By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from Winter of 1857.


 Cambridge Sunday April 12th 1857

Dear Son

It is some weeks since I have written a word to you, for the reason, that after I learned that you had gone to Superior & might be coming down to Lancaster, all my letters to you might fail of ever reaching you, so I have held on till I should learn something further from you.  We have recd several letters from you, since your arrival at Superior, for which we were thankful, & I trust that when you got back again to La Pointe our old friend Esq Bell had a lot of my letters for you that would take a long time to read, i.e. if you should have patience enough to read them all through I wrote you last on the 8th of March & next day letters from you, one dated at La Pointe & one for Amherst dated at Fargo’s.  Since that time nothing any important has occurred within the circle of your acquaintance.  Every thing has jogged on in the old beaten track.  We are all three well, & it is a remarkably healthy time all around us.  There have been but 3 or 4 deaths in town since I came home.  Deacon Reynolds aged 90 Lyman Seeley’s wife & Walter Wheeler [???s] wife & a boy of D.R. Evan’s.  In Johnson no deaths that I can think of except old Mrs Hunt who died last week.  The marriages in this town have been very few & none that you will know any thing about except Susan Harvey who was married last week.  In Johnson very few, Calvin Whiting has lately married the widow W. (Albe‘s Mother).

Albe Whiting was a hometown friend and reoccuring character in the Barber Papers.

This has been a remarkable sugar season thus far, but we are probably through or nearly so for this year.  Dow has made about 1150 lbs & has a lot more to sugar off.  Amherst has tapped 15 trees where Mr Harvey who used to make sugar in our woods and has made about 250 lbs of the kindest sugar ever made in Vt as he used tin milkpans to catch his sap & boil in the great caldron kettle & every thing is done up scientifically.  It would amuse you to see how the “Hops” put into it, as he goes into the woods at 7 a.m. gathers his work, over 3 or 4 times boils it down & draws it down on the handsled in the largest wine keg, at night, often after dark, & half the way in deep mud, sometimes breaking his draw ropes & nearly blistering his hands by drawing on the rope.  Amherst has got to be a great swarthy half breed 5 feet 5 ½ inches high in his stockings & weighs 140 lbs as well & free from every ail as one could wish & if you do not see him soon you will never be able to handle him again.

We had a great flood last week as high as I have ever seen it, save a very few times tearing the banks terribly, carrying off fences, bridges, & doing all sorts of mischief generally.  Our meadow will part with a slice from the trees just below the house to the large trees on our bank [????] the creeping rock about ½ a rod wide.  You will be surprised to see how the meadow is going off, the more it wears, the faster it goes next time & it will not be long before it will go all off entirely.  If it were like all other meadows, that gained in some other place as fast as it last elsewhere it would be more tolerable.  But we shall have to grin & bear it, awhile, till we all make up our minds to let somebody else have it & try what they can do to save it.  Another great objection to our meadow is its liability to have the soil carried off & great holes washed out, if plowed, & there is 1/3 or nearly of the meadow in this state & for want of plowing it does not produce more than 1/3 of what it should do.

Dow is still on the place, though he & wife are bad enough I do not see as I can do better. Jonathan Nichols has got back with his family to Cambridge, Irving sold out in Al. but on?? is homesick to get back again.

You will get a letter from me with a copy of a notice from the Land Office at Mineral Point, & probably you will get a copy of the law as passed by Congress, before this reaches you, or I can cut it out and send it in this letter so that you can see it for yourself which I think the best way & you can also see Oscar’s [???], & as you have lately written to your Uncle Allen I suppose he will give you all needful advise on the subject.

On further reflection I will not send you the Law, you will get it in William’s Paper of March 21st if it now goes to La Pointe as his father said he should direct it [???] Nov 20th thenI think will be no trouble in your case, as you will see that all entries under that act

“where the purchaser has made affidavit & paid the purchase money as required by [?d] [a?] & the instructions issued & in force & in the hands of the Regent at the time of making said entry, are hereby legalised & [???] shall issue to the parties respectively, Excepting those entries under said act, which the Commissioner of the Gen. Land Office may ascertain to have been fraudulently, or evasively made.” 

Giles Addison Barber first visit to his son Joel Allen Barber on Lake Superior was during the Summer and Fall of 1856.

This is all the law governing your case & I think there will be no difficulty whatever about it.  Your entry was made in good faith & you went to the Lake to earn something with which to improve your land & have forfeited nothing there.  I was thinking that if you came to Lancaster I would go there & take you with me to the Lake via the Sault when I go up there in May or June.  However if you do come I know it as soon as you get there, & if you do not I shall expect to find you at or around La Pointe in health & in good spirits I hope, & probably glad to see one from below, but not gladder than we should be to see you here.

Joel Allen Barber began surveying the Apostle Islands during the Winter of 1855 with his brother Augustus.

I am surprised to learn that you are going to survey islands so late in the season.  Nothing that I can now say will avail any thing else I would caution against trusting too long to the treacherous covering over the dark blue waters.  I hope you will have good success and get through without any fatal accidents to your self or to any one of your party.  I shall feel great anxiety on your account, till I hear from you again, but shall try to comfort myself with the assurance you gave us in a late letter that you were careful to avoid all danger as much as possible, not only on your own account but on that “of your parents & dear brother.”  I cannot expect to get answer to this before it is time to go up to the Lake, but that need not deter you from writing, if you do not come below, & if you do come to Lancaster you may expect to see your Mother there forthwith & possibly Amherst & myself.  I do not yet know what I shall do with Amherst this season whether continue him at school put him in a store or to some trade.  He would like to be a printer well enough, & it is not a bad business.  Whether it would be best to have him go through college is matter of uncertainty with me.  There are half as many spoiled by going to college as there benefitted by it.  But I do want you to close up all your business around that Lake & come to your Uncle’s Office to study Law.  Thode Burr thinks of it & his Uncle wants to have him.  I wish you to take the matter into consideration.  May God preserve your life & health and prosper you in all lawful undertakings

I remain your Affectionate father

Giles A. Barber

Amherst has shot 3 muskrats to day, prices better now from 15 to 25 ¢.

The death of Albert McEwen was mentioned in the Superior Chronicle and Benjamin Armstrong’s memoir.

I am very sorry for the fate of poor McEwen.  I fear he is dead & that his fate will never be known.  I think he was abandoned by his guides & perished alone.

Mr Young is still alive I suppose, have heard lately that he was worse.

U.S. Representative Augustus Young, U.S. President James Buchanan Jr, the Kansas question, and the Southern Confederacy were featured during the Winter of 1857.

You will see that Buchanan is the worst patron of Border Ruffians & the meanest tool of slave holders that has yet cursed the nation, appointing the worst fire eaters and none else to office in Kansas, & doing all the dirty work of the south crushing out freedom & establishing slavery all over the [?????] if possible.


Superior Chronicle

April 14th, 1857

SUPPOSED MURDER.

superior-chronicle-april-14-1857-murder-on-grand-footpath detail

“Supposed Murder” was a newspaper article published in the Superior Chronicle issue of April 14th, 1857.

March 19th, 1857, Barber Papers:
I am much alarmed for the safety of Friend McEwen & think the prospect of his being alive is very small.  The case deserves a rigid investigation to ascertain whether he was murdered by his guides, or was deserted by them & left to perish in the wilderness.  The weather was favorable about that time & for some days after.  I think he left La Pointe Oct. 14th the day I got back from Montreal River.  ‘Poor Mc’”.

Considerable anxiety is felt by the people of La Pointe county in regard to the whereabouts of Mr. Albert McEwen, a citizen of that county, who started overland for St. Paul sometime during the months of October or November of last year; and of whom nothing has since been heard. Strong suspicions that he was murdered are entertained by his friends. The circumstances, as near as we can learn them, are as follows:

History of Northern Wisconsin
by Western Historical Co., 1881
Ironton, which was settled at the time of the iron excitement, was situated on the south shore of the lake, one-half mile west of the Montreal River. The village was platted in 1856-7, by McEwan [Albert McEwen], Herbert, Mandlebaum, and others. Warehouses and docks were built, and the place thrived for about four years, when it was abandoned.”

Mr. McEwen, a gentleman from Detroit connected with the Indian Agency, and several persons from La Pointe county, with half-breed packers, started together last fall to go across the country, and traveled in company until reaching the head waters of the St. Croix. Here McEwen and the gentleman from Detroit procured canoes and, with two half-breed yoyaguers, determined to descend the river, while the remainder of the party took the land route. When the latter party reached Yellow Lake they found the half-breeds there, but could learn nothing definite in regard to McEwen and his companion; nor could the learn anything in St. Paul, where both these gentlemen had business engagements.

McEwen was known to have about $600 in notes and drafts on his person, and his companion $1,000 in gold. The half-breeds were seen a short time after in St. Paul in possession of large sums of money, principally gold. It is believed that they murdered these gentlemen while descending the river. The circumstances are strongly in favor of this belief.

Was McEwen’s party going “across the country” to the Office of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C.?

Mr. McEwen had resided in and about LaPointe for several years, and owns considerable property in that county. He was an explorer; and is well and favorably known throughout the lake region. The other gentleman was in the employ of Mr. Gilbert, superintendent of the Lake Superior Indians; and was returning to Detroit from La Pointe, where he had been on business connected with the agency.

Benjamin Armstrong organized the McEwen search party.

At latest advices a party were organizing at La Pointe to go to the St. Croix and arrest the half-breeds, and if possible learn the fate of the missing persons.


Early Life among the Indians:

by Benjamin Armstrong

CHAPTER XVII.

A Murder on a Trial at Yellow Lake.——Yet a Mystery.——Collar and Sleeve Buttons of the Murdered Man.——An Introduction to the Bear Family.

early life among the indians

Early Life Among The Indians by Benjamin Armstrong, Chapter XVII.

In 1855 [sic] a man named McEwen came to me at La Pointe who told me he was from California formerly, but was then located at St. Paul; that he had been prospecting through this part of the country for some time for the purpose of finding a suitable location for business and to buy real estate but as the weather was becoming unfavorable for this work he had resolved to return to St. Paul and wanted to know if I could furnish a couple of good reliable men to pilot him as far as Yellow Lake, for when once there he could get on alone over old lumber roads to St. Paul. I furnished him with two men whom I considered reliable. They were two half breeds by the name of Gostelang, their first names being Belamy and Batese, and it transpired that they did their duty and left McEwen at Yellow Lake all right, at a stopping place kept by Joseph Cobaux (or Cavillion), and that McEwen remained at this place two nights and a day. I further ascertained that Cobaux advised McEwen not to follow the tote road as he had intended but to go by trail to Clam Lake and from there to Wood Lake, as it would shorten the distance some ten or twelve miles and that he would send a man with him as a pilot until he should again come to the tote road, which he would do at a place called Knute Anderson’s Meadow. Subsequent events show that McEwen took this advise but he was never again seen alive by his friends.

North Woods River:
The St. Croix River in Upper Midwest History
By Eileen M. McMahon, Theodore J. Karamanski, pages 64-66.

Among the unsavory traders who entered the St. Croix at this time was Joe Covillion. He was a Metis who took over the former mission school at Yellow Lake and used it for his post. Located on the Yellow River just where it leaves Little Yellow Lake, the trading house was the scene of many drunken reveries and a key location in the first murder mystery in the St. Croix valley. In 1845 [sic] Albert McEwen hired Covillion to guide him to timberlands in the Yellow Lake region. McEwen had a large amount of gold coin he hoped to use to secure title to lands upon which a profitable speculation might be made. McEwen never returned from the trip. Covillion explained that he had actually not been with McEwen and he cast suspicion on a Chippewa who was alleged to have actually served as guide. Not long afterwards McEwen’s body was found stuffed in a hallow tree about ten miles from Covilion’s post. Preliminary investigation revealed that Covillion had in his possession a large amount of gold coins, McEwen’s watch, and a fist full of land warrants. Calmly the trader explained that he obtained these from the Chippewa in trade. Later that winter the Indian whom Covillion had claimed guided McEwen was found dead in his camp. Covillion, the owner of ‘considerable property’ retired to Taylor’s Falls, where he died in 1877.”

It seems that McEwen had written to a partner of his in St. Paul prior to his departure that he would arrive there about a certain time, and that his partner had become anxious about him after the time had expired. He wrote to me. I answered him telling all I could, which was his start and arrival at Yellow Lake. In a short time after this friend of McEwen‘s, whose name I cannot remember, came to La Pointe to ferrit out the mystery. I gave him what information I could and he set out, promising to let me know from Yellow Lake what success he was having. He did so, saying that McEwen had arrived at Yellow Lake and remained there two nights and the men that I had sent returned the next morning. I then sent two men to Yellow Lake, who could talk both English and Chippewa, and instructed them to talk with whites and Indians and get all the information they could and the route he had taken and follow it and find out if possible what had became of the man. They ascertained at Yellow Lake from the Indians that Cobaux had sent a man with him by way of Clam Lake trail. The men followed. At Clam Lake they found where they had a fire and had cooked a meal. The next sign they found was at Wood Lake where they had occupied an old lumber camp. Here they found blood stains but a thorough search of the camp only revealed a tin box in which McEwen had carried his papers and minutes of land descriptions. The streams and lakes were now frozen over and snow had fallen and further search had to be abandoned until spring. A search was instituted then which resulted in finding his body in a little lake at the head of Wood Lake proper. The head had been cut with an axe or hatchet on the back part of it. Nothing by which he could be identified was left except his clothing. His collar button and shirt studs and a valuable finger ring, which he told me were made of gold he had dug himself, were missing. I do not think McEwen had any money about him except what might have been left from ten dollars which he borrowed from me. The collar button and Shirt studs, or similar ones, were afterward seen in a shirt worn by a trader at St. Croix Falls, but there being no one who could identify them to a certainty, we were compelled to be satisfied with our own conclusions, but from what we had seen of them and what he had said of them, we were more than satisfied that they were the property of Mr. McEwen.

In the spring of 1841 my first real good introduction to the bear family took place. It was in the logging camp of Mr. Page and less than one mile from the present city of Hudson, Wis. The camp had been pretty well cleared out of its supplies, theyhaving been moved down to the place where the drive would begin. Only a few papers, scalers rule and time book and a keg part full of molasses were left behind. One afternoon after the landings had been broken and booming about completed, Mr. Page requested me to take a man and go to the camp and return in the morning, bringing the rule and papers and have the man bring along the keg of molasses. I took a young Indian about twenty years of age, named Wa-sa-je-zik, and started for the camp. It was nearly dark when we started and we had a mile to walk over a muddy trail. The boy stripped some birch bark from an old wigwam near the road and made a torch to use as a light when we reached the shany. When near he handed me the torch and picked up some wood to make a fire. I lit the torch at the cabin and found the door partly open but went in followed by the boy and dashed his armful of wood down at the fire place. At this we heard a rush along side the camp at our left that nearly scared the life out of us and raising the torch we beheld two bears, who had doubtlessly been attracted to the cabin by the scent of the molasses. They made a rush for the door where they entered but it was closed and wheeling about they faced us, their eyes shining with a lustre that we would much rather have seen in a painting.

Imprisoned with two bears

Plate “Imprisoned with Two Bears” between pages 238 and 239.

But we were there; no door but the one the bears were guarding and no window where we could escape. We stood like statues for awhile eyeing our companions, while the torch was fast burning away. The roof was made of shakes and the eaves were about four feet from the ground. Escape we must or we would soon be in the dark with our black companions. We expected every moment to be pounced upon, for every spring bears, as a usual thing, are very hungry. It occurred to me that perhaps I could move the shakes enough to crawl through and handing the now shortened torch to the boy and at the same time instructing him to keep it waving to hold bruin at bay, I made a dash for the shakes and soon had a hole through which I could crawl and did crawl and shouted to Wa-sa-je-zik to come. The lad went through that hole like an arrow, and he was none too quick, for the bear espied the light of Heaven through the hole I had made and dashed for it, but missed his footing and fell back. By this time we had the shakes kicked back to place and Messrs. Bruin were our prisoners. We camped outside that night and in the morning got a rifle and killed them both. We took the hides and the best of the meat to the boys on the drive and had a regular pow-wow and feast to celebrate our adventure.

Did Benjamin Armstrong leaving a clue to connect Albert McEwen‘s death and stories about the bear family in this chapter?

I had several experiences with bears after this but never again was caught in their den. A black bear is harmless except when wounded or cornered and then they are a wicked foe. I once wounded one and before I could reload my gun he was almost upon me and we had a lively promenade around an old pine stub until I got my hunting hatchet from my belt and dealt him several blows when he gave up the fight and we had no quarrels over gate receipts. He started away uttering an occasional growl. I picked up my gun and finished loading it and I soon had his hide as a trophy.

I did not meet Wa-sa-je-zik again until two or three years ago when I met him at Granite Falls, on the Mississippi. He recognized me at once and began to relate the story and it seemed like meeting a long lost brother, when our encounter with the bears had been revived.

Cambridge, April 22nd 1857

My Dear Son

Augustus Barber Grave

“IN MEMORY OF AUGUSTUS H. BARBER of Cambridge, Vt. U.S. Deputy Surveyor who was drowned in Montreal River Apr. 22. A.D. 1856 Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.” ~ FindAGrave.com

This has been a sorgawful day to me, feeling more impressed with the awful calamity that befel over dear lamented Augustus and all our family in his loss One year ago to day.

I wanted to immerse myself in solitary seclusion from every body & every thing and mourn my sad bereavements, but that was impossible in the house so I went on the hill with Amherst & have been at work with him where we had none to molest or make us afraid.  Time has done nothing toward healing the wound, though perhaps something in habituating me to my affliction, so that if my grief is not so fresh & new it is still none the less severe.  There are many painful reflections & questions that are suggested by this calamity & 1st whether it was an act of providence in thus snatching him from this life the only way of which we have any certainty & that naturally brings up the question, why was it?  Was it for his good?  or for the good of any other persons in the world?  I know there are those who see, or pretend to see, some intended good in whatever they term the dealings of an [in?????] Providence, but my faith is not so strong in such things as to afford me any consolation in my affliction.

Could I be satisfied that an overruling Providence has removed our dear Augustus from this life, it would not be as painful to bear as it now is, for I should then be satisfied that it was not without wise & sufficient cause, whatever the cause might be, & I should humbly bow to that disposation however distressing it might be

It must remain a sealed book to us, how Augustus was hurried out of the woods, and why it was so ordained if there, was any ordination about it, till we meet him in another world, which I devoutly hope we may do though I am sorry to say more hoping than expecting.  Could that blessed assurance, that we shall meet him in the future state of existence, pervade our minds, how death would be show of his greatest terrors.  That we may all be enlightened, and be enabled to discover the truths, and guided in the path of wisdom & duty is my daily prayer.

It has been a great sugar season beyond any thing for a dozen years.  Dow has made over 1600 lbs.  Buck on the Carlston farm 2500 lbs.  Some have over 2000 & some over 3000 lbs.  Amherst has made some over 300 lbs with 74 milkpans & 4 buckets.  We are surfeited with sweet this spring.

It is still a general time of health all around us.

I got a letter from our Aunt Martha a few days ago, saying that Mr Burr was then at Lancaster, was still no better satisfied with the place than when there before, but he was in progress of a trade, buying out your Uncle Thode’s interest in the firm of Howe & Barber, taking an inventory of the goods &c.  He sent Thode home soon after getting there, on a visit I suppose, he Thode went to Brooklyn & brought Emily home from thence.  Mrs B. feels rather unpleasantly about going to L. “because Thode has done so miserably there, yet knows it is all his fault”.  I expect to hear from him again soon, possibly to night.  Alvira promised to come up and make us a story of some time this spring, but a letter recd to day from her informed us that she cannot come at present.  She is going in a few days to her husband within 10 miles of N.Y. City & has so much work to fit up a gal that is to be married next week that she cannot come wisely concluding that we can bear the disappointment better than the gal could that of not getting married just now while she is in the fit of it though she had seen her intended but 2 or 3 times & had not been acquainted with him over 4 weeks.  Alvira enquires for you & says “how I would like to see him” 

23rd

I suppose it is about time to begin to prepare for my journey to the Great Lake & I am so perplexed about that & other matters so that I at times hardly know how to turn myself.

Your mother has so many schemes that I consider unwise & impractical that are daily urged upon me that I find there is no way but to take the course I think best under all circumstances.  One is to hire out the farm & every thing on it for a term of years and move enough of our effects to Lancaster to keep house with & then go to building & improving the farm, at the same time leaving this place to go to hell faster if possible, than it has done for the 5 years that it has been farmed by somebody else, nor can any thing I say, convince her that whoever rented the place would do his utmost to skin it and rob it of every thing that could be taken from it.  (& now she having read the last two or three lines is accusing me of committing this very stripping & robbery myself saying that I take every thing for other purposes & put nothing on the farm again by way of repairs &c)  The fact is this.  The expensive journey taken by me last year is set down by her as a pleasure trip & I am continually reminded of spending all I can get in traveling back & forth between here & Wisconsin as though I do it for the purpose of wasting the money & nothing else.

If I ever go to Lancaster to live on that little farm I want to make it a pleasant and attractive home.  This considering the expense of building & fencing will require some money more than I shall have left in my pockets after I have got the family there, & to think of building without that means would be no wise & consistent as many other plans I hear daily proposed.”  One of which to build on the scanty remainders (here my patience gave way).  The trouble is, she wants to be present whenever anything is to be done, so as to exercise her undoubted & undisputed [p???ation] to “Benjamin” the business fully confident of her superior judgement & experience in all out-of-door work or mechanical or [????????] operations.

I recd a letter last evening from your Uncle Allen in relation to your land in Little Grant.  He writes the substance of the act of March 2nd 1857 as recd by him from Squires, & who concludes by saying “all entries will be reqarded as regular & in good faith untill there is proof to the contrary.”  Your Uncle says “who will therefore see that it is not necessary for Allen to take immediate steps to settle &c & for this reason I have taken no steps about Lumber.”

I had written to him to purchase lumber enough to build a house, thinking you would be down and need it to save your place.  Whether you come down or not I want to hear from you again before I leave home for the west.  Your Mother talks of going to Lancaster, but at times, especially at this minute, she talks as though she should not go, & that is the way the scale vibrates.  Amherst & I went yesterday to cutting the small spruces that have sprung up over the pasture & grows to be pretty good sized trees some 6 or 7 inches through & we shall probably try it again to day.  Amherst has now [?] rat skins having killed three this morning before breakfast, but one floated into the stream so that he would not get it by following it to the dry hill.  He is doing great things with the little old gun, will work in the woods till supper & then go ball over the meadow till dark.  My time is up.  Give my love to the boys & believe me your ever affectionate father

G.A. Barber


Cambridge Sunday May 3rd 1857

Dear Son

I again sit down to say a few words to you after a pause from April 22nd to this time.

Not really knowing whether you are coming down to Lancaster, or not, I have not been so punctual as previously on account of the uncertainty of your getting my letters so that you must not impute my [rumapneps?] in waiting to any [dririmestion?] of parental affection or anxiety for your welfare.  The last letter from you was dated at Superior March 15th and though I have great fears for your safety I shall hope to receive more of your ever welcome letters assuring us of your life being preserved & health also.  We are well at home, Amherst has gone to St Albans to day with Mr Kingsbury to return again to morrow.  Our Alvira is here with us on a visit & we should have a good time of it, if we could only make her feel contented & happy.  She came up last Thursday & says she must return this week.  Her husband is at Spuyten Duyvil creek 11 miles above N.Y. on the East bank of the Hudson and she is soon going to join him.  Your Uncle Burr has been to Lancaster & bought out T.M.B.’s interest in the stores & has come out in the Herald with the new firm of Howe & Burr, so that they are all bound to go to Wisconsin to live.  I think I wrote you in my last that Thode had come home for a visit but I do not know whether he has gone back again.  Your Uncle Allen writes me about your land &c, & I wrote you the substance of his letter.  He also sent word by Mr Burr to me, that I need have no uneasiness about it, as he thought all was right now.

I recd a letter from Mr Hayes a few days ago Saying that M. S. Bright had returned from Washington, was told by Mr Stevens the Lawyer there that there was no doubt of our land suit being decided in our favor, there being no trouble in the case.

Augustus Barber got into A Little Trouble and died soon after he decided to Let ‘Em Rip.

I am fearful that the expense of obtaining it will be half as Enough as it is all worth.  Still I shall not regret having done all in my power to hold it, as I think it was carrying out what Augustus would have wished could he have permitted to foresee his untimely death, & given directions.

Our spring has been unusually cold and backwards, so that Hay is in great request, though not very dear.  Dow has bought 2 loads at $8.00 per ton & may have to buy some more.  Very little has been done at springs work yet, the roads have been badly torn & what grieves me most of all is, the banks of the river are wearing away so fast on our meadow & is [??] going off like shot & in a few years we think have no meadow left, but every body’s meadows are suffering more or less this spring.  Well, let them slide, in 100 years from now I shall not care what becomes of them, for I hope now of my posterity will be situated so that it will affect them.

I have to day been to the funeral of Elias Chadwick’s mother.  The old Meeting house was pretty full of old familiar faces, they had very good singing and preaching some like [Bes/Mrs?] Peet’s.  I have been trying to get Alvira to write something in this letter to you but she declines, saying if she writes to you she wants to write a good long letter.  How do you get along with your survey of the Islands?  Are Baker, Jo & William with you? if so give them my best [????] respects & tell them I will be with them in a short time, & am some better of my lameness so that I work about on the hills some, cutting up the everlasting growth of small spruces that have sprung up.

They are quite thick in some places, especially in that part of the pasture toward [P????] where they make quite a forest.  Some that I cut down will have limbs 4 feet long lying upon the ground and all the [??????] 12 or 15 ft shortening toward the top & when I get them off I find a good deal of good pasture reclaimed.  Amherst works with me and is quite strong and happy, and generally ready & willing to do almost any thing if he can work with me.  I am at a loss what to do with him this summer, think some of taking him to Pointe aux Tremble where the Dougherty girls went a year or two ago, about 10 miles below Montreal on the left bank of the St Lawrence.  He would acquire more French there in 4 months than in 9 months at any of our Academies, and the expense would be no greater.

The new Dr. (Deming) has just gone by returning from Johnson where he has been to see [Du??] Dow who is very sick & probably cannot live through it.  There has been but 4 funerals in this town before to day since I got home Dec 25th which I think is very well for as large a population as ours.  We had a great [?????] in Feb. & two very great floods this spring, and now we are getting the water over the meadows again to night and probably we shall have one or two more before planting is over by the time the floods are over our meadow will be pretty well whittled down.  I hope there will be a little left.

May 4th

Giles was to join his son Allen on Lake Superior for a second summer and continue working on Augustus’ unresolved land claims and survey contracts with the U.S. General Land Office.

All alive yet.  Some angry debate last night, because I said I should go to Lancaster if you came down there & then go up to the Lake in company with you.  The intention being to put you through to Superior on a bee line, let what will happen, & that was what I had calculated on doing, so that I should not be more than a week or then days in reaching La Pointe, unless you should be down at Lancaster when I should go there & join you.

Another theme of warm debate is concerning the disposition of the farm.  No 1 contends to have it rented for an annual rent with the cows, oxen, horses & every thing for 5 years & we all go to Lancaster to live on the farm there leaving this to be stripped of every thing the cattle & horses to die out and every thing on this place even if we are to sell it, & then go to Lancaster where there are no buildings, & have to build without [m?????].

May 5th

I went up to Johnson to Mead’s & N. Hydepark yesterday & it began to rain hard & steady while there & kept it up till I got home bringing a load of lumber with me.  Amherst came home & in the rain all the way from that Conglomerate Ledge 16 miles & when he got home you may be assured he made a sorry figure.  He found Thode Burr at home, & all the family well as usual.  They are not determined whether they will move to Lancaster in June or wait till fall, but rather thought to go in June.  Thode & two of the Girls will be here to day, or to morrow, & then I shall know more about the matter.  Amherst carried down this 13 pelts and realized $2.23 from them..  Am shot an owl up in the woods one of the large kind, wounded his wing so that he could not fly, had brought him down & kept him two weeks when he got away & went to the woods again.  Alvira has gone up to Sylvia’s & to Johnson & is coming back in a few days.  Amherst & Kingsbury saw Ryan Ballard yesterday, who Land he should come out & see me soon & probably send up some small articles to Hiram when I go up there.  I am yet undecided as to the time of starting for your country.  Take good care of yourself, and ever rely upon the paternal affection and solicitude of an affectionate father

G. A. Barber

J. Allen Barber Esq.


Laura Burr her writing

“Laura [?] Burr” in “her writing” is signed on the top margin of this letter.

Cambridge May 10th 1857

Dear Son

Again I sit down to give you the the assurance that we are all well, and are not unmindful of you our dear son.  Especially do we feel the loss of your society to day & yesterday as Thode Burr, Emily, & Laura are here & we all feel how much our pleasure would be enhanced, were you of our number.  Nor would your company have been less agreeable last week when Alvira was here & Hannah, Amy, Charlotte, & Levi..

11th

I got broke off last night by the coming in of Dave Griswold Mary Ann Chadwick & Jim who has just got home from Wisconsin..  Mr Burrs folks are going in June to Lancaster for good.  Thode goes one week from to day.  He is going into your Uncle’s Office to read Laws, & how much I wish you would feel disposed to do the same & where now ready to begin with Thode, but says the objector (Mother) “There are 3rd & 4th rate lawyers enough now, more than can get a living,”  “Every boy should learn a trade,” &c &c, all too tedious to mention.  But I would advise you now, to so shape your matters that you can enter the office certainly this next fall, and go through with the study of Law as soon as practicable.  I do think it best for you, or I would not advise it, at any rate a year or two or even three devoted to the study of Law would be far from time & labor lost, even if you should then never practice any but follow farming or any other kind of business.  I do wish you would think of it, and if you can make up your mind, to try it, I think it will be the best thing you can do.  I do not want to have confined to such a dog’s life as [??] you are getting around Lake Superior.

I would certainly try to convince that famous objector that 3rd & 4th rate lawyers would never be more numerous for any thing you had to [??] with the Law, but of this be your own judge.  Amherst got home from St A. in the rain (I think I mentioned it in my last) and next day posted off to Johnson on foot to the exhibition a schedule of which I forward you, was there two nights & then came home on foot going down to Whitten’s after you r gloves making 4 miles extra travel 12 in all & then went to the top of the Gooseberry hill for snow, to warm sugar on for we melted some & cooked for By. who got back here some day.  But with Amhersts hard work this spring; hs exposure, & tramps he is getting worn down thin and has a bad cold on him.  Amherst heard at Johnson that Sis Hunt had left the Country to avoid the impertinent profanity of a Waterville girl.  Certain it is Sim carried Sis down one Sunday & went back two days afterward without him, & he has gone suddenly away leaving his shop and business, & if that is not the reason, none can tell what is.  The rumor at Johnson was, that he had vamosed to induce said female to bestow her billings gate or naughty words upon somebody else.  Poor Sister!  Though the rebellion caused snivelling, it did not wholly eradicate the old Adam, & perhaps his fall from grace was not so far as to break any of his bones… How are the Mighty fallen.  The ground was covered with snow this morning, the weather cold & unpleasant so that T.A.B. & the girls have not gone from to day & of cards, which for mental discipline is the best game of cards I know of.  Thode is the same old coon sitting on a rail.  Daniel [?] Dow died last Sunday making 5 that have died in [??????] street with in a year & none in any other part of the village next old Mrs Hunt, while we lived there B [?????????????] in all the rest of the village.

Since my last letter we have had a [???????] the 3rd this spring & 4th since Feb 12th & this last one has raised the very [????] with the meadows & banks, doing more damage than then meadow will repay in a long time.  I have not been down to ours yet & scarcely dare to do so, for fear my feelings may suffer.  I got a letter from Father dated May 1st saying Cyrus had sown the wheat on my land, set out some apple trees; & was plowing for corn.  There is where I want to be with means to erect suitable buildings & if we have anything more it will yield more profit there at interest than here in meadow land that is constantly giving us proofs of it fugacious nature.

12th

The Barber family was planning to join their relatives in Lancaster, Grant County, Wisconsin.

This letter did not get finished so as to “get to go” up to this time.  Thode & Laura & Emily left here this morning for home in high spirits, it is most likely the last visit they will ever make to Cambridge but if we all live to gether in Wis. it will answer every  purpose.

Amherst & I went up to cutting spruce bushes as soon as Thode went away & “wrought [son?],” till 4 o’clock this P.m without dinner or any rest.  We have so hard colds both of us, that we are unfit for labor, but the farther we get from the house the pleasanter it is, & this is the main reason why I am pursuing the bushes with such a vengeance.

I am afraid you would not be any better off if I should go on & fill out the sheet, & as Mother wants to go down to the store to night I will dry up.

The Barber Papers do not include copies of any letters from Lake Superior during the Spring of 1857.

Give my respects to all friends & accept of the best wishes for your welfare of your affectionate father

G. A. Barber


To be continued in the Summer of 1857

Advertisements

By Amorin Mello

Selected letters of the Joel Allen Barber Papers 

… continued from the Fall of 1856.


Sandusky Dec 22nd 1856

My dear Son

You will see by date of this letter, that I have progressed somewhat towards home.

Ironton was the Barbers’ town-site claim, located near the Mouth of the Montreal, where Augustus Barber died.
James_Meacham

Portrait of U.S. Representative James Meacham from the History of the Town of Middlebury: In the Country of Addison, Vermont by Samuel Swift, 1859, after page 388.  “Much to my astonishment I now find that Mr Meacham is a habitual private tippler and is often such a condition from drink as to occasion general notice and remark […] Is it not wonderful our state has had a long list of such members, Mallory, Nole, Buck, Phelps, &c.” from 1856 letter in the University of Vermont Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiative.

Alvah_Sabin

U.S. Representative Alvah Sabin was mentioned earlier in the Barber Papers during the Spring and Summer of 1855. ~ Eighty-Three Years a Servant, or, the Life of Rev. Alvah Sabin by Alvah Sabin Hobart, 1885

I left Lancaster in company with E. D. Lowry for Galena last Wednesday morning & on getting to Galena found that the cars had not run for 5 days on account of snow, but they got in toward morning & at 9 AM I started & only got through to Chicago next day at night, when not running we were in snow drifts.  I arrived here Saturday evening & am having a very comfortable visit with your Uncle’s family.  Shall leave at 7 tonight for the East & shall make all speed for Vermont.  Your Uncle’s folks are looking for Jay house tomorrow night to spend the holiday & then return again.  There is something in the Tribune of last week concerning the termination of the Eastern RailRoad on the Northern boundary & laying it down as pretty certain that the road would be carried to the Mouth of Montreal River.  If I can find the paper before mailing this, I will send you the article, & did I know that the road would be run to your town I would take all possible means to apprise you of the fact so that you might not dispose of your interest in the great haste.  If you have sold none, when this reaches you, I trust you will act in reference to the above information, and I would advise you to keep dark, till further advice, & as fast as I can learn anything relative to your interests I will communicate the same to you.  I have heard nothing from you yet, since parting with you at La Pointe, but hope to get letters from you when I get home.  I have left money with Cyrus to pay your taxes, & will have him pay on Jo’s.  Tell Mr. Wheeler, that I have learned the trouble concerning Hon Jas. Meacham that he & I talked about at his house.  He had become a confirmed & miserable drunkard & drank himself out of the world.  This is from one of his colleagues Hon A. Sabin, and is but too true.

Reverend Leonard Wheeler & Government Carpenter John Stoddard lived at the Gardens.

Give my last respects to Mr. Wheeler & family also to Mr. & Mrs. Stoddard & tell them that I have not escaped a hard winter as [?????? ?????? ??????] but do not fear starvation like I did on L. Superior.

The Barber brothers’ original contract for the previous winter’s survey of the Apostle Islands was not recognized by the General Land Office Records.

I expect you are all buried in deep snows by this time, so that you can do nothing at Surveying.  The Snow was 2 ft deep at Lancaster when I left, but it rained all day Friday like July Showers & the ground is entirely bare about this place.  Her Bay is frozen over.  Keep a strict acct of all the expense of resurveying on the last winters contract, if you get a new one & undertake it, as I am informed that I can get relief from Congress by a special act, paying me all that it will cost to do the work over again, which will be as much for you interest as anybody’s of this please say nothing to any one.

Now My dear Son I again implore you to be careful of your life & health.  Do provide yourself with enough to make yourself comfortable & easy & above all good warm clothing & bedding, be careful of exposing yourself, where you there is danger of being lost & freezing, or of getting through the ice.  Do my son heed the requests of your parents & only brother who feel more interest for you than you are aware of, & who are in hopes to yet enjoy your society in a more genial soil & climate.

Chlorastrolite, aka Isle Royale  Greenstone, is associated with Lake Superior copper deposits, and can found in copper mine waste rock piles and Lake Superior  beaches.  Chlorastrolite was first reported by C. T. Jackson and J. D. Whitney in 1847.
Joseph Alcorn‘s gemstone demonstrates a strong bond between the Alcorn and Barber families.

I think that one visit to Lancaster will be sufficient to wean you from the frozen, famine stricken, regions around the Great Lake.  I overhauled my agates yesterday giving lots of them to the children, also specimens &c.  I gave them some chrorastrolites & shall give them some more.  They prize them very high.  The stone that Jo gave Lucy & she to your Uncle, has been cut & set in two rings. 1 for Aunt Em & 1 for Lina…  Aunt E’s ring cost $12.00 besides the stone.  It is a splendid affair.

Do write as often as you can, for be assured that your letters will be always joyfully rec’d & read by your parents & Hiram.

Farewell my dear Son & may God preserve your life & health

G. A. Barber

Respect to the boys.


Cambridge Dec 29th 1856

My dear Son

It is now about 2 months since I left you at La Pointe, since which time I have not heard one word from you, whether you were in the land of the living, or had got cast away on your journey to Montreal River.  I was very anxious to get intelligence from you while at Lancaster & could not feel reconciled to come away till I had heard from you.  But having left directions with our friends there to forward your letters, if any came, to me.  I finally ventured to start for Vermont.  I stopped over 48 hours at Sandusky, & wrote you from there, on matters pertaining to Ironton, which will reach you long before this does.  If you have not sold any shares, it would be best to rest easy till you see how the matter turns, but if the road is likely to terminate at the Mouth of Montreal River, some shark will be after all the shares he can get, & at the lowest prices.  I left Sandusky Monday night (22nd) at 7, was in Buffalo at 7 next morning & Albany at 10 P.M.  Rutland at [morn?] Wednesday.  Called on Mrs. Temple & Nancy Green, got to Burlington at 8 P.M. on the 24th & home on Christmas at sunset, found all well and tired out with looking for me.  Every thing looks as natural as ever, except that our Prairies are more rolling & the bottoms greatly shrunken in dimensions.

“In the spring of 1856 [Albe Burge Whiting] set out, traveling by railroad as far as St. Louis, and there took a boat which took him to Westport Landing, now Kansas City.
[…]
Mr. Whiting had a partner, B. E. Fullington, an honest, God-fearing, upright man, and their plan was to engage in farming–raising corn for the Government post at Fort Riley. Mr. Fullington soon became disgusted with the meager success that attended their efforts, and after one season returned East, leaving Mr. Whiting to conduct the business. Mr. Fullington agreed to furnish the capital while Mr. Whiting was to manage the business connected with the partnership. But Kansas looked better to Mr. Fullington after he got to Vermont and he came back the next spring to spend a long and useful life here.”
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Baxter Springs Middle School students, 1997.

While on the platform at Essex Junction, who should I run into again? but Mr. Bradly & Fullington direct from Kansas when he left Albe!  Left him well, on the land they had claimed, another man a neighbor had gone into the shanty with Albe to [book/back?] it together this winter, & take care of their cattle

Matters are more quiet there now.  Gov. Geary proves a better man than was anticipated.  Prospects for Terr. Kansas are brightening.  I sent you the message of the infamous Frank Pierce, from Lancaster, & hope your patience permitted you to read it through.  Still it is the meanest vilest paper that ever emanated from our Government and will go down to posterity with its author excerated by all good & honest persons.  Folks are well around.  Levi & Oscar were here last night till after 9.  Of course I gave them some specimens of copper, agates &c.  Mary Buck from Galesburgh Ill. sister to Mrs. Kingsbury keeps the school, from 6 to 10 scholars, & enough for such a “marm.”  Ed. Bryant teaches the best school at the Center.  Pat Coldwell is in a Store at Waterbury.  Dr. C.L. Fisher is teaching in Johnson.  Helen Whiting is about going to “Kaintucky” to teach in a family.  I do not mean of her own, but in a private school.

Bradley Fullington

~ Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, Volume 12, by Kansas State Historical Society, page 119.

I am going to Johnson to day & must be brief but will perhaps do better another time.  If mails are regular you will get as many as one letter per week, while I have ability to scribble for I have learned by experience how good it seems to have letters from “friends & sacred home.”  Again I caution you to take care of yourself, you can read my back letters for particulars.  Your mother will write soon now when she knows where you are, & I will make Amherst do likewise.

Your affectionate father

G. A. Barber


[ca. 1856]

My Dear Son.

I hardly know whether to write again to you before hearing or knowing something of your situation.

It seems too much like writing to the dear departed.  But I know that if it were possible you would have sent us news of your self before now.  I feel assured that it is not your fault that we do not get letters.

I often imagine you shut in from the world by deep snows – perhaps you and your party frozen – disabled from work or even from the use of the pen.  But the thought of the good Christian Missionary near you makes me hope that you would not be allowed to perish with cold or hunger and that, should any great misfortune happens to you he would inform us of it.  How very long and tedious must the winter have been to you all and how often the vainly have I wished you had complied with our wishes and returned to spend the winter at home.  Oh!  How much more pleasure and comfort might we all have then.

I mentioned in a former letter my wish to go to Lan. next summer and my great desire to meet you there.  I do not know that I will take the trouble and incur the expense of such a journey if I must come back without seeing you, so do not let me be disappointed.  If you will If I felt sure that you would meet me there and would return with us to spend next winter I should feel that I had something to live for.  But the thought of going there and returning to live in this old, desolate, neglected, forsaken looking place without you, with no prospect if there ever being any improvement in its appearance under the present administration makes me quite indifferent to life.  I am very sorry that we cannot get another woman here – one who would be agreeable and friendly with me, or whom I could confide in as a good and honest dairy woman.  I should then feel quite satisfied to leave the business with her, and less unwilling to return again.  But your father will not let any one else come – tho he has had some very good offers.

How I do wish that you would come and live with me and befriend me & I really need to have one friend.

Good night

Mother


Cambridge Jan 6th 1857

Dear Son

I have determined to wait in hopes to hear from you, before writing back again.  It really seems strange, that we do not get something from you in all this long time, your last being dated Nov-.  Your Mother & I wrote repeatedly while at Sandusky & I hope you get the letters, but why do I not get something from you?

Barber’s contract with the General Land Office to survey the LaPointe Indian Reservation was started during the Fall of 1856.

I am extremely anxious to know how you are & how you are getting along this winter, whether you have yet recd that long expected draft & whether you have done anything at surveying the Indian Reservation whether you are boarding at Mr Maddock’s yet, or what you are doing & have spending the long & hard winter.  The date of this will show you that I have once more got home, and am now a dweller among the G. Mountains.

After being at your Uncle’s in Sandusky 10 weeks and I had so far recovered that I could walk across the river your Mother was away to have me start for home & I was hurried away before I was sufficiently strong to endure the fatigues of such a journey.  On Sunday 27th ult I first ventured out of doors Monday 28th was stormy so that I could not go out & yet I had to start Tuesday, or trouble would endear, so I was off and that night at Midnight I was in Buffalo (leaving station at noon).  Left B. at 9 A.M. & was in Albany 10 ½ P.M next Morning started at 7 & was snugly quartered at the Lomied of N.E.N’ Esq on the [????] by the college on Burlington.  My feet & legs [???] badly swollen all the way caused by debility I remained there 2 nights & spent [???????] with them.  Saturday we continued in the stage with [Sen/Tom?] Andrews to the Centre where we [??? ?????? ??? ??????? ???] house unfit to occupy, as his had “Batnies” all over the floor drying your Brother & I went to Mr Wetherby’s (in the Miner house) & stayed till next day when Mr Green brought his woman here & she & Amherst worked at the house while Mr G. went to the centre for your Mother.  I was brought up toward night, and am a close prisoner ever since on account of my swelled legs & lameness but I am free from that infernal pain that troubled me at La Pointe & only feel a soreness in my walking apparature.

I could scarcely believe the fact was so, when I found I could put my legs feet down on the floor without excruciating pain, but I have reason to hope I have seen the last of that tormentor.  My appetite is shrunk so much, my strength is returning & when I shall regain part of my flesh and my legs get sound I shall be nearly as good as new.  I was reduced almost to a shadow by the “little gobbel,” but they did not make me any sicker than before as the Allopathic Medicines would have done.  Their effect was produced silently, and though I was run down pretty low & weak I at no time felt any distressing sickness save in my legs till I imprudently ate too many preserved tomatoes that distressed me 2 or 4 days.  But my greatest gratification was to get Amherst home with me once more, after he had been a wanderer & outcast for months in his own neighborhood.  We found him living at Griswold’s where he was enjoying himself tolerably well & was useful about the storm & handed &c.  He was all [?????] at our [????] house by the shore [devil?] that [punished?] in the [Kitchen?]

He always found a welcome at Atwood’s & was urged to stay there & too at [Supuien’s?] but Mrs P. in the woods wanted take paints to make him understand that they did not want him to consume much of their grub, I always knew she was a stingy old satan & now I think I shall request her whenever a good opportunity offers.  I think he was as glad to see us, as we to see him, & that we will take as much solid comfort together as the nature of the case will present.

7th

I shall look earnestly for a letter from you till I get one & though my letters may be a long time in reaching you I shall keep a stream of them running to your country that you may have something once in a while to refresh your memory of home and those so dear to you who are now sojourning here.  There have been but few changes by death or marriage that I hear of since my leaving last spring.  I wrote to you of the death of Mr Chase Old Mr John Safford died in Dec aged 92 years & old Mrs Darker also very aged.  David Griswold & Mary Ann Chadwick were yoked at Christmas.  I do not hear of any others in town, who have got married, that you know, but I will tell you if your patience will permit, a little something of one Rodney [Casde?] whom you will recollect.  He was living with [Gad?] on the Mirriam farm & by chance became enamored of [Clena?] Scott & she as much of him, they were thick, & had the time set for marriage, but she finding some of his great [fertensing?], doubtful, flared up & was off entirely, whereupon he threatened 1st to go to her door & spill his heart blood on the door stones, next he threatened a suit for breach of promise, went down to Burlington to consult Lawyers & Morrisville & finally gave it up and fizzled out.

The poor boy is doubly consorted since, for he has got religious & been baptised into the Methodist Church, and has at last got married to somebody in Stowe. The tragedy is all over.

Major John S Watrous was formerly the Indian Agent from the Sandy Lake Tragedy and failed Ojibwe Removal.  Watrous was now the final Speaker of the Minnesota Territory House of Representatives,  Minnesota was granted statehood.

Major Watrous, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, was in the cars with me from Sandusky to Cleveland & from him I heard some things from the great Lake later than I had formerly known.  He was on his way to Washington, having his chair temporarily filled during his absence.  He is dead against old Buchanan & his southern Masters on the Kansas question & probably uttered the sentiment of the party in the territory.

The winter except a few days of the latter part of Nov that were unusually severe has been remarkably mild with no snow to do any good till Jan 1st.  There is now a sufficient quantity of 8 or 10 in. & sleighing is 1st rate so that there are from 50 to 100 sleighs whirling by us daily, without giving us a chance to see their pretty faces, or knowing them.  Your Mother is more than ever troubled & careful about many things, nothing suits.  She says we are the poorest off of any family in town except Ed Davis’ folks, she wants to stay here & not have the farm let another year, but you know she is for lack of strength & power of endurance wholly uncapably of carrying on the dairy & there is not much prospect of my being capable of much labor.  Dow is the best tenant after all that we can get, if I find him honest when I settle with him but his wife is a (but his wife is a) little tough and withal “narrow” home there can be that little peace in the funerals department of the house.

Amherst has promised to write something to go with this.

I remain your affectionate father

Giles A. Barber

Do write often about yourself your affairs & about everything that will interest me

Give my respects to all friends
Especially to Mr Maddocks


Cambridge Jan 10th Saturday night 1857

My Dear Son

Contrary to my intention, I have let slip One Sunday without writing to you.  My excuse for it is just this Your Uncle & Aunt Burr were here over Sunday and I could really find no very good time to write.  But I will make amends as far as I can by being more punctual in future.  We are all three quite well, have removed our quarters from the west room to the East room which as well as the west room is now papered and looks com-fort-a-ble.

Since I got home Dow has killed one 5.00 lbs [quarter?] & sold it at 8 ½ $42.50 & the Alcorn Cow very fat, & I wish you & your party had part of it instead of your everlasting “salt [rusty?] pork”.  We sold 812 ½ bs Butter this week at 21 ¢ & yesterday I sold our oxen that we have had so long for $140.00 to be delivered tomorrow morning.

secondstatehousebeforeafter

The second Vermont State House before and after the fire. “However, on the night of January 6, 1857, disaster struck. A special session to revise the Vermont Constitution had been scheduled for the following day. The stove was loaded with wood and left to warm the building before the legislators arrived the next morning. By evening the stove became so hot that the timbers near it caught fire. The flames quickly spread to the rest of the capitol destroying all but the granite sections.” ~ Vermont Historical Society

The State House at Montpelier was burned down last Tuesday.  The fire taking around the furnace & getting such hold that all efforts to save the edifice were unavailing.  The Library & State archives & most of the furniture were saved, the walls are not badly injured.  The House was being warmed up for the constitutional Convention which was to occupy the Representatives Hall the next day, but they have gone into the Court House to hold their session.

Sunday 11th

Reverend James Peet and Reverend William Augustus McCorkle established churches in Superior City.

I have not been to any meeting since leaving Superior where I enjoyed the labors of brothers Peet and McCorkle.  Did think of going to day to hear Mr Whitney an old Methodist man who preached here some years ago, but finally concluded it would not pay.  Rebellions are the order of the day & they are trying hard to inaugurate one at the Centre, but I believe without any success thus far.  They are doing a tolerable business at the Borough & at Johnson.

“Old Benton” may have been Samuel Slade Benton (1777-1857).

They have tried their best for some weeks, have secured Old Man Daniels and made Sissy Hunt snivel once or twice.  Old Benton says they can never make a one horse rebellion do anything in Johnson, & I am of nearly the same mind.  The fact is, the people, (I mean those of any mind, at all) are becoming every year more loyal, & less liable to be excited to meeting  & open rebellion.  Mother finds fault with what I am here said about revival.  I do not wish to be understood as discarding all religious notions whatever, far from it.  I feel that we are called upon every moment of our lives for deep heartfelt gratitude to the great Author of our existence who crowns our lives with the richest blessings, that to feel our dependence upon him & realize that it is from him that we receive all, every comfort, and all that we have, & do toward our fellow men as we would wish to have them do unto us.  This I say in my opinion is, as good religion to live by as any of their newly patented article, obtained at modern rebellions & I cannot but think it will be much better to light our feet through the dark valley that we must all pass, sooner or later.

Of all the profession of religion, especially men, How many are there, who by their deal with their neighbors, or their every day walk, would evince any superiority of Character or better show for happiness hereafter than the calm stoid person who adores his God and submits himself & all he has into his care & keeping?  Amherst has just returned from Meeting & says he read in a Montpelier paper that the collection of the State Naturalist was destroyed, but it was thought that the House could be rebuilt by filling up the inside, walls all good.  I went to the Borough yesterday and sat as sole referee in a case between Jonas Gobs & school district & also between S. Stratton Jr & same, did not decide as there were 2 law questions involved in such case & I wanted time to look it over.

Agates, chlorastrolites, copper, and other mineral specimens from Wisconsin copper deposits along Lake Superior were collected by the Barber family before or during 1856.  These specimens were gifted throughout New England to promote the Barber’s mineral and land speculations.

The winter has been pretty severe in Vermont thus far, down to 20* & 24* below zero.  There is not much snow in the fields.  The ground all covering but not deep.  Sleighing good as ever was.  Went up to Johnson last Monday & staid at Judge Tom’s over night & had B.E. Fullington told his story about Kansas to a crowded room (the Valley).  Col Ferner, Col Stoddard, Tom Baker, Judge Caldwell & old Homer teased him with foolish questions, & would have kept him on the stand all night if they could, to learn whether wild game were plenty, whether [frungh him?] grow well & [??] the ladies were contented &c &c.  Mr F. thinks Kansas will be free in any confident it will be so.  I presented Herman’s wife with the handsomest Chorastrolite. I brought home with me the little fine spackled one that had a ball on the backside & I gave Aunt Ellen a very nice one both on condition that this would get them set in rings.  I gave your Aunt Martha her [???] in all but one  sent some to the little girls with some agates.  I saw the stone out & set that Jo gave to your Aunt Lucy, & it is the right ring I have seen.  I made up a package of specimens & sent up to the old Dr last week but have heard nothing from him.

Amherst is in extacy with his Embroidered Shirt & wears it all the time & to all places, Meeting, Lycum, & to work in every day.  I have bought materials for another  he will soon long rejoice in a pair of them.

The school is rather a feeble concern in our district this winter.

Kept (I cannot say taught) by a Miss Buck sister to Mrs Kingsbury on the Wetherby farm.  Attendance of Scholars from 2 to 7 or 5.  By the way we have some excellent neighbors Mr & Mrs K. both young and better mates for you & Am than for old people.  Miss Buck’s folks at the foot of the hill are also very good neighbors so your mother says.  At Old Grim farm there is Lucy & her 4 boys.  Mr Green is on his place but is going off it, having let it out.  Dow wants this place again.

Have just had a good supper of hogs face with we could have had you to make even our number.  Oh Allen I will not answer to how you remain up in that miserable frozen region longer than till you can so arrange your affairs so as to get away advantageously.

This incident was the second of four times that the propeller “Old Manhattan” sank on the Great Lakes during the 1850s.
The November 9th letter featured the shipwreck of the sidewheel steamboat Superior, at the base of Spray Falls at Pictured Rocks.  The Superior was carrying survey supplies for Joel Allen Barber and George Riley Stuntz to survey the LaPointe Indian Reservation.

Your mother in constant alarm about you, at times thinking you gone to join our dear lost Augustus & no more to bless us with with your presence here, but to day she has prepared 4 blinds for you & your comrades to wear in the gloom of Feb & March.  We got a short letter from you dated Nov 9th saying that you & 4 others were to start that day for your work on Bad River.  I saw by the papers that the Old Manhattan was wrecked on one of the piers at the mouth of the Harbor in Cleveland, total loss.  This makes two of your regular boats of the 3 that used to churn the sight of the dwellers of Lake Superior now gone to ruin.  ([????]) I saw that among the saved on the Superior was a Foster.  I suppose the young surveyor you & I conversed with on our passage down to La Pointe.  But there was a [??????] Foster lost whether wife, or sister to him or none related I knew not.  I am going to send you a paper – when I can get one.  I now send you Life Illustrated, this letter one from Amherst for this time.  Hope to do better thereafter.  I think it would be condusive to the interests of us all to sell the farm & place a good share of the proceeds at interest in Wisconsin.  What say you?  Do you want to come & help carry it on?  The Secretary of the Interior recommends that the clauses for the graduation law requiring residence on the land be reproofed, which if done, will be all in your favor.  I shall watch the Tribune eagerly for anything interesting to you & communicate all valuable information immediately.

Do my dear son be careful & prudent, father G.A. Barber

My respects to the boys, Mr Wheeler’s & Mr Stoddard’s families.

Write.


Cambridge Jan 18th 1857

My dear Son

Since writing you last Sunday I have recd two letters from you, one dated Nov 9th directed to me at Lancaster & forwarded by father & the other dated Nov 22nd directed to your mother.  You may bet high that your letters were gladly recd & that our minds were much easier about you than before.  Still we should feel much better, were you here with us, to have a good warm bed to sleep on, and enough of the best that Vermont produces to satisfy your appetite, and with all the genial influence of our eastern society that I should think in some respects preferable to the general run of society about L. Superior.  Still further there are rebellions in progress on all sides of us, and an interest in some of them would be quite an item in the adventures of the east over the west.  They have broken out considerably with it at the centre, but I fear the infection is not genuine, and that it will not result in anything very good.  They have got enough to talk in meeting so far as this “if there is anything on religion I am determined to get it” &c.  Elias C. & wife & Mrs F. Wetherby and some others have had something to say, & the Minister has labored very hard to get all creation on his anxious seats.  Mad. Heath is on tiptoe among them, almost an apostle.  I went down yesterday to the Borough to give my decision in an arbitration, carried your mother down to Thode’s where we staid all night & went to Meeting to day A.M. to Meth. Chapel P.M. to Cong. House. They are getting hot among the Methodists & trying to do something judging from the groans & grunts of one of the ministers while the other was hoping rumbling the howls of distressed or enraged wild animals.

John Chase got home yesterday from California have not seen him, but understand that he talks of going back again in March.  Did you ever hear what Emily Ellsworth did with herself?  I never heard till a few days ago that she married a Doran one of the [Paddis?] out in “Senate Ireland” nearly two years ago.

I have got the watch repaired by Scott, who says it is now as good as ever it was.  I would be glad if I could get it into your hands.  Furs are monstrous dear this winter as you have doubtless seen by the papers.  Mink skins [Prim?] are worth $4.00 a piece.  Muskrat from 10 ¢ to 20 ¢.  Martins must be worth $5.00 or $6.00.  How if you had the [Shonis?] to purchase some furs this winter & spring you might buy some at prices that would pay you a good sound profit.  I have no doubt but you could get Sable for 1.50 to 2.00 & mink for 1.00.  Otter skins are generally called about here $1.00 per foot measuring from the nose to the end of the tail.  They ought to be cheaper there.

Our district school wound up yesterday for want of scholars having had but 2 the last week.  Julius G. & Martin P. & in day Julius alone.  The teacher was the greatest failure of all.

We are getting very cold weather about now, but how cold I cannot say, as our thermometer has got broken by your Mother’s hanging it up on the side of the house for the wind to blow down, instead of hanging it inside the door casing where I had kept it so long.  I feel lost without it & shall get one when I go down to St Albans which will probably be within one or two weeks.  Think to day the coldest of the winter so far, at any rate it was cold enough for comfort coming up from Thode’s to night.

Monday Morning Jan 19th 1857

We are having a great snow storm to day, so thick as to make it quite dark.

We are all well, living very com-fort-a-ble in our close quarters & expect to be more so soon for I got 5 new curtains Saturday & you know they are always essential.

Your Mother says you must get some kind of fur and cover your mittens & also fur as much as you can to keep out the pinching frost.  I am afraid you will suffer for clothes socks &c (by the way, you had better save the tops of all your socks, that are new and good down as far as they are good & have them footed up again & if you are short for yarn to mend with you can ravel some).  The Stage will be here soon & I must close.

Have I told you that Charley Turner & Helen Sabin are married?  Even so, & they are in [clover?].

Give my respects to the boys & you may rest assured of my eternal regard and paternal solicitude.

Giles A. Barber


Cambridge Jan 26th 1857

My dear Son

The Rebellion at the Centre was a split among religious and political society in Vermont.  No public records have been identified.

I wrote you yesterday one good long letter & because there was something in it about the 1 horse “Rebellion” at the Centre and some other things to tedious to mention your Mother destroyed it last night after I went to bed.  So I have to repair the damage as well as I can this morning, but writing in such a hurry I cannot think of half I want to write, & shall only send you a small apology for a letter this time.  I have suffered much in my mind on your account for a few days, fearing that you & your party must have undergone great distress from cold weather.  It has been colder within a few days than ever before known in Cambridge.  At 11 o’clock last Friday night the mercury was at 40* below 0, next Morning at 38* below.  And you may be assured I should have felt much better if you had been at home with us in good quarters.  Oh Allen I hope you will not find it necessary to spend another winter in that region of frost and famine, but will spend your winters henceforth in a country of more genial in climate, society, & Grub.

If I were assured of our safety from freezing & suffering for want of clothing, blankets, or provisions, I should rest much easier about you than I now do.  Still I know you are in a party of good fellows & in the midst of kind friends who will be ready to befriend you.

Everything remains about as usual in Cambridge.  On the whole I think the town about holds its own.  The dairymen are growing rich on the high prices that Butter & Cheese are selling for, & well they may.  Dr Safford has sold $150.00 worth of Butter from 3 cows & supplied his family with Milk & Butter beside.  H. Montague at North Bend has realized $50. per head from his cows (20) but to make this out he counts his calves, & [Pork?] made from the dairy. Our dairy has done better this season than ever before but as I have not settled with Dow I cannot yet state the nett proceeds.

The rebels convicted are as yet only two, Mr.s E Chadwick & George Reynolds, they have a few more on trial, & are seeking indictments against lots of others.  Mr Dow takes this & will probably mail it at Richmond so do not think strange of that.  I wish to say one word of Amherst.  He is at home & does not much, but chops all the wood we burn, runs about to mill & too meeting.

He is attending the Lycum at the Centre & writes some very good pieces for them which exercises I think worth a good deal to him.  He grows like a weed & will soon be as large as you.  I persuaded him to write to you, as you will see if the letter soon reaches you.  I had nearly forgotten to tell you that we are all well, living cozily in the East Room secure from cold & hunger, & only wanting your presence to enable us to feel quite at home again.  I said wrong.  There is one gone from us forever in the world.  I cannot yet feel as though any place was home so long as he is gone.  But my time is up and I must close by writing you, health & prosperity.

G.A.B.


Cambridge Feb 1st 1857

Dear Son

Another Sunday gives me an opportunity to sit down to give you a brief narration of things transpiring in this outer world.  Though you will see that nothing really worth mentioning occurs from week to week, yet to you who are without the visible world & the pale of comparison almost any thing from the old home of your childhood will be interesting.  Within the past week the weather has been much milder & even quite pleasant till yesterday, when we had a terrific storm of wind & snow, but from what quarter I could not determine, as the wind blew all ways. The roads are all full & traveling almost suspended.  Amherst & I got all ready to go to St. Albans but the storm increased so fast that we did not start, so we went over & staid with Oscar till this morning & I went down & made Mr Heath a visit, found him just as he was one year ago, unable to speak except in a low whisper, says he under goes much pain in the region of the heart.  I went to see Uncle Enoch, how he progressed in the divine life, for there has been a desperate effort made to enlist him on the side of “the Lord” & much said about his being in deep distress &c &c found no changes, except that he is ready to talk candidly & give his views on religious matters.

Our last letter from you was dated Nov 22nd & we are growing very uneasy at not hearing anything from you in all this long time & especially when we consider what an awful cold winter we are having.  Oh Allen my heart is pained when I think of you at times, when the sky is convulsed with storms & when it is so cold that mercury congeals, that you should be up there suffering for aught I know, when you could be so much better off elsewhere.

The Rebellion here blown over, almost a failure.  2 or 3 concerts as they are called & as many backsliders reclaimed, constitutes the amount of damage done to the Kingdom of darkness, rather small potatoes when we consider who have been here at work for the salvation of souls, for we have the word of the good folks that no less a person than the 2nd on the glorious [Frinsty?] has been here for weeks at work, to say nothing of 3 methodist ministers & Luther [Brevoter?].  When will men & women cease to insult the God that made them by their impious & blasphemous fooleries to cheat mortals into this or that church under the specious pretext of saving their souls.

“Kinni Butch” may be a variety of Kinnikinnick; a blend of herbal medicines used for social and ceremonial purposes in Anishinaabe culture.

Marm says of this last sentence, that it shows that I am in a some what excited state or I would not write to you so much on the subject.  Kinni butch, I do not know how to spell this word, but you do, but I claim to be tolerably free from believing & falling in with every new thing that comes nor am I greatly given to running after every new minister, lecturer, or concert singer that happens to favor the world with their marvellous works.  “Oh the folly of Sinners” & (I wish Saints were wholly divested of the article) I was up in Johnson last Wednesday, saw some of the old familiar faces. There are some sick, more in that village now than in La Pointe & Douglas Counties in 6 months, & yet when the west is mentioned a Johnsonian will start with alarm at the bare thought or name of so sickly a place.  Mrs Tracy is soon to wind up her pilgrimage, (consumption).  She had been sick, was getting smart, a girl in the house, broke a [flaid?] lamp, set her clothes on fire, Mr & Mrs T. got their hands burned in putting out the fire.  Mrs T. held hers in cold water all night, & took such a cold that she must die in consequence.  Poor Helen Pillsbury whose health has not been the finest for 2 years, was still able to work & keep about her usual [????tions], till this winter feeling it her duty to “come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty” in their feeble rebellion.  She overdid herself or exposed her health, so that it is found that her life will be the penalty.  Poor Girl, she is going as I fear the way of Merrill & Mary, & yet that damnable, mean, thievish help “Vet” must live to be a curse to his parents & to the world.

Portrait of Uncle Joel Allen Barber

Joel Allen Barber’s uncle U.S. Representative Joel Allen Barber was a member of the State Senate in 1856-57.

It is an economy of Providence that I cannot comprehend why such persons who bid fair for usefulness in the world, who are a pride & blessing to their friends & all who know them should be removed from this world, while others who are a pest to their friends & the world & not worth the powder to shoot them, should remain as secure, as though death could not reach them.  But God knows, & perhaps we may hereafter, understand what to us now appears so dark and mysterious.  I see by the Tribune that your Uncle Allen was not elected U.S. Senator, but J.R. Doolittle was.  I know not whether I wrote to you what your Grand father wrote about your Uncle, that he was going to take Thode Burr to Madison with him & get him a place as assistant Clerk if he could, & further that he (Father) was afraid that Allen would never get home alive, his health was such, but I should have more hopes of him while there than when at home, for he would be more likely to do something for himself & get better Medical advice.  I hope he will do something in season.  Amherst & I shall go to St Albans to morrow or next day & stay a day or two & make a call or two on the way in Georgia & Fairfax.  I expect Mr Burr is going to Lancaster this month, to determine upon his future course whether to finally go there to reside & go into business, or to give up all thoughts of it, and settle himself down quietly in this country for woe or weal.

It is yet a matter of uncertainty what I shall do with the farm another year.  Dow wants it another year & in some respects he is as good a man as I can get, and on some accounts he is quite objectionable.  He is a very industrious man & a good hand to take care of the stock, make pork &c his wife is not 1st rate for Butter & cheese, but middling.  Dow is too much disposed to [skin?] the farm, or keep, more land under the place than can be manured & is rather too tight & [fizzish?] while his woman is quite & altogether too much so besides your Mother & she have been at variance almost through the entire year, & in this case I think Mrs. D was very much in the wrong, & that she is a little stingy nervous, wilful jade.  It would be idle to think of ever living in the house with them another year.

Think some of hiring a good Man & girl & carrying on the whole ourselves.  This is your Mother’s notion but I have before now heard her declare that she would not be burdened with the care of so much work.  I would so far as I am concerned rather sell the farm cows & all and go to Lancaster to live on our little farm, where our dear Augustus did so much to make it valuable & attractive.  When Offered $35. per acre for the place, I looked at those young apple trees planted by his hands expressly for our advantage & comfort & said to myself that $50. per acre shall not deprive me of it at present.  I shall like to know your mind upon these matters, but of course cannot in season for the coming spring.  I have some thoughts of getting Mr Perry to take the farm if he will do so.  Then I should feel all safe.  Your Mother & Am are drawing a pattern for his embroidered shirt that is now making, & after his is made, you are to have two made.  Am is toasting cheese & stuffing himself with it.  I wish you had a shake in that, as well as your abundance of good fat beef pork sausages, butter & milk.  Oh My Son, I think of you whenever it is cold or stormy, & when I lay me down at night in a warm bed or sit down at home or abroad to a good regular meal of victuals gotten up by the hand of a woman, other than Nancy.

Am is doing quite a business in peeling muskrats, he shot & caught 17 in the fall & sold them for 10 ¢ each.  He has just peeled 3 more & is on the qui vive for more.  They are worth 20 or 25 now.  If I get to St Albans I will start a paper or two off for you, and some for others in your country.

May God bless & preserve you

G. A. Barber


Cambridge Feb 8th 1857

Dear Son

Another Sunday has come around & I am again trying to place on this sheet a few scratches, that you may know that we are all well at home, & that we are not forgetting you our poor exiled son.

The boys surveying the LaPointe Indian Reservation and the Apostle Islands with Joel Allen Barber are:
Joseph Alcorn
William W Ward
Larry Marston
Edward L Baker

We were very glad to receive a letter from you day before yesterday, that had been nearly two months on the passage, dated Dec 13th at Mr Stoddard’s.  We have felt much uneasiness on your account for a long time it has been so very cold, & have been afraid that you must have suffered; but our fears are happily relieved by learning that you are doing so well and survived but such a band of invincibles.  Who could have fears for such a crowd as Jo, William, Larry Marston’s?  I am very happy to add Baker too!  I am really glad to hear Mr. Baker has got back with you again & hope it may be for his advantage, that he braves the perils of another polar winter, & I am confident it will be for yours.  You will see that I was mistaken about your Uncle Allen’s being elected Senator.  But I was not more so than many others.  I see by the Grant Co Herald that there is a bill introduced into Congress, to make good all entries under the Graduation Law without any further requirements, & there is little doubt of its passage.

This will be a good thing for you, if it becomes a law…

augustus young

U.S. Representative Augustus Young ~ Findagrave.com

Amherst & I went down to St Albans last Monday & drove Kitty and got home Friday, had to stay longer than we expected on account of storms, winds, drifts &c found all the folks well at Mr Burr’s.  Went down to the Bay & found all well there but Mr Young, who was quite feeble, but much better than I had expected to find him.  He is now confined to the house during the cold weather, but I should think he might get some better in the spring.  I would like to see him in LaPointe County about two months next spring & witness the effect of that climate on him, & I would see it if he was alive & I were able to take him there.  I carried down some specimens to him that pleased him much.  Little Augustus Stevens is living with Mr Young now & will probably remain with him while he lives.

Uncle Amherst W. willed $100.00 a year to Mr Young during his natural life, and $50.00 a year to your Aunt Betsey as long as she lives.  The rest of his property is given to various benevolent purposes.  The interest of $10,000.00 to the Episcopal Institute at Burlington.  The interest of $1,000.00 to the Brattleborough Insane Asslyum. & the use of remainder principally to support Preaching at East B.  All this is well enough.  If he thought a few thousand could pave the way to heaven, it was his duty to down with the dust when he found he could hold it no longer himself.

Do any portraits of Augustus Barber produced by Merrill & Wilson still exist?

While at St Albans I took the Ambrotype copy that your Aunt Martha had taken from our daguerreotype of Augustus & had a good likeness taken, that I have done up for my Mother & shall send to Morrow also One on Mira that is set in a gold pin for your Mother, one other put up in a case, both good copies, & 10 other copies all ambrotypes one of which I shall enclose in this letter for you, that you can keep till we can furnish you with a larger one in a case.  That Daguerreotype taken by Merrill & Wilson you know was good & these copies are most of them copies are equally so.

Hiram Hayes, a pioneer of Superior, worked his way from Town Clerk to District Attorney and went to Washington D.C. While he was working there at the Census Bureau, the war broke out and he was commissioned a captain and quartermaster.”
~ Zenith City Weekly
Daniel Shaw was the Register officer at the U.S. General Land Office in Superior City.  Eliab B Dean Jr was the Receiver officer working there with Shaw.

I got a letter from Mr Hayes last Friday saying that he had called in November and tendered the 120 acre warrant & $58. in gold to the Land Officer & was told that they would attend to it.  So as to send off the entry in their returns that Month, & again in Dec. he called and wiged repeatedly that it should be done & was all along told that it should be attended to, but at or near Jan 1st when again pressing the subject upon them, he was told that an appeal was taken by the Dutchman and sent to Washington for a hearing there.  This is the state of the case.  I had some little confidence in Mr Shaw as an Officer but but cannot have much now, since he has conducted in such a manner in my Land Suit.  As to E. B. Dean I was always satisfied that he was a d‘d scoundrel any way it could be fixed, & the history of his transactions in Madison goes very far to justify such an opinion.

The Barbers appealed to Washington D.C. from multiple angles to resolve their land claims and surveying contracts with the General Land Office.

I feel as though in duty bound to go to Washington to see to having every thing done there to protect our rights, that can be done, I am fully satisfied that somebody beside the little Dutchman is the person or persons in interest now pushing it up to Washington where they hope by some trick to cheat us out of the Land.  I wrote yesterday to Elder Sabin to have him attend to it for me but he his now Lawyer & may not have time to do anything…  Mr Hayes has written to a Lawyer in Washington but who knows how far a Lawyer in Washington may be trusted, when sure of a fee on one side & perhaps a double one on the other, & there is no doubt, that who ever carries that case to D.C. will have nothing continued to effect his purposes.  I am surprised to find that all that has been done, goes for naught & that the case is yet undated.  Still if I have a fair chance I should not fear, but if there was anything unfair, or any undue advantage being taken, I ought to be there, I suppose it would cost about $40.00 to go.

All is very quiet in the religious world at present.  The rebellion has not amounted to any thing serious after all the noise & confusion in the Saint’s Camp.  Madison Heath is bent on pulling down strongholds and setting up the standard of the Cross, & as one of the first steps in the warfare he & his frau came up & made us a visit last Friday night & undertook to [sumed?] me upon matters of faith, doctrine, &c.  I am thankful for his good intentions, but would prefer to listen to him “after a little” than now, when it is a new thing to him, & he scarce knows what he is about.  We are having a great thaw, the snow is nearly gone in the fields and pretty well done to in the roads.

The river is very high & threatens to break up.

Mr Burr talks of going to Lancaster two weeks from to morrow, but is very faithless about liking the place well enough to ever go there to live.  If he does not like, he will take Thode home with him, and go into business of some kind in St. Albans.  He is in great purplexity.  When at St Albans the other day I got some papers and sent to you, P.B. Van, Esq Felt, Charly Post, H Fargo & Pat O’Brian, and a new Ballou’s Pictorial to my good young friend Stick in The Mud.  I have many other good friends about the Lake that I remember with much pleasure, and would be glad to recompense for their uniform kindness toward me.

ballous pictorial

Ballou’s Pictorial was published during the 1850s in Boston, Massachusetts. ~ HistoricNewEngland.org

I am glad that you make your quarters with Mr Stoddard some of the time.  You could find no better place in that country.  Give my respects to him & wife, also to Mr Wheeler & family & Mr Davis & family if there.  Give my best respects to Mr Baker & all the other boys & be assured of the best wishes for your welfare & happiness, and success in business, of your ever affectionate Father

Giles A. Barber

Has Gen. Lewis even sent you that contract?


Cambridge Feb 12th 1858

Dear Son

This week is about gone & have not yet written one word to you.  I hope you will pardon the neglect.  I have not much to write that you will care about reading.  Still I intend to furnish you with some thing from home every week, i.e. if it ever reaches you.

The most important item of news is that we are all well as usual (myself excepted) & that has been so long stereotype that it has ceased to be news, & yet I presume it is none the less welcome to you.  My health & strength are gradually on the gain, & for a week past my swelled legs have been much better.

I went up to Dr Chamberlin (as I wrote you I intended) last week Wednesday and stayed close in his house till the next Sunday night, & recd great benefit from his ministrations.

He pronounced my trouble, as wholly arising from debility & torpor of the small veins and absorbment in my feet & legs & immediately applied bandages & a wash of Alcohol & [Garm My sch?] I was well satisfied with the Dr’s performance & think he did as well as any who make more noise in the world.  It was very gratifying to him, having a patient from a distance.  Consequently his steps, always very short when in good spirits, were reduced  in length and quickened ¼.

Many good old fellows of the village called to see me & I had a very agreeable time of it, besides being greatly benefitted by the long protracted visit.

I have been improving since I came home!  Amherst is my Dr now he rubs & bathes my legs 4 times a day and applies the bandages with considerable skill & alacrity.

Amherst chops the wood at the door & is quite a chopper his time is occupied with that, Skating, playing pasteboard, & backgammon, reading & some study.  I have promised him that when he gets the front yard filled with good stove wood I will go with him to Georgia & visit every body there, from Hon A. Sabin, down to those little ones growing up around my old associates & friends.  Such a visit will be very pleasant to me & would do him no harm, but if my legs do not get well or better than now I am afraid “I cannot get to go” this winter.

There is a great temperance agitation throughout the State this winter, & hired lecturers are traversing it in all directions “but as the movement” began before I got home, & I have been unable to attend, any meetings, it it is impossible for me to tell what particular object of the temperance people are driving at.

I think that in Johnson & this town those who formerly were most open & vindictive against the cause, have no subsided into acqueiscince with public opinion, and have become ashamed to be seen tippling or opposing the law.  Even Uncle Enoch has ceased to rail constantly about the abridgement of his liberties, and would give his old hat if it (alcohol) could be kept for ever from George, who has now got to be a complete sot when he can obtain the “outter” so as to go to bed before noon or hide himself in the haymow.  Last fall he George set out in the evening for Montpelier with his skin full of rotgut & about 10 oclock he was found lying in a puddle near Morgan’s Store by Graw who alarmed the villagers.  George was got into the tavern & his horse & sulky were found near by the Academy.  The horse feeding quietly in the Morning George came to & to put the best look on the [can pisned?] himself sick, went to bed & had physicians attend him all day.

There are rebellions progressing in a few places about the country.  St Albans Bay, Bakersfield, the South East part of the town and that neighborhood in what was once Sterling near Sanford Waterman’s.  Ralph Lasell is said to be one of the trophies they boast about.

The most curious thing aster is the strange predicament in which Judge Stowell of the Borough finds himself, he being a widower has for some over a year been playing [policies?] with one widow Goodrich a daughter & only child of David [T?????] & the day of the wedding twice fed upon the cake made & [Risd?] engaged but his precocious son Henry threatens wonderful things if his father marries the widow..  A suit is threatened but he Judge contending to worry the young widow & keep her easy so that she will not move in the matter, although Frank her father is swift for compelling him to marry or fork over.  Stowell is in trouble.  The ravings of French about town amaze him.

13th

Yesterday I went up to Mr Green’s visiting & drove my own team (Kate 2nd but my hands and arms are so weak that I shall not dare to try it again.  I could do just nothing at holding a horse that was disposed to go too fast, or where I did not wish to have it.  Kitty as we call the mare, is a larger nice beast, strong as a Moose, a good traveler, kind & true in every place, & would be just the creature we should want to carry on the little farm in Lancaster, for with her could every thing be done easily.  But then shall we ever occupy that farm?  Or shall we always have to clamber up rocks & hills, so long as I live?  There is manifested in a certain quarter the same disposition to withhold any opinions or wish in regard to that question as there, save when it is known to be in direct conflict with mine.

(Night.)

I have been down to Mr Heath’s this afternoon & made a short visit, found him about as he was last winter, still unable to speak louder than a whisper.  He is able to be up most of the time and to ride about some when Madison can go & drive for him…  Mad has a fine fat gal baby, a perfect wonder to its grand parents.  Marion has no such good luck (or all luck ) to boast of.  The weather has been very mild till day before yesterday when the Ther. was down -12* Yesterday it was -24* & this Morning -16* & prospect of a cold night again.  Sleighing that has been poor most of the winter is now tolerable & teams are constantly passing as in older times.

14th

Last evening Uri Perry & woman made us a visit.  Martin & Jot living at home with them.  Wyman is still in Ill.  Susan lives at North Bend, & Amanda married last fall to a young man named Bosworth son of a rich Merchant in Boston, so the story goes.

The Defendant & wife have just made us a short call, their boy now able to talk, is a very fine looking smart fellow.  We have been having some talk about Weston’s coming here to work for me next season.  I shall see him again & ascertain what we can do in the way of agreement.  I got a letter from Cyrus last monday asking about the disposition of the little farm another year.  He says he put up 166 baskets of corn for me the basket ½ Bus which would be so many Bus of shell corn.  There were [??] Bus of wheat for me, which Cyrus got ground at your mothers request & sold at the store at 24 pr lb for which he account to me.

Portrait

Honorable James Buchanan Jr was the newly-elected fifteenth President of the United States (1857-1861). Buchanan’s vice president John Cabell Breckinridge was already involved in Chequamegon land speculations. ~ U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

It is still a source of unhappiness to me that you are doomed to pass the long gloomy winter around that gloomy Lake.  I should feel much better if you were down at Lancaster or in the good little State of Vermont, where you could enjoy your friends and some of the comforts [???] I could wish all the comforts of civilized life.  But you are Surveying and prosperous I know you are making a better winters job of it than you could any where else were it not for the sufferings you must [??????????] made go in [isading?] in the snow [?? ?? ?? ??? ????ing ????] of sleeping at [??????] Such cold nights & mornings as the last week has given us makes me humble for you & your party, and perhaps miles from any lands or aid in case of any [????] of prusing or seeking to which you are in your situation.  So [??????????ly] exposed [?????????] I am anxiously waiting for more letters from you to know how you are braving the perils of your third polar winter, & I had thought that [?????] you went up to Superior i.e. if you have to go there for your drafts, you would just do us a ½ a doz letters to make up for past remissness in little writing.  I wrote a while ago to E.R. Bradford of Superior for information in relation to Superior [????] Starving populations I want to hear from there once in a dog’s age even if I do not like the inhabitants quite so well.  I have been in hopes that some of your paper would get along so that I could by them learn what was going on in the copper regions but as yet none have reached me, & probably will not this winter.  I hope Mr Tylor & his friends will be able to sustain themselves & their paper too, in spite of the combined powers of hell & its minions on earth, Buchanan, & all the unterrified & unwashed & E. B. Dean in [???] to the bargain.

Amen.

Summary of the Topeka Constitution, aka “the Kansas struggle”, from CivilWarOnTheWesternBorder.org:

  • Date originally drafted: October 1855
  • Stance on slavery: prohibited
  • Suffrage for women: none
  • Suffrage for African Americans: none
  • Suffrage for Native Americans: “every civilized male Indian who has adopted the habits of the white man”
  • Settlement by free African Americans: prohibited by an “exclusion clause” that was approved by Kansas voters
  • Status: failed to achieve federal recognition by January 1857
Stephen_A_Douglas_by_Vannerson,_1859

U.S. Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas ~ Library of Congress

The Kansas struggle seems drawing to a close.  Matters have arrived at that stage when a final settlement of the great issue is most able.  The prospection now favorable for the cause of freedom & for the abolishment of human bondage from the territory forever, & if that glorious result is finally obtained, it will be through the influence & talents of Douglas, the Northern Senator, who was mainly instrumental in opening the country to the inroad of Slavery, nor is it certain now that his [???????? ???? ?????] in his espousal of the Kansas Free State cause than long were in 1854.  Still whatever may be his policy in things on the right side over in his political compass, I am thankful enough for such aid in this time of need.  Probably no other man could have caused the [???????] to abandon the President as he has done when the d’d old [??????? ??? ????] is fairly laid on his back & the darling [??????] of his administration by which he had hoped to secure to himself the adoration and support of the entire south [??????] in wild as of the great unterrified & unwashed of the few states then if Douglas will conduct himself properly I should not care so much if he was the [????????] aspirant for the Presidency.  Senator said lately in the Senate that within the year there would be 19 Free States to 15 Slave States, by the admission of Minnesota, Kansas, & [???????], as [????? ????] states.  The Southern [??????] are alarming and talk loudly of a Southern Confederacy.  The Democracy generally throughout the Southern states are in opposition to their stupid Presidents on the Kansas question, & nothing but Douglas’ carrying his point will save this party from utter defeat & ruin.  While at the same time the party will be rid of its most obsiquious satans of southern [????] if the Poor devils and find any place to go to.  Perhaps they may get up a [????] of Secession party to catch the scum of the Democracy.

Do write as often as you can and as long as you can.  That is one great fault with your letters.  They are too short & do not tell [??] half about yourself business & prospects, that we would be glad to learn.

The Barbers made many friends among the Lake Superior Chippewa Mixed Bloods.
“Hon. John W. Bell, born in New York City in 1805, in his eighth year went to Canada with his parents, learned to be a watchmaker, a ship builder and a cooper, and came to La Pointe in 1835, where he has since resided.  He carried on the coopering business first, for the American Fur Company, and then for himself established a trading post, became interested in mining stocks, and filled various county offices, having served as county judge and register of deeds a great many years.  In later life he was postmaster at La Pointe.  He was married in 1837 to Miss Margaret Brahant, in the Catholic chapel, by BishopBaraga.  He died in 1888.”
Fifty Years in the Northwest by Elijah Evan Edwards, page 250.
William Herbert was a merchant in Ashland selling supplies to Ironton, and previously a copper prospector for the American Fur Company during the 1840s.

When you are at leisure you must begin and write little by little, till you would get a respectable letter [?????] size & length.  Anything would be interesting from the lake region even to the health of any of the Indians or half breeds, how my old Sombre friends [Chochiguenion?] Newaga & old [Renase?] & George Day ([?????]) are & how my Superior stranded friends are passing the winter.  Does the Judge indulge in a good drink occasionally?  Are Mr Maddock’s people all well?  Does Mr M work with his gang on the Pointe this winter?  Is Houghton stock rising?  Have you got your $800. [?????] begun yet?  I trust you will know too much to be drawn into [???????] arguments, I am willing he should make as much as pleases out of his wildcat town, but I do not want you should have anything to do with it any way or any how.  How does Dr Ellis get along with his Mill?  Do the hard times pinch operations & speculations around you this winter?  Is there any less Whiskey consumed than previously?  Does Dawson deal out the stuff with remembering to wet his own whistle? Is Herbert blasting around La Pointe or is he down at Ironton?  & finally how are things in general all around you?  When you are engaged in surveying I cannot expect you to have much spare time for writing, but I repeat the request that when you have the time to spare, you will give us longer letters so you must remember to write as often as you conveniently can, and when you do write, give us a letter long as a strong or as long as Amhert’s [???????] whiplash.

15th

Augustus Barber Grave

“IN MEMORY OF AUGUSTUS H. BARBER of Cambridge, Vt. U.S. Deputy Surveyor who was drowned in Montreal River Apr. 22. A.D. 1856 Aged 24 yrs. & 8 ms.” ~ FindAGrave.com

Yesterday a little sister of Ballard’s was buried.  She died of Scarlet fever, that is prevailing in N [????].  Ballard is at homer’s tells great stories how he sold property in those new towns [Samtagia?] & [San Colana?] (that he was concerned in taking up test summer with [????] her, ward [???]) in N.Y. City & how he recd payments in real estate in Brooklyn.  If he got any such property in Brooklyn, it must have been when the tide plains on some very distant part of a salt marsh for it does not look very [??? ????] that he would [? ?? ?? ??? ???] The eyes of Brights his so as to sell paper [??? lots for [???] valuable [?? ???????] I [??? ?????? ??? ???? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? ????] make my visit to my old [???? ] in [??? ???] as I now contemplate doing.  You have [??? ??? ???? ????] your [???????] should for you or [????? ???] you [???? ???? ?????????] to have along [???? ????? ?? ???? ?? ????] How have you informed me [??? ??? ??? ??????? ?? ????] & [???? ?? ??] the grave of your dear Augustus.  How [??? ??? ???] his previous remains are at Lancaster.  [? ???] in Cambridge & [???] I would [????] I could prevent on you to leave there, never wish to see the Lake again or anything about it, but so long as Augustus is buried on the shore of that [???????? ????] I shall feel as though there is as some thing that [???? ?? ??] and [?????? ?? ??] have it so long as I stay.

This very long letter may be dismal for you to take at one dose.  So if you find your strength failing before you are through, reserve parts for another time when you feel better able to wade through these 8 pages.  Give my respects to all friends.  Tell John [C?????] I give my respect to his good old father, & to tell him that I do not forget my old friends.  Tell Mrs Maddock I wish I could convey one of my large cheeses to her.  I think cheese would suit you very well [?????] and prosperity & believe me your ever affectionate and anxious father

G. A. Barber


Cambridge Sunday Feb 15 1857

My dear Son

I again sit down to give you a short history of matters & things in this glorious land of liberty, of laws, Bibles, & Sabbaths.  In the 1st place we are all well, & when I write that word, that means so much, I cannot but wish that I knew, it could with equal truth be applied to you.  Our last from you was dated Dec 13th & in that two months following, so very cold here, how much you have suffered, or how you have endured the cold, fatigues, & privations of a surveyor’s life, is a subject of much solicitude in your paternal mansion, as well as among your numerous friends in Lamoille County.  But I hope soon to get another letter from you assuring us of your safety & welfare, down to a much later period.  I hope the winter has broken in your region as it has here, & that you will have a better time for prosecuting your surveys.

The Graduation Act of 1854 was an obstacle for the Barbers’ absentee land claims in Grant County, Wisconsin.

Last week I wrote something about those who had purchased under the graduation law having their titles confirmed without further requirement, & that such a law would probably pass, but now it looks “like” it would not pass that the purchasers would be held strait up to the mark &c.  Your Uncle Allen says you had better build a house, for that is what you need, & will add to the value of the farm all it will cost, & save your paying out the [??? ?????] to save what you have already paid which would be $201.38 if I have figured right & then you would have no house or improvement.  Perhaps the Law may be passed or some relief granted to the many who would suffer severely if the Law as it now stands is enforced.

Your friend Levi with Oscar have been over here a good share of the day, & have been viewing by day light the agates & curiosities I brought home with me.

This is the 3rd good visit from Levi since I got home.  His health is much better now than formerly, but if he is not well this spring I will try to have him go up & visit you.

Our winter is on its wane & spring like days are upon us & yet I have not settled what will or shall be done with the farm.  Dow wishes to remain, & would so far as he is concerned be as good a man as I could expect to find any where but his little woman is a small specimen of she tiger as venomous as hell, to all whom she dislikes.

There is now talk of having Mr Perry & Wyman for tenants though nothing certain yet, shall know soon.

The Barbers appear to have taken legal and private action against Daniel Shaw and Eliab B Dean Jr at the Superior City General Land Office for interfering with Augustus’ land claims.

I wrote you last week of the appeal having been taken from the Superior Land Office.  I have since written to Elder Sabin again enquiring how it stands now, when there will be a hearing in the case & whether my being present would be of any advantage &c.  If the Officers at at Superior have done anything to my prejudice, have left out anything material to my side of the case, or presented anything on the Dutchman’s side that should not be in or in any way connived to wrong me out of the Land why then I ought to be on the spot ready to meet it.  I want to prevail in that suit, after all the opposition, delay & rascality I have encountered from the other side.  I would sooner trust a dog with my dinner than any of my rights or interests in the hands of such a man as E. B. Dean & I know not as Shaw is any better.

When I wrote to you last we were having a heavy thaw that broke up the Hudson and did $2,000,000 damage in the City of Albany alone & immense damage at Troy & other places on the river & on all the rivers south as far as heard from including Cincinnati where there was great damage done, by crushing boats &c.

That thaw took cold Sunday night, & it has been down to 20* below 0. since, but to day we are having another thaw & raining so that sleighing will be “pone” after this if there is any.  The Legislature Extra Session convenes at Montpelier next Wednesday to do something to provide for a place in which to hold their future sessions, & such a stripe as will be manifested the present week, the state never saw.  Among the towns claiming the future State house are Montpelier Burlington Northfield St Johnsbury, Rutland Woodstock Windsor & Bellows Falls.  The principal stripe will be between Montpelier & Burlington & I should not wonder if the latter should carry the day.  Of course all below Hydepark are for B. & a general desire through the state has long been expressed for a removal of the Capitol from M, but possibly a sympathy for M. may operate on the minds of the Members thinking it hard to take it away when they have built & spread themselves so much thinking their fine Granite house was as durable as the Green Mountains.  On the Contrary it can be said that M. has had the S. House 50 years and that is a long time, & should be the reason of giving to some other town.  When I write next Sunday I may be able to tell you more about it, though it is not likely the question will be settled by that time.

I sent you in my letter of last Sunday a beautiful Ambrotype copy, from the Daguerrotype of Augustus, which I hope will reach you in safety.  I sent one to my Mother in a good case & one to Alvira like yours, & Am. is going to send one to Helen Whiting, who has written him some of the most touching & beautiful letters in relation to the death of our dear unfortunate Augustus.  I knew she was a girl great powers of mind, but did not think she would interest herself so much in the griefs of our family.  I wish you could read her letters to Amherst.  She is now at Greenupsburg write to her Greenups Co. Ky. in the extreme N.E. part of the State, teaching in a family school.

I got a letter from your Grand Pa last Friday by which we are advised of the continued good health of all the good folks in Lancaster up to Feb 4th  He says that they are now talking of building an Academy there.  Mr Myers who married Marthy Phelps has offered to give $150.00. and teach German & French two years.  He is a wealthy, educated & refined Gentleman from the faderland & by his liberality I should think would shame some of the close fisted skinflints who might by such liberality have made Lancaster a “heap” smarter place than it is now.

16th

You cannot imagine how Hiram enjoys his new Red embroidered shirts, they can keep him him warm enough in winter weather without anything else.  Hoping to hear from you soon I will defer writing more till another Sunday unless something “turns up.”  You have so many letters sent & so few mails, they must come in chunks or gobs as Jo Doane says.  Give my respects to all the boys & friends in La Pointe Co!

Your father Giles A Barber


Cambridge Sunday Feb 22 1857

My Dear Son

I will continue to trouble you with my letters, if I do not get anything from you & I hope to have you receive as many letters during your prolonged, painful absence from home as there are weeks, and though I am unable to fill them with matter interesting to you.  Still I know from experience that when in exile, in a distant strange land, any such mementoes from home & those dear to us, bring all the familiar faces of friends visibly to mind & for a moment almost make us forget [????] the distance that stretches out between us.  I suppose there is no item of news that gives you more pleasure than the two short words “All well” when you understand that it applies to our family & yet you have had it so often reiterated, that were it anything else, it would have become quite stale, if not absolutely painful.  We want to get such news from you oftener than we do, or rather we would be very happy to know of your continued well being & be so near you that the knowledge would be more direct, than hearsay.

Your Mother is constantly apprehensive of dire misfortunes to you, of suffering, from cold, hunger, fatigue & privations.  Yet, after all, I cannot help feeling much solicitude for your welfare fearful of the effect of this unprecented cold winter upon your health as well as comfort & convenience.  Still no letter from you of later date than Dec 13th.  Hope to get one very soon, with good news from you & the young men of your party.

For about 3 weeks the thaws have been so severe as to carry off all the snow except a little in the woods & the mud was like April, but we have some snow fallen again that has laid an embargo on waggons.  The river has run over the meadows during the past week..  A thing unusual in winter.

As yet we have made no disposition of the farm for the coming year.  Mr Dow has done much better in a pecuniary point of view, than either other tenant.  I was looking over matters with him last night & find that the product of the Dairy, &c has been sold for $616.00 to say nothing of 18 Bu’s Wheat, 150 Bus Potatos, a good lot of corn & Oats 7 yearlings the cold, &c &c.  The cold is a very good one, worth as much as any one I ever knew of its gender, but as I may have to pay Dow for ½ of him I am confident about “letting on.”  So far as I can see, the man has been honest enough, is a very careful man with cattle & horses, a good judge of both, is a sober, temperate, cool, calculating Yankee.  And yet his wife is a different sort of woman from what I should like to have around, & has not treated your mother & Amherst as she should considering the obligations she was under to do otherwise.  She is a little waspied, petulant, conceited, niggardly body, as one would meet in a summer’s day, not strictly confined within the limits of truth, somewhat nervous & in case of trouble in domestic matters rather inclined to sick headache & hysterias.  But she keeps things in much better shape than Mrs Dickinson did, every way & in the main, would wish to pass off for a very nice little woman.  It is hard to think of having her another year, after all her insulting talk to your Mother, & perhaps equally hard for her to ask to stay, after so often saying that she would not do so, on any consideration.  I have no trouble with her & will not with her or her husband while they are around, or I have any thing to do with them.. Another Man Harrison Putnam cousin to Aaron was here yesterday while I was gone to Johnson, wishing to take the farm, but whether the change would be advantagous is problematical.  One thing I have set down as a fixed fact, it is one of the last places in which I would look for perfection, in a tenant, & as all are wide of the mark it only remains to take them making the [????] affirmation.

Our Extra Session of the Legislature is battling for a location for the future State house, with what success I do not learn since the 2nd day, when an informal ballot was taken in the senate, each Senator giving his ballot with the name of the town he would prefer for State Capitol written on it, whole number voting 29, of which Burlington took 12, Montpelier 11, the remaining 6 for 6 different towns.  I fear that a foolish sympathy for M. because they have had the capitol so long inducing them to build extravagantly will induce many to vote against removal, without considering that Burlington has never had but 1 Session of the Legislature (in 1802) while Montpelier has had it in uninterrupted succession 49 years, or a half century.  “Let her rip”  I hope to survive it, let it go either way, but my [??inx’] are for Burlington.

“Plain truth to speak” there is nothing of consequence to write, any how either about Cambridge or Johnson folks.. Times are barren of news I take the Semi Weekly Tribune in which we have murder & robberies committed in the latest fashion, by the garrote applied to the victim.  Some humorous articles entitled “Witches of New York” in numbers the last of which recd is 9.  They bear evident marks of coming from the pen of Mortimer Thompson author of Doesticks.

Oh there is one thing you will rejoice to hear & I should have informed you since.  The sugar that you & Mother prepared for the N.Y. Market has been sold & the cash recd when I was at St Albans on the [??d] inst from Mr Ladd.  It shows how much better it is to do things scientifically than otherwise for this sugar something about 300 [??] brought the astonishing sum of $15.00 after paying freight & Mr Ladd had hard work to get that.  Such Sugar as that is now worth up to 12% [cts?] here at home.  I got a letter from Mr Sabin Friday relative to that land claim now before the General Office at Washington, expect another soon to let me know when a hearing may be had.

I suspended writing till Amherst had returned from the P.O. in hopes he would bring a letter from you but disappointed in that I go at it again to finish it up ready for the mail.  I ought to correct an improper that I got on my mind & imparted to you, was that young Chadwick was an infamous character.  He is on the one that Mr Lowry had seen in Milwaukee, as he has never lived there but is & has been in Chicago ever since he went there three years ago.  I know not but I have made this correction before.  Give my respect to all my friends in Siberia.  Be a good boy, keep a stiff upper lip and take good care of yourself.  Write whenever you can.  Remember that unless Congress passes some law for the relief of Graduation purchases, you will have to come down & build a house on your land, sure as fate.

May God bless and preserve you

G.A. Barber


Dear Son

I take it for granted that if you live till spring you will go to Lancaster as it will probably be necessary for you to attend to your land as soon as possible.  Now if you do not think you can come home after you have been there, I feel as tho’ I must go there myself and see you.  I do not see any thing to prevent my doing so, now, and if nothing happens to prevent I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you.

If you can come here next summer I should defer my visit until some future time ‘tho I should like much to see L. and some of its inhabitants before long as I may like the place well enough to wish to stay.  Tell me what you think of the place.

Your affectionate Mother


Cambridge Sunday March 1st 1857

My Dear Son

Do you get any letters from home this long cold winter?  If you do you are more fortunate than we have been, for since my parting with you we have had but 4 letters 2 dated Nov 9th 1 Nov 22 & 1 Dec 13th & now there is a tedious period of 77 days in which we have known nothing of your health, your welfare or sufferings, or even of your existence.  You may be assured that we are growing very impatient to get letters from you, & think they will arrive soon, & in the meantime will console ourselves with the thought or rather hopes that you are yet alive & well, that we shall yet have good tidings from you, when the mail are to be carried around the shores of the Lake & through the forests.

There is nothing new, to write to you to day, only the same old story that we are all three well as could be expected under the circumstances.  Our snow went off the 1st week in Feb and we have only a few days good traveling since.

The snow is gone in the woods so that we can get around with perfect ease anywhere, & the prospect is that it will be the best season for Sugaring that we have had for 10 years.  Amherst & I are thinking of rigging up another small sugar place up in the woods east of the Gooseberry Hill, & making a few pounds of the delicious article.  Sugar is now worth from 10 to 12 ½ cts and they are ready to contract for it at 10 ½ now.  There has been some made the last week, though but few have commenced as yet.

Wyman Perry talks of starting in a few days for the Great West, he is here now, & I am advising him to go to Lancaster, thinking there will be a land call for Carpenters [?????] to build all the Buildings that are to dot the graduated lands.

I have just been reading three of the last letters written by our dear Augustus home, & to see the high hopes he had of doing well there & the indomitable energy that led him on, as he & any body else might have supposed, to affluence & and an honorable position in the world, and then to see all those bright hopes & prospects crushed in an hour & what is infinetely and painfully worse to lose him who was the light & hopes of us all.  Oh the thought that he who was suffering such hardships and privations in hopes of seeing brighter & happier days should be stricken down in a strange land, far from friends [?????] home, called in a moment to bid adieu to this bright earth, to all hopes of seeing friends & home & keep to the dark watery grave & into that unknown future world, where realms are forever sealed from the knowledge of the living, the thought I say is almost insupportable.  May God keep you from such a fate my dear Son.  Do be careful of your precious life & health & if our dear Augustus is gone where we may never see him again, we have his good examples, his virtues, & his valuable letters & papers, that are worthy of our highest regard & from which we may still derive instruction & benefit though he is as I [?????] believe in a happier state of being.

I do believe there was never any young man or any man in Cambridge whose death caused such a profound grief throughout the entire circle of his acquaintances as did the Melancholy death of our dear departed one, & well may humanity mourn his loss for he was one of [???] noblest specimens, & the loss of one such is more to be lamented than that of a regiment of senseless fops & rowdies who are suffered to curse the earth with their hated presence.  That we may all meet him, in another & better world is a fond hope to which I most fondly cling.

Monday 2nd March

I believe this is somebody’s birth day.  Oh that you were here to spend it with your parents & surviving brother.  How much joy it would be to us all, yourself included I trust. We had a letter from Alvira last week by which we learn that She has been something of a rambler since September 1st for she says that with her husband she went to Wis. as far as Beaver Dam, thence back to Chicago & from there to Quincy Ill. down on the Miss 200 or 300 miles below Galena where they remained till into January when they returned, to Winooski.  Brink has since gone to Troy N.Y. to work & [??] is boarding, talkings of coming up here to stay a while this spring in sugaring.  Would not you like to be here with us.  We are all hands going to getting in at the Cruping Rock to fill an ice house at Bush on the Carlston [???] to day, & that brings to mind the changed condition of our neighborhood.  Kingsbury owns the Wetherby farm & lives in the farther house, & two French families live in the Wetherby house.  George Busk owns & lives on the Carlston place.  Mr Green has let out his farm and moves away this spring.  Atwood does not keep a boat so that all communication with them is cut off except by ice (I went over there last night with Am. crossing on a small ice bridge yet remaining at the road & Oscar returned with us) & by wading as Am & Oscar used to do last summer to get together.  The school has all dwindled out, there not being more than 20 scholars in the district, beside French children, & taken altogether it does not seem like a very desirable place to spend a long & happy life.

The river is taking off the banks at an alarming rate & within a few years will have carried the whole meadow away.

If this reaches you & the many more I have sent out on Monday Mornings you will have some reading to do & I hope it may stimulate you to write oftener to your

Anxious and Affectionate father

G.A. Barber

It is now in contemplation to build you some good substantial clothing from the beset of [Gibon?] a business coat some pants & a vest, shirts, socks, mitts gloves &c &c & I am going to have about 12 or 15 pr of good stout pants made to carry up for such as may prefer to buy good articles, rather than the twice or thrice ground over rag cloth that scarcely lasts a fellow home.  If you come down to Lancaster you will find your & Augustus clothes there to make you a decent rig up while you remain there. I believe I will write to Norman Washburn to engage some lumber for you to use about your house.  He lives on the [??????] & is an agent for some body who deals in lumber about 10 miles from your land… Perhaps I will engage a quantity for myself to use at some future day on our pretty little farm at the village.

The Mail will be along soon, so I must have this ready.  Once more I say be careful of your life & health.  May a Merciful Providence protect you & bless you in all your lawful undertakings.

Giles A. Barber

My respects to the boys & all friends


Cambridge Sunday March 8th 1857

Dear Son Allen.

Why do we get no letters or word from you?  It does seem as though we should have had something from you, within 85 days if you had been in the land of the living.

Are you still alive & well?  If so, why do you not write?  Or are there no mails from where you are, to the habitable portions of the globe?  How does this long silence happen?  I write these questions as though you could answer them in a few days time, not realising that it may be a month or two before they reach you & that ere that time I may get letters from you fully explaining all the delay of letters & tidings from that winter isolated region of the earth…  I have great fears for the safety of yourself & party, the snows have been so deep and the cold so intense, & that if you are alive and well you have been unable to make any progress in the survey for the above reasons.  I see by the G. C. Herald that a party of “Engineers on the N.W. Land Grant R.R. have suspended work till spring the great depth of snow & intense cold of the winter offering insurmountable obstacles to their progress.

I also see an article in relation to graduation lands that is favorable to you, I will cut it out & enclose it to you.  By it, you will see that if the law passes, it will have to be shown that the Lands were not entered in good faith, before they can deprive you of yours, & that you will probably have no trouble with having to comply with any requisitions whatever unless perhaps you may deem it best to show that almost from the time of the entry of [?] lands you have been engaged in surveying on the Public Domain & have even designed to improve & reside upon the lands by you entered.

Mr Caleb Blake has just called and staid 2 ½ hours, on his way from the Borough to Lowell where he & family reside.  Jo is in New Jersey in an architects office & is going to rival old Greece & Rome in the building art.  Mrs Blake is yet living & enjoying a tolerable degree of health, for one who has been sick as long as she has.  Tom Edwards came in here last night about sunset & was very sick, greatly distressed with [Albe?], thought he would have to stay all night, but finally went home preferring to get there while he could, have heard nothing from him since, presume he will do a good days work to morrow.  Last Sunday [L?????] Parker daughter of Otis Parker (usually called “Cienta”) was buried, she having cut her throat with a case knife, cause probably insanity from severe pain in the back of the head & in the neck.  The family is now residing in Belviders.

Amherst’s red embroidered shirt was may have been a ribbon shirt from the Lake Superior Chippewas.

I got a letter last Tuesday from your Aunt Martha, who says that Mr B. had not gone to Wis. yet, had written to have Thode come home, was waiting till he came, so as not to pass him on the way & then it would chiefly depend on Thode whether they even went west or not, as they are very anxious to settle down somewhere, & have him willing & contented to stay with them.  I expect Thode will be at home soon & have that matter settled.  It will hard for the poor boy to leave his dear Miss P. & come to Vermont, & that very thing may have some influence in determining their residence.  I wrote yesterday by Mail & to day by Kingsbury to St. Albans & by to morrow night shall get answers to them, & to 3 o’clock, the folks i.e. Marm & Am have just got home from Meeting.  I chose to send him hoping he would imbibe more good than I could expect to do.  He wears the embroidered Red shirt as bold as any half breed to meeting to mills.

I know not but you are tired of receiving so many letters from me, but I do not yet believe “that receiving so many letters will make them of less value than they would be if recd more seldom”, as have heard argued this very day, but it would not be proper for me to state by whom, whether Am. or some body else that thought so much of saving 3 ¢ postage, nor did I think “He (yourself) is not concerned about us & needs not to hear from home so often.”  I have written every week but one, since getting home & if there has been great delay of mails, you will get letters by the bundle when they do come & then perhaps you will need a good stock of patience & time to enable you to ever get through them.  One thing you may rely upon, the perusal will not pay a great profit.. but you will see that you are not forgotten, if you are out the civilised world.  Especially by your

Affectionate father G.A. Barber

Do be careful of yourself
My respects to your companions
And to all friends & acquaintances
Write! Write!!  Write!!! oftener if you can.

March 9th 5 o’clock a.m.

All well.  Weather cold.
Hard South East Wind.  Got Sabrina Chase last night to make you some clothes, & some pants to take up to your country to sell.  Mrs Tracy of Johnson was buried yesterday.  Deacon Reynolds father to Harry Reynolds died a few days ago aged 91 years.

When shall I hear from you again????


Allen.

We wish very much that we could hear from you to know what you are up to & how you passed this winter & spring.  But we hope to get some thing from you soon.  I wish you could be here to make sugar with me this spring.  I intend to tap a lot of trees a way back in the woods & care it on my self.  Wouldn’t that be fun!

Should you wish not be bashful about going to help the squaws that sugar there shall you?  I cannot write any thing more at present but I will write when we hear from you.

A.W.B.


Cambridge March 19th 1857

Dear Son

The Barber Papers do not include copies of any letters from Lake Superior during the Winter of 1857.

We were happily surprised last night at receiving two letters from you, one a good long one to me dated at La Pointe Feb 13th & the other to Amherst dated at Mr Fargo’s new house on the 22nd ult.

The Barbers had plans to purchase supplies for Ironton from merchants in Ashland including Albert McEwen.

I rec’d also 3 other letters one from your uncle Allen, one from your Aunt Martha & one from Hyde back on business.  I am much alarmed for the safety of Friend McEwen & think the prospect of his being alive is very small.  The case deserves a rigid investigation to ascertain whether he was murdered by his guides, or was deserted by them & left to perish in the wilderness.  The weather was favorable about that time & for some days after.  I think he left La Pointe Oct. 14th the day I got back from Montreal River.  ‘Poor Mc’

In your Uncle Allen’s letter I find a notice from J. C. Squire Register of the Land Office at Mineral Point dated March 2nd in which he says

you are hereby called upon to produce testimony to perfect your title to the land entered by you on the 25th day of May 1857 at this office for Certificate of purchase No 25532 for actual settlement & cultivation under the provisions of the act of Congress &c &c.  If such testimony be not produced at this Office before the 1st day of June 1857, it will be regarded as an abandonment of your claim to the Land & the case will be reported at the General Land Office, in order that steps may be taken for throwing the land into Market again after proper notice.”

Your Uncle says

“I presume Allen had better make some improvements on his land before June 1st or by making [affe?] that he does not intend immediately to settle & that he desires to pay the bal. $75cts per a & enter in the land, he can do so.  I presume some one has complained, who wishes to get the land.

— Congress passed an act authorising patents to issue in all cases where complaints is not made before June as I understand.  If Allen will come down & make some improvement probably that would be the cheapest & besides he would have the money on his land.”

Now you have the sum & substance of the matter i.e. if you ever receive this & you will probably do in relation thereto as you deem most expedient.

Cyrus has P. the taxes on your land this winter $15.50 & says “a School house tax has been raised in that neighborhood the cause of it being so much.”  Your land will be worth enough more to pay for it.  Thode Burr has not got home yet he is in Howe & Barber’s store.  Mr Burr has not gone out there as yet but started for N.Y. yesterday with Emily on business for some other man when E. will stay 3 or 4 weeks.  Sugaring has begun & it is very nasty rainy weather today.

While in Congress (from March 4, 1853 to March 3, 1857), Honorable Alvah Sabin served as chairman for the Committee on Revisal and Unfinished Business in the Thirty-fourth Congress.
“The Committee on Revisal and Unfinished Business monitored the business of Congress during its early years when unfinished business was terminated at the end of each session, and it recommended procedures to accomplish the work of Congress leaving as little unfinished business as possible.”
~ Guide to House Records

I am glad to learn that Mr Hayes has got through with that Land Claim, if it be really so.  But why should he write me that an appeal was taken & cause me the trouble of getting Mr Sabin to attend to it for me in Washington?  I have got 1 bag [pr,?] good [Gihow?] pants made to carry up to the lake.  Cut & made in the best manner, lined with heavy cotton, pockets of sout drilling.  Shall have 2 coats made for you 1 a very fine [Gihow Prown?] & I do [Grey?] for work.  If anybody wants good durable pants they will do well to see of me.

I have not much of consequence to write at this time more than you will find in the foregoing.  We are all well & com-fort-a-ble.

I have a lame knee, made some worn by going to the top of Billings hill with Amherst & Oscar last Sunday.  They were going & wanted one to go to point out to them the different places to be seen from there, & as it was one of the prettiest days in town I went with them.

Amherst is going to carry on a small sugar place where Mr Harvey used to make sugar.  Them is a great stripe for making sweet, by everybody who are snatching for Buckets & everything pertaining to the business.

It is about mail time & I must dry up.

Give my inputs to all friends.

Affectionately yours

G. A. Barber


To be continued in the Spring of 1857