This letter was written by 27 year-old James (“Jim”) William Hoyt (1835-1912), the son of Hanson Harrison Hoyt (1793-1861) and Olive Folsom Coleman (1803-1890) of Newington, Rockingham, New Hampshire. Mentioned in the letter are Jim’s siblings: Charlotte Frances Hoyt (1830-1882), Joseph Simes Hoyt (1833-1904), and Thomas Bent Hoyt (b. 1840).
We learn from this letter that Jim Hoyt was residing in Union-occupied New Orleans during the Civil War and apparently employed in the maritime business. He was enumerated among the members of the household on his father’s farm in New Hampshire in the 1860 census two years earlier. Jim married Sophia Furber (1838-1905) in October 1863. Jim’s name was one of fifteen drawn in the August 1863 Draft for the First Congressional District in New Hampshire but I can find no record that suggests he served in the army.
Addressed to Mrs. Hanson Hoyt, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
New Orleans [Louisiana]
Wednesday, November 5th 1862
I commenced a letter to you the 22nd of last month but had to give it up on account of headache. In fact, I had about such another spell of sickness as when I was at home 3 years ago — but I managed to get clear of it without any doctor though for two days I was right sick & it was some ten days that I didn’t promenade the dance much. Was never better than now — both hardy and stout. Lazy to boot.
Business of all kinds is dull. If I make enough through the winter to pay my board, I shall do all that I expect unless the river should be open. If such an event should occur, I believe there would be quite a brisk little business carried on here this winter.
The steamer Potomac arrived last Monday with a large mail — the only one that has come in for a month. Was somewhat disappointed that she brought no letter for me. Expect you are all too busy in harvesting to find time to write letters but after winter sets in I suppose they’ll come by the handful. I’ll endeavor to be patient as winter is most here. I have not done much the last month. Have now only the steamer Potomac. I have two or three week’s work to do on the tarpaulin but tar and oil is so high now that I have hardly decided whether to lay out $50 on them or not. This war seems to upset all calculations and I may need what money I have to live in till commerce again starts.
My expenses since July have net to very near $1 per day. I shall try and reduce them this winter somewhat for I believe it is most to much for me now to eat my money worth.
I shan’t say anything about coming home yet awhile. We’ll talk about that next spring if I am alive. I want to hear from Bill Connell pretty badly. Can tell better what to do after hearing from him. I don’t know what the poor people will do this winter. I see by the paper that the U. S. Commissary Department last week assisted over 33,000 persons including children but these figures will increase as winter comes on. War is terrible and there are but a few but what feel its awful effects.
It’s eleven months ago tonight that Father died. You miss him much. Hard as it is to part with those dear to us, tis our duty to submit for tis the will of God. You have much in Bent to be thankful for. He certainly deserves much praise for managing the place so well. I think Joe too has assisted not a little. In fact, you have all your children near you except one who has strayed away. But my word for it, the first opportunity he will be retracing his steps back to “The Home of his Childhood.”
I hope Char didn’t take offense at my letter. If so, she must write and tell me so that I may apologize. Accept love. Remember me to all & believe me your affectionate son, — Jim Wm.