1845: Robert Gower to James Gower

James Gower (1772-1855)

Robert Gower (1803-1874) wrote this letter to his father, James Gower (1772-1855) and his mother, Susannah Norton (1782-1864). Robert was married to Rosamond Greenwood (1804-1877) prior to 1826 and resided in Abbot, Maine, and Maumee City, Ohio, before relocating to Iowa in 1841.

We learn from the letter that two of Robert’s siblings were also living in Iowa in 1845: James Henry Gower (1806-1879) and Susan Norton (Gower) Hammond (1819-18xx). James Henry was married to Borredell Greenwood in 1831, and Susan was married to Willard Hammond.

Susannah (Norton) Gower (1782-1864)

A history of Cedar County records that “in 1839, James H. (“Henry”) Gower and [his brother-in-law] Willard Hammond bought the claims of many ‘squatters’ in Cass Township, and Mr. [Henry] Gower settled on Section 33 on the east side of the [Cedar] River; while in 1841, Mr. Hammond came from Hampton, Illinois, and settled on Section 32. Mr. Gower built additions to the house formerly owned by Mr. Arrowsmith on the site of Cedar Bluff, and opened a store. He also bought the ferry of Conlogue & Gove, and had a post office established at his store. Mr. [Henry] Gower received his goods chiefly from St. Louis and Muscatine… After a few years, Mr. [Henry] Gower discontinued his store and moved to his farm on the west side of the river [and then] moved to Iowa City in 1844 or 1845…In the spring of 1841, Robert Gower, from Ohio, settled on Section 33, on the west side of the river… He was a surveyor and laid out the village in July 1851 for Charles W. Gower…”

The lawsuit mentioned in the opening paragraph involved Robert’s brother, Charles W. Gower (1812-1861) who was in the mercantile business.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to James Gower, Esq., Farmington Falls, Maine

Keokuk [Iowa]
September 29th 1845

Dear Father,

I have been here since Monday in attendance of court in action of trespass C. W. Gower vs. Peter Miller for the recovery of a stock of goods amounting to about $3000. The court has been in session now about two weeks and the prospects are that it will not come to trial and it is determined this morning by Broth, James H. to replevin the goods and open them in this place for sale. He is now the senior partner in an extensive mercantile house in Iowa City and if he opens a house here will find himself deeply into that business. The result is impossible for anyone to foretell but under any circumstances he is great on a retreat and I cannot doubt his final success in business.

Henry’s family, mine, and Susan’s were all in good health when I left home together with ourselves. We had a very agreeable visit from Broth. Charles who left here for home about a week ago. To him I will refer you for a description of Iowa, ourselves and families as I think he can give you more satisfactory information than I can write you. I learned much from him of the situation of my eastern relatives and the result of his information is that my brothers and sisters were all in comfortable circumstances and good credit, which I should suppose would be a source of happiness to you.

As to the situation of Henry and myself and our families, you may rest assured it might be much worse. We are enabled to procure all the comforts of life, do much for the advancement of our children, and our standing politically and morally are as high as we could expect with our capacity and acquirements.

As to Susan, she is a fine woman [and] has but few superiors in the vicinity where she resides and has a promising family. She has been shockingly abused by him who should have comforted and cherished her until about eighteen months [ago when] she applied to Henry and myself for assistance. We interfered and since that, I think she has enjoyed life tolerable well and they are well off, have a plenty, and were piling it up instead [of] educating their children as I am doing. Henry’s two oldest sons and my two are at Galesburg [Illinois] at Knox College which costs us at least $600 per annum.

We have a season of plenty here and the prices of produce now appear promising. Our State [is] growing rapidly.

As to politics, I am for Old Zach. Expect I shall be in the minority in this state and probably in the Union, but I am used to that. I expect he is your favorite candidate.

I do not know whether you are at the falls or at Abbot. Should you be at the former, please present my best regard to Mr. C., Mary, and their family, and advise them I am P. M. [Post Master] Cedar River, Iowa, and I want to hear from them as often as convenient. If at Abbot, remember me to Ma Both’s and Cordelia of that place and remind them to write me, and if it is not too burthensome for yourself. I hope to hear from you. I must acknowledge the receipt of two papers from you recently and would be happy to receive more. I am in something of a hurry and must close.

From your affectionate son, — Robert Gower


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