This letter was written from Covington, Kentucky, by Stephen Lancaster (1791-Aft1836), the son of Jacob Lancaster (1749-1829) and Sarah Nichols (1760-18xx) of Amesbury, Essex County, Massachusetts.
Stephen inquires of several family members. He asks about his sister Mary Lancaster (1797-1885) who married Francis Welch Sargent (1791-1863) in 1817. He asks about his brother Humphrey Lancaster (1779-1866). He asks about his brother Moses Lancaster (1784-1860) who married Sarah Greenleaf in 1805. He asks about his sister Elizabeth (“Betsey”) Lancaster (1785-1874) who married Samuel Sanders in 1807. He asks about his sister Sarah (“Sallie”) Lancaster (1792-18xx) who married John Kimball in 1813. He asks about his sister Dorothy (“Dolly”) Lancaster (1795-1878), and he asks about his brother John Lancaster (1801-1885) to whom the letter is addressed. John was married to Sophia Chase in 1829 and from this letter we learn that he made his living by manufacturing carriages.
He tells his family that their brother Jacob Lancaster (1786-Aft1836) has recently relocated to Peoria, Illinois, where he thinks he may relocate as well.
Addresed to Mr. John Lancaster or Dolly Lancaster, West Amesbury, Massachusetts
Campbell County, Kentucky
January 2, 1835
Dear Brother & Mother and Sisters,
Should this ever reach you (which I fear it will not) you no doubt will think your son & brother Stephen had almost forgotten you, but he still remembers you and wishes to be remembered by you all. I have my troubles and I have no doubt you do yours, but thanks to the all-mighty, they might be worst. I have now to inform of the death of my beloved wife who died the 6 day of last October in thirty-fourth year of her age. She was nearly seventeen when I married her and live nearly seventeen years together. I assure you I feel her loss, her conversation & her handy works are always before me. I thought it would wane away and I might be as other men but not so. I married her for love and that love is still in my beast and as fresh now as ever. You never see her, therefore, know nothing about her. She is gone from whence no traveler returns and O, may her spirit be at rest, which is the prayer of her husband. She died with the liver complaint and typhus fever — sick three weeks and in a great deal of pain. She left me seven children — 4 boys and 3 girls. The oldest is a boy, the 2 next are girls which are some help to me. The 2 youngest are boys. The youngest is 2 years old.
I still live near Cincinnati, Ohio but on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. Our brother Jacob was here to see me this summer. He did not stay long but went to the Illinois State. He has been unfortunate — lost nearly all his property and has been sick a good deal in New Orleans where he was before he came here. I feel for him. He now, I believe, is in the state of Illinois, county and town of Peoria on the Illinois River. I received a letter from him dated in October last. He had been sick but was better then. I fear he is not so temperate as he might be which causes the most of his trouble. I have bought some land in that country and expect to go there to see it this winter or spring. Brother Jacob says it is a fine country and he’s wrote me several letters to come and see that place [where there is] plenty of choice land at $1.25 cts. per acre already cleared in meadow and I have no doubt but a fine place. I wish it was so you could go on with me and we might settle together.
I feel anxious to hear from my aged mother. Is she still alive? Let me know. Dear brother, read this letter to her. Tell her it is from Stephen who never expect to see her in this world but has a hope to meet her in the world to come where we may meet all our friends and in a better and more friendly world than this.
Where is Humphrey? You will please to inform me. Where is Moses. If you know, please to inform me. Where is Betsy Sanders? If you know you will inform me. Where is Sally Kimbell? How is she get a long? Where is Dolly Lancaster? Is she not married yet? Mary Sargent and how does she get along? Her husband was always my particular friend from a child to a man and no boy I had so good opinion of. I do not recollect ever having a quarrel with him, which is not common for boys. I hope he makes Mary a good husband.
And the last, where is John Lancaster? Is he still at work at his trade in Amesburg? I feel anxious to hear from all my old acquaintances. I hope when you write you will take some leisure day and write one sheet at least for when I receive a letter, I want to hear all about those I am so nearly connected with.
I have been since the loss of my wife to St. Louis, Missouri. The place, I suppose, is a little larger than Newburyport — a good deal of business there. I think it would be a good place for your business of carriage-making. I do not know but I shall settle there myself.
Remember me to all enquiring friends. I shall now come to a close. Direct your letter when you write (and not long past) to Covington, Campbell County, Kentucky. Your affectionate brother, — Stephen Lancaster