1854: Carlton Morehouse to William Henry Morehouse

Grave Marker of Carlton Morehouse

Grave Marker of Carlton Morehouse

This letter was written by Carlton Morehouse (1799-1855) and his son George Morehouse (1840-1903) from Plato, Kane County, Illinois. Mentioned in the letter is George’s younger brother, Ezra Morehouse (1845-1863). Carlton was married (1825) to Eliza Cornell (1806-1863).

The letter was addressed to William Henry Morehouse (1832-1901) and his brother Ransom Morehouse (b. 1827) who were residing in Sacramento, California. I believe that Ransom and William N. Brainard (b. 1823) were partners in the firm Morehouse & Brainard. Brainard went to California as a gold seeker in 1850. He mined on the North Fork of the American River and then went to Sacramento where he engaged in the produce commission business with Morehouse. While there, he was elected city treasurer. He returned to Chicago in the spring of 1858 and engaged in the grain trade.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to William H. Morehouse, esq., Care of Morehouse & Brainard, Sacramento City, California

[Elgin, Illinois]
Sunday, March 13th 1854

My Dear Brothers,

For the first time in the year 1854, I will attempt to write you although you know I am not much of a hand to get up a letter. Father commenced to write you today as I was out to the barn. Father & Mother went away. Ezra said they had gone to Mr. Bakers. Mrs. Baker & her mother has been very sick. Mrs. Baker has not been expected to [live] but she is a getting better. Her mother has got so she can get around.

We have been to meeting today. Heard Mr. Holkum [Holcomb?], the circuit preacher, preach. They sprinkled Mr. J. Sherwood — the old man.

Well, William, I must now begin to answer questions you wrote that I wrote to you that I had not received any letters from you. Now I do not know but I was mistaken when I wrote so Mother thought I had not, but I will take it back for I think now I have had one. Grandmother is well or was today. She has her spells of palpitation quite often of late. We often go up there & find her on her bed sick. I am afraid we shall some day find her on her bed to rise no more. She is a getting to be an old woman & will soon leave us. If she is prepared, it is enough. Mr.  McArthur & family is well & to work a plowing. He has taken some of our land to work. I believe he is a sowing wheat this week. Grain is high — upwards of $1.00 a bushel, corn 50 cents.

Jenny Lind is a large animal in good order. We feed her oats. She as had ashes in her feeding box. We expect to break her this summer & bit her. Don’t know but Mr. McArthur will break her. Aunt Peggy is a living with us; does not go to Grandmother’s much. I guess they cannot agree very well.

Mr. May leaves for Wisconsin this spring. Has been & bought a farm. We have got 3 nicest calves I have seen this year — the oldest is about 2 months old & one to come. Our school closes this week Monday evening. It is now a rainig by spells. A good many has been getting in grain today. We are having very fine weather. Ezra & I have been to school. Tomorrow is the last day. Father started for Belvidere today [and] will be gone some time. Expected he will mail a letter to you today. I would like to know ____ how it is that I do not receive any letters from you. Is it because you do not [write] or are they lost? I have written you a good many times but do not get no answers. You have promised to write me the next time, William H. Do not forget. Do tell us what sort of a house you live in and what you have to eat. I cannot think of anything more so I will close. Your affectionate brother, — George Morehouse

Ransom and William Henry Morehouse

I heard that Winford Elithorp was a coming back in the month of May. Mr. Buck’s people are a coming back on their farm this week. Mother has written twice this winter & it seems you have not forgotten her letters & she is quite discouraged about writing. This is a short letter but it is as well as I can do. George Morehouse.


I have just returned from Chicago. Heard at St. Charles that Mr. Churchill who accompanied you got drowned at the Isthmus on his way home.¹ Some man living at Chartres Grove (don’t recollect his name) came with him and brought the sad news and his effects — about $300. He got drowned in landing. Some 14 others [were] also drowned [at the] same time. The man who brought the news narrowly escaped. I understand the Kane County Democrat gives the particulars & names. When I get it, will send it to you.

Yours, — C. Morehouse

¹ David Churchill (1806-1854) was the son of Zenus and Almira (Castle) Churchill who took up residence in Kane County, Illinois, in 1838. According to a family history: “David was drowned at the Isthmus, now the Panama Canal, while returning from California on 2 March 1854. He drowned within sight of land. Many of the others on the boat swam ashore, but David could not swim. He had gone to California in the gold rush of 1849 and the family thinks he did quite well. It is unknown what happened to his gold…” David Churchill was married to Maria Parker and left two children fatherless: Hanmer and Jasper Churchill.


2 responses to “1854: Carlton Morehouse to William Henry Morehouse

  • Karen Rooney

    My 5great grandfather was David Churchill. I have copies of his death announcement and letters on the way to CA. Anything else you can fill me in on??

    • Griff

      I would be happy to transcribe and post his letters here in connection with the Morehouse letter if you are willing to share. I may be able to glean more information about your ancestor from his letters. Maybe another reader will have information concerning your ancestor who will post on this blog also. Thanks for the comment.

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