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W2917 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from his son David Bogue Baker
Dec 3 1856
To: Rev. Thomas Baker, Newmarket, Canada West
From: Mankato, Minnesota, U.S.A.
My Dear Father,
It is a long time since I wrote to you and much longer since you wrote to me. I have written two letters to you however that remain unanswered. I have not heard from Alfred1 for two years though I have frequently written to
him. The man who officiated as postmaster heretofore has
just been turned out--and as we have a good postmaster now I think a letter may get through safe. In a former Epistle I told you that I had been forced to leave my first claim on account of the Government having located the Winabago [sic]
Indians on a tract of land 18 miles square which included my
claim and the claims of some 50 others [.] Last time we all entered into an agreement with a Mr. Giddings of Ashtabula,Ohio (whose Father I.R. Giddings is comishoner [sic] of claims at Washington) who agreed to collect the amt. of the
sworn appraize [sic] of Each claim at 25 pr.c. My claim was valued at $2000.00, we received a letter from him a short time ago in which he stated that he would have the money by the first of March.
Last July I was hired by some men to make a Survey of a townsite on the Des Moines river. Finding another good town
site [sic] Dodgson and I laid out a town of 320 acres [,] the legal size [,] and have since started a trading post and are doing a good businefs [sic] in the Sioux trade [.]
Dodgson was attending to that wilst [sic] I was surveyin [sic] upon Blue Earth where I was getting $3.00 pr. day,
till I was taken with congestion of the Lungs from which I am now recovering.2
Between now and the 1st of June I shall come home if nothing [unforseen??] hapens [sic] to prevent. When I wish to lay before you a scheme Dodgson and I have long been maturing. Dodgson and I (Pardon our presumption) intend
outfitting ourselves as Naturalists and in July next start on an Expedition to the North. North of Lat. 64, the Musk ox and the Barren ground Caribou Roam in countless thousands undisturbed by the intrusive foot of the whiteman [sic],--of
the Musk ox but one specimen Exists in the Civalized [sic] world that is at London [;] of the caribou there is not a hoof or horn South of its Barren home. Specimens of both I think we can obtain with the rest of Northern Birds & animals [;] we intend to take with us Photographical apparatus views of all interesting scenery and life like
representations of all specimens as soon as obtained in case of accident to the original [.] This done the hardest part of our task is accomplished [.] We then in milder latitudes can obtain the rest of the American birds and animals. And
by the assistance of our friends more lucky in acquiring Scientific attainments will be able to produce a work though
lacking the Pathos and Sublimities of Audubon Still
Embracing Animals of a far greater Geographical
distribution. Perhaps you will think the above arrogant in the superlative degree.
I have lately commenced corresponding with my old Lector W. Johnstone. I told him of our plans for the future. He seemed highly pleased, both at having found a lost pupil and my "aspiration." And tendered his assistance
at any time and in any way we may think it fit to command.
But in this Expedition I wish to have your full concurrence
and advice [.] I never wish to run away again. I fancy I
can hear you say poor arrogant boy knows nothing of the cold and privations of such a life--what a wide mistake. For five years I have disputed the possession of our grounds and
prairies with Elk [,] deer [,] Buffalo and the usual
catalogue of Western "Varmints" [.] And I now consider myself a very proficient Pioneer. The cold I am used too [;] the thermometer stood this morning at 30 below zero.
At the present time I am rather hard up having done
nothing for three months, and am owing $200.00 on a pack of
land I bought and also for some Townlots. If you could
remit me a draft for $100.00 without to [sic] much
inconvenience I would send you mortgages sufficient to amply cover the amt. and interest which I would repay by June at the farthest. I wish to secure as much property as possible
previous to going North so that in case of a [portion?] I
may have a home to return to. A consummation devoutly to be wished for.
Remember me to Mrs. Baker and Mifs Baker. I should very much like to see them, especially the latter. I hope she has not lost her black hair. When I next write I will go more fully into particulars
Write at your Earliest conveniance [sic]
And Believe me to be
Your affect. Son
D.B. Baker [David Bogue]
New Market [sic]
1 David's older brother, James Alfred Baker, had not been replying to his letters (W2913). James Alfred and his first wife Charlotte would later move to Cold Springs farm, property of Rev. Baker. However, they were officially evicted from the land on April 1, 1865. See W2960.
2 David Bogue Baker died of tuberculosis in April 1857, see W2925, W2896.