep good courage and then I want you to write to me about the first of June. Direct it to Sacramento City uper California. Jane if you go east give my love to Abiah and Merry and all that will enquire for poor me. Dont forget to write for it will be lonesome so far you well at present. Now dont forget.
Henry Hoover to Jane Dellen? Deln?
Here–after a period of eleven years–is the second letter:
Dear Sally and more,
I will try to write a few lines to let you know that I am alive and enjoying first rate health but I feel very uneasy about home for I have not heard from you since Mrs Lyn brought me letter tara[?] at work. At present on the south fork of the American reiver. I have bought a claim and paid five hundred Dollars for it and the river has raised so we cannot work it this fall so I will have to give it up this season. I was in hopes I could come home this fall but things has taken such a turn. I shal have to try the mining one more year all though it is a hard life to live but Don’t you be discouraged for I think I shall soon be home with plenty of Gold to cheer up. Dear Sally I want to hear if you got that money I sent to you by P Durly for I have not heard from you or those since the 13th of March last saw[?]. I wish you would write to me for I fear you are not happy but Sally don’t worry your self about me for I will try to do well and I think I can but I do get home-sick some times. You must take good care of your dear self and the children all. Bless them. As for the B Allen and the rest of the Hennepin boys I have not heard from them since last fall. I suppose some of them has gone home. I wish you would write and let me know who has got home and what luck they have had +[?] the two Mr Barbers in particular as they was of B Nervels Company. I understand they started home last winter with but very little money & I should like to hear how they have made it with Mr Nervel as they did not stay their time out.
Dear Daughters Charlotte I must write a few lines to you and I thank you for the few lines you wrote to me. You said you had kept your promise. Well I want you to keep it one year longer and take care of your dear ma and the little boys and I will be back and you shall be rewarded for all your trouble. Be a good girl and write to me often for I want to hear from you for Jane Larsen [?]
No more at Present from your old Dear Henry Hoover
Now Sally Dear I want to know how you get along with our large family of boys and if you want more money I have about enough to take me home but I want to try the mines one more winter and see if I can make my pile. I think I can. You must not mind the bad storys you hear from Califronia all though they do hang a great many men here but I have got along so far verry well with out difficulty. Well Sally next Sunday I am a going to start to the north run mines in ??? with five men and expect to remain there until some time in the spring and then if I can sell my claim here I will come home if I have money to beare my expense and well little Boys George John Daniel James David and little Julius you must all be good boys and be kind to your Dear mother and help her and I wil soon be back with you and there we will take comfort to pay for all this hardship. Dear wife and Children take good care of our selves and [can’t read] you take comfort while I am nicking about in the mountains.
No More at Present But I Still Remain Your Henry Hoover to Sally W hoover and Childern
And this is the the third letter. I confess that I got tired of transcribing all the “take care of your mothers” so I omitted them. Also, I couldn’t read the date. However, this is my very favorite letter:
Vichel?? April 14, 51?? 57??
To Sally W Hoover and the Boys
I have jest received a letter from you stating that you have Moved. Well I am glad to hear it for I have thought of you a great many times. I rote you a letter the day before I got yours and directed it Bureau Junction but I can tell you what is in. It it’s filled up with my hard luck. James has sold that 40 acres that I bought for him last fall so that taks 125 dollars. I have 250 dollars in debs a comming to me that I expect to loose and we have had to by a span of horses this spring. It will leave me behind a bout 400 I dar not no how I will git a long I did think that I [something] you soon this spring. But do not depend on me and if it is possible I will due something our girl Hannah has left us and Mother and the 2 Hellents has to do the work. Mother’s Helth is very good this spring and we are all able to eat our Pankake. Mother want to [something] Charlott is a going on the Ca nall?? this summer all well is your friends you must exersizing short letters for I want to rite a line to Bart. I want to congratulate him because he has got a BABY and the first that I git to a tavern I will take a snort of jingjaw on his expense and when I se any of Larris friends I will tell them that she has got twins.