Matthew Willis to daughter Elizabeth.
Dear Daughter Elizth On the receipt of your letter bearing the mournful intelligence of your Uncle’s death I felt downcast and nervelefs that I know not how to muster energy to make a response. I had long fostered the hope that we should one day be permited to see each other again in “the land of the living.” This hope however, is now blasted; and whether I must ever be permitted to see any of my Brothers or Sisters bears but the shadow of a hope, hanging on the brittle thread of the frailty of earthly existence. I may see some of them, but I must never see them all. Writing is to me a burden why it should be so I can give no better explanation. It is certainly not through feelings of disaffection toward either the living or the dead. Your Uncle was a Gentleman in every sense of the word – He was more than that to me; and your Aunt, I doubt not merits her share of the encomium. We hope you will do your best to render the remainder of her days as comfortable as old age, and other circumstances will permit if she is still alive.
We would like to know whether your Aunt Jane W is still alive. We have not yet heard of her death. If she is living give our kind love to her and to your Uncle Thomas and their children; as well as to all your Uncles and Aunts and cousins in the dales, as if named. Your Mother is very much ?pared in appearance since last year. Your Brothers and Sisters I’m happy to say are enjoying tolerable health with the exception of Thomas whose health is not so good as one could wish. Probably he is labouring under a liver complaint. He is however, at work still, and living in the house which we built last summer at one end of the farm while we live in the old house at the other end. The war is now ended as you will long since have known but times for farmers are very bad. The last summer we raised no wheat in consequence of the wheat crop having failed these or 3 seasons previously to the last one. Wheat, however was pretty good last summer, and the price tolerable, being from 70 to 90 cents per bushel of 60lb. Oats are selling at 12 ½ cts and white peas no sale. What we sold last year went at 2 dollars such is the uncertainty of farming in Wisconsin. Fat Hogs are well sold and fat cattle are rather higher in price than last year. Times for farmers are decidedly worse than we ever knew them. Farm laborers wages higher, and farm produce low. Harvesters last season got 2 dollrs a day besides board – which takes 16 bushels of oats at the present prices to pay for one day’s work to say nothing about the cost of victuals. And shop goods being very expensive you cannot recon lefs than 20 bushels of oats a day for a binder. Tea is from 1 ½ dollrs to 2 ½ dollrs a lb Coffee 2 to 2 ½ ob pr dollar and sugar 5lb pr doll. Shirting cotton takes 7 to 8 Bushels oats for one yard and little worth when you get it. Wollen  however are something lower than last year; we can now get tolerable good common white yarn for 1 ½ doll pr ob. If we could sell out our property here I would like very much to come over to settle our affairs in England. It is likely however, we shall have to see out badly although our place is accounted by many the best in Iowa County, and by others the best in the state for the size of it. One evil of selling now, is this_ we can get nothing her but Paper Money. And to get it exchanged for Gold will reduce it about one third. I would like, however to sell out ‘tho’ at a heavy sacrifice as I am now getting old and I do not want to die so heavily in debt. Pofsibly it might be best to trade with some Canadian for a small place in Canada if we could get as much to boot as would pay our debts. In that case I might come over to see you and to settle our affairs in a comfortable way.