This letter was written by Justus Stevens (1819-1885) of Boscawen (now Webster), New Hampshire. He was a son of John Stevens, a native of Canterbury, same state, and Submit (Newcomb) Stevens, who was born in Greenwich, Massachusetts. Justus “was educated at the Franklin Academy, near Boscawen, and Patridge’s Military School, at Norwich, Vermont. In September, 1842, he came to Princeton, Illinois, then a very small village, and there he is today (1882). For nearly twenty years he was a merchant and general businessman in Princeton, buying grain, packing pork, and shipping all kinds of farm products to Chicago and Saint Louis. Mr. Stevens entered a large tract of land in this county at an early day, and when the Civil War began he closed out his mercantile business, and turned his whole attention to farming. He has 4,000 acres in one general farm, twelve miles northwest of Princeton, and under fine improvement, and now managed by his only son, Justus M. Stevens. Six hundred acres are planted with corn annually. He has about one thousand head of cattle, the same of hogs, and usually a hundred horses. He is one of the most successful farmers and stock-raisers in the state. When he built his present brick mansion in Princeton, thirty-three or thirty-four years ago, it was one of the best dwelling houses in the state. In June, 1842, Justus was married to Lurena McConihe (1820-1888), of Merrimac, New Hampshire, and besides the son already mentioned, they had four daughters.”
Addressed to Mrs. Justus Stevens, Princeton, Bureau County, Illinois
North Chelmsford [Massachusetts]
Wednesday, February 27, 1850
My Dear Wife,
With great pleasure I embrace this opportunity to write you. It has been but little more than one week since I left my dear family & pleasant home, but it seems to me to be a long month. I assure you, my dear Lurena that times moves slowly & heavily with me when I am absent from you. I often think when absent from home how much time we spend together without fully appreciating the worth of each one’s society. How true it is! “that there is no place like home.”
I arrived here last evening after undergoing a hard journey. Lake Erie was closed with ice and I was obliged to travel in stage from Detroit to Buffalo which took me three days & two nights. The stage upset once with nine passengers inside. I had my left hand so badly bruised that I was obliged to call on a physician to dress it. It is some better but troubles me to put on my coat. I really hope that Lake Erie will be opened on my return back. I crossed from Chicago to New Buffalo in a steamboat — the first across this season. Mr. Johnson & family are well aside from Lurena who has been quite sick with a bad cold & stiff neck. Mr. Johnson is at work making spindles as usual.
Mandana left here for Wilton some two weeks since. Mary Ann says her health is quite good. I do not think of going to Wilton. Shall not probably see her. I shall go to Boston tomorrow morning. I think I shall get through with my business next week. If so, I shall start for home one week from next Monday. I hope to receive a long letter from you the first of next week.
Mrs. Else (Angeline) has a daughter four weeks old. I do not know of anything more to write. I shall write you when or about the time I start for home.
Give my love to all. Kiss the children for me and believe me your ever devoted and affectionate husband, — Justus Stevens