The first name of the signature on this letter is a little difficult to decipher but I believe it was was written by John M. Reynolds of Marion, Grant County, Indiana. Reynolds wrote the letter to his son, General David Reynolds (1814-1896) who served as the Adjutant-General in charge of recruiting volunteers in Indiana during the War with Mexico. The following biography comes from Progressive men of Minnesota, published by The Minneapolis Journal (1897):
David Reynolds, better known as General David Reynolds, was born Christmas Day, 1814, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and died in Minneapolis, February 5, 1896. On his father’s side his ancestors were English and Welsh, and on his mother’s Huguenots. When he was eight years of age the family removed to Monroe County, Ohio, and nine years later to Henry County, Indiana. With but limited educational advantages, such as the common schools of the time afforded, he entered a general store as clerk, and was there employed for three years. His ambition, however, was to obtain a better education, and he became a student at Asbury University, at Greencastle, Indiana. He had as his associates in that school men who afterwards became distinguished, as Senator Voorhees, Senator McDonald, Senator Harlan and Governor Porter. Upon completing his course at the university he entered the law office of Fletcher, Butler & Yandes, at Indianapolis, and was admitted to practice in all the courts of the state. Soon after this the Mexican War broke out and he was appointed by Governor Whitcomb adjutant general of the state of Indiana. Acting in that capacity he organized, equipped and sent forward all the troops enlisted from that state. Although this proved a very laborious task, he discharged it personally without either an assistant or clerk, and as compensation received the sum of one hundred dollars a year. Subsequently he was commissioned to go to Washington to make a settlement for moneys advanced by the state, but his services were so highly appreciated that at this time he was paid a reasonable compensation for his work.
His brother, Major Lewis Simpson Reynolds (1823-1878), was inventor and patentee of important improvements in flour milling, which were the beginning of modern methods of flour manufacture. David was engaged to go to Eastern cities and finally to England and France to introduce these new appliances. General Reynolds, in 1865, together with his brother, Major Lewis S. and his brother, Dr. John L. Reynolds, removed to Minneapolis. He foresaw the future growth of this city and made investments on Ninth and Tenth streets and First and Second avenues South, which have come to be of great value. Although he did not engage actively in business pursuits, he contributed in many ways to the general advancement and prosperity of the city. In politics, General Reynolds was always an ardent Democrat. His last public appearance was as president of a large ratification meeting held in Minneapolis on the occasion of President Cleveland’s first election. His church connections were with the Methodist denomination, and in 1874 he organized what was called the “Little Giant” Bible class. It began with a single member, but afterwards grew to number three hundred and fifty-two. On its list of members may be found the names of many of our most prominent professional and business men, and during its existence it gained a wide fame over the whole country, and its leader represented it at one time in a convention at Chautauqua. General Reynolds was married in Indianapolis on April 2, 1863, to Miss Jennie McOuat (1838-1864), the daughter of Thomas McOuat (1774-1841) ad Margaret Cuthbertson (1769-1853). She died a year and one month later at Rochester, New York, leaving a daughter named Jennie, at present a resident of Minneapolis and widow of the late George L. Hilt. General Reynolds left an honorable name and the record of valuable and long continued usefulness in the community, and his memory is honored by all who knew him.
Addressed to Gen’l. David Reynolds or Levi S. Reynolds, Washington City, D.C., [forwarded to Frederick, Maryland]
July 17, 1853
Through the mercies of God, we are spared and on the land and amongst the living as yet and blessed with tolerable good health at present — or as much so as could be expected. Your mother has been on back ground nearly all spring till lately. She has got better so as to walk about the house. She went to Wests yesterday.
I am here at home to see to matters and things at home. As to myself, I have been blessed with better health this spring than common of late. My lip keeps some sore yet and whether it is on account of the skin drawing across the corner of my mouth every time that I go to eat my food and keeps it in a fretted condition, or whether it is not soundly cured or not — I cannot tell. Still flatter myself that my mouth being so much grown up so much causes it to be sore.
Thomas and family in tolerable health. Charlotte in poor health but so as to be about. The balance of them in tolerable health.
John and Lizzy has been to Knox County, Ohio, and while there she had a turn of fever and she got so as to come home. And since at home, she has got better. Geraldson and family in tolerable health. Health is in this place tolerable good so far as I have heard.
We have had the driest season this spring and summer that I remember in this settlement. Corn is very small as well as other parts of crops.
David, we received your friendly letter of June 17th which conveyed good news to hear that although in a distant land, that you are both in good health. Also, we feel very grateful for your friend’s donation of twenty dollars to help us along. Likewise, in a few days after, we received another specimen of your and Lewis’ kindness to us. We received the articles you named and a dress pattern for your mother from Levi for which we feel truly thankful to both of you, We think the time long to see you both. One reason of my not writing sooner, I waited some time for your mother to get better before I should write.
I am raising 5 acres of corn besides Thomas has 9 acres on my place. He plows my corn and I hoe it. I have commenced cutting my grass. Hay sells in town from ten to twelve dollars per ton, flour four dollars per barrel, corn meal 70 cts. per bushel. My wheat tolerable light 70 dozen on 2 acres.
I thought I could have written a long letter but it appears I have lost all faculty of writing letters of good satisfaction. I wish you to write soon and let us hear often from you how you are and getting [along] and when you think of coming home.
I have nothing of importance at present but send our best love to you and Levi both. Hoping to see you soon.
Yours respectfully, — John M. Reynolds