1842: Winthrop Folsom to Gilman Folsom

This letter was written by Winthrop and Mary (Noyes) Folsom to their son, Gilman Folsom (1818-1872). After attending Norwich University, Gilman studied law with Hon. Josiah J. Quincy, and was admitted to the bar at Haverhill, New Hampshire, in 1841. This letter was written some months after Gilman’s relocation to Iowa City where he practiced law and served in the Iowa House of Representatives 1848-1851. He was married in August 1843 to Emily Arthur.

We learn from this letter that Gilman served as the editor of a newspaper in Iowa City at the time though biographies of his career don’t mention it.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Gilman Folsom, Esqr., Iowa City, Iowa Territory

Dorchester, New Hampshire
July 18th 1842


Yours of June 16th received. It is hard for me to grant the favor you asked. You have no idea of the scarcity of money hear. The banks can not discount because their customers can’t pay in their checks. I could not pay in mine but had the accommodation of putting in a new note. There is no cash sale for wool at all which you know must affect our country much. When I received your letter, I had one dollar cash and no more. I do believe that $20 could not be raised in this town. Your friend Capt. Spaulding called at our house soon after I received your letter [and] said he had rather lend me the money than you should be disappointed so you see the advantage of having friends.

In all the letters you have sent me you speak of some of your political friends being afraid of you or of friends deserting you. I should suppose by your last (did I receive no papers) that you had no friends left. Please be more explicit. Give the whys and wherefores. One thing is evident when you wrote last you were worn down by hard work at court and editing the paper and that you had a small touch of the hipo. You should be careful not to have too much business on hand at a time.

In your last you say the climate is irregular. In all your letters before you said it was beautiful. The last spring you were no judge because you knew nothing of the weather in the last which you have now learned. By my letter dated June 12th, if received immediately after I wrote, the weather changed and has since been the most growwing time I ever saw. Our crops, take every thing under consideration, look the best I ever saw them but I fear we shall have a poor sale this fall. You can’t begin to think how times have changed since you left New Hampshire. So much of the government loan being taken in Boston and the bankrupt loan produced it.

Of course you saw the account of Sarah Cliffords and Harriet Clough’s deaths in the papers. Sarah died suddenly; Harriet with the consumption. Your Uncle Sanborn’s folks have been here on a visit. Left this morning. Our boys have just gone to Texas to begin haying and I wait to write you with my head very fill of proclamations with a little of the hypochondriac complaint — of course you will excuse the spelling.

I think you must be an almighty poor pack taking you all together. Your legislature can’t pay their printer, your printer can’t pay the editor, the editor can’t pay his board without sending to New Hampshire for cash. You nor Asahel never knew the want of an + and I fear unless you learn the want of it, it will spoil your worth. I guess you will get pretty well schooled. I expect the next time I furnish funds it will be to get you home. At your father’s house there is bread enough and to spare and now we have a fat calf (more bread and calf than money). I would advise you to make a small box when you get a cent, put it in 100 ___ one dollar, write often. Write facts. Let us know the whole story. Keep a stiff upper lip if you grow unpopular where you are and choose not to come back, change your quarters and try again, use no profane language, drink no bitters.

Give yourself no uneasiness about us. We are wide awake in good spirits and live well as ever. When you get able to pay the bills, your Mother and I will step over and see you. Should you leave the CIty for any time, be sure and have your paper sent while you are absent. We receive them very regular. When one fails 1 day, it makes sober look all around the house. Reading your editorial is almost like conversing with you. When you cease to edit, be sure and make the articles you write.

Nathaniel Fellows’ niece Olivia Burrien owns one share in the late James Foss estate. She or her husband has wrote to the Widow Berry to pay her $50 and they will quit claim to her. Your friend Jacob Blasdell wishes you if you can without much trouble to say to them that if they will send to her a quit claim signed by both Olivia and her husband, she will send the money by mail at their risk or deposit it in such bank in this state or Boston as they shall direct. Mr. Blasdell says $40 is all that should be paid. Of course you will manage that as well as you can for him.

I wish you were able to arrange the matter with them and let Blaisdell or the Widow pay over to me. I think of no news that will interest you. It is now 10 o’clock and I must go to mowing.

With much anxiety for your prosperity, — W. Folsom


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