1834: Horatio Gates Howlett to George Burt Cornish

Horatio Gates Howlett (1870)

Horatio Gates Howlett (1880)

The letter was written by Horatio Gates Howlett (1809-1888), the son of Parley Howlett (1784-1861) and Maria Canfield (1807-1865). “Gates” married Amanda M. Canfield in August 1830. We learn from this letter that the couple lived for a time in Niles, Michigan Territory. They must have returned to New York State, however, as a biography for their son, James Canfield Howlett, claims he was born in Onondaga County in 1837 and came with his parents to Illinois when he was six months old. They lived in Dixon for a time and in 1839 came to Allens Grove, Mason County, Illinois.

Howlett wrote the letter to his friend, 24 year-old George Burt Cornish (1810-1867) of Howlett Hill, Onondaga County, New York. George was married to Susan A. Kenyon (1820-1895) in 1842.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to George B. Cornish, Esqr., Howlett Hill, Onondaga County, New York

Niles [Michigan Territory]
August 5, 1834

Friend George,

I think it is about time you heard from us. Well, I will go in to the merits of the cause. After you left me, I went on my journey with tolerable speed — nothing occurring that was of any great importance — only now and then a controversy with a young Minister that was aboard of the boat. He seemed to to think that my soul would be damned. But as you will probably suppose, this did not frighten me any great.

I arrived at Buffalo in the evening and started the next morning for Detroit and in thirty-six hours from that time I was in Detroit, The next morning for Chicago, we got as far as this place, was obliged to stop for two weeks on the account of ill health of my wife. Went to Chicago, had the ague all the time I was there which was one week. Did not like the place [and] returned to this [place] via the lake. Got sea-sick as Hell. Could not stand on deck. The storm was so great, the Capt. had ever experienced, but arrived on terra firma once more. Liked land much the best. Concluded travel by land for the balance. Now I believe I have carried you through to Chicago and back to Niles where I will stop for awhile.

The land! The land! is of the first quality. Crops are good. Stacks of wheat stand of the last year’s harvest are thrashed but this will not be the case after they get these flour mills in operation. There is now one large mill of 4 — some of them a building only one mile from this place, and a politician a going to the Legislature of this Territory this fall for a grant to build a dam across the St. Joseph River at this place. If he should get a grant this fall, there would be a large mill erected next season. Then there would be nothing to hinder this being a great place and lands about at great value. And there is larger tracts still unentered. So you will see, there is still a great chance for speculation but come and see for yourself.

Should anyone ask after me, tell them I am well, and family well. Write on the receipt of this. Tell all the news.

And much oblige you, humble sir, — H. Gates Howlett

P. S. Is all of the fruit of that country dead by frost or not? My respects to all.


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