A Family With Stories to Tell: The Lunds of Washington County
By Kieran Robertson
Often archivists deal with collections that include papers and photographs documenting multiple generations of one family. Generally these fall into two cases:
- One member of the family is interesting or well-known, so documenting their relatives fills out their story.
- Documenting an entire family can show us what day-to-day life was like at a certain period of time.
This week, I had the privilege of working on an interesting third case: a family collection in which each member of the family has a truly unique and exciting story to share.
Isaac Lund and his wife, Abigail Taylor Lund, were both born in the Northeastern United States. During the winter of 1820/1821, Isaac left his wife and young children in New Hampshire, while he set out to Ohio to find a new home. This journey into the unknown was a very common experience for Ohio’s earliest white settlers. Eventually Isaac found what he was looking for, and he sent for Abigail and their children to follow him.
It is interesting to read the letters Isaac and Abigail exchanged during this time. Their messages document the very personal side of moving to Ohio in the early 1800s.
This letter notified Abigail Lund that her husband had made it safely to Ohio.
In January of 1821, Isaac arrived in Aurelius Township in Washington County, Ohio. He wrote back to Abigail stating that he was staying with a Mr. Davis, “the man that Martha Roby married.” He stated that there could be some land available for him to purchase, but he still needed to check it out. He found Ohio’s terrain to be “uneven but very rich.” Although he had just arrived in a land unfamiliar to him or his wife, Isaac was brief. As he explained, “the paper I carried with me got spoilt by my ink stand breaking.”
Eventually Isaac purchased a plot of land and sent his friend, Mr. Davis, to New Hampshire to retrieve his wife and children. Isaac wrote to Abigail about the upcoming arrival of Davis and the logistical concerns that came with moving to a new state. He shared a list of the items he thought she should bring from their New Hampshire home, and he also ensured her that the land title that she had “some doubts of” was “as good as the government itself.” Abigail was uprooting the only life she had every known to follow her husband to Ohio and she wanted to make sure their plans did not fall apart.
Isaac Taylor Lund, the last Lund to be born in New Hampshire, was raised in Aurelius, Ohio. He in turn, raised his children in Aurelius, including Gamaliel Lund.
Gamaliel served in the 77th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and also joined the 19th Kansas Volunteers in 1868. The 19th Kansas Volunteers were organized by General Phillip Sheridan, essentially in an effort to remove American Indians from their homes in the Western United States. Gamaliel kept a diary during his time with the 19th Kansas Volunteers, documenting the incorrect and dangerous opinions that he and his fellow soldiers held about American Indians. It is hard to read Gamaliel’s offensive thoughts, but it is also important to preserve these thoughts to remind ourselves of the suffering that prejudice can create.
During the 1880s, Gamaliel Lund served as a Post Office Inspector. By this time, most mail in the United States was being transferred via railway. Gamaliel was tasked with traveling along with postal workers and inspecting their work. He kept a very interesting record of the legal cases he was involved in when his inspections discovered foul play. He brought to justice multiple mailmen who opened letters and stole their contents.
Gamaliel’s daughter, Jessie, was born in 1879. By the age of 17, she was attending the Marietta College for Women. Jessie kept both a diary and a scrapbook of her time at the college, detailing her grades, her social outings, and her friendship with her brother (Carl).
The front of Jessie’s diary is filled with her skillfull doodles.
Jessie’s diary and scrapbook give us a sense of what mattered to a teenager in the 1890s. She wrote about the same topics that most teenagers still care about today- commenting on her friends, their activities together, and the boys she was interested in. In her scrapbook, Jessie documented a friendship with her brother Carl, saving programs from his graduation and invites to visit him at medical school.
However Jessie’s life in the 1890s also showed some stark differences from modern life. For example, Jessie included dance cards in her scrapbook, documenting each young man she danced with at the many social engagements she attended. She also clipped many newspaper articles that detailed the social engagements of residents of Marietta, including a summary of her own 18th birthday party. It is likely that Jessie was a member of the upper class in the Marietta area at the time, due to her family’s long-term residency in Washington County and her father’s succesful career.
The Lund family collection ends with Jessie- eventually she moved from Washington County, Ohio, to the state of Washington. While they likely didn’t realize it at the time, the Lund family of Washington County experienced and documented various important moments in Ohio history. From early statehood, to the Civil War, to women’s education- each Lund has something to tell us. If you want to know more, the papers of the Lunds, and many other Ohio families, can be found at the Ohio History Connection Archives & Library!