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David Hackman

What is a Love Letter?

  • Tender words of a budding courtship
  • Intimate expressions of love
  • A refusal to be rejected

A Love That Panned Out

David Baer Hackman (1827-1896) was the second child of David Heistand Hackman and Susanna Frantz Baer. He was a third cousin, once removed, of Milton Hershey. In 1850, David went out to California in search of gold. He kept a journal and sent many letters home to his brother, Andrew. David's obituary shows that he was involved in the grocery, clothing, hat, and shoemaking businesses. In the 1860 Census he is listed as a hatter, and in 1880 as a saloon keeper. 

Harriet B. Miller (1829-1870) was the daughter of Adam and Rebecca Miller. David wrote to Miss Miller while he was in California, but did not receive any letters from her. However, they reunited upon his return to Lancaster and married soon after. They had one son named Augustus, who became a minister. David and Harriet are buried in Manheim Fairview Cemetery.

David B. Hackman one of Manheim's best known citizens...He was a man of kind and genial disposition, and had many friends who will regret to learn of his demise.  --Obituary, 1896

I will inform you that I expected a letter of you before this time...I would very much like to here from you because I haind heard from you for six month, and it will be two month longer yet before I get to hear of you and that is rather long not to hear of a Dear Love. Which it used to be, but wether it is so now or not that I don't know. But I hope it may be so yet

Letter to Harriet Miller from David Hackman
8 November 1850

The informal tone of this letter indicates that David and Harriet knew each other and were close at one time. He pleaded with her to write to him, told her briefly about his journey and his health, and offered to send a specimen of gold.






But before I come to Manheim I should wish to have you sent me a few lines to Lancaster that I may [know] wether I am a wellcome visiter to you or not. I should be happy to call on you first if it may please you of my doing so. I would furthermore state that if ever I have the honour of meeting you, I can meet you with a true and honourable heart.

Letter to Harriet Miller from David Hackman
4 October 1854

David was more formal in this letter, written four years later, and apologized for the salutation of "Miss Miller." He did not know if his affections would be accepted or returned, but was still hopeful and requested a visit with her upon his return to Lancaster.




Allow me to address you with a few lines to inform you that I have just returned from a short visit to Manheim...I regret to say that I have not had the honour of paying a visit to you. But as I had no one to introduce me to you, I was for maners sake [obliged] to leave Manheim even without seeing you. A gentleman is always introduced to a lady, not a lady to a gentleman. The parties should consent to being introduced.

Letter to Harriet Miller from David Hackman
13 November 1854

Although he must have known her before going out to California, Mr. Hackman knew it was unseemly to visit Miss Miller without being properly introduced and having a mutual acquaintance present after such a long separation. He showed his respect for her by following the rules of etiquette.















Love Letters

Before the telephone, e-mail, and text messages, people relied on letters to carry sentiments and information to loved ones..

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