James DeWay Elkhorn Grove IL 11 April 1853
To his uncle John G. Spaulding at Forkston, Wyoming Co., PA
Partial Letter - Found on Ebay
"After a long delay to write, I now will give you something of a sketch of our journey, situation, &c. We left Father's the 17th of Oct. last, Tuesday, and had a good time and pleasant journey to Chicago, where we landed Friday morning, having stayed half a day in Detroit, & went through from there in the night, so that we did not see much of Michigan. Chicago is like other cities in some particulars, at least so full of houses that it is difficult to see the city. It is a rapidly growing city, destined
to be the New York of the West. But that I did not satisfy myself that I should like a
city life, I concluded to go on and look about more.
Calvin's family were well & we had a very pleasant stay of about a week, then went to Rockford, 95 miles West, & a little North, a growing city on the Rock River. We wintered 4 miles above the city, with Mr. Statford. I found he wanted help to harvest his corn, & so I went at it and kept my row up good. Also took a trip on West to Freeport, and then taught school 3 months & found some practice in medical matters in the last of Jan. & first of February. Mr. Statford & I took a tramp
to the Mississippi River to Dixon on the Rock River...and finding some good prairie land vacant between Cherry Grove & Elkhorn in Carroll Co., about 25 miles from the Mississippi, and 5 or 6 miles from where I now live (in a part of Mr. Stone's house), and 2 miles from the farm that Clarinda Charles' widow lives on, I concluded to locate it...so I have a prairie farm of 80 acres and more preempted upon, which I intend to make improvements as fast as I can.Since I got the land, a rail road has been surveyed,
running over one corner of my land, and will be midling sure to have a depot within 2
miles, so you can imagine that my location of land is quite fortunate, as it is quite
certain the road will be built and will be only 10 miles from a depot in the Central Rail
I think this is a good place for country practice, though I have not made dependence upon doing business, but have had some good calls since I have been here a little over a week. We have a settlement of Yankees, a great many of them are acquaintances from Bradford Co., and in some sections there are plenty of Penn Dutch making farms that will be equal to the Lancaster Co. farms after a while. You can have but an imperfect idea of the amount of produce and stock that this country is capable of producing. Prices
of grain now are good compared to what they were...Cows are high, $20 to $30, and the
calf is thought about as much of as the cow. There is a multitude raised here, but the
number bought up for California & the supply for the immigrants and the pine regions
up the river, thins them out so that the market keeps good.
Our winter has been long, but as agreeable a winter as I have passed in Penn; the snow
not over 6 inches, good waggoning, and mild pleasant weather; not as much wind as I
expected, though some windy days, and this spring we are having considerable wind now and
dry until tonight, it has commenced raining.
I agreed when I came here to farm 43 acres that is near here. I expect to hire some and be getting out fencing for the prairie land, though I have gone to plowing and averaged 2 acres per day, and have nearly finished sowing 10 acres of spring wheat, shall plant 20 or more of corn, which they do not hoe in this country, only plow it, and the rest in oats, potatoes, etc. They generally get from 20 to 40 bushels of spring wheat to the acre, 30 to 60 of corn, & from 20 to 60 or 70 of oats, so that if I have
good crops, I will get a supply of feed for some time. I have team, land, seed & to
ols found, and team kept in lieu of house room, and have half of what I raise, so that at
present I am a farmer, though I expect to get a horse after a little, and be in readiness
for practice, as I have plenty of friends that wish me to do so.
Mr. Statford has bought a farm near here and will move on to it before long. Most
things that we buy here are as cheap as you get them there. Stoves made in N.Y. are sold
cheaper here than in Tunkhannock.
I have seen Calvin Parker and took dinner with him at his house. He lives in Beloit,
Wis. It is a pleasant village. Calvin has a small stone house, intended to have an
addition to it, but is finished so that he lives quite snug and says he has a deed of the
lot he lives on and does not owe for it. He is engaged in a stone quarry and says he
makes good wages when he works. I think he has a good woman for a wife...
Mr. Barnes, Betsy's husband, has bought a farm within 1 mile of here. George & J
ohn Gamble live within about 3 miles of here, and probably 30 families within 6 or 8
miles that I have been some acquainted with parts of them.
April 17th, 1853....I have heard that Dr. Campbell had left Mehoopany & that the Du
tch Dr. was the crocked nay in your section now. How does Denison come on representing at
Wm. Gamble, Uncle Joseph's brother that went to California, has returned and is in
good health and looks younger than when he left Penn....
We had a windy day on Tuesday the 5th, I believe, that scattered the fences some, and
blew over one house, all but the bottom, and left the family sitting on the floor.
Our P.O. address is Elk Horn Grove, Carroll Co., Ill. The Rail Road that is to pass
through my land is the 'Air Line' road from Chicago to the Mississippi. I expect after a
while there will be a branch to the Moon, though that is uncertain."