Howe Letters - 1868

Letter to I.B. Howe from Col. James Henry Howe – General Mangr. – in praise for settlement of claims.

Solicitor's Office, C. & N.W..R.
Chicago March 16, 1868
I.B. Howe Esq.

Dear Sir:
Your papers, vouchers etc. were received this morning.
The company also much obliged to you for the problems in ability displayed in settling these claims, that they not only (feel it) right to increase your salary, but raise a large expensive monument over your earthly remains when the wicked have ceased troubling you. I hope they will worry you a good many years yet.
Your settlement with Sturs was a masterpiece. I think the receipt he signed the best one in a legal point of view, we have in the office. I wish you would thank Judge Wright in my name.
I propose to write Mr. Sibley and authorize him to draw for another hundred dollars -- we will keep up your reputation. There are so few of us that have any, it won't do to let any slide, if a few hundred dollars will help.
Your money will be sent today.
I have added $50 to Judge Wright's bill for his services in this matter.
Yours truly, James H. Howe


Note: One of the most dreaded disasters of heavy freight trains is a runaway. If the train gets too much speed going down a long grade and the brakemen are not quick enough applying brakes to all the cars, there comes a tipping point where nothing can be done but pray. If there is a curve along the run, the train rolls off the track. A sidetrack is apparently what they called a "siding".

May 6th 8. [1868?]
Geo Dunlap,
Genl. Supt. &C. [&c was used as etc.]

Dear Sir: ----
The people of New Philadelphia are urging us to establish a station there -- The people about two miles west of New Philadelphia are also asking for a station.
We are offered all the land we want for station purposes, at both places, and a promise of other "material aid", if required. A side track is greatly needed, now, between Ames & Boone. The fourteen miles run and heavy grades between the two stations make it very bad now that we have so many heavy trains. I think a track should be put in immediately, and I wish you would decide upon the location and direct me what negotiations to make. New Philadelphia is about 2 ¾ miles west of Ames, and at the top of the College Farm grade. This point would accommodate College Farm and be of great advantage to heavy freight trains going west, as they could run to the top of the hill and set out a part of the train when necessary. You will notice on profile that this grade is similar to Corn River grade and being on a curve and a long hill it is one of the worst places we have and now governs (??) all trains. 2 l/2 or 2 miles further west would better divide the distance between Ames & Boone and when the country becomes "settled up" it may as well accommodate the public.
You may think it best to locate a station at Philadelphia, now, and when the country between there & Boone becomes developed, establish another station between Pha. & Boone.
I submit the following proposition: - Establish the station, now, at whichever point you think best, and I will engage to furnish the necessary depot grounds and a depot as good as Belle Plaine, or Colo, without any expense to the R'y Co.----- If you object to asking the inhabitants to contribute for this object, I will require nothing from them, excepting land - and this, without a station will amount to a trifling sum for them to give.
If this offer is accepted and my "venture" pays more than it costs I will divide the profits in such manner as you may direct - give lots to officers & employees - catholic churches - or expend the proceeds in ballasting! ---- or new iron!!
One thing is certain - we must have a side track between Ames & Boone, immediately, and after a side track is in, we cannot get the natives to give us any land, as they will feel sure that a side-track will lead to a station. [This letter is about negotiation. If they have already installed the siding, their bargaining position is compromised.]

Please answer soon, if possible ---
Respectfully yours,
I.B. Howe


There is no signature to this letter but I'm sure it was written by Isaac B. Howe, probably about 20 years old. Tana.
[But the "rhyme" was published in a newspaper which he refers to as if he owned it.
There is a letter from Alonzo Bowman that sounds like a response to this; Jun '1868. Ike is a year older than Alonzo; I'm thinking this was written in about early '68 at age 41.
As mentioned, their first boyhood home was in Norwich and we know little of that time. Then they (both Bowman's and Howe's) moved to Northfield when the boys were 6 and 7. Mark.]

Not wishing to be charged with a "breach of promise," I will fulfill my engagement, although strongly tempted otherwise by the fear that you, like many others, cannot keep a secret, even if told you in confidence, and with the expressed desire that you would keep your finger on your lip, but I will try you this time, and trust you will remember that this is a confidential letter.
Owing to the secluded situation of our early home you will remember that much of my boyhood was passed in solitude, but though denied the companionship of children like myself, I was never lonely, for I learned to find amusement, if not instruction, in the works of Nature. The joyous songs of the birds breathe to me of confidence and bade me let not fears of the future destroy the enjoyment of the present. The Wildwood flowers as they peeped forth from their resting place seemed to look kindly upon me and whisper of innocence and... happiness. The squirrels gathering nuts amid the falling leaves of autumn looked more confidingly upon me, than others, and I could almost understand their language, I fancied. In fact, Nature became my playmate, as it were, and my heart seldom yearned for other companionship.
There were three, however, whose friendship commenced almost with my existence, and whose remembrance will end only with the same, even though the feelings cherished towards them in boyhood may be widely changed. These I loved as brothers should be loved -- truly and disinterestedly. But ere the careless days of boyhood had passed away, one of them calmly, almost cheerfully, made us "good bye" as he sank into his dreamless slumber.
We are all scattered now, and as I returned home nearly two years ago and again visited the scenes of our boyish sports, the past with its long forgotten pleasures was mournfully recalled; yet all is changed! The path down through the pasture, once worn so smoothly, could not be traced by a stranger now. The "poplar tree" is gone. The spring up in the maple grove is overhung with weeds and briars -- you may never have been there, but that was one of our favorite resting places, the shade was so cool, the grass so fresh and green, and the waters gushed forth so clear and cool, and there, on a bright, beautiful morning in October, I went alone for some of that water to cool the parched lips of a dying playmate! He requested it and our last draught together was from that spring. --
The little pond up in the woods remains almost the same, and I even found fragments of our playthings there, but the voices which once rang so gaily around it have gone. For ever. It was these scenes and associations, which suggested the lines you saw in my newspaper, and which at your request I enclose.

My Early Friends

There were four of us in childhood
Who like four brothers seemed,
And as we played in the green wood shade,
Of parting, never dreamed.
But the paths we drawn so often
With grass are all o'er grown.
And silence dwells in the wood and bells
Where rang joy's wildest tone.

The tree on which in boyhood
We carved our names is gone.
And o'er the clear cool spring so dear,
Rank weeds and briars have grown.
The green hillside seems desolate
The pond and waterfall
Where o'er we roved, all that we loved,
Sad memories recall.

We may not meet on earth again;
One roams the bright blue sea, *
One with his bride by Erie's side
Has long forgotten me;
And one, the gentlest of our band,
Passed like a holy pray'r,
To the bright home where angels roam, --
Brothers! He waits us there.

*when this was written I had just received a letter from Alonzo informing me that he was about to start for the West Indies.

This, you will remember, was written a year and a half ago, and is among the last of my poetical effusions, although I will confess that "making rhymes" was one of my favorite amusements in boyhood, but had not our good brother broken the law, by breaking an envelope, and then broken confidence by telling you what it enclosed, none of you would have known of this particular weakness of mine; however, it may be all for the best, as it broke me of the habit at once.
There -- I have confessed all, and as I am now reformed, I trust you will not betray me.

Boyhood friend Alonzo Bowman, letter to Ike

Envelope addressed to: I. B. Howe, Sup. Chicago & N.W.R.R. (Iowa Division.), Clinton Iowa.
in pencil on envelope is written: From Alonzo Bowman (Malvard Tucker is crossed out)

BOWMAN (embossed)

Brookline June 8th '68
My Dear Old Ike.

I was more surprised as never "was" a few days since on arriving home from New Bedford to find a letter from you, and Sir, it done me more good than --than-- a dose - yes a whole bottle of - of - Old Plantation Bitters", it enabled me to throw off some twenty years of life -- many of them rough, tearing, wearing years, and I was "a boy again," in old Vt. As I read and re-read your letter, and indulged in a fit of (dilapidation as Geo. Spout used to say. (don't let anyone see this.) Tis now some thirty five years [1833, they relocated from Norwich to Northfield the following year.] since I had the honor to make the acquaintance of "Ike" (and I shall be forty next month) twas in the good town of Norwich, Vt. and for say fifteen years immediately succeeding "Ike & Son" used to see each other as often as say 150 times in the year, from the time when we commenced our piscatory (fishing) exercises with crooked pins and pieces of yarn - to the time when we stood in all the pride of young manhood on Old Camels Humps lordly crest, with the thunder rolling at our feet. What mattered it to us in that hour of our grand triumph. Tho the rain and tempest beat on our devoted heads, and the "plagy" fog so thick we couldn't see three inches from our noses, hadn't we been conversing this subject for years, months & days, our thought, by day, our dreams by night, how earnestly and admiringly we had gazed on this mountain height from our cottage homes, and this was our hour of triumph. and if my memory is correct, we retired in good order with all our arms & stores and quartered that night atin a farmhouse and in the words of a General in the late war who always ended his reports with "the objects of the expedition were accomplished".
I have not written anything yet that I intended to say when I commenced -- The Great West. O yes I have always had a great desire to see the great west, to "perambulate" over the great plains & shoot things but don't expect I ever shall. I am growing old Sir, most emphatically Sir, growing old, and shall probably continue to plod along in the same old two penny style that has become a habit to the end. My life you know Ike, has been all a great mistake as regards, the great aim and desire of most men - wealth – worldly possessions, &c. but more of this in my next.
That farm! you always said you would allow me Sir to congratulate you Sir yes Sir., most sincerely Sir, very truly Sir. Son
[The following written upside down in a top margin]
Hurrah for Grant & Colfax!

This is the largest sheet of paper in the house. I have constitutional objections of using two pieces. Will get a sheet of fools cap [foolscap – paper properly 13.5 x17 to be folded or cut in half] next time. Write as soon as you get this. What time do you contemplate coming east? You must arrange for one night with us if no more. Can you give me Malvard T- address?

Note: This probably the Alonzo that Ike gave to his son's middle name: George Alonzo Howe. Ike is 41; Malvard Tucker is 31. Photo from the Turkey Hill "cottage" shows Camels Hump.
The Bowman family were neighbors in Norwich and neighbors again in Northfield; moved together and obviously very good friends.


(old handwriting says: "To Aunt Harriet after death of her twins. ")
[Harriet & David Fifield.
Records show birth of twins Freddie & Alice 23Dec1868; perhaps actually 1867.]
Clinton, Iowa, Sunday, Aug. 9th, 1868.
Dear Brother & Sister!
The notice of the loss of your little ones was not unexpected by us for the reports previously given, satisfied us that their condition was such that there was but little grounds for hope.
While we deeply sympathize with you, it seems almost like bitter mockery to offer words of consolation. You know that "it is well"! You know that all is ordered for the best; but that does not give the loved ones back. We may tell you that the little darlings were too frail and tender for this bleak world and the Good Father has taken them to a fairer home, where they will await your coming. Yes! ----but then your yearning, desolate hearts answer ---"we loved them so!" --"we miss them so!" We cannot read words of consolation, when the tears blind our eyes. --We cannot hear the words of comfort when our ears are listening for the sweet, birdlike voices that so recently filled our homes with music and our hearts with hope. Nothing but time can heal your bleeding hearts sufficiently to enable you to listen with any degree of composure or interest to the friends who say: -"I pity you." We do pity you for we know your feelings ----When time after time the angels took our only child ---our one little pet lamb ---all we had to love and care for we knew what it was to be left desolate. We knew what it was to have the house all silent and orderly ---the little playthings and the little dresses laid away and the little darlings gone forever. We could sadly say:--

"The little feet are on their way
To the home beyond the skies
And our hearts are like the void which comes
When a strain of music dies. "

You have not lost all --there are children's voices left to make music in your home -there are little darlings left to love and care for and hope for; but I suppose that the parent heart that expands to take in one after another, feels much of the same anguish when one is missed that it feels when all are missed. "When all are missed"! --God grant that we, and you may never experience that terrible dying again! We tremble at the thought ------to be again left childless ---let us thank God that we are not so now.
Truly your brother,
I.B. Howe

Remember, Ike and Annie have lost three babies. Since the plural is used for children's voices, Edwin, 6 and Hattie, 3, are born, and Walter will be in '70. It is also possible that Edwin was a surviving twin.


Clinton, Iowa Oct. 26th 1868
Geo L. Dunlap -
Genl. Supt. C.&N.W.R.

Dear Sir: --
In calling your attention to the Iowa Division, permit me, here to mention the terrible condition of the 45th iron between this place and Boone. It is broken, bent and battered -the ends all crushed and tattered - the old, wrought chairs are shattered and promiscuously scattered, so the track will be impairable unless you help us soon.
We should now be in condition for approaching competition and if you're in position to fill a requisition, please send to us, immediately, 2,000 tons of iron. I trust that you'll remember to tell each "directing member" that the long rains of November and the freezes of December play the devil with superstructures which have naught but mud to lie on. I know it's not pleasing, on roads like these you're leasing, to have us always teasing: but our earnings are increasing and it's cheaper paying for iron than for surgeons, priests and necks. I would guard the reputation of this "highway of the nation" - so I lay the case before you and earnestly implore you not to treat as jests or irony my talk of fearful wrecks.
Respectfully yours, I.B. Howe
Did you notice the rhymes?? It kinda sneaks up on you as you read. Priceless, considering who he was writing to.