This letter was written by David McCord Anderson (1812-1897), the son of Robert Anderson (1779-1824) and Jane Hay (1784-1852) of Franklin County, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. We learn from the letter that David was a shoemaker by trade and that he had met Hannah Jane Hamill (1816-1879) while visiting his brother, Thomas Anderson (b. 1811), who had previously relocated to Knox County, Ohio. Hannah was the daughter of John Caldwell Hamill (1774-1845) and Nancy Stewart (1774-1842) of Clinton Township, Knox County, Ohio. David and Hannah were married on 24 May 1844 in Knox County where David turned to farming and lived out the remainder of his days.
Addressed to Miss Hannah J. Hamill, Mt. Vernon Post Office, Knox County, Ohio
Franklin County, Pennsylvania
January 21st 1843
I again take up my pen to inform you that we are all well at present for which and all other mercies, I would ever desire to thank that God who is the author of all good, hoping that these lines may find you enjoying the same. I received your letter dated December 19th which I was glad to see as it was the first letter I got since I came home. I can hardly express my feelings on learning that dear little Franklin was called home. God has seen fit to take him home. He knows what is best for us all & blessed be his name. Sometimes he takes a dear friend from us in order to draw our hearts more from earth to heaven and prepare us to follow him. We should often ask the question what am I, where am I, & whither am I going. May the Lord prepare us all to meet in heaven for his great name sake.
I received a letter from brother Thomas just one week after yours. It was a nothing letter. He said it was a hard parting for them but a happy meeting for Franklin. But he seems to be very much resigned to the will of God. He mentions all the persons that was there and the part each one performed from first to last. He always has your name first.
I trust you will excuse me for not writing sooner as I have been very busy ever since I came home. And since I got your letter I have had a great deal of studying. I find that you have not forgot me yet and I assure you I haven’t forgot you although so great a distance is between us. I can scarcely tell why I thought so much of you as I did. I never set my heart on beauty, for favor is deceitful and beauty is vain. But she that feareth the Lord shall be praised.
Your neighbors all spoke very well of you — your profession and standing in society and your kind manners all seemed to recommend you to me. But I never could love in the true sense of the word when I had the least reason to think that my love was not returned in some degree at least. You have given me more encouragement that I had reason to expect, yet I can’t say that you have treated me better than several other girls in this country have — though full as well too. Allow me to make my circumstances as plain to you as I can.
Perhaps you are not aware that I am a shoemaker by trade. It’s a trade that is very much despised by some folks and, in fact, I don’t like it myself. It don’t agree very well with my constitution. That was the reason that I took to travel last spring — in order to improve my health and see the country. I think I shall never regret that I took that trip for I met with a great many friends amongst strangers and you are one of that number.
Five years ago I bought this house & lot for three hundred and eighty dollars cash. I had to borrow the money nearly all. Then I set in and worked nearly day and night to get it paid. Three years past, I and my sister had the fever which cost me fifty dollars and eleven week’s lost time (I should not say lost time for it was a blessing to me). My property is now worth four hundred & fifty dollars and I have one hundred to pay on it yet. But last summer I spent some time and some money traveling. Yet still I don’t begrudge it for I learnt a thing or two and I still look back with pleasure on the evenings we spent together. But I have to blush when I think on some of my awkward performances. I wonder how Miss Liza Simons is coming on?
I have your hair yet that was left of your necklace but I haven’t braided it yet. I would like to have your portrait to look at if you could send it in a letter. Perhaps you could get a small one drawn by Levi North. I guess you can nearly see how I look when you see Thomas. I wish I had the same opportunity again that I had last summer of becoming acquainted with you. I think I would improve it better than I done, But now we are separated and I have no prospect of seeing you soon according to present circumstances.
I must now try and finish this letter. We have had quite a soft winter so far — especially this month except the first week. We had first rate sleighing from the 29th December till the 7th of this month. Since then it has been like spring.
The scarlet fever has been very bad in Chambersburg and the people generally in the country have had a worse cold than ever I can mind of. We all had a share of it. But at present we have no reason to complain.
I must now tell you that we have several singing schools in this neighborhood. The nearest is 1½ miles from this. It is a society. Two others and myself take the floor in turn. It made me feel a little spotted at first when I stood up before about twenty ladies with their clean faces and sharp pointed c__ [paper torn], but I wasn’t the least confused. And I had the pleasure of walking hime with one of them after singing.
Dear Hannah, I find so many hearts affected towards me that I hardly know what to do for the best. But there is luck in leisure and I am in no hurry about getting married. Yet you seem to be uppermost in my thoughts both day and night — — —
Now if I knew certainly which thought the most of me I could sooner decide. And now I beseech the lady not as though I wrote a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning that we love one another. I hope you will excuse all failings and write soon again — if after all these statements you still love me and encourage me in writing. I think I shall be able to write more decidedly the next time. I add no more at present but remain your sincere well wisher.
Farewell, — David McCord Anderson
Friday night. I had closed this letter this morning intending to take it to Chambersburg today but it looked so for rain that I didn’t go. And today I heard of the death of a young lady that I was once in company with last spring and I thought a good deal of her appearance. But now she is no more. She lived about 12 miles from this near St. Thomas. I intend going to the funeral tomorrow if I am well and the weather fit so I can drop this letter in the post office at St. Thomas instead of Chambersburg. I was very much struck on hearing of her death. She was a merry, light-hearted & good-natured girl, and the way I got in company with her was this. Last spring she was on a visit amongst her friends in this neighborhood and she was here and I went home with her — that is, to her uncle’s. When I parted with her, I said perhaps we may never see each other again. I intended going to the west & perhaps might never return. And true enough, I never seen her since. She sent me her respects with my sister not more than three weeks since. And now she is gone. O that the Lord would help us all to prepare to meet in heaven.
Hannah, I love you yet. And when I look over this letter I find it is very much mixed up with good and bad. But it’s the true state of things. Thomas writes that Steward talks of coming back to Pennsylvania in the spring. He don’t say whether he intends moving or not. But if he does come this course, I would like very much if he would call with me if he can find where I live. But Thomas can tell him what road to take. I intend writing to Thomas perhaps next week. Farewell.
Hannah’s response to David’s letter is transcribed in Rootsweb (click here):
Clinton Township, Knox County, Ohio
May 23 
After a long silence I again take up my pen to inform you that we are all in a tolerable state of health at present, for which we ought to be thankful to you for so many many mercies so unwantingly bestowed up us. Father & Mother has had very poor health all winter bus is some better now. Hoping these times may find you all in good health. I saw your brother Thomas and his wife a week ago last Sabbath at meeting. They were well, they now live about a half mile – mile from Lydia’s (?) brother Martin. There has been a great moving about on Dry Creek this spring. Mr John Huntsberger [lives] where Thomas [Anderson] did last year. Mr Clark has moved into the Dustin cabin on the Hill, & Mr Davidson where he [Clark] left, & Mr ?? on Shaw’s old place.
I received your letter bearing date January 21st which I was much pleased with & which has remained unanswered until now. I hope you will pardon me, seeing it was not beause I did not want to write to you. I suppose your brother Thomas has informed you the reason why I did not want to write rashly one way or the other. Although my pen was silent, my mind was busy. I could not have forgotten you had I have tried. I have your assurance in your own hand writing that you had not forgotten me. You wrote to me that if after the statements that you gave me if I still continued to love you & encouraged you in writing, you would give me a more decided answer. I do assure you I thought more of your plain honesty than if you could have said you was worth thousands.
Scarlet Fever has been very bad in some places this year. William Crider buried 4 of his children and George Lewis [buried] his wife with it. — Hannah