1850: Jonas Edge to Jacob Mast Zook

Three chums pose together in the 1850s

This letter, penned from Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin, has contributions from three Chester County, Pennsylvania, chums who have been traveling together in Wisconsin — Townsend Hoopes, William (“Bill”) Trimble, and Jonas Edge. They wrote the letter to their friend back home, Jacob Mast Zook. Their letter, however, gives little indication of the business they were pursuing. We learn from this letter that an interesting rumor has carried from Washington D.C. that Thomas Hart Benton, Senator from Missouri, has killed Henry Clay, the Senator from Kentucky, then championing the omnibus bill through Congress that would become known as the Compromise of 1850. Benton, no longer popular among many of his constituents in Missouri, was accused of obstructing the passage of the omnibus bill, with much to gain personally from California becoming an independent and sovereign state. I could find no newspaper accounts of the rumor, however, in contemporary newspapers.

Townsend Hoopes (1825-1872) was no doubt the son of Davis Hoopes (1796-1858) and Susan Townsend (1802-1825) of Downington, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Townsend married Sarah Downing (1832-1921) in November 1854.

William I. Trimble (1823-1897) was the son of John Trimble (1788-1855) and Thomazine Downing (1794-1831) of Chester County, Pennsylvania. William married Deborah Downing (1838-1905) in November 1856 and resided in Chester County, Pennsylvania, until his death in 1897.

I believe that Jonas Edge (1824-1902) was the son of Thomas Edge (1774-1831) and Edith Pusey (1787-1871) of Dowington, Chester County, Pennsylvania. He married Margaret Jane Moore in 1860 and eventually settled in Leavenworth County, Kansas. There were no other young men by the name of Jonas Edge from Chester County enumerated in census records.

The three young men from Chester County wrote the letter to John Mast Zook (1821-1891), the son of John Zook (1786-1868) and Elizabeth Mast (1795-1875). Zook married Rebecca A. Ashbridge (1820-1861) in October 1850.

Stampless Cover

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Jacob M. Zook, West Whiteland, Chester County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Fort Winnebago [Wisconsin]
July 2nd 1850
10 of 10 o’clock A.M.

Dear Friend Jacob,

Twas on a friday morning the 21st of June that I received for letter to me — a grateful boon. Edge, a letter reading; Trimble, walking the floor; while that everlasting puppy is crying out the door. A bottle champaign is busted on the stand, the effects of which can plain be seen in the rumbling of my hand. Now, for your advise, I’ll tell you how I am. “I am as well as usual or a very miserable man.” “As the case may be,” to be solved by thee — Bird Pritchett!

Yours affectionately, — Townsend Hoopes

My dear friend Jacob. We are once more quiet for the space of ——- sometime and our future movements will be as best wisdom directs, but rather conclude that it will be Fond Dulac and then a situation for the man that now wields the pen as his finances are now in such a precarious situation that it will soon become his imperative duty to do something for himself and country on motion adjourned to play erection with Edge, the best out of three for ——- fun.

Tomorrow we talk of going out fishing with spears and pine knots for torches. We have tried our luck several times heretofore in other places put with very poor beginnings and wise endings. And on next day we are to have the glorious fourth celebrated in a becoming manner: the neighborhood is expected to meet here in the evening to have a regular stampede in the way of dancing. We expect to see it through before we leave but whether we shall participate in the fun is another great moral question that remains to be answered. They have 2 violinists engaged and one clarionetess — and each of them live some eighty miles apart.

With many thanks for your letter. I will make way for more competent hands at this thing of letter writing. Yours truly, — William Trimble

Fort Winnebago
Tuesday evening
July 2, 1850

Esteemed Friend, Jacob M. Zook

Our mutual friends who have preceded me in the righteous undertaking have not, in my opinion, done their whole duty, but have left the biggest part of the job for me.

One week just has been passed in Wisconsin much to our profit for we came here and have been riding round every day since except this very inst. one which has been rationally spent writing to our friends — most of it has, tho’ you will infer from T. Hoopes’ account that we have been otherwise and less profitably engaged. Unaccustomed as I am to excuse-making, one is needed here in my opinion. Our host has purchased an invoice of champaign for the glorious Fourth and wishes to have it tried before offering it to the public’s notice. So a bottle was cracked for sampling, but I can’t account for the effect on Townsend.

Jonas Edge, ca. 1870

How about this row at Washington. We just had the news at Adams in Sauk County late on Saturday evening. Twas that Tom Benton had killed Henry Clay. The truth tho’ hasn’t come to hand. There’s been a fuss though. Bill’s letter home contains particulars, I expect, of what we have seen and I won’t repeat; nor how will you get the postage worth from what has been written on this page, I can’t see.

We keep in good health and company — out of mischief and the dirt. Bill, I think, is a good man in Wisconsin so far as employment goes, and can get it most any day he wants it. His case ain’t a bad one yet by any means. We propose moving toward the Lake shore very soon now. This is a poor shit of a letter and no mistake. So please give my love to all enquirers.

I am your friend, — Jonas Edge


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