1860: Benjamin Allen to Sarah Allen

This letter was written by Benjamin Allen (1801-1871), the son of Isaac Allen (1767-1815) and Sarah Mercer (1772-1851). Benjamin was married first to Hannah McClunn and had two sons, Oliver and Abner. Oliver died young but Abner Allen (1826-1898) [with half-brother Jesse] settled in Kansas Territory in 1856 and was a representative in the US Congress from Kansas. Abner was married to Levina Taylor, who is mentioned in this letter. Benjamin’s second wife was Phoebe Johnson (1807-1888) and they had seven more children, including Anna Allen (1842-1933) who wrote a portion of this letter. Anna later married (1866) Armstead Thompson McCormick at Zeandale, Kansas.

Benjamin, a Quaker, wrote the letter from his residence in New Waterford, Columbiana County, Ohio, but during the Civil War he relocated his family to Zeandale, Wabaunsee County [now Riley County], Kansas.

Benjamin addressed the letter to his daughter, Sarah Allen (1833-1889), who was apparently residing with her step-brother Abner, and his wife Levina, in Waubunsee County, Kansas Territory. She later became (1861) the second wife of William Beard Marshall, the son of Moody and Sarah (Beard) Marshall of New Hampshire. Williams’s first wife was Ann Judson Pillsbury but she died in 1856.


Addressed Sarah Allen, Wabaunsee, Kansas Territory

New Waterford, Ohio
September 30, 1860

Dear Sister,

As it is first day, I thought that I would write thee a few lines to inform thee that we are all well at present and hope these few lines will find you the same. It is very cold and cloudy and I am so, so cold that I can hardly write and the jewelry peddler is here and he and Father are sitting out in the kitchen and his tongue is going it two forty so that I can hardly hear my self think. Well Said, I quit writing to help Mother get dinner and Father took a notion to write some and he made a mistake and commenced writing on the wrong page so I won’t have much room to tell thee about the things that are going on here. Said, I was at the fair 2 days and as it was the first fair I was ever at, I enjoyed myself. Finally I sent thee 2 or 3 papers sometime ago. I went with Lizzie McCarty to the station to get on the cars and I seen a little gent that Lizzie was acquainted with and he has been throwing off papers ever since. Tell Levina that Frank is all right. I remain thy sister, — Anna

September 30, 1860

Dear Sons and daughters,

Ann left some white paper and I thought I would fill ut up. We will be glad to see those neighbors of yours that are coming by here on their way east. As to Pearson paying the balance that is coming to Allen and Armstrong, I saw Jonathan Heacock a short time since. He said Golden was making every effort he could to raise the money and he thought he would be able to pay it before long. Like old Tommy Berts groceries, money is very scarce and hard to be come at the year. We have plenty of every thing else. I am very sorry to hear that you have suffered so severely from the drouth. We have had a very seasonable summer — not too dry nor too wet. But too cool for sweet potatoes or corn though we have a tolerable crop of both. Metts put that field below the barn in corn and it is an excellent crop for this country. Our potatoes are very fine. Byron brought in a Prince Albert that is 13¼ inches long and weighs 1 lb. 15 oz.

Danises seedling is both nice and large. Plenty of them of more bulk than a tin cup and scarcely any less than a good sized apple. The Jersey Peach Blow we not dug any of them. They are large and nice — some of them as large as a tin and the Buckeye are both large and good though some of them show some signs of rot. We had a severe frost night before last that cut down all the potato tops and all other tender plants. We have plenty of apples for our own use. I wish we could only divide some of our apples and potatoes with you. Byron and I will have a big job to take care of them. We have dug and put away forty or fifty bushels of potatoes and made but a small hole in the patch.

I planted two hills of them egg plant but not one of them grew. I think the seed rotted and that spring wheat the yellow birds and ground squirrels destroyed more than the half of it. With all the care I could give it and they took all the largest and earliest heads and I was obliged to cut it before it ripe or get none. I have not shelled it out but think it make more than a pint.

We are all in about our usual health at present, and our friends and relations as far as I know. Jesse Johnson and his daughter were here last week from Fayette County. They are all in their usual health except William Miller. He has had several poorly spells this summer. David Firestone, Peter Smith, Robert Emry, and David Davis are all sitting round talking and the rest of the family helping them go that I hardly know what I am writing. So I guess I will have to close for this time and remain as ever, your affectionate father, — Benjamin Allen


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