Letters of Ephraim G. Fairchild

Farm Letters [Home]

Correspondence of John and Sarah Kenyon
Subject Index

Jones County


Table of Contents


              1.   March 23 1857
              2.   April the 9 1857
              3.   April 26th 1857
              4.   May 17th 1857
              5.   June 14 1857
              6.   June 28th 1857
              7.   July 1 1857
              8.   July 25 1857
              9.   Aug 9 1857
            10.   Aug 14 1857
            11.   Aug 30 1857
            12.   Sept 6
            13.   Sept 10

            14.   Oct 11 1857
            15.   Nov 16th 1857
            16.   Sunday 22
            17.   Dec 6th 1857
            18.   Tuesday evening 8th
            19.   Dec 20 1857
            20.   Jan 4th 1858
            21.   Mar 7 1858
            22.   May 17th 1858
            23.   June 6 1858
            24.   July 11th 1858
            25.   Aug 8th 1858
            26.   Oct 3/58

Pleasant Ridge1 March 23, 1857


  Ever Kind and affectionate Father and Mother and all the rest of the friends. I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you to let you know that we are all well at presant and hope these few lines may find you all the same.


    I will try to tell you some thing aboute our journey oute west. we had a very slow trip. the carrs run verry slow  all the way from Jersey City up to Dunkirk so we did not make connection with the train from their and had to stop there from 2 oclock in the afternoon untill 21/2oclock wednesday morning, then we Started for Cleveland and arrived there aboute noon and missed the train there again. we had to stay their till about 4 oclock in the evening. then we started for toledo and there we made connection with the train going to Chicago and there we had to stop about 4 or 5 hours longer. then we started about 9 in the evening for Dunleath.2 we arrived there about 9 or 10 on friday morning and there we met uncle Jerry. he started from home on wednesday and arrived at Dubuque on thursday and on friday we crosed the missippia on the ice with the horses and wagon. then we started for uncle Jerrie's.




   we got as far as the 11 mild (sic. mile) house. then we put up and in the morning we started again and went about 1 mild and broke the arm of the axel tree. then we was in a fix. no house nearer than a mild but Eliza3 and the children got out of the wagon and went on to the 12 mild house afoot and uncle and I unloded the things into another wagon and fixed up the wagon so as to get to the 12 mild house and there was a black smith shop and the smith thought he could fix it. so he went at it as soon as he cood and when he got it fixed it was about 2 or 3 oclock. then we started again and traveled on untill night. then we put up at Ozark with a man by the name of E. West. they were verry nice people. the next morning which was Sunday morning it thundred and lightened and raved quite hard untill about 9 oclock. then it stopped and about 10 uncle said he thought we had better start before the river at canton4 got so high that it wood be dangerous. so we started and got acrost the river safe and went on home. we got to uncles about 4 oclock Sunday after noon all safe and sound but mudier going I never saw in my life.







   I shot a pararie chicken out of the back window this morning. I have seen a good manny of them. there was as much as 25 or 30 in the flock when i shot that one. we saw hundreds of ducks sunday when the were coming

Wild Animals

Wyoming April the 9 1857


   . . .yesterday morning when I got up. . .Uncle Jerry was going off after a load of hay and asked me to go along with him. so I thought I would go as I was not doing any thing for the spring is so backward out hear that we have not done anny thing yet toward farming and there does not appear to be army thing else to doe at presant. I was going to plowing last monday but the ground was so frosen that i did not go at it. that was town election day and Tuesday it snowd quite hard the most of the day. yesterday morning there was quite a tracing (of) snow but it was all gon before night




   we started off after hay. we went down to bear crick and crossed it on the big pararie to a man by the name of Blabers but he had soled all of his hay so we turned round and went out to Wyoming. there we stopped at the post office. . .then we went on up toward Matison (sic. Madison) over hill and dale through mud and mire about five mildes to a man by the name of Old Tom Bender as he called him self. there we found some hay for $8 pur tun so we got a good load and as much as the oxen could eat and dinner for three of us for four dollars. we got loaded up and readdy to start about four oclock. then we had about 7 mildes to drive the nearest way we could home so we started and found a verry good road the most of the wa(y) home. we got home about eight oclock in the evening and all most bushed...


Prices - Hay
Prices - Purchases


   on the 28 day of March the next saturday after we arrived here Mr. Oliver Bills the man that I was going to farm for had a raising to put up the house for me to live in and invited Uncle Jerry and the boys and me to come over and help. so we went over in the morning and before we got over my hed began to ache and continued to ache all the fournoon and I felt quite chilly. so I went home before the house was up...




   I like the looks of this part of the west verry well. i think that I can plow and harrow out hear without being nocked and jerked about with the stones as I allways have ben in Jersey. I think if Father and Mother and the rest of the family was out here I should have no desire ever to return to Jersey again. but they are not out here nor I dont expect they ever will all be out here but I think if they was out here they would make a living easier than they can in Jersey...        


   our box has not come yet that we have heard of. our house is within 100 yds of the school house but there is no school there and I dont know as there will be this sumer. . .


Wyoming Sunday April 26th 1857


   . . .I believe I toled you about how we got along from Dubuque to Uncle Jerries but did not tell you how, much it cost me. $14,75 as just for our Selves for Uncle did not chars anny thing for his time nor for his expences. I had topay $5, for the horses and wagon and pay for their feed besides and $1, doller for mending the wagon which with our bord and lodging all together made $14,75 1 believe. well then I sent down for my box. Henry Bill Mr. Olliver Bill('s) sun went down after it and I worked for Mr Bill in henries place while he was gone he was son three days and Mr Bill charged me three dollars for the use of the team. the Bill for the box at Dubuque was $30,5 as the box cost me all the way from Dover hear $34,92 cts besides the time I worked for Mr Bill 4,30.


   we unpacked the box last Monday the 20. we found every thing in good order except some rice that was all through the box and the peper that was in the banbox with the hats was all spilt and my fether bed was naled fast to the bed of the box and we tore it some gitting the bed of (f). everything else was in good order I believe.


   I have bought a stove. it is the same fashion of Fathers. I got it in Wyoming. it cost me $24, besides the pipe and the pipe cost me $1,87 cts. I got 2 iron boilers 1 tin wash boiler 1 tin tea kittle 1 skillet 1 gridiron 1 tin teapot and a large griddle. I bought 91 lbs. of wheat flour at 20/5 pur hundred one smoked shoulder at 1/pur lb some picketed pork at 10 cts pur lb some eggs at 10 cts a doz one bottle of pepper sauce for 25 cts one peck salt at 1/pur bushel1/4 tea at 75 cts pur lb.    

Prices - Purchases

   I pulled the box in pieces and then I went at it and plained it up and made a table of part of the bords and a cupboard of the rest. I made the cupboard the same length and the same width of the box and about 18 inches deep and made Eliza a foot bench and two milk beds out of the scraps. I made a trundle bed sted while we was at Uncle Jeries and put rolers under it.

Housing - Furniture

   We have got to keeping house once more. our house stands within about 4 rods of Mr Bill house and about 8 rods from the stable and in the same field whare I am farming. Mr Bill and his wife appear like verry nice people. we moved day before yesterday. Mrs Bill has ben in twice and Mr Bill has ben in 3 or 4 times. they fetched in some tea milk and today just before we sat down to dinner Mr Bill came in with a bowl full of green corn. so I guess we are ahed of you yet. we had some boiled beans and some short cake and some stewd apples with the corn and it was so good that we all ate untill we liked to hurt ourselves.


Food - Diet


   I commenced plowing yesterday for wheat but the ground was frosen quite hard in some places. we have had a verry cold and backward Spring. there has been severel snow storms since we came out hear. a week ago last Friday night it snowd quite hard and on saturday morning the snow was good shoe deep and did not all go off until sunday. some of the men that had their ground plowd last fall has got their wheat sowd. . .


   A great bargon. Mr. Griffin the man that ones (owns) that good Spring and 160 acres of land 5 or 6 acres broke and plenty of timber on it will sell the hull lot for $1000 one thousand dollars. . .

Land Sales

   Wednesday the 29. . .I have ben plowing 2'/2 days this week and one last and have got about 7 acres plowd. you said Mother wanted to know how manny times I had ben to church. the first sunday I was sick. the next sunday I went to meeting and we had a verry good sermond and 1 have ben two sundays since but the minister did not come and last sunday there was no meeting. . .you said two that Mother wanted to know how my money holds out. well it is getting low. I believe I have got $31,86 cts. I have not got anny cow yet nor hog but I have bargoned for a hog. it will weigh 100 Ibs or more. the price of it is $4. I bargoned for it with Mr Gardenor or Jesse and I partly bargoned with Mr Bill for a cow but his wife found it out and she would not concent to let her go. I was to have her for $30, and $15, dollars down


Prices - Purchases


Wyoming May 17th 1857


    . . .you said you wanted to know how we liked this part of the Country. well for my part I think I like it a good deal better than I did Birkshire Valley. it is so much easier tilling the ground here than it is there and I believe Eliza likes it as well and the children appear to be verry well sattisfied. . .


   Well I will tell you how I are getting along with my work. I have sowd seventeen bushels of wheat and seven bushels of oats and are a going to plant about ten acres with corn. I have got my corn ground furrowd one way and part the other way and that planted. I had Uncle Jerreys three youngest boys yesterday after noon to help me plant and we got a nice piece planted. I have got about one acre to plant with potatoes that is plowd. I have not plantedmuch garden yet. I have got about a peck of potatoes planted and some onion seeds planted. I bought one bushel of potatoes the other day of Mr Hamilton and paid 75 cts for them and I bought two bushels of wheat of Mr Sudley Bill a few days ago for 75 cts per bushel and before I got it away wheat came up to $1, pur bushel so I have had some good luck since we came out here. I dont know how much flour is worth now. I was over to town the other day and they said that wheat was coming up so I got one hundred of first rate flour for twenty shillings for fear it would be higher. I have got my hog home and he is a nice one. I feed him three pints of wheat a day.



Prices - Purchases




   Uncle Jerry is farming quite strong this sumer. he has sowd thirty eight bushels of wheat and two bushels of oats and is a going to plant twenty or twenty five acres with corn. he is going to run a breaking team this sumer. . .


   I think I shall want what money 1 have got to live on untill I can rase some thing. I was offered a lot of land the other day about 20 acres for $10, pur acre on trust. it lays right acrost the rail road6 from the school house about half a mile from Uncle Jeries and I want Fathers advice about it. it belongs to Mr Sudley Bill a piece that the railroad cuts off from his farm

Land Sales

   I have finished planting my corn and potatoes. I planted about 4'/2 bushels of potatoes. . .we had a misionary here to dinner today and Uncle Jerry two. he is around hunting up all the presbyteriens he can find and is going to organize a presbyterian church in Wyoming tomorrow7.


Pleasant Ridge June the 14 1857


    you said in your letter that Mother wants to know whether I think I can make a better living here than I did in Jersey or not. Well Mother that is a hard question for me to answer yet for a sertenty for I cannot tell about it untill fall when I get my crops gatherd but one thing is certain I dont have to work as hard here as I did in Jersey to get in my crops. my wheat looks first rate. It is up about half leg by and looks black and rank and is growing very fast. as for my corn I cannot tell much about it yet for it has been a verry poor spring for corn here so far. in the first place there was a failier in the seed and I had my corn all to plant over again. then the squirrels commenced digging it up in a few days after I got it planted and they kept at it quite strong and I tried to ketch them at it but they was to(o) cunning for me for some days but at last I found them out last tuesday. I went into the cornfield and shot six throught (sic) the day and wednesday I shot one and one on Thursday and two on Friday and yesterday I went down to the field but could not see anny so I think they are getting scarce. well I have just bin down to the edge of the corn and it was grown quite smart since I saw it yesterday. . .I am going to commence plowing my corn tomorrow if all is well and it does not rain. my potatoes is just coming up. the oats looks nice but they dont interrest me as much as the rest of the crops for I dont have any of them. I have just as much ground with wheat as I put in with oats. oats is not as proffitable to rase here as wheat so I take my share of the oats in wheat.

Crop Yields

   the rise (sic. price) of land here is more than 4 times as much as it is out in Jersey. unboken prairie is now worth $10, pur acre. . .  

Land Sales

   We had a presbyterian church organized in Wyoming 3 weeks ago today. there was 4 or 5 taken into the church by letter and there is severel more that will join as soon as they get their letters. Uncle Jeremiah and Joseph Bryan was chosen as deacons. next sunday will be communian. . .


Wyoming June 28th 1857


   . . .Eliza is as well as can be expected. we have got a fine little boy. it was born on the 19 of this month. one weak ago last friday morning. it weighed ten and a quarter lbs. Eliza has been smarter than common except two little chills. she sets up some in the bed and gets up every day and has her bed made. the children is all well and enjoy themselves here first rate. the girls go to school every day. . .


July 1 1857


    . . .Eliza has mised her chill. she has not had any since sunday, the baby does appear well now and grows nicely. we have Eunice Crowe to work for us. . .


   I have got my corn plowed through once and you had better believe there is plenty of weeds in it. I was thinking of going at it the other way this afternoon. the corn looks quite well out here now. some of it is about nee hie. there is a good deal of ground lying idle in this part of the country that was planted with corn and did not come up. Mr. Prat planted about 70 acres and has not got any. . .


   Uncle says if he was in my place he would not buy that land now for he thinks when the railroad fever dies away land will be cheaper than it is now. . .

Land Sales

   I have not had a taste of fresh fish since we came out here. we talked some of going to the wapsay (Wapsipinicon River) a fishing but we did not get off and now I am so busey that I cannot go. I bought one salt codfish since we have ben out here and paid 8‑3/4 cts pur lb for it and they ask 10 cts pur lb for them at the stores. . .

Food Preservation

   Wheat looks first rate here this sumer. my wheat is now almost up to my hips and is not heded out yet but I think it will soon be for I saw two heads out in sight this morning. I think I will have 150 or 200 bushels of wheat to my part if it keeps on doing as well as it is doing now but I may be mistaken in my calculations. . .


   I was to two raisens last weak. one to Mr Johnsons and the other to Mr Hammeltons. both were dwelling houses. . .


Wyoming July 25 1857


   . . .I have had to work verry hard this weak. I have ben plowing my corn for the last time and plowed and hoed out my potatoes for the last time. I was three days hoeing and pulling out the weeds out of my potatoes. I finished it last night. this morning I sowed my turnips in the corn and I thought I had done a nuff for one weak so I sat down to talk a few moments with old friends in Jersey by the way of pen and ink and paper.


   Eliza does not get very strong yet but she is gaining strength now quite fast. she does not doe her work yet. Eunice staid here four weeks then she went to a nother place and we got Martha Cady one of our neighbours girles. she has ben here most a weak. the children is all well and hady (sic. hardy) as pigs and as saucy as ever


   Mother wants to know what kind of a house we live in. well I will tell you something about it. it is a log house and quite rough at that but it makes a shelter and does very well for a summer house. the room is not very larg but it does quite well for us for we have but little to put in it but we live in the hopse of having some thing more some of these days.


   our crops look first rate at present. the wheat will be ripe about the first of weak after next or the third of aug. Mr Bill thinks it will yield about 30 bushels to the acre. if it does I shall have some to sell to get a cow with. . .Oh how I wish Henry was out here now to help me gather my harvist for it is going to be a tite rub out here in harvist.

Crop Yields

   it was quite backward here in the fore part of the season but it is not sowe now. we have not had much rain here for four or five weaks and the ground is getting verry dry but vegitation does not appear to suffer much yet. my corn grows very fast. some of it is higher than my hed now and does not show the tosel much yet. our garden looks first rate. we have had three good messes of beans and have had as many onions as we wanted but I am afraid we shallloose them for the gofers has got to work in them.


Crop Yields

Wild Animals


Pleasant Ridge Aug 9 1857


    . . .yesterday. . .I went into the harvist field and worked hard all day cradeling and binding. I put up 22 dozen shieves and was quite tierd at knight. I have got up 125 dozen shieves and have got more than 4 acres cut yet but the rest of it is not so heavy. last weak I went over towards the Scotch Grove Prairie about 4 miles from home to help Mr Carpenter one of Mr Bills brother in laws in his harvist and staid there 3 days. then this last week on tuesday he came to return the work and he worked 3 days and I worked 2 days while he was here and then worked yesterday. it is quite a ketchey time for harvist. it has rained more or less for the last two weeks




   well Ed I wish you was out here now to help me in my harvist. I would put you through like Sixty and keep you on wheat bred and butter pork and potatoes and such lite diet. then after we got through harvist we wold take Some of the Prairie chickens and maby we would go to the wapseypinican and take some of them big fish that lives there.

Food - Diet

   I have got 9 or 10 acres of wheat and Oats to harvist yet and dont now as I Shall have any help for I have no money to pay for help and there is so much harvisting to do that hands are very scarce and wajes very high. it is from $1,50 to $2,00 pur day and found. . .


   Well my onions looks very well. some of them has got bottoms as larg as the bottom of a good sised tea cup but the gofers are at work in them but he workes it to keep under ground all of the time and pulls them down into his holes but I think he will have to work Sharp if he gets his half of them for I think we get more of them than he does

Wild Animals

   we dont have any sunday school here this summer nearer than Wyoming but we have meeting here in the school house quite regular this summer. sometimes it is free will baptists and sometimes presbyterien. Mr. Delevan the Presbyterian minister preaches for us in the school house and over to town every 2 weeks. to day was his turn and I staid at home and kept the children and let Eliza go for she had not ben to meeting before since we came from Birkshire. . .


Aug 14 1857


   Friday morning well I thought I would set down this morning and write a little more as I have not had any chance to mail my letter yet. it has been good wether all this week except a little Shower on Monday untill this morning it has rained very steddy and looks as likely to rain on all day. I have been a putting in the best of liks all this week in my wheat. Monday I worked all alone and on Tuesday morning I had 3 hands come on to help me. well we went into it and worked on untill noon then one of them went off and then one of the others went of(f) about 3 oclock and the other went off about 5. so I was left all alone before night. the 3 made out 2 days work. then I worked alone again wednesday and thursday four noon. then Uncle sent Dick to help me in the after noon. well I have got my wheat all done except about one acre. my oats is plenty ripe enough to cut so I shant have rest yet for I shall have to go right into my oats as soon as I get through with my wheat. well I Shall have to Stop riting for it has stoped raining and I must go over to Uncles and grind my cradle scythe. . .




   Eliza wants me to tell you about the churns that they use out here. the largest are about 5 gallons and from that down to two quarts. I saw one the other day about as larg as that jar that I gave P J. Mrs Bill fetched over a hull churning of butter milk one day in a pint cup and it was not full. their churns are mostly stone and you would laugh to see them churn. they set down and take their churn in their lap and churn away. . .

Food Preservation

Pleasant Ridge Aug 30 1857


    . . .We have had a good deal of wet wether here to(o) as well as you have in Jersey and it has put harvist back very much but I think if it keeps good wether a few days longer the most of the grain will be secured. some have got  all through and others are mostley through. I have got two or three days of work to doe yet at the oats and a little over six hundred shieves of wheat to draw and stack yet and have got twenty seven hundred shieves now in stack. Mr Chs Gardener has got his a most (sic. almost) thrashed. the wheat crops did not take much dammage by the wet wether. corn looks first rate out here now only it is rather late. it is so wet and cool that it does not ripen verry fast. our potatoes looks first rate. Father spoke about his onions looking nice. well I have got some nearly as large as the top of a tea saucer I was going to say but I think I was going to stretch it to much. but without stretching it at all they are as larg as the top of a tea cup. and we have got plenty of cewcumbers. we have got a common fish tub all most full of pickels laid down now and the vines are fresh and bare good yet. I had to pay 50 cts for the tub. All barrel kind is very high out here. a new pork barrel costs about 14 shillings. our mellons looks first rate but they doe  not get ripe yet. we have got a nice lot of pole beanes and they are as full as they can stick and begin to get big  enough to eat. . .








Prices - Purchases


Sept 6


   Well I though when I commenced this letter I should have it finished and on the way to old Berkshire long before this time but it is very buisey times out here yet. I have got my grain all in stack at last and am glad of it I tell you. I was not quite a month at it but it did not lack much of it I tell you. I commenced the 4 of Aug and finished it on the 2 of Sept. Mr. C Gardener has got his wheat thrashed and soled. he took 100 bushels down to canton yesterday and soled it for 60 cts per bushel and some of the merchants down there did not pay but 50 cts. I believe the price of wheat is 65 cts down to the river. oats are selling for 36 cts pur bushel here at the rail road and potatoes 36 cts pur bushel here at the rail road and potatoes 36 cts. I am going to help Uncle S Hammeltons boys thrash their grain tomorrow and then they are going to return the work when I thrash my grain. . .



Prices - Produce



   One thing more. yesterday I got up and went out to my hog pen and found my hog ded as a hammer. he was sick for 2 or 3 days before he died and I tell you it was quite a loss for me as much as the loss of 8 or 10 dollars. . .


Sept 10


   Kind friends I thought I would write a few lines more this evening as I have a chance to send over to the post office. . .I have been helping Arthur and Edward Hammelton at their thrashing. it will take about two days more and we have ben at it two days. I expect to thrash mine


   well I expect H Tebos and his family will be about Starting when you receive this or before. but if he is not gon tell him to get some rope or straps and lash up his trunks good for it is a hard place on the cars for trunks. and tell him there will be a man come in the cars before they get to Chicago a check agent and he will take your checks for you and give you cards for them and will take you and your trunks from one depo to the other for 25 cts apiece that is for each ticket and the children goes free and you had better let him doe your business for you for you cannot doe any thing with them in Chicago. he will give you a ticket for your ride and when you get there go out to the runners and ask them which one of them will take you for them tickets and show them the tickets. but be shure and not let them take you a stray nor pull you in two. . .

37.6    well my chance for sending this over to town to night is past so I will write a little more. we thrashed about 534 bushels of oats yesterday and got done before night but to day we have not done as well. we have ben thrashing wheat and broke down before night. . . Harvesting

Pleasant Ridge Sunday morning
Oct 11 1857


   . . .Mother said she wanted to know how the railroad was gitting a long. well it is all laying still now the hole length of the road and they think it will not open again before spring. they had to stop for the want (of) money.


   Well I expect you have heard from Henrys folks by this time for Uncle wrote a letter the day they arived here and mailed it the next day. they got here one week ago last thursday after noon. . .Henry went to work for Mr Gardener and Will and Eef went to work for Mr Rumery diging potatoes. . .Henry has bought him a stove. it is a second handed stove. he got it of one of the irish men that lives here on the railroad. he gave $20 for it. they say it is a first rate stove. they have not got their goods up from the river yet but I believe Henry is going to send for them this week. . .Henry has had more calls for work aredy than he and his boys can do. this fall he has the offer of corn to husk and potatoes to dig and to help thrash and he has had the offer of from 40 to 60 cords of wood to cut this fall. . .

Prices - Purchases

   Well now I will tell you a little about how I am gitting along with my work. I have not got my grain thrashed out yet but I expect I shall have it thrashed the last of this week or the fore part of next. I have worked 41/2 days at thrashing for the neighbours and they are going to help me in return when I thrash. I have plowed 41/2days for Mr. Bill and I have got my road tax worked out. my road tax was two days work. my potatoes is fit to dig but I have not dug any of them yet except one bushel to eat. they have not roted much yet but they begin to turn black some. I shall have a nice crop of potatoes if they doe not rot. my corn is not ripe enough to husk yet but it is out of the way of frost. we have not had any frost yet to doe any hurt here on the ridge but in the low ground there has been frost enough to kill the corn. my corn is good. Mr Bill husked out two bushels for his hogs and it took 23 hills for a bushel. my beans is not a going to amount to much. they run too much to vines and did not begin to set untill it was to late for them to get ripe. my onions is a quite size but the most of them has grown to much to tops but we shall (have) plenty for our one (sic. own) use and perhaps a bushel or two to sell. I have got a nice lot of pumpkins this fall   and some as large as I ever saw. I have got a lot of butiful turnips some of them nearley as large as a tea saucer. our mellons are all gon now. the best of them was gon when Henrys folks got out here. . .





   we have regular preaching here now. the Reverand Mr Delevan has moved up to Wyoming and preached every Sunday  in town and every two weeks here in the red school house and every two weeks over north west in Mr Pauls neighbourhood. so we have regular preaching both in town and in the neighbouring school districts and have no excuse for not attending public workship when health and wether permits


Pleasant Ridge Nov 16th 1857


   . . .there is thousands of prairie chickens oute here and lots of rabbits. Henry and some of the boys went out the other day a hunting and they caught 15 rabbits and 2 chickens

Wild Animals

Sunday 22


   . . .Mr Delevan preached to day. last Sunday we had a United Bretheran to preach for us. he preached a very  smart sermon


   It has been quite cold wether out here for the last two weeks. we have had 3 or 4 little snows and today it commenced snowing about 10 oclock and has snowed very studdy ever since. it is now 7 or 8 oclock and it snows yet. it acts very much as if it was a going to bee quite a snow but I hope it will not for there is a good deal of corn to husk yet. I have not got half done husking yet. I have husked about 380 bushels of ears and have got near 500 to husk yet. Uncle has not got near done husking yet. he has got two thirds of 10 or 11 acres to husk but I should not bee surprised if our corn had to lay out in the field through the winter but if it does it will make good picking for the Prairie chickens




   I went out the other day to see if I could find me a cow. I partly bargoned for one but I have not been after hur yet. the price was 25 dollars and I was to pay for her in wheat and corn at 50 cts for wheat and 20 cts for corn. I think I shall go after her tomorrow if it is not wether to work at the corn

Prices - Purchases

Dec 6th 1857


    . . .now I will tell you a little about my farming in the Garden of the world. I sowed about 10 acres of wheat and had 212 bushels and about 3%a acres of oats and had 149 bushels. I planted about 4'/2 bushels of potatoes and dug  about 117'/2 bushels. I planted about 10 acres with corn and have husked 660 bushels and have got about 150 or 160 bushels picked and throwed in a pile with the husks on. I shall have 800 or a little more bushels of corn this year but it is not hardley worth canting off at present. it is selling for from 15 to 30 cts per bushel and wheat is very low to now. all kinds of produce is done very low and money is very scarce. but we must try to git along without much money. I have not had but 25 cts in money yet for all the work that I have done in Iowa. I have paid for my thrashing in wheat. it took 30 bushels and I have got a cow and paid 30 bushels of wheat on her at 50 cts pur bushel and have to pay 50 bushels of shelled corn yet at 20 cts pur bushel making $25 dollars for the cow. the cow appears like a verry good cow. she gives about four quarts of milk a day. we churned yesterday afternoon and got two lbs of butter and now we have got butter to eate of our own manufacturing and it appears a little more like living. we have plenty of beaf this fall. I have taken beaf for butchering. one man gave me 24 Ibs for helping him butcher one beaf. . .

Crop Yields






Food Preservation


Tuesday evening 8th


   All well this evening except Eliza and she is almost sick with her teeth and ears. It is very disagreeable wether here now, we had 2 or 3 weeks in Nov that felt very much like winter. it snowed and blowed and f rose at a round rate. it frose my ink all to death in the cupbord but about the first of this month is moderated and the snow all went off and it was muddy I tell you and since then have had all kinds of wether. sometimes it raines and sometimes it snows and blows but the most of the time it raines and is very muddy. . .


Dec the 20 1857


   . . .Well I have got my corn all husked out and cribbed up. my hull crop was 813 bushels. my share is 4061/2 bushels of ears. I have got my farming work all finnished up now but I am some in debt for hired help yet. . .we see the Praire fires burning around some this winter. there is two or three fires to knight but they are at a quite a distance. there is lots of chickens around here now but I dont get time yet to go out after them but I think I shall have to take time before long and go out and see if I can catch some of them. we begin to get chicking hungry and as we have no tame ones I must try to get some of the wild ones.

Crop Yields

Prairie Fires

Wild Animals


   One thing I must tell you about. 1 have shot one thing out here that I never shot before. that was a fat hog. they doe not chase their hogs here to ketch them when they want to kill them. they take their gun and go to their pen and shoot them down. I have shot six beaves and one hog this fall. I have helped dress eleven beaves and two hogs this fall and winter.

Food Preservation

   I must tell you about our flower. we have just as good flower as the best superfine genesee New York inspected that you can get in the town of dover and. . .we have as good bread here at our house as ever Mr Youngs of Dover baked in his big oven. . .

Food Preservation

Jan 4th 1858


    . . .we have enough to eate and drink and enough to ware and have had enough to doe so far. I have helped to dig one well and have helped to bucher (sic) several hogs since I wrote last. last Friday the first day of the new year I went over to Em Crones and him and his brother in law and myself went out after some Prairie chickens and we hunted through the cornfield and over pararies until dinner time with out any success. then we went to Williams and took dinner. then after dinner we started out again and we soon came a crost a larg flock and I shot at them and made the fether fly some for they carried off the meat further than we could see. then we went on further and found some more and their fethers carried them off fast enough without shooting at for we could not git within two guns shot of them. So we made up our minds that it was of no use...


Wild Animals



   I have not got but one (hog) to winter and that is not very large but it groes quite Smart and I have got plenty of corn to feed it out for I have not soled any of my corn yet only what I let Mr Van have for my cow and he has not got that away yet. Yesterday he had a constable sale at this house. he was pressed for $100,00 dollars and could not raise the money so the constable levied on one log wagon worth $65 or 70 dollars one good old cow one colt 2 year old past worth 90 or 100 dollars and one bull which he had refused 80 dollars for and the lot did not bring onley 103 dollars. Henry Tebo got the colt and cow for the sum of $63,50. he made a great bargon if he has good luck with them.




    . .it has been very hard times out here this winter although there is a great abundance of provision and that is cheap and good but money is very scarce and hard to be got. groceries is quite high but not as much so as they have been but they are cash articles. therefore we have to git along with as little as possible. . .the rail road is laying still yet but there is some talk of its going on this spring and I hope it will for I think it would make the times seem better. there would be a call for flower corn and potatoes and a great many other things. there is a railroad now in progress about twenty miles from here.8 it is running from Dubuque to Anamosa the County Seat of this County. they think to get it completed by the first or middle of May

Prices - Produce



Mar 7 1858


   . . .I am preparing to build a Shanty. I am a going to trade my corn for lumber. I get my lumber for $15, pur thousand and get $25 pur hundred bushels for my corn delivered at the saw mill. I am a going to build my shanty on Uncles land. yesterday I was getting some logs to the mill. I got the logs of Uncle Jerrey. . .I am going to have it sawed into sheating to lay the shingles on... if you dont get another letter from me quite as soon as you have been getting them you must not think hard for this letter will take the last stamp that I have got and I have no money at presant. money is very scarce here this winter but I will write as soon as I can. . .





    . . .I am a going to lease a strip from the railroad up to the timber line. I have got my seller part dug and my lumber part carted. I got some logs of Uncle and had them sawed. . .and as for what I am a going to doe this summer is more than I can tell my self as yet. but I think to work on the railroad if it starts and if it does not I shall work for any one that wants work done. I have not taken any farm to work this Summer. the times is so dull here that mechanics are working their farmes themselves this season although there was land enough to let this season to those that have a house and team of their own. but I shall try to doe the best I can. I found some stamps in the letter last evening. it did not say who they was from but they come very acceptable for I have not had any money since I wrote before on ley a five cent piece that I found the other day8 This was the projected road from Dubuque to Keokuk, to run through Anamosa, Marion, and Iowa City. Because of its twisting route, it was known as the "Ram's Horn." Although the whole project was a failure, the road did reach Anamosa on March 9, 1860, Ibid., 343.

Money & Banking

May 17th 1858


   . . .our cow has come in and done well. we are raising her calf. I intend to make an oxe of it. the calf is three weeks old this morning and we have churned four times from her and got as much as eleven Ibs from the four churnings. I think the cow will keep us in butter this Summer and raise her calf and have some milk for the pig and some for the babies. my hog had the misfortune of breaking her shoulder about two weeks ago and I was afraid that I should loose her but she has got partley over it and is Boeing better now than she ever has done before since I have had her.


   I am making very slow progress with my house. every boddy is so busy with their teams that it is impossible for me to get a team to do anything but I think after planting 1 shall be able to get my lumber and nailes and shingles and put up my house.


    it is very hard times oute here yet. it is impossible for any one to get a dollar in money for any thing. grain is not worth carting off to the river. Wheat is only worth from 30 to 40 cts pur bushel around here. I believe it is worth 45 and 50 cts at the river. corn is selling for 15 and 20 cts. potatoes is worth from 10 to 15 cts. butter is 10 cts and 11 pur lb. eggs is 6 cts pur dozin. wheat flour is worth at the mills $1,75 pur hundred. oats is worth about 20 or 25 cts. . .

Prices - Produce

June 6 1858


   . . .it is the hardist times here that I ever saw before in my life. it is impossible for me to get a cent of money any more. I have not had 25 cts of money since the first of January last and there is nothing that the farmers have that will fetch money nor even groceries. Mr Bill took some butter over to town one day last week and they would not give him but 8 cts pur lb and they would not let him have Shugar for it at that. he had to take a pair of over ails for the butter and borrow some money to get his groceries with. chease is worth but 4 cts pur lb. eggs is worth 5 cts pur dozen, potatoes and corn is worth about 20 cts. wheat from 35 to 40 cts pur bushel.

Prices - Produce

   But we hope that we shall have better times here in less than a year. there is a prospect of the rail roads going on now before long and we have an election this month to vote for and against banks here in this State and I think there will be no danger but what we shall get the banks.9 the banking law is all ready made and I understand they have got the bank notes all ready plated and ready for signing and if they get it they will Soon have their money in circulation. And I think it is time that we had some banks here if we can have good substantial ones for money is so scarce here that some are making money for them selves without a law. there was some fellows taken up yesterday in the town of Monmoth about 5 mildes east of us for passing counterfeit money and one of them they found the dyes with that he made the money in and Six hundred dollars of bogus gold already coined and ready for circulation.






   Thursday morning the 10th we have heard something more of the particulars concerning those counterfeiters. they did not find the dyes with them but proved that they had them. there was not quite six hundred dollars of the money but about five hundred and twenty and he had not got it quite redy for circulation for he had not got it galvanized. he had it hid in the woods under a log. it was all in one dollar pieces. there was two of them that they got and they have taken them to jail to await their trial.


   Well now I will try to tell you something about the weather here. we had about two weeks of plesant and fine weather in the latter part of March. then it began to be wet and cold and it appears to get worse and worse. it is not quite as cold now as it was in April but it is quite cool for the time of year. I have not saw but one or two persons yet this sumer with thin close on. it will be quite plesant for a day or two at a time then it will cloud up and blow and rain and thunder. we have had more thunder since the first of March than we had last season all together and such heavy rains. why it rains sometimes untill it seames as though it would float the countery away. it has taken almost every bridge in the country and some of the mill dams. it has taken off L D Brainard's dam at the mill whare Kiney lives and it took of (f) the dam at mill rock where I have had all of my grinding done since I have been oute here and two other damms on the mineral creek was damaged a good deal. one of them was the mill where Henry and me got our lumber and I expect Henry is over there now to work helping repare the dam. the watter cut around in front of the mill and took out all of the logway and some of his logs and about two thousand feet of oak lumber. the roads is washed and damaged a good deal and the corn crops have suffered very much by being washed out and coverd up. but the wheat crops looks fine yet and I hope we shall have a bountiful) harvist and a good time to gather it. . .


   I have not got  my house up yet nor all of my lumber together yet. it has been such bad going all the Season that I have not got could not get to go after it and I have got disapointed about getting nailes for corn. So I shall have to adjourn building untill 1 can turn myself some other way and I dont know when that will be.




July 11th 1858


   . . .I expect to go into harvist tomorrow. I am a going to help Mr E E Gardner two days then I am going to help Mr W E Cady some. I dont now what wages will be this Season but I dont think it will be as much as it was last Season. I hired Som last Season and had to pay $1,50 pur day and bord and some charge $2, pur day.


   our wheat and oats crops is not a going to be near as good as they was last Season but the farmers think they will get about a half crop but corn and potatoes looks first rate at presant. I have about 1‑1/2 acres planted with corn and potatoes and beanes and some other vegitables and the corn and potatoes and beanes looks first rate and I think the potatoes will come on now. they was planted late and it has been so wet this Season that I could not get them hoed out untill yesterday. I got Some help and dressed them out and they look quite nice but my Sod corn I guess will come out rather slim. the ground was broke very early and it has been so wet that the hasle nut brush and grass and brake has come up so thick that it has choked the corn but I think the stalks will run up and make som fodder and if corn comes out as good as it bids. fare for now there will be plenty of chances to husk on shares. I have had some offers to husk on Shares now.




   there is Strong talk of the rail roads going on now. they think it will commence in about two or three weeks.  


   There was a man along here just now a hunting harvist hands and said he would give 10 and 12 Shilling pur day for hands and pay the money and I tell you it was quite a inducement but he lives twelve or fourteen miles from here and Eliza and the baby is so miserable that it is imposible for me to leave home to go so far away


Aug 8th 1858


    . . .The farmers has not got through with their harvist yet. it keeps such wet wether the most of the time that it is a slow job to get the grain gathered and after it is gathered it is not worth but little and Some is not worth gathering at all. I dont think that the wheat and oats crop to take it on an average through Jones County will bee more than one forth of a crop. Uncle Jery sowd fifty bushels of oats and I think it a chance if he gets more than 200 bushels. I have helped him two days. one day 1 mowed oats and yesterday I helped to draw and Stack. Dan G and Birt took one team and Caleb and myself took another and we drawd and Stacked Thirteen loads a piece and put them all in one Stack and there is as much as twenty loads more to draw and it will take the most of it to top out the Stack that we worked on yesterday. I expect to help draw again tomorrow if it is weather fit to work at it. we want to get Uncles harvist gathered as Soon as we can and then go to gathering hay. there is tots of hay this season or grass to make hay off. I was over on the big Prairie the other side of the crick last Friday to help a man Stack Some wheat and it looks like a big meadow as far as you can see. the grass up full nee high and as thick as it can Stand on the ground. . .


Oct 3/58


   . .we have very fine weather here now. it is as nice weather as I ever saw at this time of year. it is very dry and warm. there has not been any frost yet here on the ridge but I believe there has been Some light frosts on the low grounds. corn has ripened off very nice here this fall. my buckwheat is ripe and I have got it part out. .


   Monday morning the 23. . .it is quite cool this morning for the time of year and I fear there will be a frost before this cool Spell passes over. it has been quite cool for several nights and it appears to keep gitting colder every night and if there Should be a frost and cut off the fall crops I dont know what the inhabitants of Jones County and some other of the adjoining Countys will doe for provision for themselves and family and say nothing about their cattle and hogs for the wheat and oats crops is almost an entire failier and what wheat there is makes people sick to eat it.10 there is hundreds yes thousands of acres of wheat and oats to that has not been cut and the news papers gives an account of Several horses that had been turned into the uncut oats which have died by eating the rusted oats. there is no vegitable that has come to maturity yet this Season in this part of the country but what has been blighted. beanes peas cewcumbers mellons beats onions and all kinds of garden sauce cabbage is not doeing any thing and I dont think that potatoes will be much of a crop and there is Some parts of the country that the corn is entirely cut off by the late hail storms. I was out through a portion of clay township one week ago last Saturday acrost Scotch grove Prairie and into the grove and I tell you it was a desolate looking place. there was hardly a stack of grain to be Seen for Several mildes. the corn was all entirely cut off by hail.

Health Problem






   there is some people here that have no grain that are trying to find work where they can get wheat for their work and they can not get it.


   they are offering $1, pur bushel now for old wheat at the mills on the road down toward Dubuque at Canton and Ozark and they are asking $5, pur barrell for flour at the mills

Prices - Produce



   In searching for an index topic, find the letter by using the first number, then the second number indicates the paragraph within the letter. Main topics are listed at the right side of each of the letters as a cross‑reference.

- 29.4, 39.1, 41.1, 42.1   
    Dangerous and Pests - 33.1, 35.4, 36.4
    Livestock - 32.2, 37.3, 46.1
  Barter - 36.1, 40.1, 44.1, 47.5, 48.1  
  Crime - 47.2, 47.3  
      Crop Yields - 33.1, 35.1, 35.4, 40.1, 41.1, 49.1  
      Harvesting - 36.1, 36.6, 37.2, 37.4, 37.6, 38.3, 39.3, 48.2, 49.1  
      Planting and Cultivation - 30.4, 31.6, 31.8, 32.1, 32.2, 32.3, 32.5, 34.3,
                                               34.6, 35.1
      Diet - 31.5  
      Health - 29.1, 30.3, 34.1, 35.2, 50.2  
      Preservation and Processing - 34.5, 36.7, 41.2, 41.3  
  Housing and Furnishings - 30.3, 31.4, 34.7, 35.3, 46.2, 47.5  
  Land Sales - 31.7, 32.4, 33.2, 34.4  
  Mail - 30.2, 44.1  
  Money - 45.1, 47.2  
  Neighbors - 30.1, 37.2, 49.1, 31.5,  
  Prairie Fires - 41.1  
      Farm Produce - 37.2, 43.1, 46.3, 47.1, 50.4  
      Purchases - 30.2, 31.1, 31.3, 31.8, 32.2, 37.1, 38.2, 39.4, 42.2  
  Recreation - 42.1  
  Religion - 31.8, 32.5, 33.3, 36.5, 38.4, 39.2  
  Taxes - 38.2, 42.2  
  Transportation - 29.3, 30.2, 31.1, 31.2, 37.5, 38.1, 43.1, 48.3  
  Wages - 36.3, 48.1, 48.4  
  Weather - 29.3, 30.1, 31.6, 35.4, 36.6, 37.1, 39.3, 40.2, 47.4, 48.2, 49.1, 50.1,

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Explorations in Iowa History Project
Malcolm Price Laboratory School
University Of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
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