This letter was written by Ignatius Robert Simms (1783-1852) of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois. He was married to Harriet Middleton (1792-1851) in 1809. We learn from this letter that I. R. Simms was the proprietor of the Western House in Jacksonville, Illinois.
Indeed, a notice in the Illinois State Register (Springfield, IL), dated 20 September 1844, reads:
“At a meeting of the Springfield Cadets, held at the Armory September 5th, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted: Whereas the recent visit of the Springfield Cadets to Jacksonville cannot with propriety be passed over without commending in the warmest language the ___erested and magnanimous hospitality extended to us by the democratic committee of arrangements, the proprietor of the ‘Western House’ and the citizens generally…. Resolved, that it be the duty of the Secretary to forward a copy of of the above to Messrs. McHenry and Simms of Jacksonville…”
We also find that the Illinois Weekly State Journal (Springfield, IL) ran Simm’s advertisement for the sale of his hotel in June 1848. The ad stated that the Western House was situated on the west side of the public square in Jacksonville and was accompanied by stables, sheds & offices.
Simms wrote the letter to his son, Chatham Hooe Simms (1814-1889), who was married to Anna Margaret Prosser and had two sons, Edward (b. 1842) and Louis (b. 1845) when this letter was written in 1846.
Addressed to Mr. Chatham H. Simms, Metamora, Partridge Point, Woodford County, Illinois
April 10, 1846
Dear Charles, Margaret, Edward, & Louis,
We received yours the other day under date 25 ultimo from which we learn with pleasure of your good health. We are also well. And with regard to the land, you can inform the man that I will take $300 for it in cash, or its equivalent half in land & with security & interest payable in six or 9 months. If you will bring your horse down when you come — & why not soon — I will give you a good & safe one for him.
The new married couple have moved to Palmyra, Missouri, children & all. We have quite a lonesome time from the loss of the children. Miss Hooe went with them.
With regard to the Delavan man, he has lately opened his house [here in Jacksonville] but I don’t see anybody about it. Not many about my own. There is but little traveling.
You ask when we will come up to see you. This we cannot tell. We are confined constantly at home. Buck is off to Palmyra & when at home will not assist me in the least. I have not been out of sight of town for 5 months nor on horseback but twice in the time. I have suffered more than death with a pain in my left eye which has disqualified me for any sort of business for 7 or 8 weeks. I was confident for a long time that I should lose it but thanks to him who can save or destroy, I have partially recovered my sight but it is quite dim yet. I think when the weather gets mild, I shall regain it. I was shut up in a dark room for 10 or 12 days & bled, took medicine every day, lived upon gruel, & my eye _____ed day & night & everything else that could be done to revive a poor suffering mortal was resorted to, such was the pain at times, that I was often in the act of having my hand to catch the contents of the ball certain that it would burst. I cannot dwell longer upon this subject — the reflections of the past unmans me & I weep like a child.
Poor Sewall ¹ is dead & buried a few days since. The way we must all go soon. And as to myself, I care not how soon. I am tired of this troublesome world.
The land is designated on the plat of the IL State Survey as being the E. half of the North West Quarter of Section Twenty-seven (27) in Township Twenty-three (23) North of Range four West, and the North half of the East half of the South West Quarter of Section Twenty-three in Township Twenty-three (23) of Range four West, of the third principle meridian — containing one hundred & twenty acres, more or less.
Write to the man desiring to purchase & give him all the information. I cannot write often; it causes my eyes — both — to pain me. May God pardon all our offenses & guide us all through all the meanderings of this troublesome world unto everlasting felicity. Amen.
Mrs. Prosser & family is well. Bring Margaret & Children when you come. Your Mother will go home with you. — I. R. Simms
¹ This is probably William Sewall (1797-1846) who came to Jacksonville with his family in 1829. He was a school teacher and a charter member of the First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville. IN 1833, he moved to his 640-acre farm in Chandlerville, Illinois, where he died on 7 April 1846.