Hunter, Samuel Belcher
Correspondence of medical student Samuel Belcher Hunter, of Strong, Franklin County, Maine, written to his future wife Amelia Robinson Lincoln, of Eastport, Maine, while he was in school, and later starting his medical practice, 1854-1855

Group of 19 letters, 76 manuscript pages, (plus two retained mailing envelopes), all but one are written in ink, all are written in a legible hand, dated 2 August 1854 to 18 September 1855. Hunter writes from various cities: Farmington (4), Strong (2), and Wilton (9), all towns in Franklin County, Maine, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (3). One letter by Hunter has no town name on it. Amelia was living in Eastport, Maine.

Samuel Belcher Hunter (1830-1912) and Amelia Robinson Lincoln (1834-1911)

Samuel Belcher Hunter was born at Strong, Maine, on 18 July 1830, the son of David F. Hunter (1802-1894), a farmer, and Lydia Belcher his wife. Samuel was one of at least five children born to David and Lydia Hunter. David Hunter and his wife were both natives of Maine. He owned a farm near Maple Wood Farm (Strong, Maine), where he was born in 1802. Early in his life he was a captain in the state militia.

Samuel was in the medical class at Bowdoin College in Maine for 1853-1854, under Dr. William R. Hunter, M.D. He then went to Philadelphia to study further and graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1855. He was a physician at Pembroke, Maine from 1855-1860. In 1860 he is found in the census listed as a physician at Steuben, Washington County, ME. That same year he moved to Machias, Maine, where he established his medical practice. He worked in Machias from 1860-1909, when he retired.

During the Civil War he was a member of the Provost Marshals and a Member of the Board in the 5th District, with headquarters at Belfast, Maine.  The Veterans Census of 1890 shows that he served as a surgeon during the war with the 7th Maine Volunteers from 16 December 1861 to 13 February 1863; he alsoserved with the 15th Maine Volunteers. He became an assistant surgeon, then surgeon. In 1896 he was the honored president of the State Medical Association.

Hunter married Amelia Robinson Lincoln (1834-1911) in 1855 at Wilton, Maine. She was the daughter of Thompson Lincoln (1803-1891) and Sarah Leighton Jones (1804-1890) of Perry, Maine. Hunter and Amelia together they had at least two children, Sarah Lincoln Hunter (1857-1947) and L. Annie Hunter Knowlton (1864-1949). Sarah Lincoln Hunter, like her father, became a doctor, graduating from the Woman's Medical College. She joined her father's practice after completing her education.

Samuel Belcher Hunter died on 2 June 1912. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery, in Farmington, Maine. His wife Amelia died just over a year before him on 19 May 1911; she too was buried at Riverside Cemetery.

Sample Quotations:

Hunter writes to Amelia informing her of what he is doing, events in his life, medical school, family news, his travels, etc. Hunter inquires after her, her family, life back home, and discusses their future prospects as a couple. The letters give insight into a recent medical school graduates efforts to establish a medical practice in mid-nineteenth century America.

"Philadelphia Jan 28 1855

Dear Amelia,

I claim the privilege of spending a few moments of this lonesome Sabbath in writing you a few lines which I do not expect to mail until I rec a letter from you. I am now all in excitement I can hardly keep from reading Sundays. Tomorrow we get our notice when to appear before each Prof we shall have to go before one this week. I expect to have to take it Thursday but I do not know yet for certainty. I have been studying with all my might since I last wrote you, when I get tired and sleepy I walk my room to keep awake while chum reads aloud, then I take my turn and he walks, you better believe this graduating is not fun anyhow. After we get our notices I don't expect much nights for a month. We shall get through the last of it next month and if I graduate shall have to stop one week in the city with nothing to do I dread that much but shall occupy it in visiting the places on interest such as Girard College, Mint, Moyamensing Prison, Independence Hall, Navy Yard, the different hospitals, &c., but I promise you I will not get drunk at some well for you know that is not my custom. The school is quiet and all things are moving finely now. I should not write today but to tell you the truth I don't expect to write anyone after examinations commence except upon business, but I want you to write just as often as you wish for you don't know how I love to get a letter from you. I expect to see you in a few weeks by the way I shall leave here the 12th of March. Commencement will be upon the 10th. Now I will have it so you to say whether I shall go home first or go directly from here to your place. If you are going to school and Miss Dana is with you, perhaps you would rather have me postpone it awhile but I could not promise you when or how soon I should be able to see you on account of business for I don't calculate to idle long after I get through...S.B. Hunter."

"Phil March 4, 1855

My dear Amelia,

...Yesterday morning I read a note from the Dean informing me that the Degree of Doctor of Medicine would be conferred upon me at the commencement. So you see I have accomplished something this winter. I am poor but in good spirits. I have worked as hard as I could this winter. I could not have done more on any conditions. My health held out till the last week when I took this epidemic Influenza that is sweeping the whole city. A week ago Sunday I first felt it coming upon me, but I could not stop for we had two more days of sessions and I have one Prof. to go before. So I put through till yesterday eve., when I went before the Prof. I could not stand steady. I had quite a smart fever. I told him I was sick. He asked me a few questions, took me by the hand and told me all was right. Then I went home and kept my room two days. Now the fury of the disease is over. I have to comfort me sore lips and nose, throat and lungs...S. B. Hunter."