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ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS

Four INTERESTING UNPUBLISHED LETTERS.

Contributed from the collection of Mr. I. J. Austin, Newport Rhode Island.

John Hancock to Elbridge Gerry.

Philadelphia June 29. 1775 Dear Sir

The bearer, Mr Park, a gentleman of reputation here and firmly attached to the American cause, desirous of evidencing that attachment, has come to a determination to proceed to the camp at Cambridge and afford his aid in putting a period to the career of Gage's mermidons

I sincerely recommend him to your notice and beg you would promote everything that may tend to advance his comfort during his abode with you, and beg you would introduce him to the connection of our friends ; you know who I mean. I shall reply to your two letters by Tessenden. I cant add but that I am very truly my d' Sir

Yours affectionately

John Hancock

Timothy Pickering to Elbridge Gerry.

Camp at Whitpain Township, Nov 2 1777. Dear Sir

With the General's despatches you will receive a Return of the Continental army in Pennsylvania, disposed in the order of the States in which the battalions were raised. If before the dispatches are sent off, I can find time to do it, I will send a Return of the troops as formed in the brigades. I knew not whether his Excellency transmitted a Return of the killed and wounded at the battle of Brandywine which I delivered to him about a fortnight afterwards, till which time I had not been able to procure all the brigade returns. Such delays in the brigade returns have been one cause of my not making regular returns to Congress. These delays have arisen partly from the peculiar situation of this army for the two last months, and partly from the want of Brigade Majors in many of the brigades, whose duty of course was undertaken by officers in diverse instances unacquainted with their duty. Till the last week I have received but one complete set of returns since my last return to Congress; that was between the 20th and 30th of September.

The want of time and opportunity has also been a standing cause of my omissions. Since the battle of Brandywine we have been in a constant state of hurry and bustle, marching or countermarching, preparing for action, advancing or retreating. I was never counted indolent, but never in my life was I so crowded with business as during this period. From morning to night I have had no other intermission than was just sufficient to eat my breakfast and dinner. Frequently too, and indeed for the most part, Head quarters have been at houses which gave me no room to do such sort of business without exposing the returns to every comer, and many times I have been under the necessity of writing wholly on my knee. Col Smith was with me during the month of September, but before and since I have been destitute of an assistant. He is now dead in consequence of the wound he received at Germantown, and much is he to be lamented. His place will probably soon be filled by a young gentleman who is strongly recommended to me. And henceforward I trust I shall be able to make returns with all wished for regularity.

I have sir given you this detail because I know not whether Congress may not have judged me negligent. But gentlemen of the family who have known my real situation I trust deem me very excusable. I am dear Sir your most obdi servant

Tim Pickering.

Letter from Gen' Washington to Elbridge Gerry.

4 miles from Potsgrove Sep 26. 1777 D' Sir

I was this morning favoured with your letter of the 24th. When I wrote Congress I was informed that there were several arms in Lancaster belonging to the public. These with their accoutrements I wished to be collected and put into the hands of the militia coming from Virginia, but I did not mean that any the property of individuals should be taken, because I did not conceive myself authorized, nor do I at this time, to order such a measure. I dont know how the inhabitants would relish such an exercise of power. I rather think it would give great uneasiness. The army is much distressed for blankets and shoes, and I wish the most vigorous exertions could be pursued to make a collection ; the speediest possible where you are, and in the neighborhood. I am satisfied if proper steps were taken, money might be procured. I have been, and am, doing all I can to make a collection, but what will be obtained, will be totally inadequate to the demand.

We are now in motion and advancing to form a junction with Gen' M‘Dougal. I expect to be joined in a day or two by Gen' Forman with fourteen or fifteen hundred Jersey militia.

The main body of the enemy are also advancing towards Philadelphia and were below Germantown from my last advices, which also mentioned that a thousand Infantry with about a hundred Dragoons had filed off towards Hill. I fear they are pushing for Bristol after our stores, which I am apprehensive are not entirely removed, though I gave orders for it the moment I heard they were there.

I am Di Sir
Your most obe Serve

Go Washington

Letter from Dr. Franklin and John Adams to
The Hon Council of Mass Bay.

Passi, September 9. 1778. Honorable Gentlemen

The inclosed Letter was delivered to us by the person intrusted with it, for inspection. He did not think it proper that a letter should go through our hands to America from Mr Hutchinson without examination. We accordingly broke the seal and found the two powers of Attorney and the letter inclosed, of which letter we have taken a copy. We think it proper to send it to you rather than Dr Lloyd. You will judge what is proper to do with it. It requires no comments of ours, who

have the honor to be with great consideration your most obedient humble servants,

B. Franklin
John Adams

Copy of Mr. Hutchinson's letter, dated

London Sackville St Aug 10. 1778 Dear Sir

My sister Grizell Sanford when Gen' Howe removed his troops from Boston, removed also much against her inclination, if the family in which she lived would have continued there. She has been very desirous of returning but has never been able to meet with any person on whom she could depend to take a proper care of her,

She left an estate on one of Elizabeth's Islands called Slocum's Island in the township of Dartmouth under lease to Richard Sanford of Dartmouth & John Robinson of Dorchester at eighty pounds lawful money a year, the former since dead.

She has now executed a power of Attorney to enable you to receive what rent is due upon the lease, which in her behalf I desire you to do. She does not recollect any payment after I left the Province June 1 1774 but Mr Robinson's receipts, who I always found an honest man, will show the state of it. The lease was for seven years from April —71 to April —78 and as it is now expired, if Mr Robinson occupies it the present year by law he will have a right to pay no more than the rent in her lease, and will be held to pay as much.

She desires also that you will agree for the year 1779 as you shall find most for her interest, either with the last Tenant or any other person. I don't know how any thing can be remitted hither though she is in want, having never received or applied for anything from Government here for her relief but has depended on the assistance of friends for her support.

I have taken the same opportunity to enclose my own letter of Attorney. I left New England upon an order of leave from the King before any hostilities began, and when I sincerely wished they never might begin. I made my son my Attorney, who left the country also at the same time with my sister. My moveable estate in my house and on my farm at Milton was more than a thousand pounds sterling in value. My estate there and at Dorchester is well known. I have one mortgage upon an estate in Middleborough, recorded in the County of Plimouth amounting to more than £1500 sterling ; and my houses, warehouses, wharves &c are well known in the town of Boston. The utter uncertainty of the state of the Colony disables me from being more particular than to desire you to make such use of the letters of Attorney as shall be for my interest and within your power. I am Sir your most obedient humble servant

Thomas Hutchinson

Mr Fitch is now at my house, desires his and family's best regards to you and family and would have wrote, but did not know of this opportunity and I am about to send my letter away.

Letter from Lafayette to Elbridge Gerry.

New York December 1784. Dear Sir

Before I embark for Europe, give me leave once more to present my respects to you and your colleagues in the Delegation. It is a circumstance truly distressing to me that I cannot this time pay a second visit to my friends in Boston. The pleasure of hearing from you will be received with gratitude and with my best wishes for your continental, state, and private welfare I have the honour to be very respectfully and affectionately

Yours

Lafayette

MINOR TOPICS

THE PRE-REVOLUTION SURGEONS OF KINGS COUNTY

Until the close of the Indian war of 1643, the colonists on Long Island were dependent for medical treatment either on the surgeons that accompanied the ships of the Dutch West India Company or on the willing but ignorant Zieckentroosters, who essayed to heal both the bodies and souls of their charges; that war brought to the aid of the Province a company of soldiers from Curaçoa, and with the troops came Surgeon Paulus Van der Beeck, who was destined to become the first practitioner in Kings County.

Early in 1636 settlers began to people the western end of Long Island. Among those who started homes in the present Kings County was Willem Adriensen Bennet, who bought 930 acres of land in Gowanus, and erected a house at about the present 28th st. and 3d avenue, Brooklyn. At the close of the war with the savages, it was found that Bennet had been killed, his buildings burned and his farm devastated. His widow, who had been a widow previous to her marriage with him, took for her third husband Surgeon Van der Beeck, and the two, moving back upon the deserted farm, rebuilt a home and began to reclaim the soil.

In a sparsely populated country, among colonists who from the nature of their task must have been robust and rugged, there could have been, there was but little demand for medical skill ; no one pursued one business to the exclusion of others, and as all alike had to sustain life from a common source- the earth-all followed agriculture to a greater or less extent. Thus Van der Beeck is mentioned as Mr. Paulus, surgeon and farmer. He was a pushing man. When women were few and far between he married a rich widow ; with apparently no fear, he moved far from the protecting guns of the fort. Entering into public affairs in 1656, he was collector and farmer of revenues ; in 1661 he farmed out Excise and Tenths on Long Island and was ferry master; while holding this latter position he drew upon himself a severe reprimand from the Provincial Council for keeping would be passengers waiting half the day or night before he would carry them across the river. Surgeon Van der Beeck prospered and grew rich ; in 1675 he was assessed “2 polls, 2 horses, 4 cows, 3 ditto of three years, i ditto of one year, and 20 morgens of land and valley, £133, sh, 10,” and the next year he was rated at £140, land, passing at £i an acre wampum value. The date of the first surgeon's death is not recorded, but the much-widowed woman whom he had married was again a widow, and as such conveying lands in her name in 1679.

A year after the arrival of Paulus Van der Beeck, Wilhelmus Beekman from Hesselt, Overyssel, came to New Amsterdam. He seems to have been a man much respected by his fellow colonists and was given many places of trust and honor.

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