This letter was written by Mariam C. [Davison] Dickson (1795-Aft1860), the 3rd wife of William Dickson (1783-1869) of Camden Mills Post Office, Rock Island County, Illinois. William was the son of Capt. James and Marry (Morris) Dickson. He came from near Erie, Pennsylvania to Rock Island County, Illinois in 1837 after the death of his 2nd wife, Christiana Moorhead (1783-1836). Christiana was the mother of Rev. Cyrus Dickson (1816-18xx), to whom this letter is addressed.
Though the letter is not dated, it is addressed to Wheeling, Virginia, which means it had to have been sent there between April 1848 and November 1856 — the inclusive dates of Rev. Dickson’s pastorate in that city. Further help in narrowing down the date is provided by Mariam’s reference to her husband’s son, James Dickson (1805-1893), who was living with his family in Rock Island County, Illinois, also. She mentions that James and his 2d wife (Ruth Ann Kelley) have had a young girl who was teething; genealogical records suggest this may have been Georgianna Dickson (1849-1923) who was born in December 1849. This would place the letter in August 1850. That date seems consistent with efforts that were underway to plan the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad which began construction in October 1851.
Addressed to Rev. Cyrus Dickson, Wheeling, Virginia
Camden [Mills, Rock Island County, Illinois]
August 3d 
Cyrus & Delia,
Your letter dated the 19th of July came this week. Father is gone and I will answer it. You seem to complain that you do not often hear from us. I think you cannot mean me as you never write to me and seldom mention I have wrote to you several times. I do not know the reason.
Your Father has gone to Peru. I feel anxious about him as the weather is extremely hot. He is very well this summer. I don’t know when he has looked better than he does now. His business is concerning the railroad. He feels anxious to see that go on, and tho I say it myself, I do not think there is a more efficient man in this country to do that kind of business than he is. Yet Cyrus, I do not think your Father is so much engaged in this perishable road that he forgets that long and sure road that each one of us has to travel. I think his lamp is brightening for that journey and the Guide and Protector that he has had from his youth up, still seems dearer to him as he draws nearer the end of his journey on that road which I trust will land him safe in that desired Haven where the weary are forever at rest. Your Father has a right view of this railroad. He thinks it is a going to be an important thing for this country and he feels it his duty and interest to do all he can and I hope he will live to enjoy a pleasant ride on it from here to Boston.
It has been very healthy this summer and is yet. We have had extremely warm weather — no cholera. It has been reported one man died of it in Rock Island some time ago but I think it was not that. I hope you have it not bad in your city. It has not been in the papers that it was there at all. It mentions a few cases in Pittsburg. It does not seem yet so dreadful as it did last summer. May it please the Lord this year to stay that dreadful pestilence.
It is very uncertain about Father’s coming this summer at all. If he does, it will be late. I want him to go. He is very anxious to see his oldest sister as well as his children and his health is good and I hope he may enjoy it. James and family are well now. They have a sweet pretty baby. It is getting teeth and she had a fit last week. They were much frightened. It was occasioned by the teeth. They cannot decide upon a name. I wish you would think of one and send it. Elizabeth is married and keeping house. She has got a good husband, a good house, and of course a good home. They are very much attached to each other. We think Mr. Bradley an excellent man. Father is well pleased and I see nothing to prevent, by the blessing of Heaven of their enjoying themselves together.
William intends this fall to come back again. He has got convinced now that it would have been as well for him if he had staid on his beautiful farm that has been going to waste ever since he owned it. My sister Polly — you remember her, Cyrus — and George — he was a small boy when you saw him — have been here to see us and have returned in safety. They were to Ohio in the first place, came to Cincinnati on the canal, then came by the rivers and went back by the Lakes. They enjoyed their visit much. She would liked much to have seen you.
We are expecting a minister next week — a young man by the name of Bishop. We are in hopes to like him and he us. They have their meeting house finished at Rock Island. There is a good many strangers in the place now and I believe the house is well filled. Mr. Larking is improving. Dr. Rice and Mary are well. They had an interesting baby 7 month old. It died about two weeks ago. They feel it very much.
We are glad to hear that you are all well and that Fanny has got well again. I wish children you were here to pick and eat blackberries. They are very plenty. We expect your Father home next week and then he will write.
My love to Mrs. McConnell, Delia, the children, yourself.
Yours, — M. C. Dickson