|This is a copy of a letter from Orren Haseltine (although he signed it Orien Haseltine) to his younger brother, Alden Haseltine, still living in Rockingham, Vermont. It was written before postage stamps were in use. It was written with black ink on lined, double folded 8x12 paper. Three sides were used for the message while the folded sheet left the blank side out for the address. It cost 25 cents to cover the postage. The letter was sealed with red sealing wax. It was mailed from New Berlin, Wix. March 1st 1840.
I received yours of Jan. 15th and thought I might as well commence answering it now, lest by neglecting it for the present I should neglect it entirely as I did your other, which is so long ago that I have forgotten the date. I have no other excuse than negligence, thinking all the while that I would do it soon; but you must know that I am living retired with little use for pen and ink, and it seems no small job to get them together; besides I am somewhat busy this winter taking care of my sheep and lambs; hogs and pigs, having about 100 of each which I am wintering; especially now while my children are attending school. If these reasons will not excuse me, then I am unexcusable.
As for the country I am not sick of it as some suppose; neither have I any interest in cracking it up above what it will bear. Altho I can think of many of my friends at the east who are working hard to get rather a scanty living, and think I know if they were here they would be vastly better off, yet I have not written to any of them because I will not be responsible for persuading anyone to come here for it is possible to come here and not better his condition, yet for myself I am satisfied, why should I not be?
I have a farm of more than 1100 acres of excellent land lying as level as I could wish; several hundred acres free from timber and stone; the rest timbered and well watered, I would not give it now for two such farms as I sold, and it will soon be worth four times as much; I came here that my children might come and get them good farms in the west, and settle around me, four of them are married and settled here, each on a better farm than the one I sold, which they own and again I say why should I not be satisfied; you say I cannot raise anything to brag of; true I would not brag of anything I have raised; I have found however that the soil is excellent and will grow anything that is properly put into it and suitably tended; and I must say (though you may call it bragging) that although this was an unfavorable season for corn there being an early frost which injured some late planting; yet we did grow the Ohio dent corn fro 12 to 14 feet high, which got ripe here, and I have never seen a winter more pleasant.
It's much milder winters than you have there. There never was more than one foot of snow at any time, much good sleighing with little snow, a very great difference in the expense of keeping stock in favor of this country. The Indians and snakes are not thick enough to be any objection to the country, as some of your feminine creatures suppose.
As to health, I think I have never enjoyed as good health since I came out here, don't know how long it will last. The country is undoubtedly first rate healthy with the exception of a few low spots near marshes, where they will have a little ague.
As for my share of fathers estate I will take the $150.00 for my part of the real estate and send papers, but perhaps I should not make them out right, but you can direct me; as to Asa's affairs, it was talked and agreed at the time as so far as I understood that the debt that Asa owed Father was a just debt and undoubtedly it was just as right that Father should get his pay as that any other of Asa's creditors should get theirs, but it is also true that Asa was unfortunate and unable to pay his debts, and unfortunate in the purchase of that property for which he owed that debt; which purchase was undoubtedly the cause of his great misfortune. It finally turns out that the property sold was not in reality worth what Asa paid for it; indeed I considered that is was not worth anything; and I know Father used all his influence and power to persuade Asa to buy (no doubt with the best of motives believing it to be best thing that Asa could do to buy it; but it turns out that he was mistaken) under this state of facts. As Asa was willing to do all in his power to secure the debt even to cut himself off of what he was rightfully heir, putting confidence in his brothers and sisters to do right by him; so far as I am concerned shall not have the occasion to regret that confidence. I am satisfied that father intended that what property he should leave should be divided equally between his children. Still I suppose you are satisfied that that will not be the case exactly, certainly not unless the children shall even it a little, as some of them, I suppose have had something while others have not had much of anything. But I suppose I am among those that have had the least and I guess that I shan't have any hard thoughts, you should pay what ever belongs to me to Horace Burton of Andover (my wife's brother) and take his receipt for the same except twenty dollars which you may turn over to my brother, Asa or his order.
Suppose you have been satisfactorily paid for taking care of Mother as I have heard nothing about it. We are all well; my wife presents her compliments. Give mine also to you wife and my friends there.