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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Abner Hathaway (1826-1859) and Albert Hathaway (1827-1859) were born the sons of Capt. Russell Hathaway (1790-1870) and his wife Rhoda Terry Hathaway (1790-1871). Captain Hathaway and Rhoda had a total of twelve children, most of whom died young. Their sons, Bradford (1829-?) and Job (1832-?) may have joined their older brothers in California as they are mentioned in the letters. The 1850 census lists Russell Hathaway as a farmer residing in Steep Brook, Fall River, Massachusetts.
Abner (1826-1859) and Albert (1827-1859) Hathaway's letters home from California describe their separate passages from Fall River to San Francisco at the beginning of the Gold Rush. During the following years they wrote about their lives as they try their luck at mining for gold and eventually find steady employment making shingles and managing a brick yard. They traveled and lived in the company of other men from the Fall River area and often report the news about their friends and relatives in their letters. Although always hoping to return home once they had made enough money, they both died bankrupt within months of each other in 1859.
There are numerous people mentioned in these letters and it is assumed that they are people familiar to their parents and are likely people from Fall River, MA. Subsequent letters From John Dyer and Samuel Reed (Read) inform Captain and Mrs. Hathaway of the deaths of their sons and their financial circumstances. David Terry Hathaway (1818-1843), an older son, writes of his experiences whaling aboard the bark Elizabeth and the ship Adeline. He was lost at sea in 1843. Additional letters and documents are related to the Sanborn family and other Hathaway relations. James Sanborn (1794-?) was related to Clara Sanborn Hathaway.
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 122, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Related Manuscript Collections
Mss 8: Hathaway Family Papers
Materials in this collection were donated to the New Bedford Whaling Museum in 2009 by Tracy and Neal Anderson as part of Accession #2009.41.
Processed by: Jalien Holliser, 2014
Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 16 April 2014
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Adams & Co.
Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula)
Bolinas Lagoon (California)
California--Description and travel
Double Springs (Calif.)
Ellis, Sarah W.
Fall River (Mass.)
Fraser River Canyon (B.C.)
Gold mines and mining
Hathaway, Abner, 1826-1859
Hathaway, Albert, 1827-1859
Hathaway, Bradford, b. 1829
Hathaway, Clara Sanborn
Hathaway, David, 1818-1843
Hathaway, Job, b. 1832
Hathaway, Rhoda Terry, 1790-1871
Hathaway, Russell, 1790-1870
Hathaway, Russell, Jr.
Magellan, Strait of (Chile and Argentina)
Mines and mineral resources
Mission Creek (Calif.)
Mission San Delores
Quirol & Co.
San Francisco (Calif.)
San Juan (Porto Rico)
Sanborn, James, b. 1794
Steep Brook (Mass.)
Strawberry Valley (Yuba County, Calif.)
George Washington (Ship)