Rama, Iowa Co. Wisconsin N.A. March 24th 1867
Dear Daughter Elizabeth,
Your welcome letter dated Decr 17th 1866 came duly to hand. We were glad to learn therefrom that your Aunt Alice was still alive; and also several others of our aged Relatives and Friends so that the prospect of seeing some of them again in the land of the living is not altogether hopelefs, though not very probable. We are sorry, however, to understand that a number of others whom we highly esteemed have been called away by death; a fact which puts a bar to the pofsibility of every meeting them again in this world. Many of these we should rejoiced to see before their departure home. We are sorry also, to learn that the health of your Aunts Alice and Ellen has not been good; and that your own health for some time has been suffering. We hope ere this you are all better. Good health is a great blefsing. We can afsure you, that for all those sufferings you have our sympathy in reality, though seldom exprefsed. We feel deeply for the affliction of our greatly esteemed friend and neighbour Joseph Baynes. Give our respects to him, if he is still living, and tell him we often think of him tho’ so far separated in body.
Dear Befsie, you speak of your own sicknefs being Tic Doleraux – this is difficult to cure. We cannot tell what is good for it. Perhaps change of air. We hope, however, it has gone past for the present. We do not wonder that you feel lonely since the death of your Uncle. So long, however, as your Aunt lives, we may readily suppose you are nicely off together; though as we have already said you may both, at times feel lonely. I oft wish we were so situated as to have the opportunity to bear you company at times. Our mutual consolation might be a little relief.
Dear Befsie, In case you survive your Aunt, here is a home for you here as for the rest, to which you shall always be heartily welcome. So long, however, as your Aunt lives we hope you will remain with her if she desires it, which we doubt not she will. We, likewise, have the same confidence that by doing your duty towards her you will contribute considerably to her comfort,and also reap your share of those comforts and consolations; as heretofore you have done, by remaining where you did, rather than run the dangers, and encounter the troubles and vexations incident to a foreign land, where nearly all that come have no other end in view than that of securing to themselves fortunes, even at the expense of every feeling of honor and humanity.Dear Elizth. When you receive this give our respects to our Friends at Yorescott the first opportunity. Yorescott always looks like home to me although I liked Sorrowsikes better. Tell us when you wirte again how they are getting along at the old place. I have once or twice commenced to write to Brother James but always failed to finish the letter. I hope he is comfortable in his old age. We often wish we had such neighbours here as we had at Yorescott and Sorrowsike. The state fo society here is decidedly bad. Do not forget to give our respects to Aunt Routh of Bainbridge, as well as to all the Routh family. What is left of Thos Baynes’s household. Do not forget to remember us to them. I might mention several others of our old neighbours all of whom we respect and recall to mind with great pleasure. We are much pleased to hear that Brother Thomas, say, your Uncle Thos and Uncle Richard were both in tolerable health when you wrote; and that your cousin Thomas is taking to himself another wife. We hope it will prove a blefsing to every one concerned. I have often thought I would write, thoughnobidy likes better to receive letters than I do so long as the come from our Friends in England. Do give our respects to every one of them as if named, and tell them how well we should like to hear from them whenever they have opportunity to write. Give our respects to her who was C.W.Os widow. If any one should ask what your Father’s opinion of America is, tell them candidly that it is much worse than England for a farmer, but better for a tradesman. A dealer in grain may make a fortune in a short time; there are only a few grain merchants in the vicinity, and a good deal of grain raised; there are 3 or 4 merchants in Mineral Point who a few years ago were in the havit of shipping to the East about one thousand bushels of wheat each daily; (except on Sundays). Now, however the crops are lighter they cannot get it. For the first 5 years after we came here there did not perhaps 5 bushels of wheat change hands in all Mineral Point So changeable are affairs in America. Wheat last year was selling at about 70 or 80 cents a bushel of 60lbs; now it is worth 2 dollars and upwards. Oats last year were selling at from 10 to 15 cents; now about 40 cents here 50 at Galena and a dollar down the river. According to the calculation of farmers in this part of Iowa County the cost of raising oats is 35 cents per bushel. My calculation is 33 ½ cents. Now when they can be bought at the rate of 15 cents for the best in market is it not strange that none of our capitalists can lay up a few thousand bush for about 15 or 16 months in case they should not double their price in half that time. This makes me say Trade is better than farming. Farmers are an exceeding poor race of men; while the tradesmen and merchants are amafsing very large fortunes. In the fall, when the farmers have their taxes to pay the markets are run down to almost nothing, so that farmers in many cases have to borrow a grain of their richer neighbours to put them through till the next harvest.
Dear Elizabeth, In my last sheet I endeavoured to show you how entirely the merchants in the employ of Eastern Men have us in their power in regards to the prices of our produce. In this sheet I intend to point out other evils to which we are subjected. And firstly; in this country we have people from almost every christian clime. We have here a sample of almost every race. We have the polite French, the upright Scot, the peacable German and Dutch, the industrious Bohemian, the ardy Norwegian and Swede, the independent Swifs, the wild Irish, the proud Cornish, the acquisitive Welsh; and worst of all the overbearing and avaricious North Yorkshire Miners. In addition to which we have a few people of color, good, bad and medium; With a floating population medley, of all degrees of wickednefs from the soldier down to the [ ]. The weeds and chaff driven from almost every civilized nation are found here, all tending to make up the proud American Republic, while the wheat remains in "childhoods happy land." It is true we have a few honorable exceptions from the general run, even in the worst race of all. I often think how happy you ought to think yourselves in England where almost every villain is driven away, and but few remaining worse than Robin Hood or Will Naylor; and where you have a large majority of those who think that a good and honorable character is always worth maintaining even at a little sacrifice. Another evil is the climate which is certainly getting worse. The winters get longer and the summers shorter, probably on account of the wild lands being brought into cultivation. While the lands were in the wild state the grafs went dead in the fall, and millions of acres were burnt with fire; which not only dark’ned the atmosphere with smoke but also rendered the air considerably milder than otherwise it would have been. Those fires being discontinued the winters are of course longer than formerly. This day is the first of June. The month of May has been cold and wet with frost every two or three nights. This is not common. In former springs we had no frost later than the 11th. The blofsom of the wild fruit trees which was sometimes as early as the first of May, did not come out this spring till the 27th of that month. Last winter tho’ long was not excefsively cold the thermometer seldom ran lower than 28 degrees below zero, and that only for a few days at a time; still even that is colder than I like; the Boys bear it tolerably well; your Mother however, sometimes complains of the keenefs of the frost. Of all the evils of which we complain we must not forget the want of a righteous population, and a righteous government. The state of society being bad, we have the greater need of a strict government. But the laxity of the laws make matters worse than otherwise they might be.The English poachers being driven from your country take shelter in this, and are certainly its curse; for as we have said our laws are bad and badly administered, and in too many cases not administered at all. _ Another evil is a heavy taxation, the bitter fruits of a blundering government. Had the Negro population of the South been proclaimed free when the rebellion broke out the war could not have continued longer than a single year at most; but the pride of the North would not do it, and the consequence has been the lofs of thousands of men and millions of money an everlasting lofs to the country never to be redeemed. Another great drawback to settlers in this country is the high prices of all sorts of shop goods a consequence of which is high wages and high charges of all sorts of Handy-crafts men and men of different trades. This makes it next to impofsible to raise buildings, so necefsary to the comfort of every body, especially in a country like this..Dear Befsy I have told you alittle of the evils by which we are afflicted in this part of the world. I cannot conclude this letter without telling you that we have some circumstances and blefsings that tend to cheer us after all. We have a few families amongst us who deserve ourrespect, say first some from Askrigg, Thompsons, Dinsdales and others which we hold in great esteem. We have also a few individuals from the Sister Dale; and the Hirds from Craven. All of which are friendly and well disposed. We have a valuable old primitive Methodist Preacher and his wife, from near Thirsk; of the name of Haw. They have been in this circuit two years, and we regret to say they are now going to leave for some other location. I believe Mrs. H. Whitehead of Aysgarth is his sister.