1843: Alanson W. Downs to Jabez Henderson Downs

This undated letter was written by Alanson W. Downs (1811-1878) and his wife, Roxey (Wentworth) Downs (1817-1869) of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Alanson was the son of Jabez Downs (1776-Aft1841) and Lydia Henderson (17xx-1855). Roxey was the daughter of Lebbeus Wentworth (1787-1872) and Roxey F. Philly (1791-1961). Alanson and Roxey were married in April 1840; their child, Cornelia Lucretia Downs, was born in July 1841.

Alanson wrote the letter to his younger brother, Jabez Henderson Downs (1813-Aft1870). Jabez later relocated to Dixon, Illinois.

I’m going to conjecture that this letter was written about 1843.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Jabez H. Downs, Tyringham, Berkshire County, Massachusetts

Almond [Allegany County, New York]
June 23 [1843]

Respected Friends,

I improve this opportunity to inform you of our health and journey &c. My health is good. Roxy’s and Cornelia’s health is not very good but much better than they have been. We had rather a long journey for the distance we came on the canal and Burton with the wagon. We was from the 4th to the 14th in getting here. Cornelius stood it very well till the last two or three days when she got cold and was about sick and also the rest of us. Roxy and Cornelia has been very sick since we got here but they are getting better now.

We found our connection [relatives] well and in good spirits. I have not bought any land yet. We live with Father now. I am helping Linus build a house and when we get it done, I calculate to live in his house next winter. I got some buckwheat and made some garden. Linus & I calculate to sow about half an acre of turnips. Times are hard and money scarce but crops look tolerably well, but late.

I found the country as good as I expected except not so clear from stone. The soil is generally good. We have had it very cold since we came here but now — for a week — it has been warm and a very growing time which seems to put all nature into motion.

I met with some bad luck in getting out here. I made a bargain in Albany to have my goods carried to Rochester for fifty cents a hundred [weight] and took an agreement to that effect of an agent, as he styled himself. When I came to settle, the captain charged 56 cents and declared he [knew] no such agent. His name was Chase — a small man. I talked to him very plain. If any of you travel the canal, beware of him at Rochester. I hired my passage to Dansville but instead of being carried to Dansville, we was left to Mt. Morris — 15 miles below — which made it cost me five dollars more than to [have] been left to Dansville.

I do not think of any more in particular to write. I must make this letter answer for all at present. I will leave room for the rest. I want you to write soon. You must not wait so long as I have thought that I would not write till Burton was back.

I remain yours, &c., and all the rest, — A. H. Downs

Ever remembered Friends,

I improve the present opportunity to write a few lines to let you know that I have not forgotten you. Alanson has written all the news so I have nothing of much importance to write. After a rather tedious journey we arrived amongst our friends. Found them all in comfortable health. Mother’s health is not very good but about the same as when in Sandisfield.

We are comfortably situated in a log cabin. I suppose you all think you could not live in a log house but it’s fun — no mistake. If we did not live in hopes, perhaps we should be discouraged, but I hope the time will come when we shall be able to own a small farm & comfortable house. This is all I ever anticipate and perhaps more than I shall ever realize.

Linus & Mary Ann seem to be quite content. They are building a house in the woods. They mean to get it so as to move into it before haying. William, we want you out here in the woods and then we would have quite a settlement of yankees. Father is quite anxious to have you come. He thinks it would be the best thing you could do to come and take up some new land. As for Henderson & Sally, I don’t suppose it would be of any use to even ask them to come here to live, but I hope you will come and make us a visit. I suppose Paulina has taken up her abode on Beach Plain before this time. Please give my best respects to her mother. Aunt Miller said I must write her best respects to you and tell you she had not forgotten you. Please give my best respects to brothers, sisters, cousins, and all who take the trouble to enquire after me.

Burton can tell you more than I can write so I think it unnecessary to write all the particulars. You must not forget to write to us for we shall be very anxious to hear from you all.

I will now close by subscribing myself yours affectionately, — Roxey Downs


2 responses to “1843: Alanson W. Downs to Jabez Henderson Downs

  • Diane Barth Swartz

    Thank you for posting this– it’s very interesting, as I have another letter from Roxy Downs to the family back home in Sandisfield, a year later. I am passing this letter on to Sandisfield historian Ron Bernard, if anyone has any interest. 10/12/14

    • Griff

      If you’d like me to transcribe and post your letter with this one, please send me images of the letter suitable for posting. If willing to do so, leave a reply and I’ll give you my e-mail address. — Griff

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