The following is the first letter that Malinda received from her in-laws after writing to inquire if they had any news of her husband Jacob.
New York City April 14th 1867 to Monroe, Louisiana
Zeolotes Grinnell Demarest to his sister-in-law Malinda Dull Van Emburgh
I received your letter in due time and was much pleased to hear from you but was sorry to hear the news concerning Jacob. The last letter that we had from Jacob was August 28, 1862 and that he wrote to Mother [Catherine Van Emburgh Demarest]. He was at Columbus Kentucky. He stated in his letter to Mother that the [Civil] war had ruined him and that he had not heard from his family in bout three months and that was in August 1862. In your letter you say that you have not heard from him in nine years. He said in his letter to mother that he had been very sick with chronic diareahrea and was near the verge of the grave. He said then he thought about his neglected friends and he would like to have seen all of them. And I trust and hope that he will turn up some were to comfort his family and his mother, brothers and sister.
Now then I would like to ask you a few plain questions and hope you will not be offended as it is for your own benefit. Where did Jacob go to when he left you and what was the cause of him leaving you. Did you and him have any trouble or did he go away to work some where or did he leave you of his own accord or did you and him have any disagreement. Was he a good husband to you. Did he provide willingly for you. It appears very strange to me that my brother would do so. When he wrote to mother last he said he had not heard from you in three months this was in August 1862 and the letter I received from you that was written March 29 1867 you say that you have not heard from him in nine years. The time he write it would make it about five years that you have not heard from him according to his account. We have not heard a word from him since 1862 and we would be very glad to hear from him and to hear that he was with his family and that you were all well. What precious news that would be for me and his kind mother and sister to hear.
Just as soon as Mother received that letter in aug 1862. She wrote him one and told him he should have stayed with his family anyhow and that was the last we have ever heard from him and it has upset her almost to death.
[Our sister] Kezia [Kezia Demarest Post] and her husband are well. Her Husband name is Halmagh R. Post and they say they will write you. They have children living. Two girls Anna and Emma. One of them is eleven years old and Emma is ten years old. Brother Henry [Henry Demarest] is in Illinois he is at the Butcher Business at present and is well. I had a letter from him yesterday. I saw Mother to day and showed her your letter that you wrote to me and she was very glad to hear from you but was sorry to hear the news about her son. She has not heard a word from him in so long a time that she has almost given up hope of ever hearing from him or you ever again. She had no idea that he was not with you but thought he was careless and did not care about writing home to his folks.
I will send you Mothers Carte-Vistas enclosed you will find it. They all send there love to you and children. My wife [Elmira De Voe Demarest] sends her love to you. Says she is very sorry for you and wishes she could say something consoling to you as not having knowing you nor Jacob she don`t know what to say.
Enclosed you will find five dollars to pay for yours and your childrens carte-vistas. for which I hope you will mail in your next letter. Please answer immediately if you please and let me know all the particulars as mother is anxious to hear from you as the news was unexpected that we cannot give you any advice about the children at present
My kind love and best wishes to you and your children and believe me ever kindly. Your Brother,
Zelotes G Demarest
27 Barrow Street, New York City