1831: Calvin Cunningham, Jr. to Charles Cunningham, Jr.

The Boyleston Market in Boston. The Chas. Cunningham family lived opposite the market on Washington Street.

This letter was written by Calvin Cunningham, Jr., the son of Calvin Cunningham and Mary Bradley of Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Calvin wrote the letter to his cousin, Charles Cunningham, Jr. (1814-1856), the son of Charles Cunningham and Anna Sutton of Boston, Masssachusetts.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Charles Cunningham, Jr., Opposite Boyleston Market, Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Beardstown, Illinois
July the 4th, 1831

Dear  Cousin,

Parent’s Consent for daughter Mary Cunningham to be wed

I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to tell you my adventure since I left Boston. I arrived at New Orleans safe on the 7th of November. Stayed here till the 16th & left on the steamboat Atlantic& arrived at Raccourci Point 200 miles above New Orleans November the 18th, 1830. Mary was married to a Mr. [Jesse Lawrence] Sanders ¹ the 2nd of February who is rich, owning several hundred acres of land and keeps a very large wood yard. Steamboats stop here every day to take wood. I saw nobody wether of any consequence here.

I have enjoyed my health very well since I left Boston. Left Raccourci Point March the 20th, 1831, on the steamboat Oregon and arrived at St. Louis March the 30th and left here next day, March the 31st, on steamboat Victory and arrived at Beardstown on the Illinois River, Morgan County.

Page 1

Beardstown is a very flourishing [town]. January the 1st, 1829, there was but 5 families in the town. Now there is 200. Father has hired 8 acres of as nice land as there is in the State of Illinois. We live about a half a mile from the town. Father has bought him a horse and the best one in Beardstown. We are at raising vegetables for the town which we cannot half supply. Mechanics of all kinds will do well here. People are moving into the town so fast and although they are a building houses every day, there is not half enough to  supply them.I have just arrived from my sister’s at Raccourci Point. My father had business there but could not go himself so he sent me. I left Beardstown May the 15th on steamboat Traveller and arrived at St. Louis May the 16th. Left here on steamboat Carrolton and arrived at Mr. Sander’s May the 22nd, 1831. Here I found hot weather. I would take my gun and go out a hunting about 5 miles from the house and when I come home, I was as wet as if I had been in the river.

Page 2

I left here 5th of June on steamboat Hibernia. Arrived at the mouth of the Ohio River June the 12th. Left June 13th on steamboat Java. Arrived at St. Louis June 17th. Left here same day on steamboat Traveller and landed at Beardstown June 21st, 1831.

There is a steam flour and saw mill in the town. There is 8 stores of all kinds in the town. I have been in New Orleans, Donaldsonville — 75 miles above New Orleans, Battle Roushe Bayou, Pluckermain, Bayou Sara Bayou Lafourche, Point Copes — these are in the State of Louisiana. Natchez, Warrenton, Betty Gulf, Grand Gulf, [and] Vicksburg — these are in the State of Mississippi. Memphis [&] Randolph in Tennessee. New Madrid [in] Arkansas Territory. Cape Girardo, St. Genevieve, Herculanium, [and] St. Louis [in] Missouri. Mary Doush, Naples, [and] Beardstown [in] Illinois.

I have no more to write at present being in at hurry. This from your affectionate cousin, — Calvin Cunningham, Jr.

You must excuse this, if you please.


¹ Mary Ann Cunningham married Jesse Lawrence Sanders (1792-1854) in 1831 in West Feliciana, Louisiana.


One response to “1831: Calvin Cunningham, Jr. to Charles Cunningham, Jr.

  • DeeDee Baldwin

    I’m descended from Jesse Lawrence Sanders and his second wife, Lucy Cunningham. This letter is a treasure because he’s one of my brick walls, and I can never find information on him or the Cunninghams! Thank you!

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