University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

White Sulphur Springs: Letter from R. T. Hubard to Susan Hubard, August 19, 1838

Educated at Hampden-Sydney and the University of Virginia, Robert Thruston Hubard I (1808-1871), was a planter at “Rosney” in Buckingham County at the time of this letter. Hubard’s wife, formerly Susan Pocahontas Bolling, was a descendent from John Rolfe’s marriage to Pocahontas. {1} Hubard refers to “the President & his sons” in this letter. President Martin Van Buren was at the White Sulphur in the summer of 1838 and the father of four sons. Hubard visited the springs with his family the year after he wrote this letter. He did not feel there was much benefit health-wise on that trip and in his farm journal was vehement in his disdain for “that sink hole of extravagance, gambling & vice for many young & unmarried men.”

Hubard Family Letters, 1838-74, Accession #7966, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.


W. Sulphur, Sunday Augst 19th. 1838
My dear wife
Last night I received your letter of the 13th inst, which is the second letter I have received from you since I left home. It afforded me exquisite pleasure, for I was very anxious to hear from you & the children, and had become somewhat uneasy. However gloomy my agricultural affairs may be, it gives me great comfort to know that you & James & Wm are in good health. I spent one week at the Sweet Springs and returned here yesterday morning. The Sweet Spring water & bath improved my health, I think, a little, tho not much. Indeed I fear that my health will not be greatly improved by my trip. My uneasiness in my side & shoulder continues as it has been for years. If these waters would relieve that, I should calculate upon becoming a sound, healthy man, but of this, I fear there is but little prospect. I hear that the Spout Bath at the Hot Springs has relieved several liver diseases, and after spending one week more here, I think I will try the Spout & see what good it will do [me]. My impressions as to my future course are that I ought to remain here one week, then one week at the Hot or Sweet Springs and thence go home. I am already so impatient & restless on account of my long absence from home, that I cannot without imposing a great restraint upon myself, stay even that long from home & all those who feel near & dear to me. I but feel while absent how entirely devoted are all the affections of my heart & soul to you and my children. A trip here without you is one of dreariness and desolation, and it really seems to me that I have the “blues” not about my health, but because I can’t see my wife & boys. By the way, my dear, you omitted to tell me how you were. I hope that you were well when you wrote. I am glad that James & Wm are so hearty and as to James I doubt not but that he misses his papa very much. – You state that you have seen mrs. Francis Eppes and I am pleased that you had the ladies at our house to see you. The dry weather has I fear nearly destroyed my corn and I wish you to tell Mr Davis not to deliver all of my wheat.

When I get back I can tell whether it will be wanting or not & if not then I can send it to [unclear]. It continues very dry here and the dust is so annoying that there is no pleasure in riding out. I am again boarding (with about 100 others) at mr. Martin’s Hotel, where I am lodged with tolerable comfort. The crowd at the White Sulphur is as great as ever. I have not seen or heard of Mrs Perkins & her family. But few of my acquaintances are here. Mr. Randolph Harrison Sr is here and I imagine in pursuit of a wife. The President & his sons, Mr Poinsett, Mr Rives, Mr Roane, Misses Stanard, Leigh, Johnson and many other eminent men are on the ground. Blair Bolling and Wyndham Roberson are also here, tho’ without their families. Miss E. Cabell is still here, and I understand her cousin Mrs Shipherd of Florida is also, tho I have not met with her. Don’t be uneasy she and I will not run off. Her father Col Gamble & Mrs Gamble are present and I spoke to them yesterday at the spring. The place is as dull and uninteresting to me as possible. Next week or rather this week I think I must try & go to the ball room one night as I have not been yet & wish to see some of the amusements of the single people and have something to tell you upon my return. Direct as heretofore to the White Sulphur. Give my love to Edmund, sister Mary & Philip and also to cousin Patsy, who I am glad to learn is so hearty and so fat. Give my love and a kiss to James and William and accept for yourself the love and blessing of your ever devoted husband
R. T. Hubard


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