1855: John C. Ferguson to Ann E. (Alcorn) Ferguson

John C. Ferguson in later years.

This letter was written by John C. Ferguson (1808-1899), a Whig who represented the 21st District in the Pennsylvania Legislature from 1854-1856. He was from Mt. Jackson in Lawrence County which is less than 10 miles from the Ohio state line and approximately 250 miles from the capitol at Harrisburg. Ferguson was the second postmaster of Mt. Jackson.

He wrote the letter from the senate chamber of the Pennsylvania statehouse in Harrisburg to his wife, Anna E. Alcorn (1814-1865). The Ferguson’s later moved to Iowa and then to Colorado.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mrs. Ann E. Ferguson, Mt. Jackson, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania

Senate Camber
[Harrisburg, Pennsylvania]
February 25, 1855

My Dear wife,

This is Sabbath evening and very cold. I concluded I would not go to church but would come to the hill and write a few lines to you. Your letter which was mailed yesterday morning came to hand this morning. I was very glad to hear from you. This seems to me to be the longest time I ever was from home. If all is well, you may expect me home on Friday or Saturday next. There is some talk of adjourning a few days this eek but whether we will or not I cannot say.

On Tuesday we will have another trial to elect United States Senator [Simon] Cameron ¹ and his friends are urging every exertion to secure his election but he cannot succeed. But I think it very doubtful whether we will be able to unite and elect any other man — at least not for some time. If we can effect an adjournment for three or four weeks, we may be able to write and elect some new man.

Tell Lizzie Mary that Pa received her letter and that he will write her a great long letter when she goes  to school and learns to read.

I received a letter a day or two ago from John C. Nisbet ² which informed me that Capt. Chambers ³ was dead. I have not heard of his being sick. I received a long & very kind letter from old [Rev.] David Norwood giving me a description of his section of country. He sends the respects of Mrs. Norwood and family to you and Webster.

Remember me to all. Yours, — John Ferguson


Simon Cameron, ca. 1861

¹ Simon Cameron was elected as a Democrat from Pennsylvania from 1845-49, serving in the seat vacated by James Buchanan in the U.S. Senate. He failed to win reelection. In 1855, Cameron was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate. The following year, he joined the Republican Party on its formation and was elected to the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania.

² Judge John Nisbet (or Nisbett) was an acquaintance of the Ferguson’s from Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.

³ Capt. William Chambers (1780-1855), a native of Ireland, came to the United States in 1812 with his wife Mary Hazelton (1779-1844), and five children, on board the ship Protection. “Three weeks were spent in New York and then the family took a sloop  to Philadelphia and remained in the Quaker City a few days before starting the journey to Pittsburg by stage and Conestoga wagon and on to Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, stopping at the home of John Dinsmore, a relative who lived near Hickory Creek who settled in the virgin territory about 1800. William and family settled on a farm of 200 acres on the south side of Hickory Creek in North Beaver Township, and erected the first brick structure in the area, not far from the present site of Mt. Jackson, Pennsylvania. The bricks were made and burned on the Hickory Creek farm.

After building his own home, William Chambers and several neighbors laid out the village of Mt. Jackson, naming it after General Andrew Jackson, and helped erect the first school house made out of logs and greased paper for windows. During the War of 1812, William offered his services but he as yet was not a United States citizen, so he was not accepted. Later, he became a commander of a company of State Militia and was known, thereafter, as Captain Chambers.” His death date is recorded as 21 February 1855.  (Chambers History 1925: pp 147-148.)

Ann (Alcorn) Ferguson


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