1849: John J. Taylor to Samuel Mairs

This letter was written by John J. Taylor (1828-1893), the son of Duncan Taylor (1789-1883) and Sarah Mairs (1797-1864) of Argyle, Washington County, New York. John’s occupation was given as “clerk” in the 1850 census; later he became a merchant in Argyle. He never married.

Taylor addressed the letter to his Uncle Samuel Mairs (1804-1854). Samuel and John’s mother (Sarah) were the children of Rev. George Mairs and Sarah McFadden who were both emigrants from Ireland. Samuel Mairs married Caroline M. Chapman and had one child before his death in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1854.

We learn from the letter that Samuel Mairs’ brother, James Mairs, intended to go to California in the spring of 1849. A “J. Mairs” appears in the San Francisco arrivals list aboard the vessel North America in January 1852; no other passenger arrival record could be found.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Samuel Mairs, Esq., Trenton, then Freehall, then Middletown Point, New Jersey

Argyle [Washington County, New York]
April 1, 1849

Dear Uncle,

Yours of the 24 ult. I received and in reply say that I do not know when that trial comes off but will advise you as soon as I find out.

Well I am now twenty-one years old and thereby will have an opportunity to vote next Tuesday. Our causus came off yesterday and William Congdon was nominated for Supervisor. There was no opposition for any office except Town Clerk.¹ By the enclosed Ballot you will see the candidates and votes taken. John Rouse has been the Standing Candidate for the last twelve years and got the nomination. I did not want it this year but some spoke to me about it and I had no objections of them presenting my name. Therefore, they did it and I got a very flattering vote for a boy. If I had made any effort, I could have got the nomination but there is time enough yet. Mr. Rouse got one majority.

Argyle Town Clerk Ballot (1849)

Argyle, N.Y. Town Clerk Ballot (1849)

Father received a letter [from] Uncle James Mairs a few weeks since. He is well and a going to California this Spring and return in the fall.

There is considerable excitement here about the Post Office [appointment]. There has been four candidates but two has hauled off and left John Pattison & John Rouse to try their luck. They both have a petition up but Pattison I think stands the best chance of getting it — at least it looks so at present. They are a beginning to talk some about County Clerk. [Nathaniel B.] Milliman of Sandy Hill is the _____ candidate but Henry Shipherd will probably get it another term. But we will know next fall.

The weather has been rather cold here this last month. Once in a while there would be a day that appears like spring but the next would be cold and stormy as March is generally in Argyle. Tonight it freezes quite hard. There is still snow in the woods yet and not much appearance of Spring.

There is nothing more that I think that would be interesting to you. Therefore, I will say finish. Please write soon.

Yours with respect & esteem, — John J. Taylor


¹ Argyle Village Records state that John C. Rouse was the Town Clerk in 1849-50; and again in 1852. In 1851, John J. Taylor was the Town Clerk. John C. Rouse was known to keep a tavern in Argyle and often held town meetings there.

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