Letters From George Major Hanson
(two to brother James Madison Hanson, and one to sister-in-law Catherine Graham Hanson, widow of brother William Waldron Hanson)
Transcribed by and received of Evelyn Hanson Helton; 1300 Dupont; Kingsport, TN 39664

Yuba City, June 13th 1868

My dear brother & sister,
"Time and tide waits for no one", is an old homely but true proverb. Since the 5th of March last year have been preparing through the days and weeks and months which soon will close your 59th year are the homes of old time. While I your oldest and more favored brother (as it regards the length of years) has been since the 13th of the same month, wading into my "three score and ten", the alloted years of mortation. Oh! How thankful we should be for these demonstrations of Divine Godship. Notwithstanding my advanced age, I am quite spry physically. My health never was better. My appitite quite good. Never have head, ear, back, belly or tooth ache. Indeed I never have had ear or tooth ache in my life. Only one front and one rear tooth are missing and they never ached but one got loose and the other began to decay and I had them extracted. Since I quit the Indian Service, I have been to Washington. Settled up, returned and went with my son David into the Publication of a newspaper for a year and lost over $1000 and quit it. I then bought into another paper: the Marysville Appeal as the "Associate Editor". I continued three months and sold out again. Made $28 per week in gold, but the labor and the confinement was more than I could stand. I think I will enter into active business no more, but shall try and enjoy life with all its legitimate blessings as best I may. I sent you our paper the "Sentinel". Did you get it? I will send you a copy of the Weekly Appeal in which I have been engaged for the last three months. (The daily and weekly). Enough now about self. Betty with whom I make my home is very well and quite fleshy. Her two youngest daughters are married and living here near by us. Each of them have a son 2 years old. Her eldest daughter Eliza married over two years ago, went into accouchement last September and died leaving a daughter about a week old, which Betty her Ma is raising. She is a dear sweet relic of her mother. So beloved by all who knew her. William my oldest son and David my youngest are all of my sons that have yet married. They are both living here. William has four and David two children. David my fifth son is Assistant Postmaster in the City of Marysville. James Francis is 75 miles west in a mountain valley farming. Nathan is the rambler. Last accounts he bought a vessel in Sitka, Russia and went to sea. Rufus my sixth son was killed in an Indian battle about 18 months since in Idaho Territory (under General Crook). I sent out all the way over 500 miles from here and brought his body home in a ?? coffin. and it now sleeps in my family grave yard.

David upon whom I built such great hopes, I fear will never do well. "He drinks". He got broke up and I have been helping him, but I find it does no good. He is educated and talented, but his habits are such he can't be trusted with a law case. He gives me great troubles. The rest of my boys doing very well. Their habits are all good.

I see some of the Democracy in the newly reconstructed states in the South have been elected by "Negro votes". They show more good sense than the Democrates here, who swear they would not have an office that was obtained by the help of Negro votes. They are wiser than Washington, Jefferson and Madison, all of whom were elected by the aid of Negro votes. Free Negros in Jefferson's day voted in every State then in the Union except South Carolina, and the Democratic Legislature of New York enfranchised the Negro worth $250 and he has voted there and in eight other states ever since. Man's prejudice against colour has grown out of the institution of slavery because the slaves were degraded by servitude and consignment ignorance growing out of the lack of education. "Tis, Education that makes the Man". True, no race of mankind is naturally as intelligent as the Caucasian, yet they arc all mankind. And when our prejudices all wear off, we will no more blush to vote with the Negro than lift with him at a hand-spike or husk corn with him at a husking.

All mankind not guilty of crime should and will be equal before the law. So to social equality, that is quite another thing. Men and women, whether white or black should and always will choose or select their own associates. I did not intend saying a word on politics, so I'll quit least you won't answer my letter. This is my third (and last) since I heard from you. Will you answer? The Pacific railroad will be done in 1869 I think. Then if alive I shall visit my native land for my last time.

My sincere love to sister and all.

Your brother,
George Major Hanson

Notes in the Margin:

When I visit you by rail should I live that long, I will bring you some of our best grapes and other fruit that will astonish you. Francis has about 600 vines and William has 1000 all in full bearing. Some vines will have 30 pounds and some bunches weigh 4 pounds.

Let me know who among my old acquantences there are living or dead. Mr. Necessary - Pippins - Munceys - Brownings - Alderson - Dickensons - Bickleys - Burdines etc. Yes and Cowans and Gilmores.

Also Col. Boyd and sister Betty - Frank Ellington, Nathan Caldwell, and especially Kitty Hanson and her family. As well as our own. Your crippled son, how has he got?

I received the photograph likeness of Uncle and Aunt Mark Hanson in Ireland about ten months since. Uncle favors father very much. I also received the likenesses of his two sons - both are talented Presbyterian clergyman. Their sister Matilda married cousin Thor (Thomas) in Peoria, Illinois.

February 22, 1869

My dear Sister Catherine,

This eve I am in receipt of a letter from William Ingrin formerly of your place now of _______ County making inquiry for two of his brothers formerly in California, but now in the State of Nevada. He informed me that he, a few days previously had seen some of my brothers relations in Wytheville, who said they would like to hear from me. So I have concluded to hazzard another short letter and address it to you, and through you to whomsoever it comes a welcome recipient. I wrote to George once since he returned from the Confederate Army and to my brother James several times, but have not been considered worthy a reply from either. The last letter from brother James was in the year 1865 in which he stated that you were much hurt at me for the manner in which I wrote a letter to George and said it would have become me better to have sent George some money. This induces this letter to you more than anything else. I explained to George, the cause of his not getting the money he asked me for, while he was a prisoner of war, but he made no reply. I now explain to you. At the time I received George's first letter through reverses of fortune I was entirely destitute of money. All I was worth in the world was in the Indian Department in Washington City and I had sent a power of attorney to one of our members of Congress to collect it, etc. So I wrote to George to draw on him for what he needed to purchase some clothes. I wrote at the same time to W. Cole the member and request him to lift George's order and keep it out of my money when collected. He told me since that George never called or sent for the money or should have had it although he had not collected mine. It appears from George's second and last letter I had not given him the name of the Congressmen in my letter. So I sent him his name, or another one in my next letter and I don't remember which. However, Cole returned and informed me that George never sent the order to him or he would certainly have paid it. I never got my money from Washington until June 1866 and am now comparatively poor and publishing a paper for a livelihood.

There are many changes in the history of my family in this country since I was in Wytheville, but I have not space now to enurate them but will in my next if I find this short epistle meets a welcome in any of my dear brothers family or friends. David, his wife and only child are with me. He aids me in writing for the Gilroy Advocate, and practices his profession (the Law) in this town the present terminus of the S. Pacific Railroad.

May heavens blessings rest upon my brothers bereaved widow and children is the prayer of your brother.

George Major Hanson

* Note - This letter was written to Catherine Agnes Graham Hanson, wife of George’s brother, William Waldren Hanson, who was killed in Wytheville because of an article he had written to do with the Civil War. Their son was his name sake, George Major Hanson and served in the Confederacy during the Civil War. He also refers to his brother James Madison Hanson, who lived at Hansonville.

Yuba City, California
January 12th, 1873

My dear brother James,
In looking over an old file of letters which I had reserved for the kindlings of the fire, I came upon your last letter to me dated August 1871, after your return from Illinois. I find it was not marked "answered''. Whether I omitted to mark it or neglected to answer it, I cannot now determine. At least I may have forgotten it. I will now answer it anyhow as my failure to have done so may recount for the long silence between us, which I have wondered at. You must not however expect a profuse of information from your brother at any one time hereafter as here before when my nerves were controllable and steady. Now I am compelled to use a pencil because I can bear down on a pencil more heavily which helps to steady my hand, and even then I must move slowly like a school boy first learning to make straight marks. Should I attempt fast writing you could not possibly decypher my hyroglifies.

Well brother, as you will see at the heading of this letter I have returned, (as the surveyor would say)"to the place of beginning". I am too infirm to earn a livelihood by manual labor, and since I sold my printing establishment and surrendered the editorial tripod I have been living on my little income from rents, which was too limited to allow us many of the luxuries of life and still let us of display in expensive wardrobe. Hense, we have spent much of our time during the last two years in visiting our children and grand children. Some of the latter having families of their own. Betty, William, Danial and David, all have families and James Francis, whom I names for you has a son and daughter (by a California native) which he loves better I do believe than either you or I ever loved our children. He is worth more property than any of my sons accept William Patton.

They all have urged us to quit housekeeping and spend our time among them, but my long experience is, @that, there is no place like home". Still, I enjoy the society of my children and grand children far better than any other in the wide world, and I am proud to say they are all devoted to me, and what is more, they all esteem their new mother very highly indeed and well they may for she is truly the staff of my declining years. I have to depend on her for many things. She draws on my socks every morning (for I cannot get down to my feet without a great effort) hence, she washes my feet, trims my toe nails and corns, and fastens my collar and necktie. Now ain't she a wife worth having?

You say you only weigh 125 lbs. Well I weigh all of 185 and from that to 199 lbs., never have reached 200 lbs. I am going to see my son Nathan in Oregon next week. My son William I expect will go with me. When I return, I expect to go to Washington City, and if I do, I will try and visit you on my return. My wife is exceedingly anxious, to go with me to visit her brother, sister, nephews, and nieces in Farmington, Maine. And nothing but the lack of money would prevent it for should sickness or accident overtake me in my infirm years, she would be mymain stay and comfort in a strange land. But I expect poverty will deny me that satisfaction.

Col. Boyd and wife were married 1st Jan. 1823. Consequently, their Golden Wedding should have come on 1st , instead, but he contended that they had only been married 49 years and we all failed to convince him to the reverse. So they had no "Golden Wedding". Thomas Boyd on his death bed verbally willed his father and mother his homestead farm during their natural life. He has a splendid home, fine residence, barn and other needed houses and about 200 acres in cultivation. He is doing well, raised more wheat in two years than in all his life before. Sister Betty's health is better now that it has been for many years. Robert administers with Thomas widow on the extate of Thomas Boyd.

Thomas had his life insured for $10,000 and his widow has been paid every dollar of it. She is a one third partner with Wilcox V. Berry in a very large grocery and provision store. The same place Thomas did business at and they are making money fast I think. Mr. Berry is of the same family our brother Trupy married into.

Fletcher Bickley, James Boyd and Taylor Boyd are farming.(Taylor married William Axon's daughter). Fletcher and Taylor are on rented land and Jim on land of his own. All doing very well. Rebecca married an old bachelor, (John Byington) around 50 somewhere, he is doing well. Keeps Beck a lady and I think he is well worthy of her. Hop Boyd lives in Marysville in the dentistry business lives up to all he makes and makes money. I forgot to say Betty (my only daughter lives in Watsonville, her husband Captain Klenier is well off- lends money, drinks whiskey, but is the best man in the world to his wife. Their son george is a promising youth and will make his mark in the world I think. I must close soon as ‘tis getting late. I will add however another item or two. I have four grand children living by my oldest daughter Sidney - namely Nannie, Margaret, William and John, then living grand children by Betty, namely, Mary, Barbara, Taylor and George. Two by Jerusha namely Mary and John (those you saw in Illinois). Six living by my son William Patton namely Lillie, Jerusha, Clara, George M, Nicholas, and Lydia. Two by my son James, Frank and Ellen (illigitimate half breeds). Two by my son Daniel - Betty and (Buford?) and two by my son David, namely Polly and Nathan - making 22 living. Then I have 13 great grand children living and nearly as many dead. Williams oldest daughter is in her 18th year, next Jerusha in her l5th year, Lillian performs on the piano and cook stove and has finished her education. All the rest of my grand children are somewhat promising especially the girls. William raised about 500 acres small grain last year mostly wheat, averaging between 35 and 40 bushells per acre -(premium California wheat, the best in theworld.) He runs from 3 to 6 Jung plows with from 18 to 24 horses, has reapers headers, mowers, separators, sowers, header wagons and several other large and small wagons all his own. William I think is destined to make one of our best farmers.

I will have ended my 74th year on the 13th day of March next and you your 63rd on the 5th. Oh brother! What gratitude and praise we owe to God for the many mercies and benefits best owed upon us and ours during this protracted scene of our lives and now while verging the eternal shore, let us not be too much engaged and entangled with the cares of here, but let us set our house in order "Knowing that very soon we must die and not live". My chief concern of mind for the last few years has been that of afull preparation of soul to meet my dear Savior God Master when he shall call me and the full assurance that the time now is very near when we shall see again our dear parents, brothers, sister and children whose mortal souls we consigned to a bed of cold clay years upon years--- Oh well might be singing "What a happy time it will be, when I my friend in heaven shall See". May God bless you and yours with me and mine and gather us all at last into his kingdom and church. Present our love to Sister Peggy and all the children and should it transpire, that we both go to Washington, you may fully expect us to visit you or any homes which will of course be our last visit to you and the resting place of our dear parents. But I fear poverty will deny me the pleasure of my wife's company on this contemplated tour.

As ever, your only loving brother.

G.M. Hanson
(Answer immediately)

In margin:
Thomas widow lives in Yuba City in a fine two story mansion.

PLEASE NOTE: I stopped updating the web page around 2001, but I've continued to work on my project. My family history is now in Word document format, with the goal of publishing it once I consider it to be as complete as I'm going to get it. While I'm greatly indebted to those who have assisted me in my research, I'm finding that the demands of everyday life don't allow me to consistently respond to email inquiries. So, I'm offering my most up-to-date volume for sale, at a price of $19. For those interested, it is at 118 pages right now, printed by a laser printer on 8.5x11 32-lb./98 brightness paper, and wire bound. The table of contents, revision history, and index are available at the following links. To order a copy, please email me at [email protected], and I'll send it within 3 days of payment. If you indicate the family line you are interested in, I'll send you a new bound copy if and when I update my research for that line. Thanks,

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