I bought this 1862 letter mainly because of the patriotic letterhead, which depicts Elmer E. Ellsworth, an early casualty of the Civil War, shot while he was exiting the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria after removing a Confederate flag from its roof. As the transcript shows, however, it’s a nice reminder of how ordinary life in America went on even while the war continued to rage.
Dated from the hamlet of Milwood in Kosciusko County, Indiana, the letter is written by a new bride, “Frank” Jones, with a postscript from her husband, J.R. Jones. There was a John R. Jones in the 1860 census in the area who listed himself as a schoolteacher, and who lived with a man named William, so he might be the new husband here. I haven’t been able to trace the couple beyond that, though.
Here is a transcript (original spelling retained):
Milwood, Ind. Jan. 24, 1862
My ever Dear Mother
Knowing that you will be anxious to hear from us, I shall improve the present moments in perusing a few lines to you again, to relieve your loving Motherly heart of any little anxiety which may disturb it on our account. We arrived at Bro. Hershberger’s on the 21st almost at our [apparently superfluous word] destination, and was cordially received had the turkey roste that they had promised John on the evening of our arrival. Have made several calls with our neighbors have enjoyed the time as well I suppose as I well can, and this day Jones took me sleighing on the great west to see my new house, and home. He has prepared a right good house and I think I can enjoy myself there with him, and think in a few years if fortune favors us we will have a pretty home, it will require a good deal of work until it is cleared up yet. Mother I did think it would have been pleasant if you and my other dear friends could have stepped into my house with me this day and hope that you will before a very great while. I do not know when we will get moved to ourselves but hope we can next week. Our goods had not arrived at Warsaw when we arrived there. Mr. Jones intends going up tomorrow to see after them, and to get a stove which I suppose they have got along by this time. We have very good sleighing here. I have had quite a number of slay-rides since we landed had been to church last evening. They got up a sled load of us and away we went. His Bro. Wm. preached. I don’t see much difference in there church to ours and people seem very sociable. I also enjoyed myself very pleasantly at Sister Susans they have now a very nice opening and a beautiful place to live, and appear to be getting along well. O Mother I did wish you could have been with us. I now you could not have helped but enjoyed yourself. They took us around slaying to see the neighborhood I liked the neighborhood very much. Mother I must now close hoping you are enjoying life pleasantly and have a good girl with you. I now close by saying I am well, and shall now introduce my husband. — My love to all the good people and let us hear from you often. Yours with a daughters love.
Mother [Stump?] as Frank has written about all perhaps that would be interesting to you at present therefore I shall only add a line. We are pretty near the same here now as when I left. Hope this will find you enjoying life comfortably and in good health. Frank is very cheerful and enjoys good health no more at present yours truly J. R. Jones.
We shall write again as soon as we get moved and fairly set up.