IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co.

Letter Written to Moses & Isabella Ross by Daughters

Bear Creek Allamakee, Iowa,
August, 1856

Dear Father and Mother,

We are all well. Hugh went to Dubuque the day before yesterday to buy 80 acres of land that lays between us and Yellow River. The sugar bushes on the two pieces of this property will make beautiful camping spots. There is a good amount of water on the piece we are on. The springs come out of the hill not more that two or three feet apart. Our chicks look well. Our garden is doing very well for the time it was made. Our Irish potatoes are doing well. So far we are getting plenty of pickles. I think if frost stays off a little while, we will have a good crop of sweet potatoes. Our little onions has beat our big ones all to pieces, and we'sll have lots of sets for next year. We have eaten a good many of our onions. We have a pretty little calf. We had seven little pigs, but one did not come home last night and one of Rathbun's boys said it went down the hollow last night which we do not believe one word of it as they are a set of loafers.

Jane has commenced dressing bonnets. She is a little at loss for our bonnets and hat blocks and other ingredients for dressing as we have to go so far for everything. She does not have any money. She has nine chickens. We have to pay 18 3/4 cents a piece for dry hens. Mrs. McClellan wanted us to tell you to fetch her half a bushel of _______ when you come. We want our old flax wheels stuck in and brought along. There is any amount of nettles here that would make pretty thread or flax. There is not much wild fruit on account of burning the grass. The boys went down the creek and found where the pig had been butchered.

We have quite a comfortable home to what we had in the first part of the summer. The boys put up a little house cabin and there was a little one where they made an entry between the two cabins. You had better bring that little side saddle as we have two miles to go to our garden and when we ride we have to go bareback. You had better fetch some horse radish roots. The vermin eat the cherry seeds and other seeds we planted. Turkeys are a dollar a pair and acarce at that. The wheat is very good, but there is not enough of it. They have lots of buckwheat in full bloom. There is a small quanity of winter wheat in the settlement.

We have been looking for a letter. We are at a great loss for something to read. If we had the Pittsburgh Gazette or anything in the printed line we would read it. Everything runs away for two or three nights every chance they get. There is any amount of grain down on the prairie and everything is plentiful. Meat is scare. I donn't think there is ten pounds of meat in Allamakee, only ours. There are sheep down on the prairie. We would have to herd all day and pen them up at night. There is a hollow to the east of called Wolf Hollow, to the west, Raccoon. If we had Mother's case of drawers, money could not buy them. It is unhandy to grab to the bottom of a store box. There is so much trash. If we could get something like blue drilling for skirts and socks and ticking for pants, stores would be serviceable, L think Clem, Lorenza, Clara and Albert may have written only a little drop to us. Bring all the brimstone left. There is the greatest war for bed clothes. There is not as many as we have in a dozen homes.

/s/ Louisa Ross


Louisa says there is not as many beds in the township inclufing bed clothes as we have. We do not think the weather so cold as they say or they would freeze to death. They wear Hickory of what you would call blue stripes sheeting and low shoes and cotton stockings in the winter. Calico is to prevent scratches from the brush. The nettles nake very pretty thread. We will gather it this fall, so we can spin it this winter for clothes next summer. The boys have cut a couple of ricks of hay and got them up. James and Moses have gone down to the crick to look for bear. They said they would not return until after sundown. It's not more than three-quarters of a mile from the house. The horses are picking up finally. Billy as we call him is almost as fat as when we left home. Hugh and Dick went to Dubuque. Your good sorrel colt is a fine one, but you didn's mention the cows. We want to hear how they are? And Buff, what of him?

We wish Mother was here forty times a day to keep house for us. We dare not leave the house one minute because the bear is so close by. We have to go alone to the garden every time. We wish we had that Shakespeare Albert talks about. The boys are wishing for Lorenza all the time. They say the team is hard to break without him and Albert to help them. The girls say they miss us and we hope we will not be long parted. The people say you must try and get here by around the first of November or the upper Mississippi will freeze over soon after that. Tell the girls to bring all the rags, patches-everything of that kind about the house. Bring Louisa's parasol. Robert has not written us one scratch nor Alexis, nor Lorenza, nor Mother. We are obliged to Lorenza for his kind words. we want the girls to get bonnets, caps, capes, men's pea jackets, dress patterns and vest cloaks and everything they can get their hands on of that kind. The boys are back and did not find the bear.

Saturday Morning Aug 21st
The bear came last night and took the balance of the pig. A neighbor came by last evening and told the boys that they would come and bring their dogs and guns and make a general hunt for him. There is some eight or ten neighbors within the sound of our conch. Now as I think of it, be sure and bring the conch shell with you. Should have brought it with us. We need it every day. The boys are gone to tell the men that the bear came and Louisa is going to the garden. I am writing on the breakfast table with all the dishes on it. Our other pigs have left the diggings. Cleared out last night. Come out as soon as you can. We want you all. Tell Alexis there is no sickness of any account here. I can tell you we want him to come out bad- him and his boy. the county is not settled but will be in a year or two. Tell Harriett she would like to live here. They are going to build a school house this fall near us. They want us to teach. They are after us all the time.

/s/ Jane Ross

~Contributor's notes: Isabell Jane Ross married Cyrus R. Lyons 14 Oct 1853 in Postville, Allamakee Co., IA and Louisa Ann Maria Ross married William Henry Burtis 5 Oct 1869 in Rossville, Allamakee Co., IA. The letters are from Louisa and Jane to their parents Moses and Isabella Ross.

~contributed by Sidney "Keith" Koontz. (note: Sidney "Keith" Koontz passed away November 17, 2008)


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