Howe Letters - 1865

Return address has an etching and says "Astor House, New York, Stetson & Co." The same
etching is on the letterhead. Addressed to Mrs. I.B. Howe, Clinton, Iowa.

New York, Jan'y 22nd 1865

Dear good Wife!

I have just arrived here, 15 minutes before 5 this Sunday afternoon and will leave for Boston tomorrow morning. I intend to be home as soon as Saturday night but trains run so irregularly that you cannot make much calculations in regard to them. Last night I stayed at Pottsville. Was at St. Clair yesterday - the mine is a "big thing" and St. Clair a larger place than I supposed; but I fear you would find it lonesome, stuck down among the mountains. They say there are seven thousand inhabitants there. If true, they must live like the woodchucks for the town does not look as large as Northfield and there is not a pretty house in it.
I am pretty well, and if I knew you was real well tonight I should feel quite comfortable. There is a little snow, and lots of mud in the city - it is not comfortable walking. I have "missed connections" several times on my way here and found the sandwiches and father's shawl quite a comfort while waiting.
If I find Mr. Harding in Boston Tuesday I may start back Tuesday night for I want to stop one day in Chicago. I shall not go anywhere to visit --- Be careful of yourself.
Love to all --
Yours, ever --- Ike
They are concerned Iowa is not healthy for children in the summer; summer complaint.
His itinerary: Sat, St. Clair; Sat. nite, Pottsville; Sun, N.Y.; Mon, Boston; Tuesday, Boston/Harding, Chicago?; Saturday, home/ Clinton


1865 Summer of '65 letters

Clinton, Iowa, July 2nd 1865
Annie and 4 month old Mary have taken the "Buckeye" steamer to Vermont and Ike is worried. She is in Northfield for the first time in 4 years.
Darling Wife!

Is it well with you all, this beautiful Sunday morning? I have searched the papers, each day, and seen no account of the "Buckeye," so I think you got through all safe and are "home, at last." I fear you had a rough passage, for I see reports of severe gales on the lakes about the time you was there. We have had tornados, thunder storms and freshets. Last Wednesday the directors came out and we went to Boonsboro with a special train -- at State Center. Thursday morning we saw the effects of the tornado they had the night previous. Houses blown off from foundations and twisted around in all directions and one large, two story building used for store and dwelling house was all torn to pieces and two children killed. We have had terrific thundershowers all through the state - several persons killed and buildings burned by lightening – 25 horses were killed in one county. If mother had been here she would needed to sit on her trunk nearly all the time. Now we are drowned out by freshets. The Road north of us is said to be nearly all torn to pieces so no trains have run for several days. We have as yet kept all trains running and suffered no serious damage; but I expect to close the bridge over the Wapsie as the river is very high and now rising rapidly. If we escape with no other damage I shall feel satisfied, and I think the worst is over at all other places. The Cedar was not as high as four years ago.
We had quite an excursion at Boonsboro examining proposed crossings for the Railway over the Des Moines. I walked three miles - rode on horse-back nine, and in the cars two hundred and three, one day, and got home at 7.30 at night, so you see I am "able to be around." My health is good and I am not at home enough to be homesick in the least. Mrs. Trull has been sick with teeth-ache; but is well again now. She has a Sarah Johnson with her when Trull is away. [The Trulls are either neighbors or housekeepers for them, or both.]
Deacon [Han Jones] & family all well - I intend to go there to supper this afternoon. They are making preparations for a great celebration here Tuesday. [4th of July] I would rather see you and baby (Mary is written in pencil above baby) five minutes, than see all the fireworks.
Tell me how you find everything at Northfield. Four years must have made many changes! Houses and fences will have grown old and rusty - wrinkles on faces you left smooth and smiling. You will miss many familiar faces at church, and see many strange ones - many new mounds in the cemetery, and many withered flowers and forgotten graves! I hope you will all write to me often. Tell Lib. to write me a great long letter and let me know all about my wife and my wife's sister. I suppose Jim [Annie's brother] has written you that he has sold out and thinks of taking a trip east while you are there. I am glad he is out of that business, for I don't think it a good country for a young man to live in. If all is well, I hope to write you from Lake Superior, before
the month closes - Gault says Mssrs? Dunlap & Ferry propose joining us if we go after the traut. [going fishing with the big-wigs
If you can, I hope you will go to the sea shore. Hire a girl to help take care of baby, and enjoy life all you can - hire a team and ride when it will do you any good. How is Sarah? [Sarah Dutton was their nanny for James in '63, maybe now unavailable for some reason.] She must have been an interesting traveling companion! I know just how she acted and how she looked. Have you seen French May or May Smith? I suppose not. I must stop now - will write again if I get time this evening ---
I love you, darling.

Note: The last sentence is written extremely small in the bottom corner.
We don't know what Jim's business was in the Nevada Territory (not yet a state) or Nevada in Iowa; in any event, he got out of it. Why is Lib back in Northfield instead of Janesville?

9 July 1865
Addressed to Northfield, Vermont
Briggs House, Chicago, Sunday evening July 9th.
Darling Wife!

Here I am, in my comfortable room, thinking of you. It being necessary for me to be here tomorrow morning, I came last night. Jim came to Clinton last night, so I took him along with me and have just left him in the sleeping car to go back to Nevada. We went to church this morning and have had a very quiet day for it has been a dreary, rainy day like November. I was very glad to get your letter Friday night saying you was at home and well. I worried much about you and if any serious accident had happened to you while on the lakes I should have been inclined to believe in "warnings", for I had a fearful dream of a shipwreck in which the home and all was F.???, so it made quite an impression upon my mind -- Thank God! It was only a dream.
The "Buckeye" was at her landing here when we came this morning. I suppose she would have looked quite homelike to you. Mrs. Trull keeps everything neat and in order. She had noticed the keys of the sewing machine and gave them to me. The yard is full of beautiful flowers. I keep a bouquet in the office nearly all the time. The flowering maple and dahlias are in blossom. Tell father that the corn is a perfect forest and will soon be large enough to roast. The garden looks very well -- I wish you had some of the cherries. I had a present of new potatoes and cucumbers for dinner yesterday.
Monday morning -- still raining. I hope all of you will write. Baby may put in a few words.
As ever, yours, Ike

Annie in Northfield, Jim Gould doing something in Nevada but selling out, got to Clinton Sat nite, they had dinner, [dinner might be mid day meal] then he and Ike took the night train to Chicago. They spent the day Sun and now Jim is on the train to Nev. Ike has work to do in Chicago Mon morning, baby Mary at home in Northfield, 4 months old. Mrs. Trull is keeping house for Ike.

Northfield July, 17, 1865
Dear Son,
I hope you will excuse my negligence in not writing to you. I have been pretty busy in the garden and had nothing interesting to write. Your family are here and we were to see them. Mary is a good fat little girl. I think she looks like Sophia youngest. I hope she will live and be as kind to you as you have been to me, and then I know you can't help loving her. She is a little afraid of me. I hope she will get over it soon as well. Amos says if you will come and ask him he will tell you where you can get some potatoes. Two of his girls are married. His son is in the Army. Huntington has moved to College. Plan is appointed cashier of their new bank in that place. Asa came home a week last Friday and went today. Crops look nice except apples but very few of them. I suppose Annie and her father have all the news. Colby has paid what was due, he paid Rufus eighty some time since and he had use it. I have written to Han. about it. Asa thought I had better send the draft of fifty to you and you can hand it to Hannah. [Han Jones living in Clinton] I will try and write oftener than I have.
Abijah How


Clinton, Iowa, July 30th 1865.
[Sarah -- traveling companion from Clinton to Northfield and maybe back to Clinton with Annie. Nursemaid or cousin? Probably Sarah Dutton.]
On my return home Friday, I found your letter and the picture of birdie Mary! (in pencil is written above this "Mary was born Mch. 9. 1865") I need not say how pleased I was and how surprised to notice how the little pigeon has grown - I saw "mother Van" yesterday, and showed her the picture - she says they are all well, and anxious to see you. She and Hannah were in a lumber wagon and had "the baby" - a black eyed little picture of Sue. [Han & Roys had baby Marion in '65]
This has been a beautiful day - clear and cool as September - I have strolled about the garden and wished and wished that you was with me, but I do not want you to come while it is best for you to be there. I hope your next letter will tell what you think about returning - do you think best to remain there this winter, and during the hot weather of next summer, as you proposed before you left? If not, do you think it safe to come by the first of Sept? Which way will you come? I shall go after you, whenever you wish to come. Does Sarah conclude to comeback? How about father & mother? [Gould]
I hardly know what to advise about your visiting Soph. I know she would like to have you with her a month; but if it will be too hard for you, or baby you must not go. Soph's oldest children are now large enough to help take care of the others. [Soph expecting. John Herbert born Nov. Needs help? Mattie 3, Annette 1.] I was at the deacon's this noon and had some bread and milk. They are all well there. My health continues good and I am not working as hard as usual -- running about on the Road, nearly all of the time, so I can remain at home, when wifey comes! I have written Harriet and Lib - if they don't answer, I will not write them when their wives are away. ?
I wrote Charles Barrett about slate for roofs of our new engine houses - have received no answer and fear we shall need patronize some other quarry. If father sees him I wish he would tell him to write immediately, if he wishes to furnish the slate - also give price - size and time of delivery. Since writing the above I have concluded to enclose a letter to father.
I don't think I shall ever want to go to the old Northfield Church again and hear a boy preaching in Mr. Stone's place. Write me often if only a few lines and tell me all about how you are and how you are feeling and what you are doing. You cannot tell me these things "after we go bed"; but you can write them so I can read them and think of you and baby, after I go to bed!
Dick does not like any of the new comers in the house and shows fight when they go near his cage; but he talks and sings to me, when I hang him under the grape vine. The birds and flowers are very friendly to me and are almost the only companions I have when at home. The dahlias are in blossom now. The humming birds have also come again so you see I am not all alone.
I have not seen or heard from Jim this week - think he is well and all right.
Love to all -- good night darling ----- Ike

Addressed to: Mrs. I.B. Howe, Northfield, Vt.
Written in pencil on envelope: Aug. 2, 1865.
August 2nd --
My Wife!
[Dr. Farnsworth may have come from Northfield]
It is ten o'clock - I have just come to my boarding house and will write a few words before going to bed. We have had a thunder shower, and after that, just before sunset a beautiful rainbow. A rainbow in the east -- did you see it, darling? Was it a bow of hope and promise? -or did you see only the dark, storm-clouds below it? It is very warm, again; but I think not very unhealthy at present.
I saw Dr. Farnsworth yesterday - he inquired about you and baby - said it might be perfectly safe here for children by the first of next month; but if you could just as well be away until the 10th or 15th of Sept. he would advise that. He is located here, now. I have not yet seen Dr. Hudson; but suppose he is at home.
I have been thinking that perhaps you would like to have me go after you the last of this month and have you go from Chicago to Janesville and stay a week or two before you come home which will keep you away till the middle of Sept. Harriet will want to see you and hear all about "home", and it is almost as hard to go from here to Janesville as from Northfield. Jim writes that he shall go home soon - perhaps next week - he will tell you all about "us". I suppose when Jim gets there, he can sleep in the hall, up stairs, or on the sofa in mother's room - not a word, yet, about mother! -- I do not think you Vermonters are very liberal with letters.
[Mother Gould would be 49; Martha Howe died before they were married.]
The 27th Regiment came this noon from away down south. They claim to have done the last fighting of the war. That regiment made the last charge in the rebellion. Many of the men have ugly looking wounds; but they came with joyful faces and triumphant music. They marched home, "to the music of the Union".
Mr. Gault stayed in Clinton last night and Mr. Talcott is here tonight. I have just been down to the door to receive a present of prairie chickens -- the second lot I have had sent me today - won't Sarah [housemaid] be glad she is not here to dress them? I wish you could all have some of them - you know I care but little about them. I stop occasionally to glance at the sweet face of little Mary and now I must go to bed and think of her and of you - my own darlings.

Thursday forenoon - raining - if you have any messages of importance at any time, telegraph me.
All well!


Clinton, Iowa, August 6th 1865
Darling Annie!

It is Sunday morning --- I have gathered a bouquet of flowers for my office table and here they are bowing and laughing and talking to me like a flock of children, "running to meet Papa". One little star-shaped, blue flower says: -- "do I remind you of the eyes of any one you love?" "She means her with the soft, velvet cheeks like mine", says Pansy. -- "Do any of my colors remind you of a certain young lady's dress?" says Pink, with a roguish twinkle in her clear,bright eyes --- All the flowers laugh, and say:- "I wonder if he will forever remember that red dress?"-----Pansy says her little cousin Forget-me-not often tells her about that red dress. Now an old acquaintance leans over a geranium leaf, and with an "injured look" asks why it is that I don't seem to care as much about him as I did a few years ago. --- Poor, old Bachelors' Button is growing jealous! ---- "Ah!" says Violet to Bachelors' Button -- "Do you never think how much more delightful than 'bachelor independence' is the feeling that somebody is waiting to welcome you, and longing to nestle in your arms and whisper in your ear: - 'I love you."
Away have gone my flower fancies, for I have just had a call from the Col. and Surgeon of the 27th Regt. - The men who were in "the last fight!" Very pleasant men they are, and very interesting the incidents they relate of their life away down south.
Next time you write please tell me what the arrangement will be for your coming home -when you wish to start - which way you wish to come - who will come with us, etc. I do not expect to be able to stop long in Vermont. If I go east, by way of New York, I shall go to Boston and spend one night with Soph. -- I have written Soph what you say about not going to Boxford, and told her how hard it is for you to travel with baby. If all is well, you will be there again next year, and then you can make her a long visit. A letter from Jim says he cannot get away quite as soon as he expected -- perhaps he will not go till I do. [still winding down business in Nevada?]
We had about a week of pleasant weather and then it commenced raining again and it has rained and rained and kept raining -- today, it looks like pleasant weather again. I shall not take supper with the deacon today, for she has six or eight soldiers (officers, I think) boarding there --all are well, and Miss Mary [Marion Sophia Jones, about 7 months] has one tooth in sight -- Fisher writes Wadleigh that his folks are better. I go out on the Road this week - perhaps to Des Moines, and perhaps to Chicago -doubtful about my writing again, before next Sunday.
I heard it rumored, today, that Dr. Van Deventer, Capt. Jim's brother was about to locate in Clinton, I hope he will, if he is a good physician.
I get along very comfortably with Trull's folks; but it isn't home, without you, darling and I am glad to think that one week of August is nearly gone. If you conclude to go to Janesville and stop a couple of weeks I can go after you the last of this month; but if you come directly home I suppose I had better not leave here before the first of Sept. Write me what you think of it.
I am very glad you are where father Howe can see you and baby for I know he loves you both. How I should like to hear little Mary "talk"!
(Ike did not sign his name)
August 9th 1865
Briggs House, Chicago,

My dear, good, Wife!

Here I am at "home" again and we are having, as usual, a thunder shower. I started last night for Cedar Rapids, but received a message requesting me to come to Chicago -- tonight I will start again for C. Rapids.
We have dreadful, hot, showery, sultry weather -- many children are sick and I think it may be best for you to remain in Vermont till about the 10th of next month. We will see how the weather is and how you are. I called at Han's yesterday and found the baby [Marion] quite sick with summer complaint; they thought she was a little better than in the morning - David [Fifield] writes that many children are sick in Janesville. This month, you know, is usually very unhealthy.
Today, Mary is five months old! Sweet little darling -- it makes me tremble when I think of the many dangers and then think how we love her!
I have been thinking a little about buying a horse this fall and would do so if it was not so much work to take care of it - will you and Sarah take care of it and harness it?
I've been thinking our pleasantest way home may be by cars to Ogdensburg, propeller from there to Toledo or Detroit and cars from there.
Davis says you and Mary must call at his house when you come. David writes that Walker wants Jim to go into lumber business with him here in Chicago. It is so dark I can hardly see to write so I'll stop and go to dinner.
As ever, yours, Ike
I am well ---

Clinton, Iowa, August 13, 1865
Iowa Division, Chicago Northwestern Railway,
Superintendent's Office

Addressed to: Mrs. IB Howe, Northfield, Vermont (three cent stamp)
Mr. Dunlap was his boss, Han is sister Hannah Jones, baby is Marion Sophia, seven months, Cora and Mattie are Han's daughters, 17 and 15, by Thomas McGregor.
My guess is George Tucker is scouting real estate in Washington, DC, not George Peabody. Abijah is 77. Malverd Tucker 28 and not yet married but will live in DC.
David and Harriet Gould Fifield are in-laws. Harriet is Annie's older sister.
-- Tana and Mark
Questions? Is May a name for Martha/Mattie Jones? Jim Gould is jr. and home is still Northfield except that Mother & Father Gould are usually with Fifields in Janesville.

Darling Wife!

You see by the date that it is almost the middle of the month and about the first of September I hope to start for you. Last Tuesday I went to Chicago and did not get back till yesterday -- went to Madison with Mr. Dunlap -- we had a pleasant but hard time and I came home newly sick but am better now and shall feel well enough tomorrow. We did not go by way of Janesville so I saw nothing of David or Harriet.
It is cool weather again. Han and her baby have gone to Belle Plains to visit Mr. Stevens -- May was sick very long -- Jim is here and will go to Chicago Tuesday and be at home by Saturday I think. He will tell you all the news. I shall miss him, for even if I do not see him it is pleasant to think that he is near. I am impatient to have you back here with me. I was glad that you wanted to come, for I almost feared you might think it best to remain there this winter. I think we had better come by way of Grand Trunk on account of less changes and less trouble with baggage. We can take a stock of provisions with us to last through Canada. The chickens got so full of mischief that I had a few of them killed for Han and Trull's folks -- will try to keep the others in some way for you. They have had dreadful freshets in some places here. I was in Chicago during the "great shower" of which you may have read. The mellons are beginning to get ripe. I wish Father and Mother and all of you could have some. Jim and I have promised to take supper with Cora and Mattie and it is time we were there.
Kiss Mary for me -- (she was five months)

Monday morning.
Tell Father that if he thinks best to go to Washington and see that farm George tells about, I will take half of it if he wants the other half, and thinks it as great an investment is represented -- want him to do just as he thinks best. I don't know anything about the matter.


Clinton, Iowa, August 24th 1865
My Wife!

I came back to Clinton, Tuesday night and am all right. You may see some account of the terrible accident of Monday night near Morrison, about ten miles east of here. There was tremendous rain that night and a culvert washed out and the night train going east ran into it --engine - tender baggage car and one passenger car went into the chasm -- engineer, fireman, express messenger & one passenger were instantly killed. No others seriously injured. The fireman was Charlie Fenlon's brother.
It is cool & pleasant now. Mrs. W. J. Young has a little girl.
1865 Aug
Clinton, Iowa. August 27th 1865.
Darling Wife!
Is Annie still in Northfield or gone to Janesville? Next letter sounds like Northfield.
Is it well with you all, this beautiful Sunday morning? Are you listening again to the sweet music of the bells? I hope so, and I hope that in about ten days I can leave here for "home". Only a few days more, darling! and then I will soon be with you -- our home here looks so pleasant that I want you with me to enjoy it. The corn is ripe - the grapes are beginning to look quite purple - plenty of tomatoes and O the flowers are very beautiful although the terrible storm injured some of them and nearly ruined the dahlias. If you and baby Mary were only with me, now, and well, I should be as happy as I ever expect to be.
I intend to go home by way of New York and Boston and shall try to see Dr. Williams, Asa & Sophie; but I shall make short calls. I shall write you about when to expect me. Jim promised to write me; but I fear the scamp has forgotten it. Will father & mother come home with us? ---- I hope so! [home to Clinton?] I am glad Mary likes father Howe -- how I should like a picture of him, with her in his arms!
The deacon & family are well - May [Martha/ Mattie ?] is very pretty - Cora is doing very well. Mrs. Trull takes good care of your things and I think you will find everything all right. It is rather unhealthy here and will be for a few weeks longer I think - I am very well and try to be quite careful of my health. This week the Soldiers Orphans Fair will be held at Marshall, and I suppose there will be a great rush of people over the Road.
There was rather an interesting incident, here, Friday night, in connection with the soldiers orphans -- Rev. Mr. Ingalls had a party of six little boys and seven little girls, - soldiers orphans, which he has been educating and learning to sing, together. Friday evening he took them up to the camp and the little orphans sang to the soldiers. The grim, stern old veterans gathered around them and tears filled many eyes as the sweet, childish voices sang the war-songs and welcomes home. After they had done one soldier asked if the father of either of the children belonged to the Eighth Calvary. A little girl said her father belonged to that Regt. when he was killed. The soldier clasped the little creature in his arms, kissed her -said her father was his comrade and friend, and he would protect his child. He gave her his name and $10.00 and told her to call upon him whenever she needed anything! These little folks unlock hearts very easily, sometimes.
Speaking of the little folks, reminds me of a pleasant incident of especial interest to me. A few days ago the school-children had a picnic in the grove by our house, and arranged their tables, wreaths, flowers & etc. - very tastily. As I went down from dinner they were preparing their tables and I gave a little girl a dollar to get some apples or nuts for it. When I came up to tea, the little misses waylaid me and presented a beautiful, frosted and flower wreathed cake, which I am trying to preserve for you. Pretty, wasn't it?
You will hardly know Clinton when you get back, it has improved so much this season. It is thought that over 150 buildings will be erected here this season, and if they continue until winter, as they have gone along so far, it may reach 200! Poor Lyons is of no account now. [Lyons a competing city just north of Clinton.]

As ever, yours , Ike


Clinton, Iowa, August 31, 1865

Thursday Forenoon --
[Asa and Dr. Williams in Boston area? . Gould parents living in Janesville.]
Darling! Yesterday morning I received the letter from you and Jim, and I was glad to hear from you, but hearing of so much sickness there makes me feel rather anxious and uneasy. It is terrible that here noon -- day after day the thermometer is above 90° and the nights are also pretty warm, but I hear of no extraordinary amount of sickness. The doctors predict much sickness during the first of September if this weather continues -- I am well and very careful.
Tell Jim I received the $1000 all safe. I intended to start East next week, but some of our friends advised me to wait a few days longer so as to not get you here before the last of the month. I will do just as you think best about it. I shall try to remain a few days at Northfield if all is well. Now if you think it better to risk the climate here or in Janesville than there, write or telegraph me and I will go directly there instead of waiting a week longer or going to visit Asa and Dr. Williams. We do not know what the future designs for us or what is best for us to do, so we can only do what we think is best and then let the result be what it may. We must try to feel that is was all so ordered, and is "all for the best."
Tell James that Wm Carrovall, who was recently our foreman in the paint shop, killed himself at Wheatland yesterday by the accidental discharge of his gun. He was not a good man, but I am sorry for his wife. I received a letter last night from Dr. Williams saying he was going East this week and should not get back before the 9th. He wanted I should arrange to not get to Altoona before the 10th. I am not anxious about going that way and will do just as you wish -- write or telegraph me as soon as you get this.
As ever, yours, Ike

Sept. 3rd 1865
Dear Wife!

It is a dreadful hot day - and very dry and dusty -- much like the season here four years ago. If you are well, I am glad you are not here to suffer with us. We are all as well as usual and I take everything as quietly as possible.
I have not quite decided when to go home; but think I will start in a week from tomorrow, if not before. I have received a note from Asa saying he was sick, and on his way home. If I hear that he is not very sick I think I will go by way of Dr. Williams and Boston so I can't tell when I will get to Northfield; but I will write again about this. Just think of it, darling! - next week I am going home to see you! Next week I can clasp you in my arms again and whisper in your ear "I love you" -- next week I hope to see our darling little Mary. Is all this joy in store for us? Ah,me --- we cannot tell! But He who watcheth over us, we know do'st all things well.
It is too hot to write and as I hope to be with you soon I will close.
Your own Ike

Monday morning ---
I have just received father Gould's letter. After writing you, yesterday, I almost concluded to go home by way of Saratoga as I have some business there and I now think I shall go to Chicago this week and if possible get to Saratoga next Sunday.
I will write again, Ike


Clinton, Iowa, Sept. 5th 1865
Dear Annie!
It will be impossible for me to leave before next week as neither Dunlap, Gault or Horace Williams have yet got home, so there is no one to leave to "keep-house" -- They say they will all be home by Saturday and as I need to see them, before leaving, I will wait till next week. Perhaps I can go to Chicago Saturday night and leave there Monday night for Saratoga.
Will write again ----- All well -- Love to all --
Note: This is the end of this summer's letters to Annie.