This letter was written by a young man named R. S. Hatch, probably in his twenties and most likely college educated. He wrote the letter from Angelica, Allegeny County, New York, where it appears that his brother George resided and labored as a tanner. It seems his parents must have lived in the vicinity as well but an exhaustive search of the census records turned up nothing.
Hatch wrote the letter to his friend, Nathan Henry Bitely (1822-1884), the son of Joseph Loadman Bitely (1785-1858) and Laurilla Durkee (1801-1882). Nathan was a graduate of the Balleston Springs Law School who came to Paw Paw, Michigan in 1851 and later Lawton, Michigan. He served in the State Senate as a Republican, but devoted most of his career to horticulture.
The letter contains a description of traveling by canal boat on the Erie Canal from Albany to Rochester, and then south on the Genesee Valley Canal to Mount Morris where young Hatch finished his journey to Angelica by stage.
Addressed to N. H. Bitely, Esq., Easton, Washington Co., New York
Angelica [New York]
October 24, 1846
I am in the land of angels once more, but find still a few devils to deal with, as usual, but hope soon to be free from their demonic influence. Be that as it may, I shall come out right in the end. Old Allen ¹ — the old Belzebub himself — still opposes me because I am a Hatch, or rather because I am brother to his opposition in trade. Brother George is again a brother in earnest. The reason of the hard feelings existing between him and myself has been clearly demonstrated and is as follows. Old Allen, as soon as I was gone, circulated the report that I had told him of George’s using customers leather and of his finishing leather secretly for persons who had taken the leather from Allen’s vats. Such things as these would, as a matter of course, would cause him to feel hard, but since I have proved Old Devil a liar, he (George) is my best friend. All with me now is O.K. except one, that is, hard feelings between Allen’s folks and ours. As to the answer to the letter which I received from you, I don’t know how to do it for your letter is all beginning and all ending.
1st. How I got along after leaving you? I went up where that chap directed me, but found that the office was moved two buildings farther up the river. I got my ticket changed and took passage on board the boat Rhode Island for Rochester. Had a real comfortable time with the mumps just after getting aboard. Had a cargo of everything — just such stuff as the world is made of. Our cabin passengers consisted of 2 ladies, 2 children, 2 young men — one a devil intricate, t’other a gentleman like myself only he could not come a t___ to my fat cheeks. Our deck passengers, thunder and brimstone — what a ____ they were. They consisted of about a dozen Englishmen, as many Englishwomen, about a half a dozen Irishmen, and an Irish lady or two, one Frenchman, 10000 squalling imps of young ones and three dogs. The Frenchman though was a fine fellow and lived in St. Hyacinth, Canada close by Mons. Andre’ Guathier. Was well acquainted with and spoke highly of him. Two or three of the Englishmen were folks but the rest —– let me get my dictionary and see if I can find a word that will describe them. By thunder, I’ve got to make one or let you guess at one. You’re a Yankee, so go it, and perhaps you have seen such.
At Rochester I took the boat Scott to Mount Morris. There I found a man going to Bushford where Newman was. I spent two days with him, then took the stage to Angelica. Got along first rate.
Since I have been here I have been attending the Teacher’s Institute held at the Court House. The proceedings of this meeting I will send to you as soon as published. Have had a grand time, I assure you. You don’t know how well I feel on account of being once more at liberty.
Today I was examined in a class of 7 and was the only one who could get a county certificate. And also today have engaged a school about 8 miles from here. Terms $15.00 per month for 4 months. Commence the 16 of November. I have received several papers from Hempstead and have written to Ed. Sam. and Miles and must to Chat. I will send you the money due you as soon as possible — $7.00, I believe.
What about our next spring operations? Andrew will go with us heart in hand. I will write to Uncle shortly and see what he will do. Please write soon. Give my respects to all and remember me your friend, — R. S. Hatch
¹ Probably Richard Allen (1787-Aft1850), a tanner and currier, residing in Angelica, Allegany County, New York. His son, Willard Allen (1826-18xx), was in the tanning business with his father.