A Turned Cover
Fulton County Illinois
~ 25 April 1838 ~

Copyright © 2000, Frederick Smoot. All Rights Reserved.

Folded Letter Sheet.
Manuscript postmark:

       Lewiston Ill
       Apl 27
Manuscript rate:
       Mrs. Mary Aten
       Washington co.
       Aaron H. Aten
Centreville Fulton co. Illinois April 25th 1838.

My Dear Madam,
       I am at this moment here, and in reasonably good health, but not in the very finest spirits,. You will see that I have been absent 23 days, in which time I tell you, I have traveled 1200 miles & more -- It was on Tuesday the 2nd Inst. that I left. That day I reached Marietta, where I stayed till Sunday 7th waiting for the Fulton, a boat for the Illinois River. The Fulton not still coming, but the Thames for St. Louis, Manson’s & I got aboard voyaged along. The next Monday night sometime we reached Cincinnati. There I got one to Louisville --- Lay there ½ day as at Cincinnati. -- Did not go over the Falls -- they were too low -- Went through the canal & lock. -- Thursday P.M. hauled to at Shawneetown -- That night stuck on a sand-bar above the mouth of the Cumberland River -- Friday passed Mouths of Cumberland, Tennessee & Ohio Rivers & took up the Big Mississippi. Saturday night late landed at St. Louis in state of Missouri. Passage price to St. Louis $6 apiece. Sunday Morning hired the little Old steamboat to take us on up [the Illinois River] for $15 apiece -- Manson’s landed Monday noon at Meredosia 16 miles below Bairdstown, I, [Beardstown Illinois] Monday at Grand Island, a little above Sparkes Landing by a trick of the boat, save them trouble, & give me bother. Next night got to Argo’s Richard and Robert had been there 2 weeks before; but had not been heard of since. For 2 more days I followed round where they had been, & finally heard that they had gone to Quincy to enter land for Robert, & take steamboat on the Mississippi for home again -- Richard was, as usual, in an awful hurry.
       Robert wanted to go home and work for the Old man this summer. So I suppose if nobody followed & killed them, they are home long ago. And I not seen them at all!!
       David Snowdon & John Marshall, two of our old Virginia neighbors are now buying close by our land. I was with them, & saw it. It is much richer land than you have seen, but hardly any body lives near it yet. There is water enough on it, if I got at the right lines. Richard’s own piece I have not seen at all it is nearly 2 miles off. If one half the land were prairie, it would be vastly easier to begin upon it. As it is, I do not see whether I can get anything done on it very soon, or not. I may be able perhaps to think of something before fall. Till this time I have not found a school vacant, & worth any thing, though I travelled 100 miles of Fulton county quite from the Schuyler line on the South West, to the Peoria line on the North East. I am now at Uncle Kuykendalls with one or two possible chances of school in prospect, but no certain ones I would have written a week or two ago, but that I expected to settle for the season. Still, however you can write. For, if I go away from this, I can arrange with the postmaster to send your letters on to me. For I want to hear from you as soon as possible.
       And I think I can tell you more in my next. I must get at something soon as I can, and when I act I will try to let you know.
       Perhaps it is well that Joseph did not come along; for I know he would not relish the low wages offered this season. The last land sales took nearly all the money out of this state & there has not been any demand for any specie of produce or stock since.
       If he were here now, he could got $12 dollars per month but hardly in cash. Money was always plenty here till last fall & believe it will be by next fall, or winter, plenty enough. William, if he were here could do better at $35 or $40 for the wood-work of a wagon. There are but few here that understand his trade, and the timber here is as good for wagon-work as the famous New Jersey wagon timber.
       When you write tell me if William has come home and what about him -- if Joe has got well -- where he is -- what doing -- if Joshua Fisher has come on, or said any thing -- Things are reasonably cheap here & plenty as they can be in new country. Millions of bushels, I am sure of corn, could now be had for cash at 20 cents a bushel. Tradesmen continue to ask high prices, but are beginning to sell at credit.
       Tell me all about yourself & the children & how you get along-- What Willie says about me. Poor fellow, he cried so hard when I started, & realize Jane cannot mind me. If cannot do pretty well I may get back soon. A month earlier, I could have done better. Many summer schools that would have suited, were taken & all the best ones.
       I am sorry I have no more to write. But I will look with patience for an answer. Write soon Direct to me at Cuba, Fulton co. Illinois.
Affectionately Aaron H. Aten.
       This letter was re-folded and then re-mailed. This second address below is on the opposite side of the paper from the original address to Beverly Ohio. When a folded letter sheet or envelope is re-folded and re-used, it is called a ’turned cover.’

Second mailing:
Manuscript postmark:
       May 24
Manuscript rate:
       Richard Aten
       Fairview Brooke County

       According to the obituary of Mary Gatwood Aten, “on February 5, 1835, she was married to Aaron H. Aten, of Fairview, W. Va. [then Virginia].” Aaron H. Aten died in McDonough County Illinois 9 Aug 1889. Mary died in Warren County Illinois 5 June 1907. Please visit the Schuyler County Illinois Trails webpage with Mary Aten’s obituary.

Letter from the Collection of Fred Smoot

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