W2183 TO ISAAC BALDWIN MCQUESTEN from his cousin Isaac Baldwin Jr.
Jan 15 1856
To: Isaac Baldwin McQuesten, Hamilton, Ontario
From: Clinton, Iowa, [U.S.A.]
My dear cousin Isaac,
I have not forgotten my promise to write you a letter while you, it may be, have, first charging me with bad memory, or worse still, with bad faith to balance the account you may have kept with me and Letters Receivable[sic].
But while we acknowledge--there's nothing in a name--I flatter myself that the mention of your name in full will assist occasionally in calling me to mind, and I hope the associations which thence arise will never be of friends forgotten and promises broken, but ever pleasant, as is the remembrance [sic] of our short acquaintance.
You see that I am in Iowa: now if you wish to know more definitely where I am, please take the map and note the situation of Chicago, about ten miles South of the 42 [degree symbol] N. latitude thence due West on the bank of the Mississippi opposite the termination of the Chicago & Galena Union Rail Road at Fulton is the town where I am spending the winter and may spend the rest of my life. It is a new town. The first houses were built some eighteen years ago--four or five "log-huts"--last August the attention of some people was called to this point and forthwith a new town was laid out, the streets graded, thirty houses built since the middle of August, one large brick hotel, several stores, and a large number of houses and stores are under contract for building the coming season. The foundation and first story of a school house has been erected, one stone church commenced, two church parishes organized, a Presbyterian & Episcopalian, and I have the honor (&c.) of teaching the first school in the town, destined, "of course" to rival all the towns on the Mississippi north of St Louis.--------"perhaps," (I seem to hear.).
A RailRoad [sic] company has been formed and the route surveyed hence to Council Bluffs. It is not yet decided whether this is to be the terminus of the Iowa Central R.R. or not. Thinking it will. I am determined to be on the ground to witness at least the beginning of things, and hope soon to see the beginning of better days--not that I have any reason to complain of the days of my life hitherto--for though few, they have all passed away blest with health, kind friends, and a goodly share of the comforts and luxuries of life. I [?] in Michigan and Illinois for several weeks after I left your place, and was very much pleased with the appearance of the country, especially Illinois. Several places in that State seemed to invite me to remain but I think when I locate there I shall do so upon a farm.
My health has been perfectly good for the three months nearly passed--since I left home--as an increase of ten pounds, more than I ever before weighed solidly testifies.--and I cannot disown any thing necessarily unhealthy in the climate. I am now in the family of a gentleman from Ohio, who is considerably interested in the welfare of the place, is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and has built him a comfortable house, brought his wife & child out here, and has received me into the family circle, which I had received the proper training to appreciate and enjoy.--
For five weeks I lived in a Shanty, made in five days,-- without lath, plaster, brick shingles or a planed board--one hundred feet long & twenty five wide with an abundance of ventilation and, what is esteemed a luxury by some, a shower-bath--when it rained, the which I enjoyed (?) to my hearts [sic] content, one stormy night, in December--the bed, bedding & all my clothes getting thoroughly wet in spite of all my efforts to secure a dry place, and cover it with the umbrella: but happily I did not take cold and now I feel that I have much cause for thanksgiving on account of the happy home secured in Iowa.
Excuse me, dear cousin, if I seem to be too prolix, or presumptuous in extending my first letter to a second sheet. Let their small size be my apology, if one is required. You may like to know how the people appeared to me, on my first acquaintance. I had a very meagre idea of the richness of prairie land, but of the people who dwell here I found my preconceived notions all wrong. Most of them have left kindred and homes where flourish schools and churches and are here with all their taste, virtue & refinement unabated by the distance and doing all they can "with heart & hand & strength & zeal united" to make homes here, that shall reconcile them to the separation. This, I assure you, was a glad surprise to me, for I fancied I was sacrificing love of friends, good society, and the institutions & privileges clustering about them to my desire, and, as I thought, duty to strive to benefit my worldly estate.
I made my first acquaintance here at the Sabbath School, holden [sic] in one of the rooms of the Shanty--here known as the St. Nicholas--and was invited to take charge of a class of boys, and subsequently to open a school here, and teach during the winter and thinking it advisable, and not having any friends to advise contrarily I have made a beginning, auspiciously, & feel that I receive all the consideration I deserve, while my endeavour will be to merit the best.
I now intend to open an office, as at first, and to connect a Real Estate Agency, therewith, and will buy you a farm, if you wish, should you conclude to become a farmer, or will purchase for you a lot to suit you in any calling you may select. With kind regards for your father and all under his roof, I remain your affectionate cousin,
Isaac Baldwin Jr.1
1 Isaac Baldwin Jr. is a cousin on Isaac B. McQuesten's mother's side; her name was Estimate Ruth (Esther) Baldwin. She died on April 27, 1851 in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1856 Isaac Baldwin McQuesten was 9 years old. The writer, Isaac Baldwin Jr., also wrote a letter to Dr. Calvin McQuesten on March 27, 1856 asking for his support in establishing a Presbyterian Church in Clinton, Ohio (W0171).