This letter was written by William Landon Boydston (1825-1875) whose parents Boaz Burris Boydston (1791-1864) and Mary Willey (1793-1866) moved the family from Morris, Pennsylvania, to Paris, Illinois, when William was still a minor. Boydston wrote this letter early in 1851 while a student at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Later that same year, he married Cornelia Minerva Gates (1722-1873). Boydston graduated from the school in 1855 and returned to Paris, Illinois. In April 1856, he relocated to Nebraska City, Nebraska Territory, with his family. Here he practiced law in partnership with John H. Croxton until his death in 1875. The only other notice I have of him in the newspapers lists him as a member of a committee formed in Nebraska City to support a proposal by “Major Brown” to operate a steam car and wagon that promised to transport passengers across the grasslands of Nebraska to Denver in two days.
Boydston wrote the letter to college chum George D. Wooden (1822-1903), son of David and Parthena Wooden. Wooden prepared for college at Jamestown Academy in New York State while teaching select schools, then attended Allegheny College from 1847 to 1851 where he graduated at the head of his class. He read law after college and was admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania in 1852. He relocated to Iowa in 1853 where he practiced law, was elected mayor of Iowa City in 1855, and represented Johnson County in the State Legislature in 1856. He relocated to Sigourney, Keokuk County, Iowa in 1857, married in 1859, and resided there until his death in 1903.
Addressed to Mr. George D. Woodin, Collinsburg, Clarion County, Pennsylvania
Allegheny College [Meadville, Pennsylvania]
January 11th 1851
After an elapse of several weeks, I according to promise, attempt to address you with a few lines, to inform you that I am well, and hope that you are enjoying the same blessings. I hardly know where to commence to give news.
But as the cold weather strikes me, the more forcibly I will say that we have had weather here which it appears to me would make the Hyperborean regions tremble were they to come in contact. The sleighs have been running without cessation for more than one month. I have had several rides this winter, which a king would envy. And much more, George, if you only could imagine the position in which I was placed — and more especially in one I took upon New Year’s night. There were seven of us in our party. We started at three o’clock in the evening and returned at 4 next morning, and had better believe that we had one of the [best] times. We went 7 miles in the country and found a house full of girls at a party. We stopped and you had better believe that we improved the time while there. I hugged and kissed all the girls in the house. You ought to have seen me. The Dutch girls would come up to me and throw their arms around me and you have no idea how they would kiss. You would think that they intended to draw a fellow’s heart out at his mouth.
Now George, I have said enough upon this point. The next thing upon the program is Allegheny College & P.F.L [Philo Franklin Literary] Society. We have almost 90 students at college — not many new ones. I do not know as I can tell you anything more about the college as you know about how times used to be. We have about 25 members in our society this winter. We have all chances for improvement if we only improve them. Philo ism is in a prosperous condition, or at least as prosperous as could be expected from the representation this winter. The Allegheny’s have rather the advantage in numbers and also in old members. All their seniors are here and none of ours.
We had our first select performance last night. It went off fine. Every performer showed that they had prepared for the discharge of their duty or at least every one but myself and upon that I have nothing to say more than this — that I did not breakdown and that I did the very best I could. I think I never saw a better performance in our hall, my own excepted. I was told this morning that Marvin said it far excelled his expectations. I will give you the news of our next ticket elect, Pres. [John F.] Duncombe, V.P. [J.E.] Cummings, S. Ben Dulin Stuckslager. Sec. [John J.] Keel — he resigned, none elected yet. Deal. Morse & Duff. Comp [Stephen S.] Stuntz & [William F.] Knox. Ora McFarland & Williams, Delegates: J.E. Cummings & A. J. Brown. This is our next ticket, I believe.
I do not know of anything more that would particularly interest you. Mr. [George S.] Wardwell just left my room. He sends his respects and says, “If you will honor him with a communication, he will be happy to return the favor.” Mr. Cummings and I are boarding at Mr. Berlin’s upon the northeast corner of the diamond. I have now done and hope you will answer according to promise. Yours in friendship, — William L. Boydston