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Havens Letter: December 29 1867

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Creator: Edwin R. Havens
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Date: December 29, 1867
Format: Image/jpg
Original Format: Document
Collection Number: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 14
Language: English
Rights Management: Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by Michigan State University and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.
Contributing Institution: Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections
Relation: LC00016 – Havens Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 14
Contributor: MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Havens Letter: December 29 1867, Page: 1

Havens Letter: December 29 1867
Havens Letter: December 29 1867

Watervliet Mich
December 29. 1867

Big Brother Nell.
Righteous indignation
urges me not to write you so soon but as
you treated me shamefully in neglecting my
letter and I did swear vengeance upon you.
but for all I find myself seated with pen in
hand bent upon dropping you a few lines
We have changed the order of things here
a little and have gotten up something new
to enliven the otherwise dull times. Fire that
great leveller. if not of human destinies. surely of
human productions has visited our little village
twice within the past week and has inflicted
a great loss upon the community at large
and several individuals in particular..
the first fire broke out on Monday evening
last at about 8:15. in the space between the
ceiling and roof of the store occupied and owned
by Swain Olney etc. and totally destroyed that
together with another building used as boarding house
or hotel and occupied by Mr Beaman. together with
a barn belonging to the Hotel.
Havens Letter: December 29 1867, Page: 2

Havens Letter: December 29 1867
Havens Letter: December 29 1867

The buildings were all owned by Swain Olney etc..
the store and hotel were two stories in highth and
as the fire was in the upper parts we were enabled
to save most of the goods and furniture in
both. Every one turned out promptly and every one
worked and acted nobly. Of course there was the
usual amount of confusion. and damaged goods
yet everyone deserves praise for the manner in
which they behaved. But a short distance from
these buildings stood the saw mill and lumber
yard belonging to S. O. etc.. and the wind blowing
strongly in their direction strong fears were enter
tained that they would go too. but by persevering
efforts they were saved. our efforts in that direction
were aided by a thick coating of ice caused
by a frozen rain and sleet which fell on
the Saturday previously. On seeing the light people
came flocking into town from every direction
and within an hour I make bold to say there
has not been more people together in town but
once since I came here. The buildings were
insured for about one half their value. and the
goods pretty well somewheres near $12000 on
both I beleive Had the mill and lumber yard
burned the loss exclusive of insurance would
have reached at a low estimate – of my own –
fifty thousand dollars.
Havens Letter: December 29 1867, Page: 3

Havens Letter: December 29 1867
Havens Letter: December 29 1867

We were expecting some good times Christmas
Eve in the hall over the store as preparations were
going on for a Christmas Tree for the Union
Sabbath School. The evergreens had been obtain
ed and the hall was partly decorated. but of
course that was lost as no room in town was
suitable for it afterwards.. Yesterday afternoon
a dwelling house near the site of the other
buildings caught fire and was burned down
with part of its contents.. There was no insurance
So it goes. both were the result of defects in
chimneys or pipes and both were discovered
too late to save the buildings.. The old womans
whim is “the second fire in quick succession
calls for the fourth.” and if it proves true in
our case no one can feel safe.. We have
always tried to be very careful yet I may wake
up some morning and find myself. burned to
ashes.. I’m not quite ready for any such event
yet and am inclined to beleive that one born to
be hanged stands little show to be burned. in
this world at least..
The thief who broke into our store some time ago
escaped from the jail two weeks ago and stole
a horse a few miles from St Joe but showed his
usual sagacity and was again recaptured.
Havens Letter: December 29 1867, Page: 4

Havens Letter: December 29 1867
Havens Letter: December 29 1867

One of our constables started in pursuit of
him the next Wednesday followed him to Grand
Haven and nabbed him reaching here with him
a few minutes before the fire broke out on
Monday evening. He is a tough one for a boy
of eighteen having already spent one term in
the school of correction and bids fair to spend
another in Jackson.. which seems the only safe
place to keep him away from harm.
I spent a part of Christmas at Mr Woodruffs
where their family and a few friends held
a Christmas Tree. and a right pleasant
affair it was too. There was a great variety
of presents beautiful and many very costly
ones. and all went home satisfied that they
could not have enjoyed themselves better
By way of Wilson Sparks I learn that Susan
was married to Al. Sprague on the 19th..
John was the only one who attended the
wedding from down this way. John and
Newt did not stay long up North. but Will
and another fellow who went with them
was up there the last I heard about them
I hear that some of the “bend” folks
are coming down New Years but who
I did not learn
Havens Letter: December 29 1867, Page: 5

Havens Letter: December 29 1867
Havens Letter: December 29 1867

I have heard that John Jarvis had reached
Cuba safely but as to his condition since
I know nothing.. other boys who went north
I have not heard from..
There is some excitement around concerning
the Small Pox and it is feared we have a case
in town but is not positively known. A young
lady died of it in St Joseph some time ago.
and a young man is now sick with it in
Bainbridge Township about four miles from
here.
I hope Mother will recover from her
sickness but she must be very careful or
she will make herself down sick by hard
work.. Uncle Mont seems determined to make
trouble for himself and family. I am sorry
he will give away so to his passions at
his time of life
Wishing you a happy New Years
and good luck in all your enterprises I
remain
Your Brother
E.R. Havens
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