Pameho, (Fairview), Iowa
March 18, 1842
I improve this opportunity to write and inform you that we are all enjoying very good health at present and hope to hear the same from you. We have had a light winter in comparison to what we used to have there. We have not had snow to hinder anyone's going into the woods to draw rails or timber anywhere they please. It has been all gone as much as four or five weeks, and is now very warm.
Our folks tapped our sugar trees last Monday so we could make our own sugar. We have made eighty-five pounds and they think they shall have syrup enough by night to make up to one hundred. I think it is as nice as we ever made. Gideon and Julius are both making for themselves.
The tops of the wheat is killed considerable but your father was over to it this morning and he says it is sprouting up thick and the ground is dry enough to go to plowing. Tell Philip if he was only here to begin his Spring work, he could not help being highly delighted. I little thought when I left you that it would be so long before I saw you again, but I begin to fear that you will wait so long to get a great price there that you will lose more here by having the best chances taken up that are convenient to timber and water, etc. It is a great chance for making a little money go a great way in buying good land.
There is an abundance of excellent prairie and considerable timber land not taken up yet that can be got at the land office for one dollar and twenty cents per acre. Anyone would b very foolish to chop and clear land here when there are thousands and thousands of acres already cleared: and no stump roots or stones to molest you. But, there is plenty of excellent stone in the timber and in ledges along the water courses. Your father often used to say he would like to have the stone by itself and the land by itself: now he has his wish.
They say there is a ledge about two or three miles from here on the bank of the river that rises twenty or thirty feet high and appears to be in regular layers. Some of the men have dug out stone to use about buildings which they say is very beautiful stone, others say that it is a quarry of Turkish marble but how it will turn out I cannot say.
Julius is pleasantly situated and has a nice little black-eyed wife, she is young - will be eighteen next August, but she seems to understand business very well and keeps things snug. Marlin went to board with them soon after they commenced housekeeping and is there now. Your father often says that he would rather have Julius' place than his old farm and I do not think Julius would trade if he could, to go back there to live. He has one hundred and sixty acres which cost two hundred and forty five dollars.
I have made fifty five cheeses this last season and the boys took thirty of them to Dubuque and sold them for a shilling per pound, then bought three kettles to make sugar in, also one dish kettle for sixpence per pound, four pairs of men's high shoes for twelve shillings per pair. Your father says they are the best shoes he ever had. Pork and grain are very cheap here now.
Philip, I will write a little to you. If you cannot sell to get all of your money down, leave it in good hands where you can depend upon it when promised, get what you can, and sell off your stock, they will bring cash at some price. If you should leave any in that way, get the man to deposit the money in some good permanent bank and get a certificate of deposit and have him send it to you. There is a farm that lies between Marlin's and ours with some people living on it who have paid for two eighties and have a claim on considerable more. I hear they have borrowed most of the money to pay for it, so we think it might be sold pretty reasonable. There is another one of the same family that lives the other way between Gideon and us which if you could get would suit you, but suit yourself. I would not advise you to buy land of any man there that owns land here, for the chance is as good for you as it is for others. We have not the money now, but we calculate to help you all as fast as we can. There are several men owing, of whom we can get nothing but work, so we thought it best to have a little more house room: they got out and hewed the timber for it week before last. We calculate to build a room on the east end of the house for bed rooms and other conveniences. Gideon got out the timber the same week for his house, twenty by thirty two, I believe.
If you come, you had better get a good strong wagon and team that is stout and true, and if you could, get another good horse and strong light wagon for your family if Harvey should some with you. It is best to have two in company if anything should happen, you could assist each other or if any of your friends with to come tell t hen they had better start, for if they once get here, they cannot help being suited. You will have to travel through a great many places that you will not like and many more that you will like, but if you can get here and buy land as good as the best at ten shillings per acre it will pay all.
I think there is as little complaining of sickness here as I ever knew in any place, but I think it would be a good plan to make a jug of syrup such as I made when I was at your home, and get some boxes of Persian pills, a box or two of David's plaster. They are very valuable.
I wish you could get me a patent wheel head. I cannot hear of any here, but they say they make wheels of both sorts a few miles from here.
I want you to write immediately and let us know your calculations.
I remain your affectionate mother,