New York Cit: 1834.
This stampless folded family letter measures 15½” x 12½”. It was sent by Edward P Hill from New York City to Miss Rebecca H. Hill in Mason, New Hampshire. It was written in two parts, the first on August 26, 1834, and the second a few days later on September 4, the same day the letter was postmarked.
It begins with a brief description of a trip from Mason to New York City that included travel by stagecoach and steamboat and then continues with a discussion of the epidemic. On August 26, Hill reported
“At present the City is quite sickly the Choler5a appears rather on the increase but we hope it will soon subside the greatest number of deaths of Cholera in a day yet is 26. I saw Mr Wilran to day and he says that as soon as the Cholera subsides they are agoing to start for Mason. Mrs Wilson will not go & leave while the Cholera rages. . ..”
And, nine days later on September 4, he continued
“The Cholera has somewhat abated. The inhabitants generally don’t appear to mind it so much. It is principally confined to the filthy parts of the City. It has had a good effect on business. . ..”. Very good. Item #010197
After beginning in Asia, a devastating Cholera epidemic reached England in 1831 and by the summer of 1831 had passed through Canada and begun to afflict Manhattan. As there had been adequate information regarding its progress, many wealthy New Yorkers had already relocated to the countryside to avoid infection. The poor, who were concentrated in lower Manhattan below 14th Street, had no choice but to await its onslaught. Approximately 3,500 of them died over the next three years.
(For more information, see “Disasters: New York City (NYC) Cholera Epidemic of 1832” at the NYCdata website and Ferris’s “A treatise on epidemic cholera: as observed in the Duane-street Cholera Hospital. . ..” at the National Library of Medicine website.)
Fairly scarce. At the time of listing, there are no similar letters for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub shows original source letters and diaries related to the 1830s outbreak periodically appear at auction, and OCLC shows several institutions hold similar material..