Sunday, October 11, 2009

Athens, Ohio 1849

Athens, Ohio, Dec 1 1849, from E. Stewart, a livestock farmer, to F. E. Foster, Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois.

The content, which is very long, initially discusses the writer's extensive business dealings in the west, including a court trial re a dispute over hogs at Keokuk, Iowa, and additional business in Galena, Illinois. Is worried about his losses and financial shape, which he says could be 'mortifying.' Sorry that in the past that his credit was so good, and believes that easy loans led to his downfall. A lengthy postscript, which is excellent, touches on the California Gold Rush. It reads, in part, as follows, "I notice in your letter a strong inclination you have for Minnesota. Has that superceded the California fever? If so let me say ... that Doctor Dixon has just returned. He started from Cincinnati about 1 month in advance of our Athens Company [of Forty Niners], but had heard nothing of them. He was in the diggins only 3 or 4 weeks. He went over the land route & returned by Shagres [Chagres, Panama]. Was 45 days returning. Reported to have cleared 3000 [dollars] clear of expenses. Says he has enough of Californy & California gold. In a letter from Dixon to his wife, writing from Sacramento, says he just arrived without one cent of money. Left the train about 600 miles back. Had rode three mules down in that distance. Said that Danny started in company with him, but had got lost from him. Says nothing about the condition of the company when he left, only that he took with him of provisions [of] only 1-1/2 pounds of bread & three days after the date of his letter, another letter came to his wife, written by Mr. Boyle, who was once a student with Dixon, under a Mr. Howard of Columbus, Ohio, saying that he had spent some time with Doctor Dixon on his arrival & was to meet him again in a few days at a certain point, but before the time came around, [and this is most strange, in light of the above] Dixon accidentally shot himself & before (he, Boyle) got there Dixon was buried. The friends here begin to feel some alarm for the safety of our Athens Company.. Harold who started from McArthurstown 30 days after our folks, has written that he had arrived safe and would commence digging the next day. His hopes are high. Four [of] our people got in safe & write favorable. There will be a large company go out from here very early in the spring. You would be astonished if you knew all that has taken the California fever that can''t get through ... [signed] E.S.

This interesting letter is up for sale on Ebay Item number:260485978285

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