This letter was written by William Thomas Bourn (1781-1866) of Pettis County, Missouri. The 1840 Census shows him to be the owner of two slaves. He was married to Mary Ann (“Polly”) Ransdell who, like her husband, was a native of Virginia. From the letter and the birthplace of their son, John Ransdell Bourne (1803-1875), we know that the Bourn’s lived in Kentucky before relocating to Missouri.
Bourn wrote the letter to his friend, George Bohon (1797-1870) of Round Grove Township, Marion County, Missouri. From the letter we learn that George has also recently relocated from Kentucky to Missouri and has found himself a place near his older brother Lt. William Bohon (1787-1866), a native of Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky, and a War of 1812 Veteran. The Bohon brothers were the sons of Walter S. Bohon (1762-1828) and Judith Threlkeld (1761-1821) who mde the arduous journey from Orange County, Virginia to Mercery County, Kentucky in the late 1700s.
In the letter, Bourn informs George Bohon that his brother, John (Jack) Bohon (1785-1861) made the wagon journey all the way from Kentucky to Pettis County, Missouri, but was so dissatisfied with the country that he returned to Kentucky. Returning with him were Abraham Higgns and his son. Abraham was married to Hannah Bohon, though she had died prior to 1834 when this letter was written. The Crawford family was related by marriage to the Bohon family of Kentucky as well.
Addressed to George Bohon, Marion County, Missouri
the politeness of Mr. Cardwell
Pettis County, Missouri
December 21st 1834
I received yours by Mr. Cardwell which gave us all much pleasure to hear that you are all well and arrived safe at your brothers & have pleased yourself with a place which it is more than I have done. I was disappointed with the country on the account of the timber — too much prairie. There is a heap of poor land and a heap of good land and most of the good places is taken. But the land produces finely. But the most of my objection is that the people can’t settle thick enough to have good society & the most of them poor & not able to improve the country, too far from trade, & everything will come dearer than your country & you will have double the advantage.
The people was very sickly when we arrived. John Bohon & Crawford never unloaded their waggons & put back to Kentucky & we never have heard from them since. Abraham Higgins & boy went with them. It seems that I can’t find a place that I can make all things suit. Say good land, no water; poor land, water. Timber scarce. My mind is not at ease nor won’t be until I settle myself for life & when I do I would like to be satisfied. I think if I could get in a country where there is good society, I would be better satisfied [even] if the land was not so good & where there is people, for there is but few here.
If I can’t get satisfied in this quarter, I shall come [to] your side & try there. I want you to keep your eye on a place for me & give my love to your brother William & tell him as he’s been there some time that he must pick a place for me for I have an idea that I will view that country.
We are all well at this time. John is well & is here yet, but I don’t expect that he will stay longer than spring for he don’t like the country. I will try to get him to come out and look at your country. Polly joins me in love to ou all & all connections & friends. I want you to write shortly after you get this & write to Pettis County & direct your letters to St. Helena Post Office. I have wrote to Fielding Ransdell and have given him a full detail of all our travels to this country & all our friendship which I hope will remain until death. — William Bourn