This letter was written by Roxanna (Head) Kinney (1792-18xx), the second wife of Dr. Stephen Fitch Kinney (1789-1872). Dr. Kinney was the son of Elisha Kinney (1753-1807) and Thankful Fitch (1758-1795).
Dr. Kinney’s first wife was Abby Brockway. Three children were born to Doctor Kinney and Roxanna; Sarah, Martha, and Abby.
Roxanna wrote to her brother, Erastus F. Head (1804-18xx), a farmer near Kirkland, Oneida County, New York.
Addressed to Erastus F. Head, Esqr., Paris Hill, Oneida County, New York
September 16, 1850
I received a letter from you a short time since and much gratified to think you had not entirely forgotten you had a sister Roxanna living five hundred miles distant amongst strangers (but always find friends). The time was when I thought it no task to write but a privilege. I feel so much gratified on receiving a letter from my relatives but acknowledge I have been neglectful in writing as often as I used to. I thought I should have seen you face to face before now but the cares of this world have engaged my attention.
We came on to a new place and every tree and shrub to set out. I have budded hundreds and hundreds of trees — yes, more than a thousand fruit trees in Ohio — and this year witness their bearing fruit. [This is] a great country for fruit. Last year we raised forty or fifty bushels of peaches — some of the choicest kinds — such as you never saw nor tasted. I thought of Father and all my kindred. I wished them here to participate with us. I have been overwhelmed with cares since I lived in this state, all to begin anew, and I am getting to feel old. But we have a beautiful situation as anyone in Union County. It is admired by every one. We have every kind of fruit coming on you can name. I raise about 40 quinses this year and have a good house all finished, painted outside. I have this summer painted our parlor and P, bedroom, and the Dr. and myself papered them too. We have a good barn and that is painted a little extra for this country — although you must not think this country a wilderness. They are up for every improvement, railroads, and plank roads, and charcoal roads. Ohio is going it with a perfect rush.
I suppose you would like to know why I do not come and see you and all the rest of the folks. In the first place, I could not get the cash to go with. The second place, conveyance and accommodations are cheaper every year. Thirdly, we have been surrounded by cholera in this state on every side. Last summer and this summer, thousands have been swept off the face of the Earth in Ohio by cholera. It has raged worse in this state than in the eastern states. We are farther to the south than you are. We would have thought it imprudent to have started to go anywhere from home at any time last summer or this. We have expected it here both seasons but our family have been healthy all the time.
I have but a small family now — only one daughter with me. [It is] a fine country for marrying girls. Martha, our youngest, is in her eighteenth year. Sarah Amanda is married to a printer [named George English] and gone to housekeeping. Abby and Sarah both married poor young men but they are both industrious and I think they can get a living. I am well satisfied with them. They live here in the village close by me so I can see them every day if I wish. Abby’s husband [Abraham Morey] is smart for business, getting up a fine large shop [and] doing a considerable business [as furniture maker and as undertaker]. Both belong to the Presbyterian Church. They have a fine boy almost a year old named [Henry Wicks Morey] after Henry Wicks (tell Sister Sarah). We have not forgotten Henry yet. I wish you would tell Constant and Sarah the Dr. says they must take as start and come out here and see us. He says they are able if they only thought so. It will do them good to come.
My health has been better than it ever was since my recollection since the first year I came. The ague cured me. The Dr. is more fleshy than you ever saw him. The Dr. has now five children settled here in town — four daughters and one son, Lathrop, married here — his youngest son. They had one child [but] it died this summer. Elisha, the Dr.’s oldest son, lives in Wisconsin. He knew Mary Beriah’s oldest daughter in Wisconsin. John, the Dr.’s second son, lives in Iowa.
Tell Sarah the patched boy [John Fitch Kinney] who used to stand in the corner in New Haven [Oswego County, New York] is now first judge of the Supreme Court of Iowa and has been a Representative to Iowa City. He married in this state and moved to Iowa (has five children) since she saw him. Tell Father and Mother I feel very anxious to see them once more. We frequently draw around the fireside and chat about you all, but that does not accomplish much. I don’t know what we might do but guess Martha and myself should start for New York very quick if we had money and the Dr. would like to go to Iowa and Wisconsin and see his children. Mary Kinney married a sadler by trade and is doing good business. He is nominated for High Sheriff [and] probably will get it.
We sent you a paper with Sarah’s marriage. I guess you got it. We had quite a wedding and I wish you and your wife and little girl could have stepped in and been present. I would like to see you all very much. Give my love to all of them. Tell Sarah Wicks and Constant the next time I write I shall write to them. I feel for them very much. I loved Jane and Henry very much — they were two precious children. I have almost forgotten to tell you, we have had a very dry summer and a very warm one. Very little rain, good crops of wheat, very little hay, very few potatoes. Not sufficient for one meal in our garden. Tolerable corn but not first rate and a great deal of thunder and lightening and a great deal of cholera, and no rain of consequence. Cholera has come within 9 miles of us, much smaller places than Marysville. It has been in Columbus City. I think some have had pneumonatory symptoms here — chronic diahhrea.
Give my love to all. Do write and tell all to write.
I suppose you would like to know if any of our Marysville boys went to California? I reply yes, a good many to Mexico and a good many to California after gold.
Tell sister Sarah, Abby has the smartest kind of a little boy just begins to go about named Henry.