1837-38: William Henry Castle to Jehiel Castle

These letters were written by William Henry Castle (1817-1838), the son Jehiel Edward Castle (1794-1897) and Nancy Willey (1795-1883) of Parma, Monroe County, New York. William’s wife, Melita (Wever) Castle (1820-18xx), the daughter of Elijah Wever (1797-1868) and Cynthia Brown (1801-1877), also adds note at the end of each letter. William died just three and a half months after writing the second letter; he is buried in Castle Cemetery in Parma, New York.

William wrote the letter to his parents and other family members living in Parma, New York. He mentions his brother, Lorenzo Castle (1816-1864).

Melita mentions their daughter, Ermina Castle (1837-1920).


Addressed to Jehiel Castle, Parma Center, Monroe County, New York

Walled Lake, Oakland County, Michigan
November 19th 1837
Dear but far absent friends,

Although separated far from you, yet I feel that you are near and dear to me. And while the blue waters of Lake Erie separate you from me, yet I can look forward with some degree of pleasure when I shall see you all in the spring. I think if nothing happens, we shall come out in the spring and make you a visit. I wish you were all here but as I am not permitted to talk with you, I must make the pen a paper talk. And when I talk to you, I want you all should answer me.

How do you do Father and Mother, brothers and sisters? I want every one of you should answer with the pen from the oldest to the youngest. You all promised to write to me. And have you all wrote? I think not. I am much obliged to those that have wrote, but I must excuse myself for not writing before. I have had so much to do that I have not had time to write or anything else. But we have got through with our hurry. We have got our sowing done, our corn and potatoes harvested, and I have a little leisure time — the only moment that I have had since I have been here. I got the things from Detroit the 17th of October. I got the vinegar, the bed came safe, the apples and the pears were a little rotted, the peaches were all rotten.

Melita has made me a pair of pantaloons out of the gray cloth you gave me. Melita and I are agoing out to Highland a visiting this week and I am agoing to have Melita and Hannah make the coat. I went to Highland last Tuesday a foot. I went it in three hours and three quarters. The next day morning, he and I went a hunting. we saw the largest deer that I ever saw. I got within five rods of him. I snapped the rifle twice and it did not go off and then he ran away and left us. When I go out this time, I shall take my rifle and see if that will snap. I am determined to have some deer.

I went to Eben Adamses. He had been home and had gone to Detroit. They told me you had sent me some dried fruit and he has left it to Walled Lake. I have not got it yet. Abram’s folks were well. He has got him a grand pair of oxen, a cow, and a calf. He is agoing well. I have regained my health since you left here and things has met with a change — everything goes as slick as oil. I think of taking a farm of Mr. Die for one year. He lives the first house east of Father. Wever’s on the south side of the road. He is a going to New Jersey on a visit. There is about five acres to be put into spring crops, and about ten acres to put into wheat in the fall. I shall work Father Wever’s place too. And I am in hopes by that time I shall have a farm of my own.

When I come out in the spring, I want Edward should come back with me if you can spare him. I shall have work enough to do and I will pay him as good wages as he can get there. I shall have to hire and I had rather have him than anyone else, both for his work and company. I am in hopes you will all be ready to come home with me. I think you all would like living in the Michigan.

I was rejoiced to learn that Father liked the country. I think that will be an inducement to fetch you here. I think the folks of Parma have every inducement to come here, to leave their old homes where it is winter nine months in a year, and frost the rest of the time, rain all the while, and snow the rest of the time. We have the finest fall here that I ever saw. We have a warm fall here.

We are all well at present. The Michigan boy grows finely. It grows fat and handsome and cross. It is one of the finest boys that you ever saw. We call the boy’s name Amanda Ermina. Her common name is Ermina but as Edward wanted to name her, he may send her a name and if I like it better, I will call her by that name. I want you should all send her a name and I will take my choice. James Smith arrived here the second of this month. He likes the country and is a doing well. He has taken a school and is to commence tomorrow. He is here to our house now.

What has become of [my brother] Lorenzo [1816-1864] and how does he like the country? Let him speak for himself. tell him to write to me. I want you should write as soon as you get this. Write without fail. Yours in love and in haste, — Wm. H. Castle

[different hand]

Sunday eve.

I have come to the conclusion that you have all forgot us but Edward and Ruby for they always write in every letter.I should like to have you all write in the next letter. Malvina, you must write as you have not wrote a word to us since we left. We have got one of the handsomest girls you ever saw. She wants to see her grandfather, grandmother, uncles and aunts and especially her Uncle George. Deacon Adams said that Aunt Melita was married. I want you to write all about it and how many of the children lives with her.

Father Castle, I am much obliged to you and Lorenzo for your long visit. I did not think that you was agoing to start for hime until the next week after you started. I was agoing to send some seeds and some dried berries. I did not think to send any word to the folks as I did not know that you was agoing until you got to the door and I will make you such a visit next spring if nothing happens.

James Smith is here tonight. He likes the place well.

— Melita Castle

Electa says you must write to her and she would write if there was room. Edward, you wrote that you was coming to the Michigan next spring. Electa says she hopes you will not get as homesick as Lorenzo did. Edward, you must send our girl a name. Father gave her two names and a new dress. I will call her by the name you send if it is a half a dozen. — Melita Castle


Addressed to Jehiel Castle, Parma Centre, Monroe County, New York

Walled Lake, [Oakland County] Michigan
1st of March [1838]

Dear Parents, Brothers, and Sisters,

How do you do? I received your letter dated January 8 and 14 and were rejoiced to learn that you were well. I had been waiting with great anxiety to hear from you and to learn how you got along these hard times. I had been looking about two months for one before I got it. I want you should write to me as soon as you get this without delay. We had here the latter part of the fall, considerable rain. We had some sleighing in December and since the 8th of January, we have had the first rate sleighing. The sleighs are as thick here as there are as many people here as there, for what I know, and they are as bad here as there, for what I know.

I suppose you remember David Adams. Well, what I was a going to say, he is the same mean scamp yet. I will tell you the trick he has served me. In the month of July, he came to me with a ten dollar bill and pretended he wanted to get it changed for a particular vice, and said he would take the bill back anytime I said so. I told him at the time I thought it not good. I let the bill go and the bill came back on me and I went to him to have him pay me. He said he had a fifty dollar bill and he would go and get it changed and would fetch it to me in four days. I waited more than a week and took out a summons for him. The constable went to Farmington where he had lived. He had moved to Highland. I then got a warrant. The constable has been twice to Highland and has not found him. The first time they told him he had gone to Calhoun. The next time he went, he stayed three days. They told him he would not find him. The Adams’s all blame me for suing him. They say they will keep him from me. I am a thinking he is a taking this way to get his pay for thrashing but I shall put him through. I will send him to Pontiac, as the saying is, and if that will not do, I will send him where they work for a living. I will take him for passing counterfeit money. I can prove that, I think, easy enough.

There is a good deal of stir about Canada. There are many a going from here there to fight the loyalists. I have enjoyed very good health since you left here. Melita’s health is good, and so is Ermina’s. The rest of the folks is well. Abrah’s folks is well. He does not brag so much about his boy since Ermina begins to grow handsome. She is the handsomest girl you ever saw.

I am a teaching school at Milford this winter for fourteen dollars per month. Melita lives at her Father’s this winter. I begin to want me a home, but that is all the good it will do to want it. It seems that everything worked against me. You said you wanted I should come home and work your East place. If you will give me a chance so I think it will answer, I will come. I think of taking a place to work but will not bind myself until I get word from you. If you should give me a chance, so I think it will answer, I will come. If not, I think I shall not come back until fall; it costs so much to travel. The times is very hard here. The money is not very good. There is a great deal of bad money a going. A man is not safe with money in or out of his pocket, but I am a thinking that will not be long.

I think often of you and wish I could see you, but I am a thinking I shall see you all in the fall of not before. I want you all should write in the next letter. I was rejoiced to see Father’s and Mother’s writing in the last letter. I want you should write in every one.

I have the first rate school and the first rate district to teach in, enough to eat and live well. Wheat is  fourteen shillings per bushel. Corn ten shillings. Oats four shillings. Marsh hay makes very good stuff to put in the sleigh to ride on.

You must excuse the writing and spelling. It is done in a hurry. I wish you would see Mister Knox and tell him that I have seen Mr. Phelps. He says he cannot pay it now but will pay as soon as he can. The William Castle note I have and the account of Phelps [that] Joseph Root left them here when he was here. Tell Mr. Knox to send me word what to do with them. Lorenzo left his handkerchief here and I am a using it. When I come out, I will pay his for it. I want you should send me the papers.

Give my love to all enquiring friends. Yours &c., — William H. Castle

How do you all do? I was glad to hear that you were all well. I should like to see you all. I concluded that you had forgotten us as you would have wrote before. Ermina has got on her red dress and red shoes that her grandfather got for her and she feels so nice that she wants to see her Uncle George and grandfather and grandmother, and all of her Uncles and Aunts. She can creep and sit alone. Her grandfather is holding her. No more about her at present. As you wrote to Henry about going back to York State, I want to do that which will be the best for us. If I thought it would be the best for us to go back, I would not say a word. As you know, he has wheat in the ground and it costs considerable to go. I now think it best for us to stay here and if he can, get money to get him some land. But still if he thinks it for the best, I will not say a word. Girls, you must send me an apple in the next letter. — Melita Castle


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