Table of Contents
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.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 122, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 United States Code 552a) governs the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations.
Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:
- non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, research, or teaching
- criticism or commentary
- as a NBWM archives preservation or security copy for research use
- as a research copy for deposit in another institution
If the researcher later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the researcher is personally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement and agrees to indemnify the New Bedford Whaling Museum from any legal action as a result of the error. Permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document does not indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from the document without permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.
Permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, prepare derivative works from, sell, or otherwise distribute the item must be obtained separately in writing from the holder of the original copyright (or if the creator is dead, from his/her heirs) as well as from any individual(s), groups, or corporations whose name, image, recorded words, or private information (e.g. employment information) may be reproduced in the source material. The holder of the original copyright is not necessarily the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is not legally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement when materials are wrongfully used after being provided to researchers for "fair use."
This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy law. This institution also places restrictions on the use of cameras, photocopiers, and scanners in the research room.
Related Manuscript Collections
Mss 8: Hathaway Family Business Records, 1811-1888
Mss 141: Swift Family Papers, 1811-1957
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
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)
Last modified: December 9, 2016