Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We have all had the same fever

Henry Ewing Calhoun, 1811 - 1900
[I have copies of some old letters written by our ancestors that I wanted to share, so I think I’ll post some of them periodically as I get them transcribed. Henry Ewing Calhoun and Louisa Blanchard Calhoun are Emmett Fast’s grandparents on his mother’s side of the family. The letters are difficult to read, no punctuation, words spelled differently, old-fashion script, so I may not have everything right, but as best as I could, I've typed what I thought they were saying.] 

Letter written by Henry Ewing Calhoun to his in-laws, William Patrick Blanchard and Mary Barham Blanchard. At the time this letter was written he was 28 years old.

State of Illinois
Lawrence County
February 10, 1839

Dear Father & Mother & Family,

I take my pen in hand to inform you of our hard fortune. On the 27th day of November I was going to Palestine for more land and I started in the woods to look at one of the places and was gone til evening. I came home and asked Louisa for my pocket book and she said that I had put it in my pocket when I started away. We hunted for 3 weeks and give it out for lost.

I had sold my land where you lived when you were here and moved across the prairie. On the 2nd day of February, we was planning to start to meeting out to Basdens and in the shirt under my weskit Louisa found my book and money. There was 80 dollars in it.

Ezra came to me and said he was not well on Sunday evening. [Ezra Blanchard, the oldest child, was born in 1935] We come home. He was some better. Huldah appeared to be in good health. On Monday morning she was taken with the scarlet fever and on Tuesday evening she was a corpse. [Huldah was born in 1837, so she was only two years old when she died.] This is a hard word for me to say. We have all had the same fever but not so severe. Ezra is not well yet. He is able to be up a part of the time.

I am grieved to think that you all didn’t get to see Huldah before she departed this life. And if you had of got my letter that I sent last summer, we should have been there last fall. I took it for granted that there was no chance for me to buy land there for me, and I bought land here. I have 2 thousand rails up on my prairie and have six thousand more engaged with 4 thousand of them paid for. I have a set of logs hewed 22 feet and have them on the prairie. I am hauling off rails every day. I have lots of land and timber too and money plenty.

Times is tolerable good here. Everything bore a good price. Corn is 37 cents per bushel, wheat is 75 cents per bushel, oats 20 cents a dozen, hay is 15 dollars a ton, pork is 4 ½ per hundred, salt 150 per bushel. I don't know when we will be there as we are fixed March the 5th day. We have waited to see whether Ezra was going to get better or not. He is now on the mend. There was 8 days tho he never walked a step. For 3 weeks it appeared to be only hopes that he will get well again. He has not been out of the house for days.

I want you to send me a letter and send me word whether there would be any chance for me to get a half quarter of timber land there or not. I don’t know but what I might come there after you kill all the rattlesnakes and mosquitoes. If you will sell and move to the southwest, I will too. I have $200 now by me. I have a good wagon and 2 yoke of oxen and 2 work horses the same two that shod when John was here and a two-year-old colt. I shall not buy any more land until I get a letter from you and hear your mind on the matter if there is any chance for me there to make a living for my family. There is but 3 of us now on the land of the living.

If we was in a few miles of each other, Louisa and us, all would see more pleasure. But I am sure that I am clear for I am sure that I should not have taken her away from you. Louisa wants us to go there to see your county. But if we stay here, I have not time. There is a great many newcomers here and I want to be getting along and not be out of sight behind. And if I go away this summer to see your county, I shall not get in sight again.

These lines to John L B. [Louisa’s brother]: Your girl is not married yet, this you will be glad to hear. We think before many months roll round you will again in old Lawrence appear though you are many miles apart. Your affections being warm that when you mount your splendid gray, you will come if you break him down. This maid is fair, neat, handsome, beautiful, lovely, enticing and mildness of temper. You may hunt over all creation and I defy you to find one to outshine old Lawrence. Nothing more at present, but remain your affectionate friend until death. H E C

This following is a letter written by Louisa Blanchard Calhoun to her parents in which she is mourning the death of her little daughter, Huldah, and missing her parents support and comfort. Her parents live in Peoria County, Illinois, over 200 miles west of Lawrence County. But they had lived in Lawrence County and had moved about four years prior, so they know many of the neighbors that Louisa mentions.

State of Illinois
Lawrence County
March 10, 1839

Dear father and mother, brothers and sisters,

It is with pleasure I take my pen in hand to inform a little of my mind and of the times. It has been very sickly this winter. The scarlet fever is raging. There has a great many children died with it. There has no grown people died with it as I have heard.

On the 29th November I was taken sick. I got gout again. I have since then taken the scarlet fever. I had it lightly, but that all was nothing to compare with my little girl. On Monday morning before day, she took a fever and broke out all over and took a sniveling in her throat. We worked with her and done all that we could but it done her no good. Tuesday evening about sunset her little soul and body parted. It appeared most impossible for me to give her up although now she is gone to rest and ere long I may follow her and one thing comforts my mind, I feel prepared for death. I am going to put a lock of her hair in this letter for you to look at.

I think if you had stayed here, I would have seen more satisfaction with you all. I don’t suppose that you would have been satisfied here. If I could live by you, we could see each other and it would be a great comfort to me. Sometimes I think I never will see all your faces again.

Willis Blanchard [Louisa’s uncle] family is well. Henry and Martha stayed here last night. Samuel Sumner and Jane was here too. She has a little girl about three months old. Think there has been a great many weddings about. Betsy Turner married Ingrim. Jane Canterman married Thom and the widow Snider married John Meur. I want you girls to be cautious how you make your steps and honor your parents. Listen to their advice. I have wished for some of you to be here with me many a time this winter. It grieves me to think that I did not get to come and see you all last fall. Sometimes I think if I had come out there, I might had Huldah with me a while longer, but life is uncertain but death and judgment is certain. I know she never could of went in a better time. It seemed hard to part with her for lifetime tho it may be short. I have but one little son and I fear that the complaint will settle on his lungs and take him off before it leaves him. I want you to keep this letter. It is my own handwriting. You may look at it when I am under the clods. I want you to prepare to meet me after death for I intend to die in the service of my maker. I am your most affectionate daughter, so farewell. Louisa Calhoun

[Louisa was 24 years old when she wrote this letter. She went on to live 40 more years and gave birth to 7 more children, one being Harriet (Hattie) Calhoun who was Emmett’s mother.]

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