1839: John Hoopes to Levis James

This letter was written by 26 year-old John Hoopes (1813-1892), the son of Caleb Hoopes (1783-Aft1839) and Lydia Ottey (1785-1838) of Chester County, Pennsylvania. John’s mother, Lydia, was the sister of Ann Ottey (1783-1857) who married Joseph Coggins (1788-Aft1839). Ann and Joseph are mentioned in this letter, confirming the family relationship.

John married Abigail Ann Milhouse (1820-18xx) in October 1840.  In later years, John served as the Clerk of the Common Pleas (1864 to 1867) in Muskingum County.

The letter is addressed to Levis James of West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. He appears in the 1830 and 1840 U.S. Census records in that location.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Levis James, Westtown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania

Fall Township, Muskingham County, Ohio
June 22nd 1839

Esteemed Friend,

I would have written to you before this time had it not been that I have deferred it still hoping to get some tidings of Francis Counsellor of whom I know you would be pleased to hear. I have not saw nor heard tell of him since I came into the state. I have not yet been in Pickaway County, but it is probable he is there. I have written to Wellington & others requesting them to inform me whether he has again returned to Pennsylvania and as soon as I receive intelligence I shall endeavor to find him out if he is yet in these parts. Unpon the receipt of this, I wish you to write, and if he has returned, inform me thereof.

Father and I have both been blessed with good health since we left home & had a pleasant passage and good accommodations. I will give you a detail of our route. We left Philadelphia on the morning of the 1st of May in the Steamboat New Philadelphia for New York. From thence to Albany, Schenectady, Utica, Auburn, Canandagua, Rochester, Loclport, & from thence to Niagara Falls, which we viewed under rather unfavorable circumstances owing to the inclemency of the weather. From Lockport we went to Buffalo, Cleveland, and down the [Ohio & Erie] Canal from thence to Massillon. From Massillon we went to Joseph Ingram’s, formerly of Chester County and brother to Alban Ingram, who now resides in Delaware County.

We arrived at Ingram’s on the evening of the 9th of May where we staid till the morning of the 11th when we proceeded on foot to Petersburg, but stopt by the way to see John Millhiser ¹ who was brought up with William Bishop of Edgemont, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. From Petersburg we took stage to Beaver in Pennsylvania where we staid over night and next morning took passage in a steamboat and went down the Ohio River to Steubenville. From Steubenville we proceeded on foot to within 7 miles of Trenton, passing through Jefferson, Harrison, & Tuscarawas Counties, where we hired a dearborn [wagon] to take us to Trenton. Here we took passage on the Canal to Roscoe in Coshocton County where we arrived on the morning of the 20th of May.

Visited to the town of Coshocton which is the county seat of Coshocton County and went about 10 miles on foot to Elisha Swigart’s, formerly of Chester and who married a woman by the name of Sarah Lewis who formerly lived in Delaware County and was well acquainted with many people in your neighborhood, among whom were the Cheyney’s, Hickman’s, James’s, Meyers’ & others. She said she had formerly been well acquainted with thy mother, Rufus Cheyney’s parents, and the elderly people generally throughout that neighborhood to who she wished to be remembered.

From Squire Swigart’s (at whose house we staid all night) we proceeded on foot to Joseph Coggins’ (who married a sister to my mother) in Knox County where we arrived about 9 o’clock on the morning of the 21st. here we staid 7 days. While there we visited Liberty, Bladensburg, & Mount Vernon. The last mentioned place is the county seat of Knox County. Left Squire Coggins’ on the morning of the 28th for Zanesville where we arrived in good health about 12 o’clock on the 29th instant, having travelled upwards of 1200 miles. So much for our route.

I am now engaged in teaching a school about four miles above Zanesville and board with James Cummins — a brother to George — who keeps the Rose Tree Tavern ² in Providence, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The school is yet small there, not having been over 21 scholars but after a few weeks. I think it will be likely to average about 30, and I get $2.50 per quarter of 65 days & pay $1.50 per week for boarding. I am well satisfied and think I can do equally as well here as in Chester County. Father left here on the 5th of June for Iowa. I received a letter from him last week dated June 8th in which he stated that he was in good health and had a pleasant voyage. He had then taken his passage to St. Louis where he expected to arrive in 4 or 5 days and would proceed from thence to Iowa.

The market here is good. Wheat is from 90 cts. to $1.12½. Corn from 70 cts. & oats from 50 to 62½ cts. per bushel & potatoes are worth about 50 cts per bushel. Beef sells at from 6 to 12½ cts. per lb & butter 15 to 20 cts. Butter brought as high as 37 cts. per lb. last spring which was considered very high. The farmers here say that produce (here) is worth as much at 50 percent as it is in Philadelphia at 100 100 because there is not more than half the capital invested. Wages are high and hands scarce. Common day laborers get from 62½ to 75 cts. per day and it is said that harvest wages will be at least $1.00 & perhaps $1.25 per day. The crops of grain generally look very promising.

I have not been at Caleb James’ yet but intend going there before long as it is only about 10 miles from where I board to his house. Father was there and found them all well.

I am well satisfied with the journey we have taken and think it probable I shall remain here some time — at least long enough to become somewhat acquainted with the manners and customs of people though I still feel an attachment to Chester County and to the people who live there and can never forget the friendly manner with which I was always received when I approached the house of those with whom I had the pleasure of acquaintance. And in fact, that acquaintance was in certain cases extended even unto affection.

The Old General -- William Henry Harrison

The Old General — William Henry Harrison

There is not much said here about politics as yet. Thee may tell Joseph that I have not seen the old General ³ yet but it is generally thought here that he will be elected as President of U. States and thus little Martin may go home to New York and rest himself after his four years tour expires.

Land is worth from 40 to 60 dollars per acre in this neighborhood but about 18 miles below Zanesville it can be bought for from 20 to 30 dollars of a superior quality to this. The people here are as full of going to “West” as they are in Pennsylvania and almost every week there are some persons removing to Iowa and Wisconsin Territory, which places will no doubt ‘ere long be as thickly populated as the MIddle States now are.

I wrote to Wellington some time ago and have yet received no answer. It is probable he did not know where to direct his letter. Tell him to write a long letter in small print and give me an account of how matters and things go on in Willistown since I left there. Direct his letter to John Hoopes, Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio — Zanesville Post Office.

Give my best to respects to Caleb James & the Doctor and tell them to persevere in their courting excursions and they will be sure to get wives when they are married. Tell the Doctor there are more squirrels out here than he and Marshall Hoopes could skin and stuff in 7 years and they will hold still to be shot without being tied too. I have now given some of the “laconics” but if I had time and space I could enter into a prologue that would take a week to peruse. Write the world in a nutshell and direct as above. If I should get tidings of Francis Counseller, I will write again. So no more at present.

Please to tender my best respects to Wellington’s family and all enquiring friends and accept my best wishes for the health & happiness of thee and thine. I am &c. — John Hoopes

P. S. Please to inform Aunt Sarah Hoopes that Father was at Aaron Hall’s and found them well. N. B. Excuse mistakes & write soon.

I would like to know how the decision was given on the question, “Whether the love of liberty or women have the greater influence” and who were the Affirmative and Negative Speakers.

¹ John Millhiser, farmer, S. 30; P. O. Marshalltown, Iowa; born in Wurtemberg, Germany, Jan. 3, 1808; when about 9 years of age, his parents took passage at Amsterdam for America, but the winds being contrary, they were driven high up in the North Sea, all the masts carried away, and they were at the mercy of the waves; they finally got into the port of Bergen, Norway, where they wintered, and the next Summer, after harvest, chartered a vessel to go to Philadelphia, on condition that the passengers be sold for the passage. His parents and sister were accordingly sold to serve four years each, and he to serve until he was 21 years old; he was in charge of a Quaker, and worked on a farm. When the time was up, he went to Ohio , where his parents had previously moved, but having forgotten his native tongue, was unable to converse with them, and had to again learn the German language. The next Spring, he returned to Pennsylvania , and during the five years following, made three trips to Ohio , and returned, but finally located in Ohio . Was married Feb. 6, 1840 , to Margaret Raub, who was born in Ohio ; they have five children living – Wm. B., Henry R., Christian C., Malinda H. and John L. Mr. M. and wife are members of the Evangelical Association. In 1856, they moved to Mercer Co., Penn. , and remained until 1870, when they came to this county. The children are all well located near him. Owns 210 acres of land, valued at $6,300.

The Rose Tree Tavern before restoration

The Rose Tree Tavern before restoration

² The Old Rose Tree Tavern is a historic inn and tavern located in Rose Tree Park just north of the borough of Media, in Upper Providence Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. It is a large 2½-story, fieldstone building, built in 1809, on the site of a frame structure that had been built in 1739. A stone addition was built in 1836. During 2011 the building was renovated and now houses the Brandywine Conference & Visitors Bureau.

³ This is a reference to General William Henry Harrison who was already being touted as the favorite nominee by the Whigs for the U. S. Presidency and would later defeat Martin Van Buren in the 1840 election.


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