1841: Lois Gifford (Huntington) Conant to Jeshurun Leach

This letter was written by Lois Gifford (Huntington) Conant (1801-1843), the daughter of Theophilus Huntington (1753-1830) and Phebe Hall (1766-1823). She was the widow of Ebenezer (“Eben”) Conant (1797-1833). Ebenezer was the son of John Gardner Conant (1768-1830) and Rachel Giles (1771-1820). A history of Genesse County, Michigan says that “Mrs. Conant, the widowed sister-in-law of Jeshurun Leach, [was hired] to teach [the local school children in 1836], paying her ten shillings a week for her services. The school was held in her own house — a small log shanty — and she proved an excellent teacher. This was the first school taught in the township…”

She wrote the letter to her sister, Theoda (Huntington) Leach (1799-1872), the wife of Jeshurun Leach (1796-1841). Theoda and Jershurun were natives of Vermont who first settled in Oakland County, Michigan; then Erie County, New York; then Strongsville, Cuyahoga County, Ohio; then Mundy, Genesee County, Michigan (in 1835); and finally in Margaretta, Erie County, Ohio. The Leach’s had several children: Morgan Lewis Leach (1821-1910); DeWitt Clinton Leach (1822-1909); Theoda Huntington Leach (1828-1915); Lois Huntington Leach (1828-1915); Adoniram Judson Leach (1834-1916); William Henry Harrison Leach (1837-1876); Wesley Huntington Leach (1839-1904); Ellen Ermina Leach (1841-1842).

Adding to the letter were Lois’s children:  Lois Giles Conant (1823-1909); Avery G. Conant (1826-1901); and Wesley G. Conant (b. 1830).

Michigan State University houses a large collection of letters (“The Leach Family Papers”) from this family that span the years from 1810 to 1862.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Jeshurun Leach, Margaretta, Erie County, Ohio

Grand Blanc, Michigan
March 3rd 1841

Dear Sister,

I now sit doen to answer your very welcome letter of January 10, which we received I believe about the middle of February and be assured we were very glad to hear from you once more and to hear that you all enjoyed so good health and that Clinton was gaining. We have all enjoyed very good health the winter past. I have had the ague a little lately but feel pretty well today. There are quite a number in this vicinity that has the ague now. We have had a letter from Daniel. He said that his father in his sickness said that universal doctrine would not do to die by. Mr. Pritcher’s two daughter and one of their husbands have experienced religion since their father’s death. Daniel and Andrew talk of coming out here in the fall. Andrew wrote that Mary Jane sent me some things by John’s wife but I have heard nothing and I cannot find out where she is.

Lois has written hers first and written almost all the news. The Universalist’s are carrying a great sway. They have broken off one prayer meeting lately. There is a Methodist and Universalist to have a debate in the north part of the town, I believe, next week. There are some about here that are professors of religion that are falling in with them.

We have had a long and cold winter. the snow fell about 7 of November and the ground has not been entirely bare since, and we have had pretty good sleighing excepting about a week. The weather is warm and pleasant now but there is a great deal of snow  in the woods yet. The road begins to be a little bare. We have got along very well through the winter. The neighbors are very kind. About 28 of them turned out and got wood for us one afternoon. I expect Asa P. and Joshua M. will bring me a load of hay this afternoon as I am not like to have any of my own. The winter has been so long it comes free.

If I should undertake to tell how much we all want to see you, I could not, so it will be of no use to try. I do have a little hope of seeing Morgan and Clinton sometime or another but the rest I do not know as I love so far. I suppose that if you move from where you now are, you will not think of returning to Michigan. I was glad to hear you say that you have a steady regard for religion. May we ever prove faithful, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

Morgan, according to the information in your few lines to Lois, I shall yet look for a letter from you. I was very glad to hear that you was in so good business this winter. Clinton, you always put in a word too when there is a chance. Lois, I am glad to see that you have made so good improvement. I think of the two lines you will soon make the best writer. Ask Judson if he remembers of ever seeing me. Tell him when he gets big enough to write. He must write a little to aunt Lois too. Little Henry and Wesley, how I should like to see them.

I like to have forgotten to tell Mr. Leach about Mr. Martin. He lives in William Baldwin’s house and works his farm. I saw him a few days ago. He said I must tell Mr. Leach that he is not a man of his word for he promised to write to him and has not.

Do not neglect writing so long again. I must leave writing and subscribing self your ever affectionate sister, — L. G. H. Pritch__

Clinton, it was not convenient for me to write as soon as you requested I should for this is the first opportunity I have had.

Dear Cousin Clinton,

I have been to school the most of time this winter. I studied arithmetic. I think that I shall have to go to making sugar before long. I should like to have you come and eat some warm sugar with me. — Avery G. Conant

Dear Cousin,

I want to write a little but Mother and Lois wrote all the news. Our school left off yesterday. I should like to see you all. Ask Judson if he remembers Cousin Wesley. How big he is and how   he looks like. The boys have made sucj bungling work, I am quite ashamed.

War, war, keeps sounding in our ears. Many of the inhabitants here greatly fear that there will be mischief done by the Indians in this country if war should be declared but here we are and here we shall have to stay for we cannot get away if we want. — [Wesley]

My Dear Cousin,

It is with much pleasure that I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you, I am out od all manner of patience with myself for having begun my letter so old fashion but I cannot help it now. I am not a going to make any excuses about it. I went to school at the Lake this winter and did not go only about 4 weeks as it was late when I commenced going and the school closed sooner than I expected. They had a woman teacher. She was an excellent scholar and kept a very good school. I should be as much pleased to visit your school as you would be to have me. I wish you would come out here and keep school next winter so I could have the opportunity. I expect to teach school this summer where I did last.

We received a letter from Daniel at the same time we received yours. He broke his leg last fall and has not been to school a day this winter.

The Baptist held a protracted meeting in this neighborhood. It commenced the latter part of December and continued thirteen days. There were 5 conversions and a number of backsliders reclaimed. Among the new conversions were Jane’s 2 brothers and Nelson Meaker. Among the backsliders that were reclaimed were William Pierce ¹ and William Lovejoy, our school teacher. You will recollect what I said about the latter in my last. And now as he has professed religion and joined our class, I suppose we shall have to overlook what has been said heretofore. William Pierce has also joined the Methodist. There has been 8 or 9 added to the Baptist Church — among them is Levi and Coltern — Jane’s brothers.

The young people have prayer meetings every Saturday evening at the school house. Harvey Smith is leader. We have some very good music and I wish you was here to attend them. But notwithstanding, the adversary rages wonderfully. The Universalist have meetings every Sabbath at Mr. Stewart’s. Mr. Alger and Mr. Gage are their leaders. Mr. Gage pretends to have more revealed to him than St. Paul had. He pretends that the spirit tells hi a great deal. One  things he says the spirit told him was to go and see Mr. Cook. At first he did not obey but it was very seriously impressed upon him that he must go and see Cook. He finally took his family and went and spent most of the afternoon on politics. He said that it had been revealed to him than [Martin] Van Buren would be elected and said if he was not, they might call him a false prophet. But I am taking up too much room and must leave the subject. So goodbye. — L. G. C. [Lois Giles Conant]

Clinton and Lois, I hope you will both write to me next time. I thank you for what you wrote in your Mother’s last but I hope you will write more next time. I must stop or I shall not leave room for the boys. — L.

¹ William Bryant Pierce (1819-1876) was the son of Asa Pierce (b. 1789) and Sally Bryant (b. 1794). He would later marry Lois Giles Conant (1823-1909) who wrote this portion of the letter.


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