Letter cover addressed to Mr. Horace Graves, Pine St. Springfield, Hampden Co., Mass.
Posted from Vinton, Iowa, Feb. 21.
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Cedar Township Feb'ry 14th 1856
Dear Brother & Sister,
I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that we are yet alive and well as usual and we hope this will find you enjoying the blessings of health and prosperity. we should like to hear from you very much but we have not since we left your house, I wrote to you soon after we arrived here and do not know as you have received it as letters frequently get lost, but how do you do and how are you and all the rest of our friends getting along do write and let us know don't think because we have got almost out of the world we do not want to hear from our friends for we do more than ever, we are living with Thomas this winter he said it would be better for us than to go into a house alone for he was afraid we would be more likely to be home sick and I believe we should for it has been very cold here this winter people say it has been colder than for a great while, but it seems colder to us on the account of the houses they don't have as warm ones as they do at the east they are pretty much all log houses and not very tight at that tho in the town of Vinton which is six miles they have frame houses, but we have enjoyed as good health so far as we did at the east, the land is very rich here and people raise an abundance of everything they put into the ground but the worst of it is to get the land and get it broken fenced and a shelter to live in people who have plenty of money can get along very well, we have not got any land yet and do not know as we shall be able to unless we can get some one to assist us a little we cannot get any government land without going out of the world almost for it
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for it is all taken up by those who are so greedy that they do not care whether poor folks have any thing or not, there is a place close by Thomas we could get if we could pay the first of April for it, it has forty acres of the best kind of land all fenced and broke with three acres of timber a log house and a good spring of soft water which is not always to be found in this part of the world, Thomas says the place will pay for it self in a short time and then he will let us have forty acres more which will be as much as we could work to any advantage,
Denmon wishes to know if you would be willing to lend him five hundred dollars and he will secure you on the place worth eight hundred dollars and then if we should not be able to pay you it would be worth twenty percent to you for the rise of the land would be worth that to you if not more, but if we are well and prospered Thomas says we could soon raise the money to pay you and if you would let us have it you shall not lose any thing by it, Please write soon as you receive this and let us know what you will do, Denmon has just got home from town and brought a long looked for letter from you we are very glad to hear from you and now I must try to answer it if I have got my letter partly wrote,
Well Brother Horace I will answer you first how we get along in our log cabin you have by this time found out that we have not got a log cabin but we get along first rate in my Brothers tho we feel a little shivery in a cold windy day and Julia should much rather see you and talk it off as you say than write it. You wish to know what I am doing out here I am a trying to keep warm some of the time and hard work at that that with sewing patching and knitting and lending a helping hand to the various household duties keeps me
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busy pretty much of the time, as to me sleighing we have not snow enough to make very good but a small part of the time, Alexis has not killed any Bears but he has Prairie Chickens grey squirrels and rabbits but he likes his uncle Thomas' shot gun better than his rifle, the first of January he with the other school boys and the Master went a hunting Deer and wild Turkeys but they did not get anything larger than chickens and rabbits, there was a dear came within a few rods of the house and stopped he finally see us looking at him and he turned and ran like a deer as the saying is, Denmon enjoys as good health this winter as he ever has except he has had a number of boils he had twelve on his left wrist hand and arm two on his right he is a helping Thomas chop wood and timber he is a going to build a new house next summer, we are six miles from the Post Office which is in Vinton Thomas and Denmon are there once and twice a week they have steady meetings at the same place and we have meetings frequently about a mile from us in a dwelling house, we had a school six weeks, a quarter of a mile from us also in a dwelling house I was very sorry it did not keep all winter I wanted Alexis to go so much, Land or raw Prairie is from four to six dollars per acre that which is broke and fenced is more so is timber as they call it here, we think we shall like here very much but can't tell until we have been here through the summer. I wish you could come and see how it looks and hope you will it is neither level nor uphill but rolling it is a very pleasant county and we have the most beautiful sun set I ever saw, Thomas says we cannot tell any thing about it till we have been here through the summer he says it is just the prettyest country he ever saw and he would not exchange one of his forty acre sections for four times that number in old granby for he can raise more grain on it than he could on that, As to the Rail
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Road from Rock Island here they have one already from there to Iowa City which is fifty miles nearer and there is a stage which runs from Vinton to Iowa City every day so you can come and see us without having so much trouble to get here as we had, the reason why we did not get to Toledo sooner we had to wait at Buffalo and telegraph on the Cleaveland for Almyra Hayes trunk daughter of Milton Hayes of Granby some rogue got it and had it checked for Chicago Denmon and Ruick got hold of it but they would not let them have it but they got it at Cleaveland Our Provision lasted pretty well we bought warm suppers and Breakfasts where we stayed over night some had enough to last for our dinners and Ruick's folks too until the last day we bought an apology for an apple pie which we had hand work to eat, our dog got along first rare he behaved as well as a dog could but at Buffalo the cross conductor made us take him into the baggage car and leave him till we got to Cleaveland they kicked and abused him shamefully and then charged fifty cents for it but that was the last they got for I took him under my shawl into the cars and laid him down on the seat by me and kept him the rest of the way to Rock Island, my Crockery, was pretty well smashed up every platter I have is broke but a small blue edged one five glass preserve plates three or four earthen ones and a good many plates beside were broke I can't tell how many for they are barreled up and set out of the way till I want them to use I could have cried well if it would have done any good all the rest of our things we got in good order, but my flower pot got here in safety, but not until the plants were all froze to death if I ever travel again I wont go in company with any one for our small trunk had to be left at Rock Island with all our every day clothes so that Marge Ruick could carry her silk dresses she could not think of any thing else it seemed
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I felt very hard to think we had to pay fifteen dollars and they ten that they must have two trunks carried and we but one for the man who brought us could not bring but three so we left our small one because the others had our under garments in and we lost all our roots our apples and quinces were all froze and rotten and as expected my things would all be spoiled but were not Ruick's folks would not ( one word) our having two trunks but they must for the silk dresses must go whether they had anything else or not and we had to furnish Ruick a shirt to change into which was one of Denmons fine ones and then he wore it a week and tore it and it was left for me to mend and do up, it was four weeks before we got our other trunks and things and (could not read) and leak soiled their best clothes so that they are old ones now and we have nothing to spare to get any more with, it makes me feel bad I tell you when I think how unjust we were treated, but for all that we took as much comfort as they did, Mrs Ruick was not very well pleased about going west and she was cross and peevish pretty much all the time I never saw any one act so I was heartily sick and ashamed of my company, As to our Ruick he was not very well before he started and on the road here, and then he went to Rock Island for his freight at the time Thomas went for ours the going was so bad they were gone twelve days and he was exposed more than he ought have as people from the east have to be rather careful until they get a little used to the climate, he had an affection of the liver and then the typhoid fever set in his wife is dead also she was in a family way (4 months) and miscarried after she was taken sick with the fever she had been sick some days before he died but would not take any medicine till the day he died which was the 14th of January and she the 26th their little boy is here and has been since before his father died he will
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be 2 years old in April Orson Ruick is here now he has come to carry the child back and settle up his Brothers estate,
if you will let Denmon have the money he wants you to put it in the Bank and send him a check on it, and if you think a mortgage of the place will not be enough Thomas says he will undersign the note and we want you to write back soon as you get this and please send the check if you conclude to let us have it so we can get it some time in March or first of April.
it has been as healthy here this winter as in any place and Thomas and his wife say it has been ever since they have been here. I guess you will get tired before you get this read if you can read it there is so many jugglers? around I have hard work to write and please excuse all blots and mistakesTo Horace & Julia Graves from Denmon & Elisabeth Day