One of the most exciting aspects of working with the rich collections at Brooklyn Historical Society is uncovering the lives and stories of past Brooklynites. The photographs and letters in the David C. Hurd papers, reveal a heartwarming courtship and love story between David and Avril Hurd, pictured here in July 1960.
David C. Hurd was born in Jamaica and migrated to Brooklyn in 1907, living in various locations in the Fort Greene and Crown Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn. David’s brother Tom played matchmaker and nudged David to begin a pen pal courtship with Avril Cato who was living in Jamaica. Through the letters, you learn of David’s employment and experience living as an immigrant in Brooklyn, as well as his increasing affection for Avril.
On May 17, 1914, he wrote, “If you were but with me my love life would itself resolve into a very paradise. We could to each other imitate the birds: softly cooing, gently wooing breathing tender words of love, each into the other’s eager listening ear.”
Nearly a year after exchanging letters, the couple wed on August 26, 1914 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. They met in person for the first time just one day before their wedding. They settled in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn where they raised their six children. Avril died in 1962 and David in 1971, but their children and grandchildren continue to live in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn today.
We hope you will take the opportunity to visit this collection on your next visit to the Othmer Library. You can also read the letters in a book compiled and transcribed by Hurd’s granddaughter, Judith C. Lovell, Papa’s Letters: Love via First Class Mail, also available at the Othmer Library.
Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org