1844: Archibald & Rebecca Cone to James C. Donaldson

This letter was written in two parts by Archibald Cone (1792-1877) and his wife, Rosetta Cunningham (1796-1873). [Note: Family name originally spelled Conn.] Archibald was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland; his wife was born in Ayreshire, Scotland. They were married in Scotland in 1816 and came to the United States in the same year. They had at least eight children: Archibald, or “Archi” (1832-1905); William (1822-1887); Isabelle (“Bella”), born about 1825; Elizabeth (1830-1916); Janette, born about 1819; Mary, born about 1820; Rosetta, born about 1834; and Jane — the recipient of this letter. The Cones settled in Squaw Grove Township, DeKalb County, Illinois, northeast of Hinckley; their deed was entered at the land office in June 1845.

According to New Hartford Presbyterian Church records, James C. Donaldson (1815-18xx) married Jane Cone (1816-18xx) in New Hartford, Oneida County, New York on 4 June 1836. By 1860, the couple resided in Utica, New York, where James was employed as the Deputy Sheriff.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. James Donaldson, New Hartford, Oneida County, New York

[Corrected for very poor spelling]

Big Rock [Kane County, Illinois]
April 3, 1844

Dear Children,

Page 1

We received your letter [written] the 19th of February about the 12 of March. It found us in good health and was happy to know you’re all well. We left Lisbon on the 8th of February and stopped in Mr. Fester’s house 4 weeks and moved into another 3 or 4 weeks ago. And William and myself and Archi has been employed in making logs for the house and rails for fencing. We have contracted to get our logs dragged out to our land which is 1 1/2 miles for 12 dollars, besticking at 3 shilling per yard, and the most of the logs is on the land now and we are waiting for the roads getting good for to get boards from Chicago. I spoke of buying a coal lot for woods. I gave that up and loaned fifty dollars from Avary and went to Chicago. Deeded 40 acres of woods or barrens so we will have a good many rails for fencing and plenty fire wood for many years. So we have 80 of prairie, 40 of woods — all deeded and no taxes 5 years and our old acquaintances say we have been very fortunate. Pierpont’s letter of last Sunday says if we can find some person, how will pay him an installment, he will release me from the contract as he has done with all others and I _____ with Mr. McConnell to do the best he can, and of the boards, he knows better than me.

I want Bella to go to Mr. Maltby to write to New York for a newspaper as the New York Dollar Weekly or New York Sun to come direct from New York to Little Rock. It will only cost one dollar for one year.

[different handwriting]

My Dear Children,

Page 2

Although absent ever present and I long for the time when we shall all be together again. Dear James, I do not wish to be _____ and ____ you ____ to re_____ at leaving New Hartford but I do not think you will have any cause for that. You will do well in Chicago or any of the villages on the Fox River. It runs 15 miles from us. We have no grist mills nearer than it. I also think that wagon-making is a good business here.

Today the boys are ploughing our wheat land. Mr. Wadley — an Englishman — bought a good farm here with a house on it and he, being a young man, boards with a countryman of his and _____ in his house one mill and half from our ____ lot. He lets us have 4 acres of land. We _____ the seed and labor and have two-thirds of the crop. We will ____ 2 acres of wheat. We are not ____ of getting any more land but our men will work for the produce so that we can have enough to eat.

I do not understand Janet when she says they will not come before next fall. That is on account of the scarcity of money here. It is scarce to be sure, but money here is not as scarce here for the working man as is about New Hartford. Mary, I believe, will not return. There is no better land lays under the sun than is here and for anything we know, it is very healthy. Dear James, let me know how the girls health is and I am pleased to hear that they againing well. Give my respects to cousin R____ and we expect to see him with the rest.

Dray goods of every kind is dearer here than with you . Tin ware and stocking yarn are as cheap in Buffalo than any place I know of. Rosetta is already playing in rags the clothes that is for everyday here ought to be course and _____.

This from the hand of your affectionate mother, – R. Cone

[different handwriting]

Page 3

I am digging our cellar 13 by 18 feet and your mother and Archi took a walk the Sunday before last to the prairie lot and she was very highly pleased with Beautiful situation of the lot. It was a very pleasant day. We have not had over 3 or 4 inches of snow this winter. We have very windy weather for the month of March and now very warm and pleasant. Bella, we are from Little Rock 5 miles, 1 1/4 miles from a neighbor, and ___ 1 mile. 2 miles from 8 or 10 other neighbors. 2 miles from 2 school houses. We are 15 miles from the Fox River at Aurora and Aurora is 40 miles from Chicago.

I wish to know how you all are, though 1400 miles distant, and that day is not far distant when you all will be flying on beautiful prairie in comfort and pleasure and happiness. We have a great thought for Elizabeth and happy of her well doing. I want [to know] how the Bed____ Business is doing, if James Michell and the north woods folks is doing, and Mr. Jameson in Canada. I received a newspaper from Jane 2 days ago. I hope Isabella will attend to a newspaper from New York. We could say a good deal more but we are _____.

Remember us to all our old friends and acquaintances. Write us as soon as possible and we remain your parents, — Archibald Cone & R.C.


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