Howe Letters - 1864


Iowa Division of the Galena & Chicago Union R.R. Line
Assistant Superintendent's Office,
This letter is at the time of the Great Consolidation between the C&NW and Galena RRs

Clinton, Iowa, 20 June 1864

Dear Sis:

It is too hot for work -- almost too hot for writing -- sultry -- air full of electricity. Thunder shower of yesterday was delicious, wasn't it? Did you notice that heavy clap of thunder? Of course you did! Perhaps the lightning struck, just this side of your house -- and then Saturday night, it was splendid, wasn't it! Wish you had been on the night train with me and seen the lightning's flash away out on the prairies. It made me think of the fearful battles we read of. A Mississippi Valley thunderstorm is one of the most grand and terrible sites I ever witnessed. Our downy downeast? storms are pop guns compared with it.

(Here someone else's handwriting says: "Lily still living". Lily was their third baby that died. 8 December 1863 to 10 August 1864 -- Tana)

Han "the Deacon" talks of going east this summer -- don't know whether she will or not. She wants to see Net but I tell her they will quarrel all the time, so she had better let her alone. We are all pretty well. Little Lily [6 months] is very well. She seemed to understand her cousin Eva's letter and tried to eat the letter if she did not the words. Eva! You need not be ashamed or afraid to write to any of us now. You wrote a very pretty letter and spelled it well too, which is more than many of us do. Lily will expect a letter from all hands next time. She wants me to tell how she sits in a high chair at the table, and eats crumbs of bread, and helped herself to her little nurse bottle -- and catches flies and performs all sorts of wonderful tricks such as were never heard of before.
[Cousin Eva is 11]
Soph! I wrote father to get him some new clothes of "Carey" on my account -- asked it as a personal favor. If he don't do so you may box his ears. There is no need of, or sense in his going so rusty. I want he should go when and where he pleases and enjoy the evening of life. He has been a good father to us all and it is a pleasure to do anything to help him now.
I about concluded to quit railroading this spring, and return to private life; but they have persuaded me to "wait a little longer". Cannot tell when I shall take a trip home, shall go whenever can get away.
Tom! How is the farm? Mine looks very well. All the strawberries we want and shall have lots of raspberries -- peach trees nearly all dead -- cherries begin to turn red -- apples look well -- grass and grain, fair -- my farm is 100 x 140 feet! Crops look pretty well, generally, in Iowa. Farmers say wheat heads are shorter than usual in consequence of dry weather.
As ever, Ike

Written on back: From Grandpa How to Papa and Mama after Lily's death. Lily lived only 8 months.
Boxford, August 18, 1864
Dear Son and Daughter,
I had a letter from Ann stating that a telegraph dispatch brought the heartrending news of the death of your innocent and beloved babe. My head is so confused in thinking of your great aftliction that I can scarcely think. I picture to myself your meeting with your desolate and beloved wife. Not only once but thrice has the Lord visited with sore aftliction. Your children are happier than they could be on earth for we are assured that of such is the kingdom of Heaven. You have the sympathy of all but we have no means to heal the wound which time alone can do. I hope you will write when you feel able.
Abijah How
Lily was their 3rd baby to die – 8 Dec 1863 to 10 Aug 1864. – Tana

Letterhead: General Superintendent's Office. Chicago and Northwestern Railway
Chicago October 6, 1864
IB Howe Esq.
Supt. Iowa Division,
Dear Sir
I am in receipt of your favor of the 5th inst, and am glad to get your views upon the subject discussed as I am upon all matters, relating to the interests of the Co. and agree with you in general, but apprehend that in regards to the details relating to the Mechanical Department of the Road, you may not have fully considered that it is quite necessary that there should be one real head of that department, whose authority no one must question, so far as relates to his duties and responsibilities.
As to the merits of Mr. Hurlbert & his capacity, I know nothing, but must rely upon Mr. Anderson, entirely, holding him responsible for results, but at the same time, I am very well aware that you as the Supt. of the Iowa Division, must have full power to dismiss any person who may be unfit, in your judgment, to hold his position, and I shall never consent to the adoption of any system whereby you, as Supt. of the Iowa Div'n cannot cause any Engineman, Foreman or Employee whatsoever to be dismissed, & I know that Mr. Anderson also understands these to be my views, neither, need you have any fear that because the Master Mechanic is appointed by Mr. Anderson that he will not care to please you, for whoever may occupy the position of Master Mechanic, must cooperate fully with you, in all respects and particulars, indeed I want the connections between the different departments so that there will be a hearty cooperation to secure the best interests of the Co. exerted by all. So far as the keeping of the old engineers is concerned, there should be no reason for disturbing any good man, and I do not think they will be disturbed, your own testimony upon this head would be quite sufficient to settle any point in dispute, for facts must govern, and I should not, per named Mr. Anderson ever consent to the dismissal of a worthy employee without just cause.
I have known for some time that Mr. Anderson thought Mr. Hurlbert lacked, in some necessary particulars, while he has fully appreciated his good intentions, and skill as a mechanic, and from some observations, I also form the same general opinion, leaving the matter of entirely to Mr. Anderson, he being the responsible Head of the Mechanical Department of the Co. but I do not think he will make any change without consulting with you in regard to the matter.
Yours truly, Geo L. Dunlop, Genl. Supt..