“Florinda H. Watkins, Stephen D. Watkins & R. P. Hirst to Dear Friends
Platte Timber, March 15/47.
Your letter of the 16th ult. did not get here until the 13th inst. on account of your being about to leave Hubbard. We thought best to write forthwith so that you might possibly get it before leaving. It is Monday and I have just got through, washing and am plaguey tired so that I can neither think nor write. My school was out some time ago and Stephen commenced last Monday for another month which will take to about the first of April However he could do nothing else for the snow is deep yet especially in the woods, and It Is snowing a very little now. You will be much pleased to know that Miss Melisendra Kerrey, formerly of’ Brookfield, Ohio, has been a scholar of’ Stephen’s this winter.
The said 80 was entered by Aquilla Matthews an old fellow formerly from Butler Co. Pa. but from Indiana here. He possesses more Cents than Sense. There are some three or four pieces of land round here that Stephen and Rolla like very well, but whether we will pitch upon either or not Is more than I know but I expect we will decide soon. There are 3 80s about 3/4 of a mile from here owned by Lord Murray in England which they like very well, a good soil, well timbered, and some of it lying on the road leading from Platteville to Lancaster, the County seat, but It Is not very well watered. McKenzie, the agent, will not sell one 80 alone for less than 3 1/2 dollars per acre but If he can dispose of it all at one time(whether to one man or twenty) He will sell for three dollars per acre. It is but a short distance from the school house In which I taught this winter.
Mother and Jane must lay In a good stock of patience before they start (I mean Jane if she comes here at all) enough to last them all the way out and about two weeks after they get here for they will have need for all that can be laid up. My stock was exhausted long before we reached this place. People on board of some of the boats we came on cooked victuals just as much as if they had been on land. The stoves in the deck room of two of them (particularly the last) were part cook stoves. Some fried meat, boiled potatoes, made coffee &c. and on the Osprey some of the Mormon women baked bread but of the palatability (that word is newly coined)of it I am not able to say. It would be well for you to lay in a supply of eggs at all events as you can boil them In a tin cup or basin. If you had a frying pan you could fry meat as at home. As there are a good many of you I thought perhaps that you might not want to live on bread and tea if you could do better. If you want any melasses to use after you get here you had better get them In St. Louis if you can for they are much cheaper and better. Coffee here 12 1/2 cts. per pound, sugar the same, tea 1.00, Saleratus 10 and melasses 60 cts per gallon and sometime half water at that. Cotton and woolen goods are not very much dearer than Ohio. Good flannel can be got for fifty cts. per yard and good blue calico for 18 1/4, Hickory shirting, for 15 cts, common unbleached muslin to 12 1/2. I thought it best to tell you the price of these things so that if you thought, best you could get them before leaving Ohio. I have a few requests to make of Jane and one is that you tell the Hubbard Brethren that Brother Perky was to settle that dollar with Dr. Brockett which I signed for him last winter. I ought to have mentioned it in a previous letter but I forgot it. Another request is that you get if you can a set of tea cups and saucers like the dishes we got last spring at C.C. Winchell’s. If you cannot get a whole set get 2 cups and 2 saucers if possible and we will pay you all that they cost and for the trouble. I broke 2 last fall and you may know that if tears would have cemented them together they would now be whole. Get a set if possible. My last request is foolish but I will make it, and that is that you get a piece of all the dresses that the girls round there have got since I left and bring out here for me. I have done a good deal of sewing and one thing and another since we came here beside housework and. have all pieced up about all my little bits of calico and now am about out of anything to do. I have read the “Biography of Self–Taught Men, Smith’s Grammar through once, the “Life of Alexander the Great” besides several books of the Old Testament, and now have on hand “The Cause and Cure of Infidelity.”
You had better save a quarter of your money so that if you stop long enough in Cincinnati (as you most probably will). You can visit the Museum if Father will go with you. I know you will not be sorry for spending 25 cents in this way. We went to it when In Cincinnati and not yet repented. I wish Cyndrella and Larodus could go. They would find something to engage their bump of’ Marvelousness I think. This would also be your place to purchase books if you want any more. I suppose if it takes this letter as long to reach you as It did yours to reach us, and you leave on the 20th of May, that this will be our farewell epistles. But there are a great many things to be said and I am taking up too much room so I must stop, though I did intend to tell you a small part of the beauties of Steamboat traveling, but I leave you to make the discovery yourself’, so Good bye,
F. H. Watkins.
It seems as though I had forgotten something that I wanted to tell you but I don’t know what it is. Oh, yes. Stephen got me a blue calico dress a while ago. I will send you a bit of it, It was 18 1/4 cts. per yard, Merrimack goods and tolerably wide. My old light calico dress got completely mildewed on the route out here as well as some other things. You must all remember that Orphalia is to live with me
F. H. Watkins
Our “bachelor ” has just told me that people coming here had better lay in a supply of all Groceries while at St. Louis. F.
It is rumored here that C. M. Clay is a prisoner in Mexico but probably you have heard of It long ago. F.
I have taken my pen for the purpose on answering some of your interrogatories, whether correctly or not time will determine. And first In regard to our whereabouts. We live six and one half’ miles North West from Platteville on the Lancaster road, or rather half a mile from the road. When you, get far enough from town you may enquire for Barr’s (where we live) or Waldorf one mile nearer town where you can get ample directions. The above directions are suitable you land at Galena. If you land at Potosi enquire for “Whig Diggings” on the Platteville road and also for Chauncey Jones, Sen. who lives there and can give you suitable directions.
With respect to the landing I hardly know what to say. Galena Is 30 Miles, Potosi 14 distant. Your passage on the River will be the same at either place. We had some 1200 or 1500 freight and it cost us 3 dollars to Platteville,– ie passengers and all. In Galena you can find plenty of Lead teams from Platteville and vicinity and if freight is scarce will haul you out very cheap. Ox teams brought freight for a bit per hundred last year. But if you have to hire Galena teams you had better go on to Potosi alias Snake Hollow; and bring your live stock only. If you land there. your boat will stop long enough for you to look around In Galena. Cows and Oxen are usually very cheap about June, it being the time that droves generally get here from Sucker.
Paper money of any description is not current here although merchants take it for goods. Drafts on Eastern Cities can be readily exchanged for gold and silver and are sought for by merchants. Sovereigns pass here at $4.90, $4.84 being all they are worth in other places. Wheat is .50 cts. per bushel, Flour $4.60 per barrel, Buckwheat flour $2.00 per hundred, Corn 25 cts.
We have had good sleighing since Jan. 1st and cold weather. March 6th. we had a rain that settled the snow, the roads are getting bare in spots. The snow is some 18 Inches deep now.
We are enjoying good health at present. It is not certain but we may remove a short distance from here.
I remain Yours &c.
S. D. Watkins
All our folks.
I have nothing of importance to write but I ‘pose I’ll have to say something. About getting a house I will try and I think I can procure one. And about cows, they will be dearer in the spring until droves from Sucker arrive here, then they will be cheap. The snow has been so deep I have been inactive for a good while except once in a while when fellows would want me to help them steal hogs. They say I learned the trade fast.
I have gained several victories in spelling, and have been to several where Miss Melisendra Kerrey was present. I want you to inquire of Charles Fowler whether he has received any letters from, me as I have written two to him and have received no answer.
I want you to bring Tyler out here by all means as I long to see him. Tell Jane to give my respects to all the gals about there, some excepting. And you Dad give my respects to all Uncle Johnny t s Fowlers folks Henry and Charles particular.
R. P. Hirst.”