This short letter was written by Benjamin F. Bigelow (1812-1896), the husband of Louisa Herrin. Louisa was probably the sister of Timothy Herrin (1792-1874) of Houlton, Maine. Herrin was married first to Nancy Clark (1792-1844) and second, to Hannah Pishon (1797-1874).
The content of the letter, which many may find humorous, concerns the disposition of their grandmother Herrin, whom Bigelow refers to several times as the “Old Lady.” It’s clear that she has become a burden that no one in the family is willing to bear any longer, without being paid by someone to do so.
Here is the 1896 death notice I found for Benjamin F. Bigelow:
“Benjamin F. Bigelow, who died the 11th and was buried yesterday in the Onawa cemetery, was born in Skowhegan, Somerset county in the state of Maine on December 21, 1812. He was married on Nov.3, 1836 to Miss Lisa Herrin of the same place. He came to Bureau county, Illinois, in 1858 and resided there until the year 1886, when he came to Franklin township, this county [Monona], where he has resided with his daughter, Mrs. Barnum, until his death.” — Onawa Iowa Democrat
Addressed to Mr. Timothy Herrin, Houlton, Maine
September 25, 1848
Mr Herrin, Sir,
I take the present opportunity to inform you that we are all well at this time. Grandmother Herrin is quite feeble and she fails very fast. She is like a child and she is a great deal trouble. She come up from Preasts the middle of July and we can’t keep her only to the first of November. We shall move to the falls about that time. I shall quit farming this fall and work at my trade. I think I can do better. I shall sell or let my farm. Therefore, I thought I would write to you to see what should be done with the Old Lady. Preast would take her if he could have his pay. He said he was not able to keep her for nothing. He has kept the Old Lady sixteen months and he says that you had ought to pay him for it. Mr. Burrell said that he would take her if you would pay him. I would take her longer if I could but I can’t keep her any longer than we stay here and I want you to write to me as soon as you get this and let me know what should be done with the Old Lady.
Louisa sends her best respects to you and your wife and we should be much pleased to have you fetch her over and pay us a visit. Please to excuse my blunders and receive this from a friend, — Benjamin F. Bigelow