This letter was written by Levi B. Hitchcock (1795-1869), the son of Levi Hitchcock (1768-1853) and Olive Warren (1768-1850) of Johnsburg, Warren County, New York. Levi was married to Lois Knapp (1801-1884) — the daughter of Comfort Knapp (1770-1850) and Tarzah Gillett (1774-1849).
Levi wrote the letter to his brother, Thomas Warren Hitchcock (1805-1877) and sister, Catharine Hitchcock (1798-1861).
Linden, Atchison County, Missouri
March 1, 1860
Ever worthy brothers and sisters,
After my respects to you, I will inform you that we are all yet in the land of the living and enjoying a good degree of health and hope these lines will find you in the enjoyment of the same blessing, Some time ago I read your letter — the date I don’t remember — but at that time I was not able to write. About the last of August, I got a bad cold and brought on the fever and ague. I had it about 4 weeks before I could get cured of it. Then my old complaint come on to me very bad and I was reduced very low for some time but have been mending slowly. And now so as get about and do some light work. The rest of my family is well as common.
I am now at sister Elizabeth on a visit. She is well as usual but she and myself feel the effects of that incurable disease death preying on our mortal bodies.
Now brother, I want you to take a little more time to write than you have the 2 last years for I think it now two years that I got one from you. You stated in your last that it was a long time that you had not heard from me. I think I had wrote twice to you before I got one from you, Now I suppose you would spend 2 or 3 days to talk with me if was there now. If we can talk face to face, why not spend a few minutes or hours to write and let us know how you and all the rest of the friends get along. Write as soon as you get this and let me hear all about [how] things are down there.
We are complaining of hard times here on the great pressure of money matters. Truly it [is] hard to be got for stock has got very low here. Cows that two years ago would sell for 25 and 30 dollars now rate from 12 to 15 dollars and other stock in proportion. Wheat from 70 to 75 cents per bushel, corn 30 cents, potatoes 30, pork at killing time by the hog from 3 to 4 dollars per ___ dried. Butter from 12½ to 15 cts. but we have all of this of our own raising and a plenty of garden ____ and chicken and eggs to sell. I and J.W. has ____ 5 or 5 hundred bushels of corn in the cribs. Our wheat is not thrashed yet but we have a ____ to do us. Perhaps you may wonder why we complain of hard times. It is for want of money to pay our debts. One year ago in January, J. H. [James Hunger, Sr.?] left here for the Ohio to be back by the first of March but has not come yet nor we cannot hear anything from him since the middle of February. He has left me involved in debt $200 besides loosing 40 acres ¹ of timber land that I had paid him for and had not got the title for. It is hard for me to have such misfortune now.
Perhaps you may ask in your heart what is the state of religion here. I answer that it is low. We have no Baptist Church in our place but some few members scattered about the country. There is one at Linden and at McKissick Grove. The Methodists and Presbyterians in our place has preaching but are not doing much good. Some churches below here, I hear, are getting waked up and some additions. As for myself, I am so informed and d____ that I cannot get out much from home to meeting but my faith and confidence in the Lord Jesus is firm and unshaken, and you will pray for me that I remain faithful to the end for I view my time but short to stay here. O that I may be faithful to my Lord and master, that my last days may be my best days.
[page torn] …some of the first settlers that put out orchards begin to have fruit but they ask so high price we can not afford to buy any. We have wild plums in abundance. Now is a fine time for people to come here to buy a farm for many are obliged to sell for half the worth of them. We have had a very fine winter. Some cold weather the first the winter but dry but part of January and February has been warm and pleasant. Had one snowstorm. It come 8 or 9 inches and lasted three weeks. Now it is fine pleasant and in a few days we will be rolling the loose black soil over and planting the seed in to again for another crop.
Now brother, when you get this, take time and sit down and write the particulars, how you and the rest of the brothers and sisters are getting along for none of the rest of the friends think it not best to spend their time to write a poor brother but you must, Give them my best wishes and respects. Elizabeth to all her brothers and sisters and solicits a correspondence by letter. Write where Polly is now. I must close by ascribing myself your brother with respects till our death. Love, — Levi Hitchcock
N.B. Direct my letters to Irish Grove ²
¹ From the Journal of John Dopf of Atchison County:
The following fall we moved to another old cabin on the top of the big hill south of Milton , or Schultshour’s place, where we lived until the spring of 1861. Mother then bought forty acres from Levi Hitchcock, wit no improvements thereon. Schultshour built a house for Hamilton Hitchcock; that is to say, he did the carpenter work and Hitchcock did not pay the bill, and the carpenter filed a mechanic’s lien on the building to secure his bill. The house was sold and Schultshour bid it in and sold it to mother and she intended to move it to her 40 acres. James Hunger, Sr., had a claim on the land, where the house stood, which he sold to mother, and we moved to it in the spring of 1861.
² Irish Grove, now called Milton, is located within a few miles of the Missouri River on the northwest quarter of Sec. 9, Twp. 63 N, R. 40 W, in Clark Township, Atchison County, Missouri. For many years Irish Grove was a regular station on the great stage and daily mail route between St. Joseph and Council Bluffs, Iowa…The locality was originally settled by an enterprising class of citizens from Ireland, among whom were Martin Murphy, Sr., and his son Martin. A post-office kept by Harvey Williams, at his residence on a farm adjoining the present town site of Milton, was established as early as 1850, under the name of Irish Grove. Williams afterwards kept a store in this house…however William R. Graves…opened at Irish Grove a store in which he sold goods for a period of two or three years. He was thus the first merchant to do business in the place.