Title:
A Hoosier Family Moves West, 1868–1895: Part II

Author:
Rodney O. Davis

Date:
1990

Source:
Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 131-177

Article Type:
Article

Download Source:
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A Hoosier Family Moves West, 1868–1895: Part II

Edited by Rodney O. Davis

Shortly after the Civil War, Samuel and Margaret Myers and three of their seven living children migrated from Fairbanks, Sullivan County, Indiana, to Vernon County, Missouri. Samuel was sixty years old, and two of the sons who accompanied him to Missouri had fought in the guerilla-ravaged area of southwestern Missouri during the war. Perhaps not surprisingly, correspondence between the Missouri and Indiana branches of the Myers clan began almost immediately. Because the difficulties of resettlement in a semi-frontier area were a major preoccupation for those who moved west, letters "back home" detailed these concerns. Homesickness and sorrow over separation, along with the hard economic times and the grasshopper visitation of the mid-1870s on the Middle Border, were frequent subjects of correspondence. Between 1871 and 1879 the letter writers included for the most part an overworked and ultimately ailing Samuel Myers, his wife Margaret, and their crippled son Milton; the principal recipients were Margaret (Maggie) Myers Harris and Mary Myers Davis, two of the three Myers children who remained in Sullivan County. Culminating points in this early correspondence were letters detailing the illnesses and subsequent deaths of Milton and Samuel, the latter resulting from a prolonged seige of cancer. Minor themes involved the two other Myers sons who accompanied their parents to Missouri; the marriage of Samuel Barnes Myers to Martha C. (Clem) Reynolds and the death three years later of their infant


  • Rodney O. Davis is professor of history, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. Most of the letters reproduced below are in his possession, and he expresses his great debt to Mrs. Antoinette Davis, who saved many of the letters from destruction, to Mrs. Clella Kelley, who provided photographs and photocopies of the letters in her possession in Oklahoma, and to Ms. Kellie D. Smith, who also provided photographs. He also wishes to thank Mrs. Laura Busch, Mrs. Jean Loomer, and Mrs. Leona Schoenrock for genealogical information and Professor Douglas Wilson for graphics assistance.
first son; and the move farther west to south-central Kansas by William Nelson Myers and his wife Lucy.1

A second set of Myers letters, written between 1879 and 1895, is more concerned with the three members of the Myers second generation who did not follow Samuel west immediately but who finally did so within five years of his death. Shortly before the presidential election of 1880, and before the birth of their fifth child, Maggie and Jacob Harris migrated to Vernon County, Missouri. They remained there, near relatives, for fifteen years before making a final rather dramatic move to the Cherokee Outlet after the death of Maggie's mother. In 1883, three years after Jake's and Maggie's departure from Sullivan County, Mary and John Davis and Charles and Bell Myers nearly simultaneously left Indiana to relocate in Walton Township, Harvey County, Kansas. There the Davises would remain, but the Myers, four years later, made an ill-starred foray into the frontier of western Kansas. That effort a failure, in 1891 Charles and Bell retraced their steps somewhat and reestablished themselves in Thayer County, Nebraska, perhaps to be near Musa, their daughter who had "run away" and married in 1889. Margaret Myers, Samuel's widow, remained in Vernon County, living a rather typical nineteenth-century widow's life of dependency with the families of her three children who lived there. As she aged, her letters became briefer and increasingly more querulous. Her death in 1891, and the final migration of Jake and Maggie Harris to Oklahoma four years later, bring the Myers letters to an appropriate close.

It can certainly be argued that the move to Missouri was productive of neither satisfaction nor security for Samuel or Margaret Myers. It led instead to an ultimately unfulfilling and fruitless regime of very hard work at an advanced age and to frustration generated by the hard times of the middle 1870s. Although Milton's early death was probably not unexpected, Samuel could not have anticipated the cancer that befell him before he died. The expenses that attended both Milton's illnesses and Samuel's futile cancer treatment left the patriarch with severely diminished resources at the time of his own demise. In spite of that, he was surely buttressed by the support of his sons Nelson and especially Barnes, who remained in the neighborhood, and by the concern of his other children.

Nelson and Barnes Myers were able to do better than their father did in Vernon County. Their properties were at the north edge of Nevada, which was a growing community well into the


  • 1 The first installment of Myers family correspondence is found in Rodney O. Davis, ed., "A Hoosier Family Moves West, 1868–1895: Part I," Indiana Magazine of History, LXXXVI (March, 1990), 50–93. For background information on the Myers family and their correspondence, see ibid., 50–57.
[Figure]

SAMUEL MYERS 1873

Courtesy Rodney O. Davis.

[Figure]

MARGARET MYERS 1870s

Courtesy Clella Kelley.

twentieth century. After their final return to Nevada from Kansas, previously childless Nelson and Lucy adopted a daughter, and Nelson did extensive market gardening. Barnes, on the other hand, never once left the area; he continued to farm successfully and also benefited from increasing land values near Nevada. In the third generation, Barnes's and Clem's son Lewis, born soon after the devastating loss of their first child, was to become a director and vice-president of Nevada's First National Bank.

Maggie and Jake Harris never really took hold in Missouri, staying as they did in three different Vernon County locations while there. Furthermore, their early years in Oklahoma territory were difficult, and although they were somewhat younger than Maggie's parents had been when leaving Fairbanks in 1869, they nevertheless had to begin from scratch on a true frontier, in a country previously unsettled by Europeans. By the time of their final move, however, they also had adult children to help in the pioneering process. They were eventually able to build a comfortable home, to acquire community status, and indeed to be locally revered as old settlers in their advanced age. Perhaps significantly, Maggie established the community's first Sunday School, which met in the family dugout.2 As was almost always the case with the third generation of Samuel Myers's family, the Harris children rooted themselves near their parents in their final home in Oklahoma. Mary and John Davis stayed in the Walton area till their deaths; John eventually abandoned storekeeping and took up farming again near the town. They and their sons, who also remained in Harvey County, were respected members of a community that would be moderately prosperous.

Of all the children of Samuel and Margaret Myers, Charles and his wife Bell had the largest family to raise. In retrospect, Charlie's optimism about his chances for success in western Kansas seems almost pathetic; hindsight has demonstrated that he and Bell pushed their luck by migrating to that sub-humid region in the mid-1880s. Consequently, like thousands of other immigrants who could not support themselves in western Kansas, in 1891 a middle-aged and somewhat disabled Charlie Myers took his family north and east to rented land in Nebraska, an older-settled region where he, Bell, and several of their children were to remain.

Overall, the collection of Myers family correspondence reflects rather typical concerns of transplanted Hoosiers; rarely is any of the correspondence speculative. Instead, family members concerned themselves with more concrete topics, such as the amount of dried peaches or the extent of a wet spring. Reading the letters almost a century later permits a rather easy understanding of the range of emotion the migrating Myers family experienced.


  • 2 Pawnee, Oklahoma, Courier-Dispatch, February 3, 1927, February 11, 1943.
[Figure]

Myers Family Tree

[To Margaret Myers Harris]

Nevada
December [1879]1

Dear Dauter

I sit down thes morning to anser letter we are all well at this time you wanted me to come out this winter but I cannot now we are looking for Nelson & Lucy every day he has sold out and moved it may be possible I may come in the spring I send by mail some stockings for Prudy and Foncy tell the other children that when I come I will bring them something

tell Mary that I have not forgot her and the children I think of you all I wish I was with you we have got the nicest baby you ever saw and we call him Lewis Hodge for his uncle2

tell Charley Davis that I cannot send his dominoes by mail it costs too much but that when I come will bring them

tell Charles Myers his time will come nxt I would like to see the children and Bell Love to all

Margaret Myers …

[To Margaret Myers]

Terre Haute Ind
Feb 15 1880.

Aunt Margret

I received your letter And we were all glad to heare from you once more and that you were all well


  • 1 In order to allow the correspondents to speak for themselves, the second installment of the Myers family letters that follows has been minimally edited. Spelling, grammar, and syntax have been transcribed exactly as written. Although an attempt was made to determine the punctuation intended by each writer, it was virtually impossible to distinguish among commas, periods, pen rests, and blots. In addition, various family members used dashes, ditto marks, number signs, and lines of dots both within and at the end of sentences. Frequently there was no punctuation at all. In order to facilitate reading and avoid confusion, double spaces have been inserted between sentences whether or not any kind of punctuation appeared, and seemingly indiscriminate commas, ditto marks, number signs, etc., have been ignored. Decisions concerning vowels and capitalization were also at times necessarily arbitrary. Spacing of headings, salutations, paragraphs, and closings has been standardized. Obvious unintentional repetitions have been omitted. A three-or four-dot ellipsis indicates omission of a few words or sentences, while a line of dots signals omission of one or more paragraphs. Only occasionally were lengthy blocks of material omitted for their marginal importance. Information crowded in at the top or sides of the letters has usually been inserted as a postscript. Illegible words or phrases have been so indicated in brackets, and questionable transcriptions are followed by a bracketed question mark. An attempt has been made to identify all family members-013 as many other individuals as possible—to whom there is reference in the letters. Birth and death dates were taken from family Bibles and cemetery records or inferred from federal census manuscript records.
  • 2 Lewis Hodge Myers, named for his soldier uncle who was killed at Little Rock, Arkansas, with the 43rd Indiana Infantry in 1863, was Barnes's and Clem's second and only surviving child, born in August, 1879, only a few months after the death of their first son James.

We have had verry good health So far this mild winter. I saw Cousin Jake on the 13 and had a talk with him and he said that he was favorable to coming oute but could not until fall on account of parties owing him and to collect it he will have to waite for the coming crops to get his pay.3 I advised him to go and settle and take theire notes and specify how they should be paid and then he could sell them or have them collected by others, he said that he was not in debt. But I tell you what I think its mere guess work that so many owing him leaves him short of ready money and I think that this is the trouble. I would write to Magy or Mary to find oute if it was So and then write to him. if need be to advance him monie to move on I asked him how he would go he said by rail and ship his Horses by rail. And another thing I would make a statement what each other would expect of one another in order to avoide confusion that may or might arise in coming events his cousin told me that Jake had said he wanted to go west and from our convesation he said the same And he thinks this a good oppertunity I told him that you wanted him and did not want to let Straingers have your place to ruin it I think he sees the it would be to his advantage to go to some place where he could accumulate land for his coming family. I think you can induce him to come I think it such a misfortune when an opertunity is opened up that young folk do not improve it. And I consider this a good one for him better than probly he will meet with again he likes you and said that he would have no difficulty in getting along. I will go for him again and if you wish for me to say any more to him send me word what to Say and I will do So.

If Geo Was Single I would advise you to have him to move to Some western town it might be the means of changing him to a new life and usefull to himself and children. If Charley is not doing well he ought to where he is and I think he is making it all right

Yours truly Love from all—

W.B.M.4

I havent heard from Nels latley Tell Barnes never to whip a Horse or Mule And never get angry a Horse has to be trained to evey thing and when he is learned your wishes he will obey An Ellephant is tickled when his keeper gets Mad Its his shrewdness But not a Horse Kind …


  • 3 This is the first intimation of the upcoming move of Jake and Maggie Harris to Nevada later in 1880 to live with Margaret Myers. A similar move had been contemplated earlier; see Samuel Myers to Jacob Harris, September 21, 1876, in Rodney O. Davis, ed., "A Hoosier Family Moves West, 1868–1895: Part I," Indiana Magazine of History, LXXXVI (March, 1990), 80.
  • 4 The author is William B. Manning, a Myers relative from Terre Haute, Indiana. See Thomas J. Wolfe, ed., A History of Sullivan County … (2 vols., New York, 1909), 256–58.

[To Mary Myers Davis]

March 10 [1880]

Dear Daughter

I sit down to answer your letter that we received sometime ago we are all well at this time Barnes has moved to his self and I am liveing on the place I board with the family that rented the place I wish that Maggie had come out but if they do not want to come I do not want them to come to please me I had every thing to keep house with now I have nothing & Barnes have all I saved corn enough to doo them all summer but I have sold it to the man that has rented the place

I have not heard from Nelson for a long time they have sold out and moved farther west5

I would like to come in and see you all but I so situated I cannot tell Maggie to wright and let me know how they are and I would like to heare from Charleys folks

Barnes lives too miles from me I havenot been over since they moved they have got the sweetest baby you ever saw

write soon

Mother …

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada
Mar. the 11. 80

Dear Mary

Your Ma has been writing to you, and I will write you a line or two she came over to see us day before yesterday and we brought her home this morning, we wanted her to stay longer but as it is cold she thought she would rather come home, she has her room here at [illegible] and is more comfortably situated than she is with us. we tried to get her to go and stay with us but we have but two rooms and it is a little lonesome there and she did not think she could be satisfied there though I am sure I would do all I could to make it pleasant for her I think she has a very pleasant family on the place, but when she has children it does not seem right to be living with strangers. I do wish some of you there could come out and live with her. I think she would be better satisfied here than any other place now, and she would do a good part by any of you that would come. Barnes dont want nels to get possession of the place. We are living about two north east of here, and a quarter of mile north west of where Nels used to live on this side


  • 5 Nelson and Lucy had moved from Finley, Sedgwick County, Kansas, to near Anthony, in Harper County, Kansas.
[Figure]

MIGRATIONS (WITH APPROXIMATE DATES) OF VARIOUS BRANCHES OF THE SAMUEL MYERS FAMILY

of the creek Barnes is just ready to start to Town and I will have to stop writing please excuse poor writing and all mistake for I have written in a hurry please writ soon tell Mag she owes me a lette Love to all

Clem

[To John W. Davis]

Terre Haute Ind.
June 4 1880

Honbl John Davis P.M. of City Graysvill Sullivan County Ind.

Mrs Aunt Margret Myeres of NevadaMissouri arrived in this City on the 2d safe and in good health. She is stopping at the Manning Ranch No 412 on oake bet 4 & 5 street. And will be to happy to Visit her Children at the Earliest posible convenient moment. So govern your selves accordingly. I advised her not to go down on the Hack for fear of being crowed its not Safe or pleasent for old Folks to be tirede oute so We are all well and tell Cousin Marry—that we have a little Mery in our Wigwam to make nights hedious with her warbelings I must Klose for mail

You Truly

Wiggie6

[To Margaret Myers]

Antheny Kansas
June 27 1880

Dear Mother

Clem wrote to us for you some time ago & said you wer going to Ind hope you get through safe we are stil heere dont know how long we will remain heere Lucie is not satesfied heere shal sell out Just as soon as we can & make our selvs seff [safe?] It has ben quite dry heere until the twoe weeks we heve had plenty of rain, stock are looking fine heere, we heve not heerd from Mo for some time I guess they are all dead hope you will heve a good Visit wish we could be there with you give our love to John & Mary & Jake & Mag also Charly & Bell we wood like to heere from some of them what has becm[?] of Bill Maning hevent heerd from him for some time he ows me a letter how is times in Ind pleas write & tell us how they are all getting along hevent heerd from any of them for so long that I dont know any thing about any of them where is George now well Ma I dont know what to write that wood Interest any of you Lucy will write some my love to all Inquiry friends tell them I am comeig to Ind when I get rich I hope you will write to us soon & give us the news.

Yours Truly

Nels


  • 6 "Wiggie" is William B. Manning.

Dear Mother

this is monday morning and Nels is just ready to start to town I have nothing of interest to write you We have had a poor season to raise anything so far. have no garden to speak of no flowers only what I have in the house they are doing well. I have twenty young turkeys about forty young chickens I didn't try to raise many as feed is so scarce; we have three young canary birds. Give my love to Mary and Maggie and all the rest of our folks I suppose Homer is almost a man by this time we would like to hear from any of them

Please write soon

Lucy Myers

[To Margaret Myers]

NevadaMissouri
July the 14 1880

Dear Mother

we recived youre letter of the 6 it found us all well. was glad to here that you was well, in my last letter that is in Clems last letter we Spoke of wheat land for Jake if he wanted it I had Spoke to Mr Tillotson for his wheat land and he Said that I could have it for Jake, but as Mag Said to git 10 acers I cant git any if I dont take all and there is 22 acers in the peace, and I will tell him that I Shant take it. I think he wants to much rent. To suit me to rent for Someone Else, you can tell Mag that we bought hur 2 doz cans for black Berry 1 doz half galens and 1 doz quart cans and have got 20 quats cand and will can some more to day we have some trouble to get berrys as the old folks7 caps [keeps] them picked as fast as they git ripe

Mother I think that you aught to come back as Soon as you can for if you dont they will git away with all of the fruit as I think from what I can See they Supply all of their friends with fruit and as Soon as the graps and apples gits ripe they will give them away. the peaces they want all of them they want to dry anuf to do them through the winter. the hales are abought all gon now and Severl other kinds that will bee ripe in a few dayes. all kinds of fruit is riping at least one week to 10 dayes Sooner than comen this year, and if you dond come they will git the most if not all that is on the place. I am goin to try to Sel Some of them blue plumbs to Mrs Tillotso[n] this after noon for if I dont git them away Soon they


  • 7 This is probably a reference to the tenants on Margaret Myers's farm outside Nevada.
will give them away, finished Stacking Oats this morning, weather warme Corne looks verry good, come Home as son as you can

S.B. [Barnes] Myers

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada City
Oct. 8 [1880]

Dear Sister

I Sit down to write to you. this leavs us all well you must not think hard of us for not writing sooner I could not git Jake to write and I dident feel like it Ma is well hir & Barny & Jake is gathering Apples to day we are living in the Sellar and it hant very plesent but I hope we wont have to stay in it long for the famly is talking of leaving.8 we have too beeds up in Ma's room and a trunle bed we are a rite smart crouded but we git along prity well the children is gitting fat you aught to here Jodie tell what him and Pa is going to do we got here in time to dry a bushel of peaches and I pealed them I caned thirteen gallons Ma wants to no if you will pay the frate on some dryed peaches if she will send you some thay are pealed Clem was here yesterday thay are all well I wish you was here to See the Apples thay have got gatherd. When you write I want you to tell us if Litt Dilly has got thare and all the news I sopose you are all having a good time goin to the big ralys I want you to write and tell me about them and how the glee Club is gitting along and it they have got that fine flag don9 We are gitting along fine we have plenty to eat we have plenty of fruit and plenty of potatoes and I dont think we will starve. tell Charly he aught to be here to help Jodie pick up apples to make Sider to make Apple butter he will turn to a big apple yet Charly & Linman [?] must Com over and git a drink of Sider I got a letter from Sadie yesterday She said She had Seen you I wants you to give us all the news when you write I must quit for it hurts me to write Ma is sitting a nitting and She said for you to answer this rite away for She wanted to here the news fo Fairbanks the boys and Ma & Clem & children is talking of going to git peacons Sunday. I gess I will stay at home and keep house; give my love to all inquiring friends if we have any write soon

Maggie Harris


  • 8 Jake and Maggie Harris had made their move to Nevada before this letter was written; they obviously were doubling up with the tenants on Margaret Myers's farm.
  • 9 The partisan Harrises were already nostalgic about Democratic rallies in Indiana in the Winfield S. Hancock—019 A. Garfield contest in 1880.

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada City
Nov 7 [1880]

Dear Sister

I sit down to answer you letter this leaves us all well Mary Nels & Lucie is up here on a visit thay are well Lucie is as big as you are and Nels is as big as Charly Earnest thay have bin her too weeks thay Intend to start home tuesday thay have gon to meeting Ma went with them she hant bin very well she had the Sore Eyes very bad and it made hir look very bad She did talk of goin home with Nelson but she has got out of the notion he is talking of mooving back here this winter Barnes & Clem was here this morning thay went to Church and Jake went with them we are having very pleasent weather here yet we hant had any bad weather at all we are needing rain very much at the present time it is very warm to day the Children is out at play Jodie is as fat as a bear and has grown lots since we left fairbanks I will have to tell Charly about Jodies flag he raised it in the yard and the famly that livs in the house with us is garfield folks and thay have a calf and it got in the yard and eat his flag up he was the madest boy you ever saw he said that old fool garfield Calf had to eat his Handcock flag up he said he never did like that calf and he never would now. you wouldent no Prudie she is so fat and has growin so she eats so much that Ma gits scairt some times and thinks it will kill hir. Ponnie hant any fleashy She was when we left thair she wont git to go to school this winter I recon that the Children will learn ever thing thair is to be learned this winter at fairbanks thay have such a Smart teacher to go to I want you to write and tell me where Nin and Olie is keeping house I dident think that thay would git Married attall we hant got any letter from grand Pa for a good while I thought thay would write as soon as thay got home from Tyres but thay I will write to them in a fiew days I will have to quit for this I will finish some other time. Nov 12. I will finish to day as Jake is goin to town to day we are all well this morning Ma eyes is better than thay was when I first wrote we had a big frost last night but it is warm and pleasent to day Mary. Nels & Lucie left here last tuesday thay bought them a piece of land before thay left and are coming back in a bout five weeks to stay we want you to write and let us no how Charly and famly is I hant got to write to them yet but I intend to soon I have the rheumatism so bad in my hands and armes I cant hardly write any at all

write soon I will write som for Jodie Jodie says to tell Charly that him and Pa went over to Barneys and got a lot of walnuts and he is hulling them and he wish that him and homer was her to help him thay would have a big tim

Mag

[To Mary Myers Davis]

March [1881]

Dear Mary

I sit down this morning to anser your letter at last we have been so crowwded this winter that we didnot know what to doo with ourselves but we have got the house to our selves now

the family are all well now Maggy has bin sick with the newralgy but is well again My health has been bad all winter had very bad cold we have had a very cold disagreeable winter I should like to see you all but do not think that I can come back soon I will have nothing to come back with this summer Jake is fixen to farm now

Nelson has come back and has bought some land of Mr Logan and bilt a house on it I do not know what he came back for and I never asked him him and Lucy have got large and fleshy that you would hardly know them

Barney and Clem are well and also their baby they are doing very well

I am glad you have got a home of your own Mag wanted me to ask you if you answed her too last lettrs if you did she never got them and she would not wright till she new

how is Charleys folks I have not heard from them for a long time

You got your peaches at last how did you like them did Charley get his I didnot send him as many as I did you because he had of his own

if you can read this anser it but I think it doutful I havent rote but one letter since I acame hem [home] before

Mother

I would like to hear from all the old friends

[To John W. Davis]

NevadaMissouri
April th 14, 1881

Dear Sir

we received your letter the other day and would have answered before now. but Barnes was very sick at the time, and he is not able to be up yet. but is some better, he was taken sick last Sunday with conjestion of the stomach, hope he will soon get up again. We will send your $15,00 in this letter, and want you to send us as much sugar as it will pay for. and pay the freight on it. We want cake sugar. Barnes says to get it if [of] Charlie if he has it to spare be sure to get good sugar who ever you get it from get it and send it as soon as you can

Grandma has been here since Sunday but she is getting very anxious to go home she says tell Mary she would like her to answer the letter she wrote her we will expect all the news when you send the sugar

Yours Truly

Clem …

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada
July 30 [1881]

Dear Sister

I have wated and wated till I have got tired and I thought I would write once agin I have never got but one letter from you since we com here and if you wrote I diden git it thair is a nother Maggie Harris here and I got som of her letters but I returned them and if she got any of mine she diden return them and if you wrote she got them we have rented a box in the ofice and thair hant any danger of gitting the letters lost. drect your letters to Box 62. this leaves us all well but Ma she hant bin very well for a fiew weeks I think it is the warm weather it is very warm and dry we need rain very bad. it has bin the warmest I ever saw. things is all dying for want of rain. Mary I hope you are pleased with your new home and I recon you have a nice place to rais chickens I hant had very good luck this sumer with my chickens the chigars killed lots of them but I have a good many yet. thair hant very much fruit this sumer afiew Peaches the apples is all falling off thair is rite smart of graps we have a big Water mellon patch and som very nice mellons thay are ripe you and the boys step over and eat som with us. Jodie wants Charly to com and bring his wagon and thay will goo and git a wagon load the Children hant forgot the good old times thay use to have I herd them talking about Charly and Homer to day and wonderd if Charly had his torch yet Jodie says he would like to see Aunt Mary and he wants you to tell Charly to write to him Prudie said she would like to see Homer Ponie is as poor as a snake she went three Month to school this summer She had too miles to go and had to go part of the time by hir self. Mary, Ma is talking of coming out thair to spend part of the winter if she can. Ma is not a tall stout this summer she hant hardly able to go. She dont stay here all the time she goes Barny & Nelsons and stays som times a weak at a time. Barny & Clem is both well. Mary thay have one of the Mischievious boys you ever saw Clem cant have any thing for him he can tare up faster than Clem can fix up thay hant any thing he dont think of he is a prity boy little bit of a feller dont look like he could do any thing but he is quick as though[t] Jake is plowin for wheat we hant thrashed yet. Ma says for you to write to hir agin it is so hard for hir to write and she hant felt like writing. Mary you must write to hir for she like to git your letters, tell Homer to write to me and I will answer it for him to tell how he likes his new home tell Charly to write to Jodie I will quit for this time write soon love to all. direct to Box 62. Mary I have one of the nices babys you ever saw10 he is twist as big as Jodie was at his age he is very good can go where he please.

Mag Harris

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Septeber th 4 81

Dear Daughter

I sit down this morning to anser your letter after so long a time we are not all well and not very sick able to be about we have had a long hot and dry summer hear had a verry good reign las week you wanted to hear from Nelson and Lucy, they live at the sulpher springs have bought 30 acres of land and improven it if you get sick all you have to do is to come out to the sulpher springs and get well

I hear from you sometimes throgh Maggs letters She gets a letter about once a week and if I ask her She tell how you are if Mrs Pounds wrights enny thing about you I never see her letters

Barnes is well but Clem has the reumatism in her knee so bad she cant hardly get around Lewie is well Barnes and Jacob are verry busy preparing for wheet soing they have got through thrashing and haying and will soon be ready for corn gathering

I got that shugr that you and Charles sent me and was glad of it and I gave the cake to Nelson as directed also one of the cakes sent me

I hadent any use for it Barnes and Mag had plenty of their one Lucy says that she would like to see you all

I would like to see you all verry mutch I do not now if shall come in this fall or not

Tell Mrs Earnest I hope she is well and I send my best respects to her and hers I would like to hear from Charlesis family

Right soon and tell all the news

Mother

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Febuary [1882]

Dear Mary

After so long atime I take my pen in hand to right you afew lines to let you know we are all well as usual at this time we got home


  • 10 James G. Harris was born on November 30, 1880.
all right and found all well I had a notion to come back but thought it would look dad [bad] to come so soon I have not been to Barneses but once sinse I came back and I do not care about going there Clem is very cool she lays all of the blame on me for not staying She says that she said to stay but enough of that

Nelsons and Lucy are well I have bin staying with them some this winter they have got a comfortable place to live. I like to stay with them …

I want you to right and tell me all the news let me know how Ida Andersen is

I have not heard from Aunt Paulina since I came home if you hear [?] from her rite and tell me how she is

Nothing More

Mother

[To Mary Myers Davis and Children]

March the 5 [1882–1883]

Dear Cousian Charly

ithougt i wold answer your letter Come out and see us i could read nearly all your letter Prudy sad she would like to see you and have abig play with you you said you could not see shoe what did you mean by that you said that you would like to have mine and Prudy picturs i wold like to have yours and see how big you ar if you dont think Jimie is aprity boy just come and see he is one of the nices boys our school is out we had lots of fun and tha wer lots there Jody woud not go we had nice weather for 2 oar 3 days and now it is cloudy weather right soon

F[lorence]

Dear aunt Mary

cme out and see us ma is pealong apples and i am setting in the rocken char righting Prudy is setting on the sheep skinn marking on the slate Jim is stang in the chaer watching ma pal apples right soon ican not right any more for Jodie will hafto get ma to right fer him iwoul like to see Homer Aunt Mary from Florence11

I recon we now wouldent no Homer he has groed so much good after noon Charly. I have just got dun eating my dinner and will git Ma to write som for me. Well Charly I think them rabbits you sent me was rite nice was they Jack rabbits or cotton tail rabbits you bring your dog and com out home with grand Ma and we will


  • 11 The letter is continued by Maggie Harris for Joel.
go a hunting and maby we will katch a rabbit. I am sewing Carpet rags, write soon

Jodie

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada City
Dec 5 [1880–1883]

Dear Sister

we Sent you your Peaches that Ma wanted to send you and we Sent grand Pas som in the box thay are marked and I sent Mrs Pounds some thay are marked Mary we sent som apples to all of you grand Pas we couldent git in the Sack So we put them in loose and you can give them to him I cant write any more for I hant able to this leaves Ma well Ma Says your frate will be one dollar we paid the frate for the others I hope this will find you all well the children is all well love to all tell grand Ma I will write to hir Soon

write soon

Mag

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Monday Night March [1883]

Dear Sister

I sit down to nite to answer your letter, this leaves us all well, all but Prudie she has a boil on hir back it is very sore it is raining to night, the Children is all gon to bed and Jake is Setting reading the Enquire Nels & Lucie was here last week one day thay are well Nels helped Jake one day hall hay he has bin halling hay for too weeks and hant dun yet he gits four dollars a tunn. Barny and Clem was here yesterday thay are well I hant bin any place since Ma left so I dont no any thing to write to hir about tell hir Jake has got all the grape vines trimed. I have got a quilt up I have it half out it is a wosterd quilt. Mary you said in your letter that I rote like it was you that told Jake what Clem said no Jake said you dident say any thing to him about it to him it was Bell and Rose that told him and others as well but Jake said he dident see you after he herd it Rose said she had talked to you as well as to others that was the reason I wrote to you but it dont make no diference what she said, tuesday morning it rained very hard here last night and is prity cool this morning tell Ma that Jimmie goes to the window ever day to see if Grand Ma is coming and makes a grate to do about it he is fat as a pig I am goin to git his picture taken and I will send it to you he looks like Little Alice I think he is big of his age I dont no if I will ever git him weaned

write soon

Mag

I wade Jimmie this morning and he wayes Thirty two pounds does Ma no when she is coming home Jake said tell John to com past this summer if he goes west and see us

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Hutchinson
Aug 8/83

Well Mary I got here about Six oclock all Right but so tired that I cannot stand I think I have traveled over Some of the nicest Country I ever Saw as well as I could tell, now the corn looks well Wheat and oats Splendid I am going to look around here afew days and then go to See Jonahs Country12

I am Sixty five miles South west of him as I am So tired and Blind with cinders in my Eyes I will close

If you get this Saturday and want to write to me Monday Direct to Waltin Hary County Kansas

It is So dark I cant see the lines.

J W Davis

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Walton
Aug 15/83

Well Mary I received your letter this Morning and was glad to hear from you I am all Right with the Exception of the Diareah I left Hutchinson on Saturday and came to Jonahs, they are all well and fat I like the country here better than Reno County But the lands are higher here I have not Bought any Place yet have found Some that Suits me Pretty Well. But my not having the money withe me is going to Bother me about Buying. I Shall not Be home Before the 24th I dont think We have had two good Rains since I came hear the crops are Just Bully I have saw Oats that made 100 Bu to the acre. Wheat from 15 to 40 and the corn is fine I think that Charly has the Blues But dont tell Bell so13


  • 12 John W. Davis had concluded to leave Sullivan County and was on a land-buying trip to south-central Kansas. According to state and federal census data, Jonah Harris, Jacob's brother, had moved to Walton Township from Fairbanks Township after 1880. John Davis had farmed outside Fairbanks and had run a store in town. U.S., Tenth Census, 1880, Population Schedules for Sullivan County, Indiana, p. 466; and Kansas, State Manuscript Census, 1885, Vol. 110, Walton Township, Harvey County, p. 34.
  • 13 Charlie Myers may have been on this land-buying trip, too; by the winter of 1883–1884 he and his family were living in Walton Township. See Charles Myers to Margaret Myers, February 24, 1884, below.

You need not Write me any more unless Something gets the matter. It is very warm hear hoping this to find You all Well I will close I woul like to tell you more But I will wait untill I get home. I must quit as I want to go to the country to look at Some farms14

JWD

[To Mary Myers Davis]

NevadaMissouri,
November 17, 1883

Dear Mary

I will try to answer your letter which was recieved in due time. I was glad to hear from you once more also glad you was all well and pleased with your new home I think you have a very good start for a new Country I am well as usual am liveing at Nelson's this winter.

I suppose you have heard that Maggie has made a visit to Indiania this fall she was gone four weeks

I did not dry any fruit this summer Barne's' and Mag's and Nels' are all well as usual No Mary it is not near so far from where you live here at it was from Fairbanks hope you will think it near enough to make us a visit when you get straigtened up a little. Tell Charlie I will write to him soon tell him to come and see us as soon as he can we would be glad to see him. Write soon. From your Mother

Margaret Myers …

[To Margaret Myers]

Walton, Harvy, Co. Kansas
February 24th '84

Dear Mother

I received your leter I Was glad to hear from you and was glad to know that I was Clear of any offence to you for I felt very bad about your last letter Mary denes of Saying any thing to you about the money you told me about It when you was out but I had forgot It and as for the money I Sent to Father I dont Clame any thing but If you have more money than you want at the present If


  • 14 Late in August, John Davis bought eighty improved acres in Walton Township for $750; the land lay two miles north of the Santa Fe railroad, which crosses Harvey County. He and his family moved to Kansas soon after. Harvey County had been well settled for as long as twelve years; unbroken Santa Fe lands were still for sale, but no public land was available for free homestead entry or preemption at the government's minimum price of $1.25 per acre. Historical Atlas of Harvey County (Philadelphia, 1882), 21.
you will Send me fifty dollars I will pay you ten persent for It tell the last of July for I have bilt a hous on my place an It took all the money I had Sow I will want feed [seed] to raise a Crop I have 30 acrs of wheat which looks well If you will make this lone to me you will be well paid for It you can Send by register leter to Walton Harvy County, Kan I will move thursday this leaves all well Levi Says that he Is fat and Saucy he ways 116 Pounds15 all of the children Is harty the baby can Run every whers I think I will like this cuntry very well and if I can get Off I will come to See you this fall I could tell you more If I Could See you for I am a pore writer I rote to Jake & mag but havent heard from them only by you give my respects to all I will Close for this time hoping to hear from you Soon

Charles Myers

Well Ma we all went over to are new House to Day It look like we Will soon have A Home of are own again we have got anice place I think we are all well pleased with Kansas I think It is Healthy Here than It is in Indana dont Here of much sickness Here only bad colds I have had and auful cold an caugh but am better I got A letter from Mollie last week she said Ma was not well It has bin A hard Winter one old people thare It has bin so cold and is raing thare now all the time I guess I will close for this time give my repects to all.

Bell

[To Margaret Myers]

Walton
Nov the 27 [1884]

Dear Mother

It has ben a long time since I wrote to you. but I had not forgot you. there is not a day but I think of you I did want to come out to See you all this winter while you was all together, times is so hard that I could not git off. you no youre self how it is going to a new place, we raised plenty of every thing but can not sell fore eny price hardly oure corne is making 45 to 50 bu to AC. as good as we ever rased an it sells fore 18. ct p. buss we have 25 head of hogs, but they are no price


  • 15 Levi Myers was a son of Charles and Bell Myers. He was named for his uncle who died of unknown causes in Fairbanks, Indiana, five days after his brother Lewis died in the Civil War. See note 2 above. Charlie and Bell were not to remain for long in Walton Township. Heeding the profoundly misleading call that "rain follows the plow," they moved farther west, probably in 1887, to Scott County, Kansas. Walton, Kansas, Independent, May 17, 1887.

well Ma you Said in Charleys letter that Jake an Mag had got them afarme.16 where is it an when do they move, an what did they pay fore it an where are you going to Stay you Said Nels was going to leave it is so harde fore me to write I wish I could be with you all a shorte time I could talk

well Ma Charley Said he would write to you all the news an I do not no what to write Mrs Dilley come out heare on a visit an got Sick an died at John Drakes, it was hard on them. I belive that the hel[t]h of all the Famlys that come from Fairbank are good17 I see in oure Sullivan paper that the old Settlers are dying of fast there, we got oure paper to day I see Peggie Alkire is ded. I was sorry to heare it you said you had had pore helth this winter. What seamed to be the mater with you Ma well I do not no what more to write

The Boys is going to school they are both well an fat

Charley thinks he would like to see Mags children so well

This leaves us all well hoping it will fine you all the Same, write soon an a long letter

Mary

[To Mary Myers Davis]

December th 21 84

Dear Mary

I am all alone and I thou I would anser your letter I was waiting to see how thing would turn up Jake has moov from my place he bought a place and he has 80 achors and paid,800,hundred dollars for it he paid,400,hundred down for it Mary they have not done right with me atall they got mad because they could not get all of the place for nothing I hear that he rote the folks that the boys was trying to run him off but there is nothing of it they nver inerfeard wih my bisness I have settled with him and paid all that I owed him about 40 dollars

Mary I shall not tell him they have used me if you wear hear I could tell you they have got another baby girl and they call it Dolly18 I let Charles have 40 dollars last spring and told him to pay John 25 when he could and I would send the other ten as soon as I could now I will send you the ten dollars and he can pay you the 15 and that will settle that debt


  • 16 See the next letter for more particulars about this move by Jake and Maggie Harris.
  • 17 John and Mary Davis and Charles and Bell Myers were not the only Sullivan County folk to move to Harvey County, Kansas, in the 1880s.
  • 18 Dollie Harris had been born the previous month.

I am sorry you feel so hard with the boys they have done nothing to be slited for

Nelsons is going to move to Cansas as soon as the weather will admit and I shall stay at Barnes for a while I would like to see you you have heard one side of the storry I would like you to hear myne …

Mother

[To Margaret Myers and Mary Myers Davis]

Veron Co. Mo
[1886]

Dear Mother & Sister

I recieved your letter last week but hant had a chance to write for the Children has bin sick Prudie was sick to days last week and Dollie was sick three it just loks lik I cant git them well I giv the medison as the doctors directs me to dollie said yesterday that she had got well and wanted to go and see grand Ma: and Aunt Mary she thought you was at Barnys yet I hant saw Clem or Barny since you left the rest of the famly is all well thay are don making molasses and I am glad of it Jake and Jodie has gon to gathering Corn this morning it has turned prity cold and the wing has bin blowing hard for too days and is still blowing I hant got much to write would like to here from you agin soon give our love to all tell the boys we would like to see them Dollie sends a kiss to grand Ma and Aunt Mary she wanted to no of me the other morning if Old rony was up and I told hir yes then she said that Old rony was a good girl and Jim liked to hurt his self lafing to think she called hir a girl write soon

Magg …

[To Margaret Myers and Mary Myers Davis]

Dec. 21 [1886]Clear Creek. Vernon County Mo

Dear Mother and Sister

I recieved your welcom letter last week. Was glad to here from you and that you was all well. I am glad Ma that you are having such good helth and are injoying your visit, dollie was sick when I got your letter I think it is wormes but she is better now She is sitting on the floor reading out of a paper, this leaves us all well at this time but I dont no how long it will last for the Children is sick so much Jimie took sick rite away after I rote to you and was sick about five weeks he is able to go to school this week he miss the first too weeks. Prudie looks bad but she is goin to school she wont go when it is bad weather she says She feels bad all the time but I thought it wouldent hurt hir to go while it is prity weather and she wants to go so bad. we have had the nices fall I ever saw we hant had any snow yet Mary you wanted to no if Gorge and Nett had bin to see us. no thay hant. Jake was in town three weeks ago and he saw Mr Tilitson, and he told Jake that thay was at Nelses, and was coming to town the next day and that is all I no I looked for them down to see us but thay dident com and I dont no if thay are still out or not. was thay down to see you you dident say in your letter I dont no why thay dident com I hant saw Barny or Clem since I was up thare with you the Childrin has bin sick so much that we dont git to go any wher and I am nearly wore out wating on them I feel just about like I did when you was here, well Mary you wanted to no if our old hog Well she has got so she can walk some but that is all I dont no wheather she will ever got any better or not the rest of our hogs is doing well all of my turkys dyed but four I sold them or thay would have dyed to I had thought I would have a little money when I sold all of them and it was a little sure Jake is don gathering corn he is hailing wood to day. Well. Hommer & Charly Jodie dident go a rabbit hunting thanks given but he went a Oposum hunting that nite and caught A Whapon, big posum. com over ang go with him som nite. he caught a big pole cat in his steeltrap the other nite. Jodie and his pa went and gathers a bushel of peacones the other day so thay have lots of nut thay have walnuts and hazle nuts and peacones Ponnie said tell you that hir and hir tuby boy was all rite and when she got him thay would com down and see Grand ma and Aunt Mary. Ma Alice Bolin has a big girl at hir house. I will have to quit write soon we send our repects to Aunt Luisa and Hellen and all the rest is Aunt Luisa helth good, dollie says tell grand ma she likes hir and hant forgot hir she wanted to go up to Barny the other day to see grandma and Aunt Mary she thought you was thare yet

[Maggie]

[To Margaret Myers]

Clear Creek
December 24 [1886]

Dear Mother

I recieved your letter tuesday and was glad to here from you and that you was well this dont leave us very well Jake has bin sick for a week and part of the time confined to the bed I dont no what is the matter with him he has a caugh and Dollie has bin sick all week just like she always is I think it is wormes but She is awful sick she is awful cross Poore little thing dont no any thing but to be sick She cryed so for a doll that I got one for hir and hir and Prudie is dressing it this morning she has a very sore mouth the rest of the famly is well Prudie is looking better than she has looked since She got well we have bin having som very cold weather and som snow but we are gitting use to it so we dont mind it Barny and Clem was down last week the first time since you left thay was well thay said that Gorge and Nett had bin out thare too differnt since thay went to Boarding thay hant never bin to see us yet I dont no why thay hant Barny said thay had com to stay and thare wasnt no end to Netts talking but I gess she will have to talk prity fast if she gits a head of Barny

I got a letter from Mrs Pound the same day I got yours thay was all well and grand ma was well she said that Levy wasent thare and thay had jus got a letter from Bell and thay hadent herd from him since you was thare well I dont no as thare is any thing else to write this time

Jodie said tell Charly that he is goin to town on a Christmas Bust, he has a lot of rabbits to take to town he is in a big way. Ma I was glad to git your Present I hope you will have a nice Christmas I was sorry to here of Mrs Hunt death we all send a merry Christmas to you write soon and let us no how you are tell Mary to write

as ever

Maggie and family …

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Clear Creek
Jan. 12 [1887]

Dear Sister

I sit down this morning to answer your welcom letter that I got last week but Prudie and dollie was both sick and I dident git a chance to write till now and I wanted to wate till thay got better before I wrote to you thay are better now. Prudie has bin out of school too weeks she looks wors than I ever saw hir she dont complan of any thing but hir head she sets from morning till nite and frets to think she cant go to school I dont think that goin to school agrees with hir. Jake has got well he was prity sick for a while the rest of the famly is well but me I have a bad cold we are having very bad weather at present it is raining sleetting snowing and freezing all to day I dont no what it will be by tomorrow. Mary. George and Nett was here yesterday the first time you would hardly no george he is looking so old and poore his whiskers and hair is allmost white he is working in a carriage shop in Nevada but Nett is the same big mouth thing she always was it would kill me to have to live in the same house with hir. hir and Barny has it hot and heavy it is rite funy to here Barny tell how he talks to hir

Jodie dident go to school to day he go so wet helping to milk and feed that he should stay at home and dry his clothes so when he got his self dry he went and set his quail trap and he just went out to it and thare was a whole gang of quails in it but in falling it dident fall down flat and thay was coming out but he got three he set it a gin thay are ten cents a piece. friday Morning it is very cold froze hard last nite it is as slick as glass Jodie caught five more quails and one rabbit he says tell Charly to beet that if he can I dont no how Barny & Clem is I hant seen them but once and I hant bin up thare Since you left we cant all be well long anuf to go any where. I was sorry to here that you had a cold Ma but I hope that you are well by this time I would like to here from you Ma if you dont feel like writing have Mary to write I dont no of any thing to write so I will close for this time, love to all and write soon

Maggie

[To Mary Myers Davis]

May the 18 1888

Dear Aunt Mary

I seat my self to let you no how we are getting long I am staying at Aunt Clems now I came up here last Teusday and grandma got me to answer her letter for her she is well she said that you wanted to no how we are the Children hav all had the hooping cough this spring but are all better now Jimie has had the Jermen measles aunt Clems folks are all well it has ben cloudy all week and we had a big rain last night it has ben cold nearly all spring we have had a few warm days answer soon

Respectively

Your Neice

Cousin Hommer I will wrte you a few lines how did you enjoy the party that you went to when you got home are did you go and who got the prise a hemming apron I have ben to two paties sence you left and ben to two are three Dances well Hommer do you think that you and Charly will come out here this fall and do you think that you will be out here next leap year to go to a party

we have souldout this spring I dont no where we will go19 we sold out to a man living out there by the name of Kerlas well I gess I will haf to quit now I cant think of any more to write

Your Cousin

Florence


  • 19 This would be the second move made by Jake and Maggie Harris after arriving in Missouri in 1880.

[To Mary Myers Davis]

July 20 88

Mary I received your letter and was glad you ware all well the connectian are all well at this time you rote that you wanted a hundred dollars if I could spair it I have too many calls for money I cannot suply them all you wanted me to come and live with you you do not think I could come I do not think I shall ever come back thear I do not see how you can expect it after what past last winter if you want to see me you will hav to come and see me

Mother

[To Margaret Myers]

Pence Kans20
Jan 31th 1889

Dear Mother

I arrived home on Saturday. I was very tired found all well the children was very proud over ther pecans and apples there Is a big Snow laying on the ground Now It fell two weeks agou, last Monday levi went In the Shops and made Sleds for the nabors thay caught an antelope with there dogs Levi has gon on a hunt now he went over on the Smokey River Musa is very proud of her Book and Says She would like to See you

the children Is gowing to School they have Improved More than I Expected they would In the time I was gon It Is very lonesum here now there has ben a great many left Senc I have ben gon More to gow Soon there wont be many lef by Spring I expect I will bee on the rode this fall for If they all gou away I wont have any work to do the boys want us to gow this Spring but I think I will try this year and If we fale then I will give up the gost I have ben very lame Sence I got home My left hip has all Most faled Mother I will bring my leter to a close for this time will write again and will try and write More Give my respects to Nelson & Lucy alsou to all—tell Barney I will write to him Soon

Charles Myers


  • 20 Pence was a short-lived village in northwest Scott County, Kansas, three counties east of the Colorado border. Though free land was available in Scott County for homestead and preemption entry, the area was heavily affected by drought and crop failure and general retrenchment after the speculative boom of the mid-1880s. Charlie Myers farmed and operated a blacksmith shop there. Scott County was a bit more fortunate than some neighboring counties, as it was crossed by recently finished lines of the Missouri Pacific and Santa Fe railroads. But the railroads, unfortunately, were built far to the south of Pence. See History of Early Scott County (Scott City, Kans., 1977), 7, 33–34; and Craig Miner, West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas, 1865–1890 (Lawrence, Kans., 1986), chaps. XVI and XVII.

[To Mary Myers Davis]

March th 14 1889Nevad

Dear Mary

I got your letter and was glad to heare from you but was verry much surprised to hear of your bad health and of your change of liveing I thout you would not left farm you and Homer hot as to the others I didnot think so much about it suts them I do not see as you have betterd your self mutch living up stairs21 you have the same to do for as before I have not heard from Mag for a wek or more she has had a bad cold but was better they like thear home verry much Barnes has ben verry unwell with a cold but is about againe

my health has not been as good as it wis last winter been able to be about moste of the time George and his wife is hear to stay he is working in town I got a letter from Saida last week she wanted to hear from you Nelson and Lucy are well I am staying with thm this winter

write soon

Mother

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Aprial 13 [1889]Flat Rock, Shell City Mo

Dear Sister & famly

I once more try to write you a flew lines to let you no that we are in the land of the living yet this leaves us all well at present, but I have bin sick nearly all winter I have got so that I dont have any thing like good health I was down to see Ma too weeks ago she is looking well and is having good health this winter. Mary I was sory to here that you was sack I hope that you will git better as Spring comes on. Jodie has bin very bad with his Caugh this winter It got him down bed fast for three weeks but he is gitting better now. I was surprised to here that you had sold your farm for you seamed to think so much of it write and tell us what you got for it We sold out last fall and baught us a little home twenty Miles North East of Nevada it is well improoved got a good house of too roomes good seller to it but Jake hant satisfie and never will be—we live in a very good nabor hood have


  • 21 Although John Davis had erected a "substantial" farmhouse outside Walton not long before, he had, by the time of this letter, moved into town to operate a general store, above which his family lived. Walton, Kansas, Independent, July 23, 1886; Walton, Kansas, Reporter, May 23, 1890.
good school we live one quarter from the school house and the baptis church is rite by the side of it Jake wants to sell out and go to som new County but if goes he will go with out me for I wont go withe him for I have hard anuf time here with out goin farther and have still harder times

Mary we are having a very late spring it is very wet so wet that thay cant do very much farm work don Jake has his oats sowed and twenty achores of corn ground broke and that is all he has got don Mary I hant got very much to write and Jake is waiting for this so I cant write much Mary I want you to write to me and let me no how you ar and what you are doing tell John to write and the boys or them young men of yours. Florence says tell Homer that he dident do as he said he would do to write to hir but it hant to late yet so I think he can write yet I was surprise to see such a grate big fellow as Homer was tell him and Charly thay will have to com up next fall an gather pecans with us we gatherd twenty three bushels this winter thay sell very well here it is lots of fun and a good deal more of hard work than fun well I gess I will have to quit give our love to all of the famly write all of you soon

Magg

[To Margaret Myers]

Pence, Kans
June 20 89Nevada Mo

Dear Mother

I received an leter from Margret a few days ago was glad to heare from them She Said you had got hurt did not give the perticulars as to how bad you was hurt I was verry Sorry to heare of your accident I hope you are up again hope you will write Soon and let us know how you are geting along I have writen you two leters and one to Barnes havent received any from you or him Mag Said you thought we might of wrote to you and let you know about Musa Wedding It was a mistake I over hald them on the rode and took Musa home It was about twelve oclock at night Our prospects for a crop Is very good now and we have the best potatoes that we have Raised Sence we have ben here In fact Our garden Is good we have out In Crop about 86 acrs of corn oats, ry, wheat & cane & millet Cant tell It will amount to yet we have 23 Cows & calves I have them for 5 years on the halves I went with a Man from Rockford Mo who had Confidence anouegh In Me to furnish the Cows he Says he will get More In the Spring then I will try and Make Something In Stead of haveng to hammer all the time22 there Is but few Sitlers here now prety near all gon So we will have of Room to heard the cattle we will have to Stay here for we could not get away If we wanted to all I want Is to rase a good Crop then I Can make Some Money and get out of here I Still work In the shop Make anoug to get our grociers with Levis has don all the farming has worked hard all Spring he gets dissourige Sometimes and Says he will leave but Sence we got the Cows he thinks we will get along the wind has blowed like a herican for two days but has Quieted down this evening It looks like rain we commenced Cuting our ry yesterday but had to Quit on account of the winds It Is very good for this Country our wheet will only make About ten bushes per acr our Little Josie Margret Is fat and harty23 She Can almost Walk we all have god health I have had a prety Sore foot I let a plow Shear fall on my foot almost Cut the big tow off Still I Could walk back and forth to My work I live 3 1/2 miles from town24 moved out to have a chance to rase Chicken I have a garden I havent Sold any of my Clames yet and would like to find a buyers25 I will Close for this time hoping to heare from you Soon I remain yours as ever

Charles Myers …

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada City
October 13 [1889]

Dear Sister & famly

I will try to write to you once more I got your letter quite a while ago but dident answer it Mary I am sory to think that you cant com up to see us this fall I was so in hops that you would come I am sory to here that your helth is so bad. this leaves us all well at present but Florence She has had too bad sick spells this fall and nearly dyed both times and I dont no that she will ever be well agin She had the Newralgy of the hart and hir hart hurts hir all the time I never saw any one suffer like she did and I dont think any one else did I am afraid to leave hir a minit by hir self She has to take Medison all the time I am down to Nelsons, to see Ma. and I have brought hir with me I hant bin down


  • 22 In this letter, and in his letter of January 31, 1889, above, Charlie Myers suggests the necessity of finding work away from home to augment his family's income on the western Kansas frontier.
  • 23 Josie Margaret Myers was born in 1888, the next-to-last child of Charles's and Bell's large family.
  • 24 "Town" was Pence, Kansas, the dying settlement where Charlie operated a blacksmith shop. See note 20 above.
  • 25 Charlie was speculating in land claims, a most doubtful business in western Kansas in 1889.
to see hir since in december Ma's jineral helth is very good but she is crippeled up in hir limes so that She cant hardly git around every time she turnes hir leg the least bit it just cracks like it was broke and hurts so bad She has to take holt of a chair to git up by and she cant stoop down atall She is looking very feeble Mary you wanted me to com down I would like to com if I could but I just cant we hant raised any thing to sell this year and have a big doctor bill to pay I jus git out of hart som times and think thare is no use for me to try ever to have any thing and then I think how much worse of I could be that I try to stand my troubles and try ese the best I can Florence hant bin able to any thing all sumer. Mary. Ma is taken very good care of she has a room to hir self and is fixed very nice I dont think she could want any better home she semes very well satisfied She said tell you that she was well as could be expected. I brought all the Children with me but Jodie thay are all well Prudie is my mainstay I dont no what I would do with our hir she is very stout of hir age and is hevery than Florence she had a letter wrote to you but forgot to bring it along with hir. Nels & Lucie is both well thay had a very good garden this summer.

Barny & Clem is both well thay are goin to build them a new house rite away thay comense this week it will have nine romes in it besides the halls Barny is just the same as he always was. thay just have plenty of everything but to here them talk thay hant got any thing Mary I wish you could com out and see us all you and John com out the boys can tend to the store Ma would like to see you. tell Hommer to write to Ma she is always talking about him and wondern why he dont ever write. I think that Jake will way too hundred & you can gess if he is well. I will write agin I hant got room to write any more this time write soon tell the boys to write to Florence, kiss that baby boy for me.26 aswer,

Magg

[To Mary Myers Davis]

November 5 1809[1889]

Dear Mary

I received your letter and was glad to hear you was well I have been sick but are about again but not verry well I am at Barneses now till Nelson gets his house plasterd Mag was down and staid aweek wih me while I was sick she said you talk of


  • 26 Mary and John Davis had a third son, Orie, in September, 1889, sixteen years after the birth of their son Charles.
[Figure]

FAMILY OF CHARLES AND ISABEL (BELL) MYERS BACK ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT: LEVI, CARL, SAMUEL, WINFIELD, AND MILTON. FRONT ROW: MUSA, CHARLES, HENRY ERNEST (ERNIE), ISABEL (BELL), AND JOSIE

Courtesy Kellie D. Smith.

coming down this fall I donot think I shall ever come to kansis again so if you want to see me again you will have to come hear

Margrt Myers

[To Margaret Myers]

Pence Kans
No. 11th 89

My Dear Mother

I have write to all of you and havent received any ancers yet So I thought I would write to you as to why the boys dont write we have had a big rain but was to late to do our crops any good Still It is good for the wheat I have about 30 acrs of wheet and 30 of rye It this crop fails I will be don up Levi had gon back to Reno County to work Milt Is back at walton to work. Musa run away and got married She lives up In Nebrasky Some wher we havent had any word from her Sence She left when they run of the first time I over hald them and brought her back She promised to Stay at home tell She was Sixteen years old but they gout to geather and made the Second attempt So I let her go I had no means to follow them My health Is not very good this fall but I think I will be beter Soon I have the dropsy of the Kidneys which Is very paneful the family Is all well our babe Is very Smart they Say It looks like Me say may no It Is verry handsom how Is Barney Making It this year also Nelson this had ben a very good Seson In the East I want you to write and tell me how your knee Is geting along and your generl health I have had So many dreams about you Sence I heard of you misfortan I was Elected Township Trustee of Beever Township I will close for this time as My Eyes Is Very week I Cant reed Small print In the day ligh now so you Can See my Site is failing hoping to heare from you soon I remain yours truly

Charles Myers

[To Margaret Myers]

Scott, Scott County Kans
Feb. 15th 1891

Dear Mother

I was glad to heare from you but was surprised to find 10 dollar in your leter for I told you I was not baging of you times Is very hard heare but I think I Can get threw by fall I Shall leave here Levi and family I gowing to Start to Nebraska to See Musa this month and will Stay If they Can get work to do there I will gow this fall as Soon as I Can get read of the Cattle I have got my pension I got back pay $2.00 hundred dollars which was Quite a good healp27 I paid up my Store Bills but was not enough to pay all detts but I Can pay all othrs this fall then I will leave there has ben ade Sent here to the Needy there was three Carr lodes of Coal and three on the way yet and one of provision Such as flower meal pork potatoes and turnips Some Clothing28 I wish I Could Come to your County this Spring but I Cant I will try and Come to See you thus fall or winter your litle grand daughter Josie Margret Is a gowing to See her grandma … I will Close for this time hoping to heare from you Soon tell me all about all the boys and how every thing Is there I remain yours Son tell death thanks for favors

Charles Myers

Feb. the 17. 91.

Dear Grandma

as pa was writing I thought would write to I am going to school all the time We have a good teacher have 30 scholars in my room Winie and Carl dont go where I do Carl is a good scholar for little Boy only 8 years old. he is small for his age Winie and I are large of are aages I weight 100.5 one hundred pounds. Grand Ma I wish we could come out and live by you but ant got money to come that far now but soon as we get money enough to get thare we are coming Me and us Boys are going to soon as we can get ready and go where Musa lives so we can get work and make some money to help pa he ant stout any more he will stay untill he can sell the cattle we have some nice big stears to sell and cows and calves to you ought to see my little sister Josi Marggret she is awful sweet and smart Well Grand Ma I will quit writing for this time you must write to me for I want see awful bad from your Grand son.

Samuel Myers29

Ps. I will send you one my name cards By By


  • 27 Federal pension legislation of June 27, 1890, entitled any Civil War veteran with service of ninety days or longer and with a disability to an award regardless of the problem's origin. United States Statutes at Large, 51 Cong., 1 sess., chap. 634, 1890, pp. 182–83; Mary R. Dearing, Veterans in Politics: The Story of the G.A.R. (Baton Rouge, La., 1952), 400.
  • 28 Both public and private agencies were sending relief aid to drought-stricken and impoverished western Kansas farmers in the winter of 1890–1891. Charlie Myers obviously had a trade to rely on besides farming, but real starvation was a threat in some households. Gilbert C. Fite, The Farmers' Frontier, 1865–1900 (New York, 1966), 126–31.
  • 29 Samuel, Winfield (Winnie), and Carl were all preadolescent sons of Charles and Bell Myers.

[To Mary Myers Davis]

Mar 10, 91

Dear Aunt

I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well at the present time and hope when these few lines reeches you thay will find you all the same.

I thought my preasent was awful pretty that you sent me and are ever so much oblige to you.

it is awful bad weather out here to day it is snowing I would like to see all of you I like to live out here we live just four miles from town we have clost nabors our clostest nabors only a bou a half a quarter and there ere two faimles just lives a quarter

I am not going to school now our school was out last thursday and I was glad of it for we had a six moth term and I was getting tard of going we had an awful good teacher well I dont now any more to write so I will haft to quit now and ma is going to write some

Yours truly,

Prudie Harris …

Flat Rock
March 14 [1891]

Dear Brother & Sister

I will try to write to you to let you no that I hant forgot you I have bin trying to git time to write ever since Florence com home but thare has bin Church goin on and we live so clost that thare is always some one in and out Florence has joined Church since She com home. She profesed religon last winter but didnt joine the Church, this leaves us well at present but Jimie he has bin rite sick for too dayes I dont no what is the matter with him he has spells with his hed ever little while I gess he will be all rite in a fiew days, we are havin the coldest weather we have had this winter thare is snow on the ground now. Mary, the Children was awful well pleased with thair presents you sent them you just aught to see Jim strut with his neck tye on he is as Proud as all the rest put to gather Jodies over coat just fit him and the rest to he said tell you he was awful well pleased with them that he woul remember you he said com over and eat duck with him. he kil nine yesterday. Mary and John I think My dress is real nice and I am ever so much oblige to you for it I hant made it yet dollie think aunt Mary is awful good and would like to see hir. I would like to see you all. tell the boys to com over and go hunting with Jodie he has a gun and he thinks he is all the one that can hunt, write soon

Jake & Magg …

[Figure]

HOMER AND EMMA (MILLER) DAVIS c. 1892

[Figure]

CHARLES MILTON DAVIS c. 1890

Courtesy Rodney O. Davis.

[To Homer Davis]

April 11—91

Cousin Homer

I will Endeaver to answer your letter which I received some time ago and hope you will excuse me for not riting sooner I have ben staying with a sick woman and never come home till last week we are all well at present and hope you are all the same it has been raining nearly all spring and the farmers has not got to put in any crop yet to amount to much I am going to School this summer I started a monday we have got a splendid teacher she boards at our house and we have a picnic tell Charlie that she is the girl that rote that letter that he read and wanted to corspond with I went to town last week and hat my picturs taken and am ging to town to morrow to get them and will send you folke one if you think of raising garden but if you dont raise garden your Ma can put it up in the yard to keep the hawks off of her chickens but if I send you one I will expect one in return I went to a candy baken last monday night and had quite a nice time and got enough candy to last me a month if I dont divide with Charlie30 as he was called away some place elce that night and dident get to go to the canday baken Charlie's Pa was down this evening and spent the evening and ate supper. I havent been any place much since I came home except to Church we started Sunday school a Sunday I am one of the teachers I was Baptized lat Sunday and so was Ma, and six others there is such a good Christain work going on out here I just wish you would come out and stay a while and see how we love it is so diferent since Ma has joined Church and I think Pa will join bfore very long as he seems very much interested Jimie and I am in the room by our selves and the rest of the folke and the school teacher is in the other room reading the Bible has Orie forgotten me yet I would like to be out there and have a big play with him how is Emma getting along give her my love and tell her that I would like to see her tell Charlie to give Lillie31 my best regards and fer them to step over and see me some night rite soon good night

Cousin Florence


  • 30 The second "Charlie" in this letter was a male friend of Florence Harris in Vernon County, Missouri.
  • 31 The third generation of Samuel Myers's family were beginning to pair off and marry. Homer Davis and Emma Miller were to wed in September, 1892. Charlie Davis and Lillie Ives were to marry in 1894.

[To Mary Myers Davis]

[April 11, 1891]

Dear Aunt

I will drop you a few lines as I am riting to homer we are all well at present and hope this will find you all the same I wish I could see you all the to night and play dominoes with you I expect you would beat me for I havent played sence I came home I havent made any of my visits I talked a bout sence I came home and dont supose I will get to now as I am teacher in the sunday school and would not like to miss

Aunt Mary Ma has joined Church I wish you would come out and see us home is so much nice now for Pa has changed so much lately and I think he will soon join church soon dont let Orie forget me and I want you to come out and see us this summer I havent herd from any of the folke sence I came home but we are looking for some of them up soon I said we had not herd from the folks we had a letter from Luie32 last week I guess I will close as I have riten all of the news in yours and Homer letters now I want you to rite good By God be with you all till we meet again from your niece

Florence

I have had my picters taken so if you get one dont be scared for it is only me

[To Mary Myers Davis]

[Schell City, Vernon County, Mo.]
Nov 28—1891

Dear Aunt

I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well and hoping when these few lines reaches you thay will find you all the same, we went a peconing today but didnot get very many pecones we froze out we have five floorsacks full. I wish you was here to hunt pecones with us we would just have a nice time Aunt Mary I want you two have that big bad baby boy picturs taken and send it to me.

I want you to be in a hurry about it two I want two see how he looks iff he looks as mischievous as he is

I would like to see you all and is sorrow that you couldent


  • 32 This was Lewis Hodge Myers, the son of Barnes and Clem.
[Figure]

FLORENCE HARRIS PRUDENCE HARRIS DOLLIE HARRIS 1890s

Courtesy Clella Kelley.

[Figure]

FOLLOWING PAGE: OKLAHOMA c. 1910–1915 JOEL HARRIS, JAMES HARRIS, MARGARET MYERS HARRIS, JACOB (JAKE) HARRIS, MARTHA (CLEM) MYERS, SAMUEL BARNES MYERS, DOLLIE HARRIS GILLILAND, DAUGHTER, AND ARTHUR GILLILAND

Courtesy Rodney O. Davis.

[Figure]

JOEL HARRIS 1880s

Courtesy Clella Kelley.

[Figure]
come out well I guess I will hafto quite for this time Im getting so sleepy so Good night

Prudie Harris

[To John W. Davis]

Nevada Mo
Jan 8. 1892

Well John

this may surprise you & Mary I was taken with the Grip saturday nite after you left I had it Bad hav not ben able to gow out yet Deny [?] was taken Munday is getting better Lucie took Tuesday & has had it very hard things began to look Blue Wednesday morning Mother took it we had the doctor for hur & Lucie Mother is no better Deny [?] is going fer Docter this morning Mrs Fry held out til las nite & then she gave away Deny [?] will brg Mrs Suthrs out today have not seen barny since you left as I have not ben away from home since you left as soon as I get able I will get there Pecans & Express them to you will write nomore this time will drop you a card evry fiew days best wishes to all Respectfuly

N Myers

[To John and Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada Mo
Jan 14 92

John & Mary

When we wrote last Mother was getting along very well but she has taken a Relaps & is Very Bad this mring Deny is going for The Docter this mring I am afraid it is turning into Pneumona & if it does I am afraid she will not get along so well will write agan sune Respectfuly

Nels

[To John and Mary Myers Davis]

Nevada Mo
Jan 20/92 10 oclock this Morig

John & Mary

the Doctor has Just left he says Mother canot last longer than tonite & is liable to drop off at any time Today George is heere Barny was heere yesterda looking for him this Mornig Balance gettig along Very well There is lots of Grip in this county & a great many Old people are dying will write agan soon

Respectfuly

Nels

[To John W. Davis]

Thursday 3, oclock [January 21, 1892]

We got here 2.40 Pm all OK. have seen George. He was at the Train. Grandma will Be hurried tomorrow at 11.00 we will walk out to Barne's to night it is Pretty muddy.

Boys33

[To Mary Myers Davis]

NevadaMissouri
January 25–1892

Dear Sister Mary

It is with a sad heart I write to tell you of the sickness & death of our Mother she was taken sick with Lagrippe on January 6—being Wednesday after you left here we called a doctor the day she was taken she soon seemed better & on the next tuesday she sit up some but on Wednesday morning she was not so well we sent for the Doctor again but she suffered all day & that night Pneumonia set in I sit up all night & did all I could for her & at 3 oclock we sent for the Doctor again he came out immediately & we all did all we could for her but she suffered on until the 20th at about 2 oclock in the after noon she pased away She was patient & kind through her sickness did not seem to fear death but begged the Dear Lord to release her from her suffering On friday evening after she took worse I was sitting by her bed alone & she says to me I want Maggie to have my clothes & if there is any thing among them that Mary wants Maggie can give it to her & my work basket with all that is in it I want Prudie to have & my bed & bedding that is here is yours & the rug I am making you can finish & have for your own. Now Mary I have two table covers that Ma made for me I want you to have one of them I think a great deal of it & would not give it to any body else I intended to send it by the boys but did not get to see them but I can send it through the mail when I hear from you Maggie has not taken her things away yet George is better & they started home to day we are afraid he will take a relapse but he was determined to go home he was very sick for three days, we are sorry we got to see


  • 33 Homer and Charlie Davis.
[Figure]

LUCINDA (LUCY) MYERS 1870s

[Figure]

WILLIAM NELSON MYERS 1870s

Courtesy Clella Kelley.

so little of the boys Give them our best wishes & kindest regards to John & a kiss for Ora Pleas write soon As ever

Your Sister

Lucy

John I was taken sick before I coul get the Pecauns but will get them & send them to you dont know when will settle up the Estate yet Charley has ben talkig to all the rest about it but has said nothig to me yet

Nels

[To John and Mary Myers Davis]

[January, 1892]

John & Mary

There has ben Nothing done yet about the Estate Charly began about it before Mother was Hardly coald he wood not say any thing to me but wood Talk to Jake & Barny & come over & talked to George whilst sick in Bed. George got so he thought he could gow home so Tuesday noon I took him to the Train I got a Letter from Net yesterday & was better but Net was feelig Very bad Balance gettig along very well

Respectfuly

Nels

[To Jacob and Margaret Myers Harris]

Nevada Mo
Febr 7 1892

Jake & Maggie

we are all well Barnys Folks are all around Aunt Missurrie [?] is Better is going to get well I saw Barny yesterdy & he wanted me to settle up Mothers Estate & I hav agread to tend to it we went too the Bank to see about it & they rquir of me a power of attorney for all the Heirs before I can draw the mony in bank so I wish you wood gow to shell & have some Lawyer to make it out & sent to me Maggie must sin with you hope you will attend to this as soon as you get this & send it to me Hope you are all well have you sent this things to Mary yet Respectfuly

W.N.[Nelson]Myers

P.S we had a letter from Net on Friday she says George is quite sick yet has had a Doctor Expect some of us will hav to gow down this week love to all
Nels

[To Margaret Myers Harris]

Nevada Mo
Jan 24 1893

Well Maggie you & Jake will be surprised when I tell you that we have at last found the papers that father had the Childrens account all set down aganst them there was $1,118.76 charged to George & $150.00 charged to Mary $300.00 to me $192.14 charged to Levi there is nothing to any of the rest George was up last week & wanted the place devided we had not found the Papers then today Barney & I got Birdsey to help look over the papers & we found it among som old Deeds it woud be very hard to devide the place Birdsey suggested that if all parties could agree they could select three disinterested pursons to look at the land & sent a price on it & then if any of them wanted to sell they could do so Barny says to gow a head & rent the place for this year as it could not be divided til it wood be to late to rent and I shal Probably rent it Saturday let me heere what you think of it Enclosed you will find Money order for $15.25 the last of the Mony from Mothers Estate for which pleas send Receipt we are all well

Respectfuly,

W.N. Myers

[To Jacob and Margaret Myers Harris]

Nevada Mo
Apr 16/95

Dear Brother & Sister

We recieved your letter was glad to heare that you got through safe & well & that you have got located & are Satesfied34 hope you may get along all rite we had the Deeds Sent to you to sine & Return & then we Can Settle up & find what Each Party has to Pay I was over to the Place today & done some Measureing Ransford35 will take the East end of the house & you get the Balance & Mary gets west of you you & hur take all the Orcheard & Barny on the west that Man Read stil lives in the house & wood like to Rent it for this year this leavs us all well & very Busy we had a good Rain last nite which we neaded very Bad


  • 34 In spite of her earlier protestations, Maggie Harris and her family were to make one more move. Jake made the run into the Cherokee Outlet in September, 1893, and claimed a quarter-section in Pawnee County that was patented ten years later. He lived alone on the claim during the first winter, trapping muskrats on the nearby Neosho River. In the early spring of 1895 he moved his family to a dugout on his claim and steadily improved the farm. Jake and Maggie remained there until his death in 1927 and hers in 1943. Clella Kelley and Phyllis Anderson, interview with author, Pawnee, Oklahoma, March 17, 1986; Patent Book I, Pawnee County Clerk's Office, Pawnee, Oklahoma; and Roy Gittenger, The Formation of the State of Oklahoma (Norman, Okla., 1939), 200–201.
  • 35 Sarah, or "Sadie," Lewis Myers's daughter, had married James Ransford in Sullivan County, Indiana.
our Garden is doing very well & we are very busy now I have not seen Barny for several days Charly & Bell was down a short time ago & signed the Papers have not heerd from Mary lately shal write to them tonite hope this may find all well write soon Respectfuly

W.N. Myers



Published by the Indiana University Department of History.