Letter to Eliza from Hannah Valentine (November 1, 1837)

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Hannah Valentine was an enslaved woman owned by Virginia governor David Campbell. She cared for the Campbell family homestead, Montcalm, in Abingdon, while Campbell and his family lived at the governor’s mansion in Richmond. This letter to her daughter Eliza illustrates the difficulties Hannah Valentine faced in communicating with loved ones because of her inability to write. Several years later, a Campbell niece named Virginia and a literate enslaved woman purchased by David Campbell named Mary Burwell would teach Hannah and other enslaved people at Montcalm to read and write.


Tell Richard that Aunt Lucinda sais she has Dreamed about him several times since he Left Here

[In left-hand margin:] Give My Love to All Michels Bothers & Sisters & Tell them all to write to Me – tell Richard that Mary sais he must write to Her!

Abingdon Nov. 1st 1837

Dear Eliza

I received yours & Richards Letter day Before yesterday with great pleasure I have been quite uneasay since for an opportunity to write to you. You must not expect [me] to write to you Often as it is some trouble to get a person to write for Me – I have written to Michel by Nancy Singleton. Your Children are all well and doing very well – and have never suffered from sickness one moment since you Left here they talk some Little about you but do not appear to miss you a great deal I am not as well my selfe as I would wish to be although I am still about and so all my Business but am Quite unwell – Your Little Daughter Mary is one of the best Children in the world and is very Little like a child – You must make Miss Virginia Read this Letter over 3 or four times as I Have to get some of the first Cut of young Gentlemen to write them –

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tell My Dear son Richard that I will Have a few Lines written to him to day his Wife and Friends are all well. His Wife has not yet Received his Letter but I will try and send it to Her between this and Sunday. Give My best Love to Michel & David tell Michel that I am very Happy to Hear that he Has seen all his Relations tell them all they must behave themselves and be as Genteel as they posibly can and try and take Good care of their Master & Mistress Knowing they are the Best Friends they have in this World. tell David he must be a good Boy as Nothing Will give me as much pleasure as to hear of his Good Conduct and it is all my thought for fear you not conduct your selves as Genteel as I would wish you to do. tell Miss Virginia I will Send Her Cloak by Ginny Robinson in about 4 weeks as it is impossible for me to send it sooner. Give My Love to Mistress & Master Most Particularly and to Miss Virginia & My Good Husband Michel tell him he can form no Idea how much I Have thought of him since he Left this place and how much I have missed him- Aunt Lucinda and Mary Send their Love to you all and to Master, Mistress & Miss Virginia

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I Have no Strange news to write to you about Our Town more than I Have told you- Theodore Sterricks send his best Love to Richard & Your Selfe and sais Richard Must Kiss Eliza three times for Him. He sais he has no news that will be interesting to you but that he waited on Sam White & Jane Good to be married Last Saturday night James Turner & Sam Calliway join me in Love to you all and will write to you all to day I expect – Mary tells Me to say to Miss Virginia that she must not forget Her but Remember her in her Prairs tell her that our New Station Preacher is Named Winton Late from Wythe Station there has been a Great Revival of Religion her among the Methodists and about 30 Have joined the Church among the Rest was Mr. Craig & C Mrs Andrew Gilson had a fine son on Saturday Night Last and they are Both well. Miss Ellen White Received a Letter from Miss Mary Last Monday She was well & Sent her Love to all Masters Servant on the Hill – tell David that Easter sent her Love to him and expects to Receive A Letter from him shortly – No More at Present But Remain you Most Affectionate Mother Until Death

Hannah Valentine

APA Citation:
Valentine, Hannah. Letter to Eliza from Hannah Valentine (November 1, 1837). (2021, April 28). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Valentine, Hannah. "Letter to Eliza from Hannah Valentine (November 1, 1837)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (28 Apr. 2021). Web. 11 Jul. 2024
Last updated: 2021, April 28
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