This letter was written in two parts to Job A. Symes (1812-1840), the son of James Symes (1777-1853) and Martha (Thompson) Symes (1792-1875) of Milan, Holmes County, Ohio. The first part of the letter was written by 15 year-old Frances M. Symes (1819-1888) who later (1841) married Erasmus Gillett Tucker (1810-1855). The second part of the letter was written by Job’s mother, Martha, who asks Job repeatedly to fulfill his promise of visiting home.
From the content of the letter we can surmise that Job was in the newspaper business. His cryptic obituary notice, appearing in the Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY) of 10 July 1840, confirms it. It reads:
At Detroit, July 2, Job A. Symes, Printer, aged 28.
Addressed to Mr. Job Symes, Rochester, New York State
June 10, 1834
I now write you a few hasty lines. You wrote in your last letter that you should be home in about a month and last winter you wrote that you should be home in two months if you had the means, and Father sent you the means but we have not seen nothing of you. I am afraid this month will not bring you no nearer home than the other two did. We have about give up ever seeing you.
Father has bought a farm in Portland upwards of 40 acres. I and Sarah goes to Milan to school this summer and board to home. Father has got 25 head of stock and upwards of 75 sheep. Sarah says that she knows you are a courting some wench and that is the reason you don’t come home. She eats up all the seals off from your letters because she says that she knows that you have had them in your mouth and she thinks that they must be good. Theodore and James and all of us is well.
Yours truly, — F. M. Symes
I have but little to write as you say, but if I am ever so happy as to see you again, I shall have a plenty to say for I want to see you more than words or pen can express. Your father and all the children are constantly talking about your coming home for they all want to see you. Now you have set one time more and I hope you will not disappoint us. If you do, I shall give up all hopes of ever seeing you again. Now Job, if God spares your life, do not fail of coming by the 1st of July by no means.
I wrote you a letter in answer to one you wrote after you had the small pox bearing date the 16 April. I sent it to Brockport and sent you five dollars in cash to help you home in the letter. You didn’t write whether you received it or not in your last letter which makes me think you have not. I expect it is there to Brockport now. You best send and get it as soon as possible.
I expect you can have a berth in a store in Milan at decent wages. There is a paper printed in Milan at this time by Mr. Swan. ¹ He told me last week he should be very much pleased to see you and should like to have you for a partner if you and he could agree. He told me he saw you in Portland when you worked there and was much pleased with you and thought you to be a first rate workman.
Mr. Johnson that you sent your letter by died on his passage up the Lake. We didn’t get your letter until some time after he was buried. It was a great disappointment to us when we received it for we was looking for you home hourly.
Now Job, for your life, do not disappoint me nor cause me to shed any more tears until I see you. We are all well and send our best love to you and I constantly pray that God will never leave nor forsake you, my dear child. Now do not fail of coming at the time you have set. I should not have troubled you with a letter so soon if it had not have been on account of the money I sent you in the last letter. I was afraid you would not get it.
This from your ever affectionate mother, — Martha Symes
¹ The first issue of The Western Intelligencer was published in Milan, Ohio, in April 1834 by M. H. Tilden, editor, and George M. Swan, printer. It was a weekly publication. George M. Swan (1813-1868) came to Richland County, Ohio, with his parents in 1825 from Norwalk, Connecticut. He learned the printer’s trade in Columbus and was connected with a paper in Norwalk for some time. He later relocated to Linn Township, Warren County, Iowa, where he built a hotel and established a post office. His parents were Adam Swan and Angelina Betts.