Hartsville [Steuben Co., New York], Feb. 12, 1854. 3 pages on an unlined bifolium, 9.88 x 7.88 inches, approx. 850 words. No cover. A little soiled and worn; in very good condition, easily legible. Item #18905
Isaac Downs (1818-1910) writes to his parents with personal news and detailed discussion of local agricultural prices and his luck on working with a team of steers: “They are all the team I have or expect to have until they gow into a team. Oxen are so high & scarce that I am not able to get any.” Downs had hoped to get work making shoes at home to help make money over the winter but the contractor evaded giving him supplies and finally disappointed him; otherwise, Downs notes, “Being thus far disappointed, I then turned my attention to getting in some sawlogs & as there has been but little sleding [sic] I shall be verry liable to be disappointed in lumbering much of any, & what head wind I shall meet next, time will only tell. I have agreed to work a nabors [sic] sap place of 200 or over more trees. I have one have of the syrup, we divide it in the woods.” Downs passes along news of a local woman who has been having mental health troubles: “Mrs. Wentworth is crazy yet but is better than she has been for now she sits at the table & feeds herself, & they let her go around the house & do not have to keep her fastened in her room much of the time. The rest of our near acquaintance are usually well, but there is quite a number sick around us. The main diseases are the dysentaries & Inflammations.” Downs was a Berkshire County native and served with the Massachusetts 49th in the Civil War; he went west to Wisconsin and then Iowa after the war. (For a biographical sketch of Downs, see the History of Kossuth and Humbolt Counties, Iowa. Chicago, 1884.).