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Letters of John and Sarah Everett, 1854-1864, 1

Miami County Pioneers

February 1939 (Vol. 8, No. 1), pages 3 to 34
Transcribed by Sean Furniss; digitized with permission of
the Kansas Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets are links to footnotes for this text.


John Roberts Everett [2] and his wife, Sarah Maria Colegrove Everett, [3] with their two small sons, [4] migrated to Kansas territory from Steuben township, Oneida county, New York, in the spring of 1855 and settled in the vicinity of Osawatomie, present Miami county. The letters here reproduced were written during the period 1855-1864, with the exception of two written by John Everett in October, 1854, while on a preliminary visit to the territory to select a location. They offer an unusual picture of a pioneer family struggling against the hazards of the frontier, the vagaries of nature, and political turmoil.

John Everett's interest in reform followed closely that of his father, Robert Everett, a Welsh Congregational minister and leader among his people in this country. [5] The latter had revised and published in 1854 a Welsh translation of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and John Everett traveled among the Welsh settlements in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania selling this and other books before his removal to Kansas. Sarah Everett was likewise interested in the Antislavery cause, and she and her husband abandoned a plan to migrate to Minnesota in order to lend their aid in making Kansas a free state. Their sincerity of purpose is manifest in their letters.

The letters are addressed mainly to Robert Everett, Sr., and his wife. A few are addressed to Robert, their son, and their daughters, Mary, Cynthia, Anna, Jane (Jennie) and Sarah. There is also an occasional letter from members of the family in New York to John and Sarah Everett in Kansas. No changes have been made beyond the deletion of certain personal passages.

Kansas, [6] Mouth of Kansas river,
Missouri, Oct. 21, 1854.
Dear Bro. Robert,


I have got thus far on my way. I started from Scott Thursday week. Arrived in Chicago Saturday. . . . Started from Chicago Monday morning, and from St. Louis Tuesday afternoon. We were 4 days making the trip from there here in the fastest boat on the River. Distance 450 miles. The River is very low now. It is a broad shallow stream. The water is always very muddy. It was the most unpleasant 4 days I ever journeyed. I do not remember hearing a man speak on the boat whose conversation I watched at all who did not swear. The cabin presented a continual scene of card playing from beginning to end. The fare from St. Louis here is $12.00. I am stopping now in the hotel of the Mass. Emigrant Aid Society. [7] The charge here is $1.25 a day. I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. [Orville C] Brown here. He has been out looking up a location for the company he is with. They have found and fixed upon a location at the junction of the Osage and Potawotamie Rivers, about 60 miles south of here. He describes it as the finest land in the territory. We are going to start out there early Monday morning. If I am not suited there I shall look farther. From what I hear I judge that a good deal of the choice land has been covered with claims. There are about 57 in the company Mr. Brown is with. I do not know that I shall have time to write again before I start Monday. Please let our folks know you have heard from me. I am as well in health as is common with me.

Your aff. bro.

P. S. I do not know, as I shall be here long enough to get a letter from you. If you do write my P. O. address will be Kansas, Mo. The county find on the map.

[John R. Everett to his wife, Scott, Cortland county, N. Y.]

Kansas Territory, Oct. 28, 1854.

My Darling

I do not know where to date my letter to you. I am about 40 miles South of Westport at the house of an Indian called Baptist Peoria. [8] Baptist they call him. Peoria is the name of his tribe. I suppose you would like me to give you my impression of the territory. From here to Westport is a most beautiful rolling prairie. The face of the country is emphatically beautiful. Hardly a level spot but all the way fine sweeps of hill and dale. No high or sharp hills but the landscape is all made up of smooth waving lines. There are here and there patches of wood and scattering trees. It looks like a country that had been finely cultivated, and suddenly every habitation and man swept from it. The prairie grass was dead. When green it would add very much to the scenery. But there are very serious drawbacks to the country. Water is very scarce. There is not a tenth, perhaps not a fiftieth enough wood on it. We went 20 miles without being able to get drink. There are very few springs. Nearly all the water courses now are perfectly dry. It looks like a country of floods and drouths. The streams that I have seen that do not get dry are wooded for from 1/4 to, 1/2 mile on each bank. This is the case with the Osage and Pottowottamie, at the junction of which I told you our party were going. That party exploded. They did not seem to like the location. Only three or four are left together. I think there is some prospect of a place growing up there. I do not know how much. Mr. Brown is very sanguine that it will be a great place. I confess I am not suited with the farming land around it in every respect. I am very much in doubt how you would like to live there. The wood there is very good for this country, and will be plenty for the first settlers. A gentleman who represents a party from Rochester, who are coming out in the spring intends to establish himself there and build a steam saw mill. There is limestone there, clay for brick, timber for the mill, running water for cattle. Coal is only 25 or 30 miles distant. And we are there contiguous to some Indian lands, most beautiful and fertile, that are soon to come into market. One on the grounds will be much better able to take advantage of choice spots, than a stranger. The climate, as far as I have seen and heard, is much more uniform than with us. We have had most beautiful weather these last few days,––like our finest September weather. I am strongly inclined to risk it and take a place there. It may grow up to be as beautiful a village as there is in the West. The men who are left are sterling, enterprising, far-seeing men. Mr. [John] Serpel, (whom I mentioned above in connection with the steam saw mill) is a man of large means, I understand. He will carry through what he undertakes. He has men in the territory, of different occupations, whom he expects to bring on immediately. His mind was drawn to Kansas by the Anti-slavery feeling, as mine was. He is a Quaker. Mr. [William] Chestnut, our other man is a genial, warm-hearted, sanguine Scotchman; left an orphan very young. So far he has depended on himself, and has always been successful. We shall like him first rate, if we come out here. Mr. Brown is enterprising, tenacious of his purposes, a man to push forward what he undertakes. I forgot to tell you that our river water is excellent for drinking. Do you think I am acting wisely in securing a place here? Perhaps. If you do not want to come it shall all be thrown to the winds. You know I am not apt to be over sanguine, and perhaps every thing will turn out better than my anticipations. I am quite sure if we have a saw mill, grist mill, lime kiln, perhaps a plaster mill &c. &c., it will help wonderfully to fill up the country around, and to make Osawottamie [9] (!) a central place.

. . . I have not of course heard a word from you, but shall expect to when the gentleman returns, who takes this to the mail. Till then I shall hope that you are well and happy. I hope to make my business so that I can leave here in two or three weeks.–– I have been very much surprised at seeing so few Indians. I have seen very few indeed. Only one in four days, except this family under whose roof I am. This is a very nice family here. Baptist is very intelligent. He is one quarter French. He speaks 5 Indian languages, besides English and French. He is the interpreter between the Indians and the government. Every statement he makes is implicitly relied on, on both sides. They get up meals here nicer and better than at any hotel I ever stopped at. At least you think so after being in the woods three or four days.–– I am perfectly satisfied after seeing the Eden-like and wide lands that these few Indians roamed over, that no injustice has been done them in the treaties by which they give it up. Each man, woman and child of the Shawnees, for instance, gets 200 acres of land of their own selection, besides $100,000 a year for the tribe for 8 years; the tribe numbering about 800 to 1000. [10] And other tribes in pretty much the same proportion.

[Cynthia Everett to Mary Everett, Saratoga Springs, N. Y.]

Remsen, Nov. 17, 1854.

Friday evening.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear Mary, . . . Last night just as we were going to bed John and Sarah Maria and their two dear little ones came. They are well, and John has brought as a Kansas mark mustaches. I think they are quite becoming. He left directions and money to have a log house built against Spring. He intends staying in Utica this winter, and setting on the Hymn-book. I have not had any time yet to ask him any questions about his journey and so cannot tell you––
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Yours &c.

[Columbus Pa.] March 9, 1855

Dear Father & Mother

We arrived here about 10 o'clock Saturday night. We had no trouble on the Railroad with the children. Did not stop in Fredonia. We came right through to Westfield without any stop of over ten minutes. From Westfield to Columbus (30 miles) in a stage. The baby was very worrisome, but we managed to get through with him. He has fretted a great deal after his grandmother. He is getting reconciled now. He has coughed a good deal, and in fact we have all got colds. Baby I think is getting better. We found our friends here all well.

>Frank has enjoyed his journey very much. I am feeling a good deal better than when we started. Sarah does not seem to be quite as well. She has had it quite hard with the baby.

I do not think we shall stay here over a week longer. I feel anxious to get to the end of our journey, to get a settled and steady place for the children as soon as possible.

With much love to all at home

Your affectionate son and daughter
John and Sarah

Osawottamie, April 28, 1855.

Dear Brother Robert

I should have written to you before now, and intended to have done so. But I have not seen much but trouble and discomfort since I started from home. The children were both sick on the journey, and both had to be held or carried, nearly the whole time when they were not asleep. You have doubtless heard how our little one gradually grew worse, and finally dropt away. It was a sad beginning to our Kansas life. Frank's health has been improving since we landed. He is now quite rugged and healthy. Sarah has been very healthy since we have been here. I have not felt strength to work much since we have been here. I do not think I have done more in a week that a good farmer would do in a day. I am getting better now, and feel more like working. The climate has been very different from my experiences of April weather. I have not had my coat on, for warmth, this fortnight. We have long continued and hard, almost violent South winds. We have not had rain enough to cause the eaves to drip this four weeks we have been here. There has been no dew. Still vegetation has started, the grass is green, and the trees and shrubs are beginning to leave out. Old settlers in Missouri say this is the driest and most backward spring they ever knew.

I was very much disappointed about my claim when we got here. As we had no intimation in Kansas City that every thing was not right, and as we were particularly anxious to get through with the children, we came right on here with all our baggage, to find that our claim had been taken by another, and we were houseless. We met Mr. Serpell (who was to have built our house) and Mr. Brown, and both assured us that our claim could not have been kept; that Mr. Serpell would have been in danger of his life if he had tried to build it, &c. Our surprise was very great to find on enquiry among the neighbors, that Mr. Serpell himself had actually built the house for this other man, and that there had been no trouble about the house on that claim. There had been trouble about the house on the next claim. One set of logs had been burnt by a man who tried to hold half a square mile of land; but that quarrel was over, and there was no difficulty about the house on my claim. I found moreover that these men, Mr. Serpell and Mr. Brown, were trying to hold on to 4 or 5 claims each. This was plainly illegal, wrong, and not to be tolerated. I looked around for a place as well as I was able with my poor health, but could find none that suited. We then determined that we would take one of those illegally held for speculation. Mr. Brown had told us we might go into one of his houses. If he had done his duty as he promised we would have had a house of our own. There is no doubt our claim was taken from us by Mr. Brown's advice. (We have no direct proof, but every thing looks like it.) Mr. B. had no shadow of legal authority to hold the claim we were on. We concluded we would stay on it. This of course does not suit Mr. B. very well, but I think he will learn that the preemption law is so carefully guarded, for the interests of the actual settlers, as to leave no room for speculators. I do not think it my duty to turnout of my path for those who are illegally speculating in the public lands. This claim was not the one he intended for his family, but one intended for speculative purposes. Our neighbors, generally, particularly the more intelligent and manly, say that we are right, and should stick to it.

Mr. Knox takes this East. . . . Mr. Knox does not find things here up to his anticipations, and returns. Disappointed faces are rather common among emigrants. Kansas is a good country, but too much praised. It has its disadvantages. (Sarah yet insists that it is paradise here, and would like to see some of the disadvantages.) It is surprising how large a proportion of our emigrants are city men and mechanics. A regular bred farmer is a rarity. This is a great country for cities. Every neighborhood finds some ambitious man who must straightway build a city, with broad streets, and wide avenues, parks and public squares. The few neighbors straightway grow complacent at the idea of their being in the neighborhood of a city, perhaps get city lots promised them gratis, and fall to dreaming of the rise in city property, which at some future time will make them wealthy.– I did not get the long letter you wrote me nor the coat you sent to Westfield. We lost a bandbox with a good many things around it in a bag. Perhaps it has been sent you by express. I so directed if they found it. . . . Write me all the news how you are getting along, all about home &c.

Your brother

My direction is Osawatomie, Kansas P. O. There is a weekly stage to Kansas but no P. O. here. Jane's letter was the first we had heard from home in five weeks.

Home, June 1, 1855.
Friday eve.

My dear Sisters;

We have just received a letter from John & Sarah with a lock of Frank's hair for his part of the letter. They write very cheerfully, are feeling much better than when they wrote before. Their letter was dated May 21. John says they are having a little trouble about their claim, but does not seem to feel discouraged about it, he says if they do lose it, "the world is wide, and they can choose elsewhere." They had had some rain and consequently the prospect for vegetation was brightening. Sarah writes that we "need not worry or feel anxious because their house happens to be light enough without windows, for they are quite comfortable." Their bedstead is made of round poles with the bark on. (Answers instead of carved work, Sarah says.) Franky sleeps in Robert's large trunk filled with bed clothes, and this with the cover on and a cradle quilt spread over makes a fine Ottoman, so in Sarah's opinion they have not only what is necessary to comfort, but also some luxuries.

Sarah's clock adorns one side of the room, my picture another, and shelves for books, made of split oak shingles on pegs driven in to the logs, a third. The floor is also mostly covered with a carpet. They have a cow, which gives all the milk they want to use. John's health is much better than when they left home. Sarah's also, and Franky grows healthier and more rugged every day. He eats about as much as his father. There with a bundle of love, you have a pretty good synopsis of the two letters.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Osawatomie, June 25, '55

Dear Father

We received your and Mary's letter last Thursday evening. We received a letter from the girls at Saratoga the same evening. We are always very glad to hear from home. We have had a good deal of trouble since we have been in the Territory. We have lost our second claim. I do not feel like going into particulars. Suffice it to say we were the victims of gross falsehood, misrepresentation and fraud. We have just got another claim. This we had to pay $62.50 for. It has a log cabin on it not quite finished. We are going to move to it to day. I was out at Lawrence week before last. Stayed with Edward Jones over Sunday. His brother-in-law, Robert Hughes, takes the Cenhadwr. [11] Had not had the May number. This was the first one that had missed. We got the May Cen. on the 11th and the June No. on the 14th. The mail here is weekly.

We have had fine rains here lately. I hear that crops are looking finely in Missouri. Here everything had to be planted late because the prairie could not be plowed till the grass had got a good start.–– The violent demonstrations of Missourians you read of have not disturbed us much here: The Missourians around here are nearly all free state I believe, at least strongly opposed to people coming here from the State to vote.

Our health is quite good. I have felt very little comfort yet in the Territory. Hope our good days are yet to come. We are intending to put in a couple of acres of corn yet, and perhaps a few other seeds.

We must have written two or three letters you have not got. . . . Those papers that Lewis mailed for me I hope to get in the next mail. Newspapers are very acceptable here, I assure you. I do not get any paper. Letters continue to come in, now mostly overland, from Indiana, Illinois &c. As far as my information goes, the slave state settlers are very few. Must close with love to all at home. Perhaps I shall feel sometime like writing a long letter.

Your affectionate son

Osawatomie, July 20, 1855

Dear Sister Mary

It is now about four weeks since we heard from home. I am afraid that my remissness in writing is one reason of our not hearing for so long from you. I think you can not have gotten all our letters. We have had a good deal of trouble since we have been here. We are now settled in a very pretty spot about 1 1/4 miles from the Pottawatomie Creek, South; about 21 miles from the Missouri frontier. I think I mentioned in my last that I paid $62.50 for the claim I am now on. Our cabin is a poor one, but I have seen some worse, and we can improve it I hope. We have nearly 2 acres planted in corn, and about 1/4 acre of beans. A few tomatoes, peas, 3 kinds of squash, & 3 kinds of pumpkins completes the list of our growing crops. We have one cow and a calf. Our pasture is a very large one. Our meadow is equally large. It is very unlikely that I shall mow it all this season. In fact I have never seen the fences that bound it. I think the Pacific Ocean laves its Western limit. But enough of our pasture and meadow. This would be a great country for some of our Steuben dairymen to make cheese in. I have been told that 20 to 25 cts per pound was not an uncommon price for cheese. The number of cows a man could keep here would only be limited by the number he could pay for and take care of.

You probably have seen reports in the newspapers of the violence of the Missourians in some parts of the Territory. I am happy to say that they do not disturb us much here. There is no slave state party here. And I think through the Territory, the majority for freedom is strong and decided if we are allowed to do our own voting. Fort Leavenworth (around which most of the violence has been perpetrated) is 80 miles from here.

Franky is learning to talk slowly. His mother says he knows the whole language by heart, but that is a slight exaggeration. He is growing more rugged all the time. My health is improving a little. Sarah is in usual health.

Tell Lewis I thank him very much for the newspapers he sent me. I do not take any paper, and have only had two papers besides those and the Cenhadwr since I have been in Kansas. I believe you used to get 2 copies of the Phrenological and Water Cure Journals. [12] I wish some of you would remail one copy of each to me. I miss the Tribune here especially. If you see Robert tell him to mail me an occasional [Utica] Herald after he has read it. I have not seen one since I have been in Kansas. We have a Postoffice established at Osawatomie now, so letters and papers may be directed now, "Osawatomie, Kansas Territory," and need not go to Kansas City. We live about 2 1/2 miles from the P. O. about half the distance through the prairie grass without a path. The mail is weekly: So we write this to take down when we go to see if anything has come for us. Sarah goes with this, Frank is asleep and I go to the woods to get [MS. illegible] berries, and come back & forth to watch Franky.


P. S. Write often. Send me an occasional [St. Louis Christian] Advocate. I want to see the St Louis prices &c. &c.

Osawatomie, July 27, 1855.

Dear Bro Robert

I write this to request a favor of you, and therefore I commence with the request. It is that you would send one dollar to the N. Y. Tribune, for their Semiweekly paper for 1/3 of a year. I do not feel quite safe in sending money in a letter, as I have reason to think that some of my letters have been lost. Besides I feel for various reasons rather poor at present. I think I can pay you some time. I would also like it first rate if you would send me an occasional Herald after you have gleaned its contents. I do not take any paper, so any thing from the East will be acceptable. And if you ever have a number of Harper's that you do not care any thing about, I should like very much to see it. A paper that we used to see reminds us here on the frontiers that we still live in the world.

I have not much time to write you any news. I have been very busy with my little strength getting out fencing for my corn patch. We have been on the claim we are now on about one month. Have got 3 acres plowed; over 2/3 of it planted in corn, beans, &c.; but it is yet in the open prairie. I have borrowed a yoke of cattle and am today getting out my rails. My corn has been out of the ground about 3 weeks, and the longest leaves are already over three feet long. We have had very fine growing weather since the middle of May. Before that time the heavens seemed brass, no dew, no rain. Hence the stories of those who went back with unfavorable reports of the country. Things looked very discouraging in April. It was an extraordinary dry time. There had been no rain of consequence for ten months. But everybody here now is satisfied with the country as far as I hear opinions given.

Of political news your information about us I presume is as correct as mine, particularly if you read the N. Y. Tribune (judging from the few numbers of that paper I have seen.) We in this section are quietly attending each one to his own business here, without more trouble, on the whole, than might be expected. We personally have had a good deal more than our average share of that trouble, but that is over now, and the next time it will be probably some one else's turn. We feel now tolerably comfortable (I more than Sarah) and happy (both I think) although we are 1 1/4 miles from a neighbor and live in a cabin with a carpet for a door, mowed grass for floor, a leaky roof, and no windows at all. But then there are plenty of cracks where the light comes in. The thermometer while I write stands at 96 in the shade; 90° is quite a common temperature at midday; sometimes it goes up to 98°; and about 72 to 80 at sunrise. But there is a breeze continually blowing, generally from the South, which very sensibly modifies the apparent temperature.– When this goes down to the mail, we send for our mail, (the mail came in last night). . . . If I have time, I will write more, if not, good bye. . . .


That sterescope I have heard from Mr. Coolledge went to Faribault, Minnesota: he wrote me from there, and I have enclosed 16 postage stamps so that he may forward it. You must know that I shall be very glad to see it.–– Have you got that bundle back you sent to Westport? I wish: I had brought that Universal Atlas with me. I have thought some of sending for a small box of things from Utica, as goods are so high here. If you see any chance to send with anybody as freight I should like to have that Atlas sent.

Monday Morning Aug. 20, '55.

Dear Father

It is now three weeks Saturday since we got your and Sissy's letter. I have been intending all along to write you a long letter but have not found opportunity and inclination concurring. I will write a few lines this morning, rather than let another week pass by without a word. Sarah has been sick just three weeks now with the intermittent fever and ague. [13] She has been confined to, her bed all the time. The chill and fever only come on every other day, but they leave her very weak, so that she feels no strength intervening days. We think she is now on the gain. She has taken no medicine. We doctor entirely with water. I think the fever might be broken in less time with quinine and other medicines, but we are not willing to use them, as I think the disease can be cured much more effectually with water. There has been a great deal of this sickness around here for the last month. Previous to that time it was quite healthy. I do not hear how it is in other parts of the territory. This is a very distressing disease. There have been some deaths. One our next neighbor, Angus Rose, who had become dear to us by mutual interchanges of kindness, died after a short illness. He did our ploughing for us, and had been our friend in all our troubles with Brown. He came to Kansas two days after he was married––to find his grave.–– My health is quite good. Franky is hearty as ever. Last week, and the week before, we had a great deal of rain. Now the weather is quite cool. We got the Cenhadwr for August and the Independent for Aug. 2 Saturday. I hope for a letter from home in the next mail. A new neighbor, three quarters of a mile from here, goes to Kansas City this morning and I will send this with him, otherwise I could not send for another week, for it is too far to take this through the wet grass to the Postoffice. I hope my sisters, will not be tired of writing their brother because their letters are not answered, for it does me a great deal of good to get their letters. Write all of you as often as you can.

Your affectionate son

Will write you again by next mail, particularly if we are worse.

Sat. Sep. 1, 1855

Dear Sister Cynthia

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Our corn is much higher than we can reach––it is earing out, our pumpkins and squashes are for the most part fruiting well and we have one large patch of beans that promise well. Our tomatoes are getting on as fast as they can but will not be ripe under a fortnight. Those with a few hills of potatoes comprise all our crop this year. Our cabin is still in a dilapidated condition––our sickness preventing us from fixing it up. The rain and sunshine of heaven can both alike visit us, but we murmur not at either––why should we murmur at anything that comes from Heaven. The worms are working in the logs at the side & over head so that we have a continual dust dropping in every part of the cabin. Sometimes it gets an inch thick on things that are not moved for two or 3 days, &c. Write to us soon and often

As ever your Sister

Sep 15, 1855

Dear Cynthia

This is the 5th weekly dispatch from Osawatomie to Remsen––Dont you think Ague & Fever a good thing to quicken up remiss letter writers?

John is most as well now as I am, but to get so I had to meet him half way. He has ague and fever one day, I chill fever the next!

Very accommodating sort of people you see–– Our neighbor comes once a week now instead of once a day–– He took the cow home with him so I have a nice little airing once a day walking up to his house (3/4 of a mile) to get the milk–– this you know must be peculiarly agreeable to me as one day I'm obliged to be confined to my bed nearly the whole of the rest of the day and the next day confined to the house to look after John during his confined stage. He is evidently gaining some now.

I suppose that too much exercise with too little treatment has brought the fever in a mild form on to me again. But courage now, our Quaker neighbors moved in last night, a part of them. One of the men called on us to day––the most thoroughly intelligent, sensible man we've conversed with in the Territory. His Sister-in-law a widow woman who is with him has, he told me, six daughters and some of them would call soon to help us–– Heaven preserve the Quakers, and send a small colony to every ague and fever district.

Tomorrow would have been our poor little baby's birthday–– How thankful I've been during this long season of sickness that he was where he could know no such thing as neglect and suffering–– Frank is large enough to be turned off all day when we can't take care of him, but poor little Henry must have suffered had not our ever kind and all-wise Father consigned him to Angel guardianship.

It is late bed time and I must retire. I have had a chill and fever today John I suppose will shake tomorrow–– His sick spells grow lighter now each day–– We expected a letter from you to day. The one written Aug 10 is the last we have received. We have not got any Cen. for Sep. yet or Water cure journal. Tribune and Independent come regularly.

Our love to all. . . . Your shaking Sister


Sunday near noon

John has had his ague and fever and feels, better than he has after any sick spell before. He had a shorter and easier time also than on any previous day. I think he'll get along in a short time–– I feel better today than common tooSarah

Osawatomie Sep 29, 1855

Dear Brother Robert––

I am sick & have to employ an amanuensis. This is my fifth week of ague & fever. I must write short as Sarah has got to take this to the mail to-day. We received that beautiful Daguerreotype of Father and Mother for which I thank you very much indeed. We have had the Tribune ever since Aug. 21––

To come to the substance of this epistle, this is another begging letter of a more serious nature than the last.–– There is no grist mill in the place–– We will have we hope plenty of corn but no way of getting it ground–– I have seen an advertisement of a. patent grinder in Fowlers journal the cost of the size I want of which will be six dollars–– I am very anxious to get it, as I might grind graham flour and perhaps corn for good profit, beside the advantage it would be to ourselves. I want it sent by express or by some very quick conveyance. If you can put in a few other articles with it without greatly increasing the expense I would like to have you. I will enumerate––my coats––Universal Atlas a few roots from home which I will put on a separate piece of paper for Lewis to put up––a plush cap for me worth $2.00––two or three gooseberry roots from Uncle Henry, the top can be mostly cut off to save room, four common sized tin pans and two two qt. basins if they can be put in without increasing the bulk too much, two peach trees of Cunningham one serrate early York––one George the Fourth, one year from the bud, get these if he will sell them for about half price of salable trees, if they are small enough to be packt. You can judge when he takes them up whether they can be packed–– I am not very anxious about these as I am doubtful about their living.

I do not know what your means are and whether I am not asking too great a favor. I am exceedingly anxious to get the grinding machine–– Any of the other things you can leave out if not convenient for you to get them to send.

Knox told us he could get trees sent to St Louis by express for three dollars a hundred weight.

Direct to care of Walker & Chick, Kansas––if they want a house to direct to in St Louis say Smythe and Gore–– If you can do this or any part of it you will oblige your affectionate brother


P. S. Do send me 1 or 2 Faber's No 3 lead pencils

We are going to move to the village to a snug house. We have a fair prospect of getting some boarders. I feel this fever will leave me better. They are going to build a Steam Saw Mill & some kind of Gristmill so if I can work I can get work. I hope I can pay you by Spring if you need. I know your affection prompts you to incommode yourself for me. Please send a bill of what you get. We need a Thermometer. Ours is damaged and we can get none here. I think you better direct care S. & G. St. L., care W. & C. Kansas, Mo., J. R. E. Osawatomie (in full as above), as I do not know of an Ex. Off. in Kansas. The wind blows cold today. 43° is the lowest the thermometer has gone. We shall need quite as warm ordinary clothing here as in Utica this winter I am convinced. . . . Please send 6 yds canton flannel (unbleached will do.) Do write us & Jenny too. You do not know how much we long for letters I want to hear all about both of you. Send me a Herald––no matter if weeks old. Have seen no Utica paper since I saw you.

With much love to you and Jenny


Osawatomie, Oct 6, 1855

Dear Bro. Robert

I take my pen to write you a few lines, for this Ague and Fever makes one feel very weak, particularly when one has had it steady for 6 weeks. I expect I am about over it now, but do not expect to gain strength till it has left me entirely. I hope to enjoy better health after this turn of sickness. . . . I wrote you one week ago to get me some things. If you have not sent the box off, I should like to make some additions.

A handful of Uncle's very early peas, if he can spare them.
1/2 dozen wooden combs.
1 long horn comb.
1 fine comb.
1 skein blue mixed stocking yarn.
Ball of shoe thread, (a little shoemaker's wax, & a few bristles if convenient).
Scraps of leather, calf & morocco for mending Sarah's shoes.
(There is no shoemaker in the place.)
4 awls, crooked and straight.
2 cheap tin candlesticks. (We got some at O'Neils for 6 cents apiece.)
1 or 2 hoes without handles, if you can get them. They ask here 75c. for such hoes as they sell in Utica, for 37 1/2.
A one-bladed jack knife worth about [MS. illegible].

If you can you may get a yard of cotton plush, with trimming for a vest. I got some last fall at a clothing store and tailor's shop about half way down Genesee St.–– A cheap sodering iron and a little sodder.

We had a hard frost last night, the first of the season. The thermometer fell to 22°.–– The steamboats stop running up the Missouri river the last of November. You can use your own judgment in leaving out any thing I have sent for. I am intent on getting the Hand Mill, if it is any thing such as I think it. I would not miss having it in St. Louis in time to come up this fall.

Write me a sketch of your trip to the White Mts. and to Newhampton. The next pleasure journey you take come out and see me. Won't Jenny write us? I have just been reading and crying over the letter we got from her last spring. She must remember the troubles that have been treading on our heels all summer and weighing down our hearts and spirits, and accept that as an excuse for our not answering her.

With the warmest love for yourself and Jenny

Your brother John.

P. S. Pray that our sickness may be blessed to us spiritually.

[John R. Everett to Sarah A. Everett, Remsen, N.Y.]

Oct 21, 55.

Dearest Friends

I intended to write a few words in answer to each of your affectionate & sympathising letters. Anna dear, we have moved to the village in a much more comfortable house than our miserable cabin. We moved last Friday. We feel very feeble indeed after moving, as we were obliged to overdo. Franky is better than when we wrote last. I not so well I think on account of moving. Sarah is very feeble indeed. She has had no chills for 2 days but she cannot sit up at all and is failing in strength. Sarah wants the ingredients or receipt for Peruvian bark. I wish the solid articles were light enough to send in a letter, for I think they have poor drugs here. . . . Sarah gave wrong directions as to starting letters Tuesday. It is very extraordinary for letters to come so quick. The time you used to start them is better. Have you heard any thing about an "Improved Hand Mill" which I asked Robert to send for for me about three weeks ago. I am very anxious, indeed to hear from it and get. I mention it because it may keep us from starving this winter. Corn is 50c, and meal $1.35. If Robert did not get my letter, please write to him to send immediately $6.00 to Fowlers and Wells and have it sent by express, care Smyth and Gore, St Louis, care Walker and Chick, Kansas, John R Everett Osawatomie. . . . I cannot write any more. Love, love, love to all. . . .


P. S. That flour has come from St Louis––most beautiful flour. Costs on the whole just what we would have to pay here. Thanks again to my brothers. John

Osawatomie Oct 27 1855

Dear Cynthia

We received your laughing letter of Oct 10, day before yesterday & it set us to laughing too. Now we did get a letter last week but none the week before, and we haven't got two any week since. The week we did not get one we did not answer it of course. How could we? You have asked a great many questions in your former letters some of which I will answer. The Quakers did not do as much for us as we anticipated, the girls were not naturally strong and then most all the family took the "chill fever" after they came in. So they had to take care of themselves. There was but one man and he had so much to do he could not do much for us still we could have a horse there whenever we wanted and the women came in and helped me three or four times. Their names I have not learned except the two married ladies and oldest daughter. The mother's names are both Sarah and the daughter's name Elizabeth. They are real Hoosiers. Sarah the widow expected to make a heap of butter to sell from her two cows this winter but her best cow is caving around so about her calf that gave out in moving and was left behind, that she's afraid she'll all dry up, and she has heaps of trouble about her now. Richard the Quaker [14] is about like John––perhaps a little more of a talker––just about such a reader––watches the mails with about as much anxiety &c. You wanted to know what kind of a stove and kettles we have––just one of the cutest one's you ever saw––stove shaped like yours No. 3 with furniture almost as large as yours––

To day is the first day in thirteen weeks that we have been free from the Chill and Intermittent Fever–– Last week & week before last we all three had it every day. I got so run down that although I have not had a chill since a week ago yesterday I have not been able to do any thing or sit up much of the time till to day.

John has not had any in two days––but be is very feeble. Frank missed his this morning–– It is utterly impossible for you to understand anything about what we have suffered here–– Sometimes both sick together unable to wait on each other or little Frank. In a house that the meanest hovel you know would be preferable to. It's of no use to try to tell you anything about it, you dont want to know either. We had got so completely worn out, last Sat., that if I had written instead of John I should have told you we were dying. I verily thought that life with me had about drawn to a close. I was so weak, so worn and exhausted that I could not see how I could ever build up again––& there were John and Frank looking like two shadows standing between this world and the next–– We were all three of us fearfully sick and nobody to take care of us. We had been so days together before but never had the dark river sounded so near as now. I could feel its icy breezes stealing over my brow and hear its ripples as it passed me by––

But I am again gaining strength–– John and Franky look a little better––and the dark river with its damp icy breath and dread mysterious sounds seems farther in the distance.

We moved a week ago yesterday. John had to overdo about it and that I think is the reason he is so feeble. One day he had to ride two miles & a half in a chill and the day we moved he had to work right along through his chill. He has had some very sick spells since then but we hope his chills are over with now.

The man we hired the house of who is going to board with us when we are able to take him has fixed wood for us since we moved and done our milking or I don't know what would have become of us. It is bed time and I am very tired so I will bid you good night

Your sister Sarah

Please send me half an ounce of mace in a letter envelope made tight Sarah

Don't forget the Water Cure & Phren. Journals if you still get two. The Cen. for 2 mo. is still back

Do send me a Utica Herald, I want to see one, if its 3 months old

Osawatomie Nov. 12, 1855

Dear Father

I can only write a few lines this morning. My health is still miserable. I feel very little better than when I had chills every day. Sarah is better than when we wrote last. She had three chills last week, but they left her better and stronger than before. I had a chill yesterday and the day before; I hope they will operate the same on me. Franky is a little better. He has no chills now. He has cut three eye teeth and his gum is swollen for another. I suppose you have learnt that we have moved into town. The .house in which we live is far more comfortable than our poor cabin. But it is not finished inside, for lack of lumber. Our frame houses here are very different from your comfortable, plastered tenements. There has been no sand found here nearer than twenty or thirty miles. They ceil up their houses & frame buildings with split oak shingles, three feet long. They clapboard with the same. We soon found after coming here that our small cook stove would not begin to keep us warm in cold or windy weather. We have some quite cold weather. The winds, especially the North wind, are more piercing than with you. So we were obliged to send for a stove that would heat. We sent to St. Louis, about 3 weeks ago for a box stove, worth $9, and necessary pipe to Mr. Thos. Davies. I know this will meet with your approval, although I could not consult you about it. I cannot write much more at present. Our prospects, now, are sufficiently discouraging. I have hardly been able to work an hour at productive labor since I have been in Kansas. But we hope for better times. Please send word to Mary that I got her letter dated Oct. 25. She must excuse me for not answering her two letters before this. But I felt so miserable the last week I did not feel I could write.

Uncle and Cousin Henry have been very kind indeed in giving us the mill. It warms our hearts to them. I must close

Your affectionate son John

P. S. I thank you very much for your last kind letter particularly the religious advice in it. I hope I shall profit by it. . . .

We have not had the Cen. since August, Is there a hole in Uncle Sam's bag. Do you still get 2 Water Cure and Phren. Journals?

Osawatomie Nov. 26, 1855

Dear Jennie––

Your letters were both duly received, but we have felt it a sort of duty to write home every week, and we have been too miserable to do much more than that

I don't know whether we are in reality gaining much or not. Sometimes we feel well and strong and think within ourselves that the plague is stayed when suddenly the chills begin to run over us and in a few hours we find ourselves prostrated again. Sickness––sometimes light––sometimes severe, has hovered around us now four months––sometimes all three of us and again only one at a time have lain powerless within her grasp.

During this long tedious period our system of economy has been unable to prevent our means from melting away.–– We raised no crop of any account except for fodder–– We are neither of us able yet to do a good days work, and liable if we attempt to be put clear back again. We have only two boarders as yet which of course do not pay all the expenses of the family, and we have got to buy provisions till we can raise, another year. We have also got to have some kind of a shelter to abide under when we again return to our claim–– Yet in this state of health and with these demands upon us––we have no more than five dollars on which to rely––!

I have no particular news to write to you except that Brown our persecutor and the moral pest of this community has had his connection with the town suddenly broken off by the agent of the "Emigrant Aid Society," whose agent Brown was. [15] He had become such a nuisance that Pomeroy (the agent) could not endure him any longer. He has borrowed money now and gone to New York or starts for there tomorrow morning to try to "raise the wind somehow" as one of our old and tried neighbors (Mr. Chestnut) expressed it to us this morning. His family are still here. Not a person who knows him speaks well of him, himself and family are all thoroughly detested–– I must close, write soon Sarah

Osawatomie Jan 25 1856

Dear Cynthia––

We have received weekly dispatches from some of our home friends, so far during this month. New Year's day we got five letters to compensate us for going without a long time.

There were no regular mails during the month of Dec. which accounts for your not having heard from us in so long a time. I think too that one of our letters must have been lost, or delayed an unconscionable length of time, for we sent a letter from this place the 18th of Dec. which was written a week before, stating that we had received "the box" all right, and that the delay had been occasioned by the carelessness of the commission merchant in Kansas City–– We received this week the note sent to the P. M. (Mr. Samuel Geer, should you have further occasion for corresponding with that gentleman) and were very sorry you had felt so much anxiety about us. We should have written if we could have got the letters to Kansas City short of taking them there ourselves on foot. I think you would hardly have wished us to do that, certainly not until we had "got shet of the ager"–– Well just at this present moment in which I am writing we are "shet" of it, but have no security that we shall stay so till the close of the week.

John suffers considerable with cold spells, the effect of the ague, though his health is gradually improving he thinks–– If we could only have warm weather once more 'twould help us all, but our house is so cold, and the cold weather seems to hang on just for spite. I believe we have not had but one comfortable day since the Sat. before Christmas. Christmas week was intensely cold, we could not keep warm with both stoves, and what was worse John was hardly fit to be out at all, and I could not do anything. Wednesday morning the thermometer stood at 28 deg. below zero. Some families had to abandon their houses & go to their neighbors who were fortunate in having warmer ones––altogether it was one of the most "trying" times that I have suffered since we came into the Territory–– A lady who called here yesterday told me that two of her daughters during that week froze their feet so that they are now unable to walk a step, and said there were large running sores two thirds the size of the palm of her hand on them now. Two more women told John that they froze their feet sitting right by the stove.–– Such are some of the hardships which Kansas settlers endure–– For myself I only had a chill every day. I have not had any chills now for two whole days and I feel and act very much like a little girl with some new plaything. I am much better than when John last wrote, but hardly expect to stay so long–– I will leave a little room for John–– He is quite busy to day or I should not have written at all. . . . No more at present

[Sarah M. C. Everett]

P. S. Frank called his mother an "old scamp," this morning–– A remarkable specimen of precociousness! He is not always so saucy as that––John

Friday morning Jan 25.

Dear Father,––

I have very little to add to what Sarah has written to Cynthia. We wrote you last week acknowledging the receipt of the $23.75 draft, and the week before we mailed a letter acknowledging $20 from Robert, and $3. & $1. from home. We feel very grateful for this help, although I fear the times are hard with you, with the diminished Cenhadwr list. The mails will be regular now, and I hope our communications more regular. Yesterday I was up to my claim to get some corn fodder. To day I am going to look for a cow that has wandered. We have not seen her for 7 weeks. We heard yesterday where she was. At this house we have no barn, no fences, no yard. Our two cows and two calves all went away when we stopped milking. We have got back one cow, and heard from the other, and heard where at least one of the calves was within the last fortnight. We hope to be better prepared next winter if our health and lives are spared, and we remain in the territory. In the summer, it is customary here to let the cows run on the prairie, and let the calves take half the milk, then the cows will come up to the calves. Most winters cattle will live here after a poor fashion without fodder.–– "The oldest inhabitants" here, intelligent Indians, do not remember any thing like the severity of this winter. One of our Quaker neighbors, who has been in the Ter. 5 yrs. (in the Friends Mission, I believe) never knew the thermometer more than –8° below zero, but the sun frequently has risen upon us at –8° & -10° & -12°. Yesterday was a moderate, pleasant day, south wind. To day the wind howls at us menacingly from the Northeast. How has the winter been with you? You have got the railroad to Remsen now. . . .

I suppose you have read in the Tribune about the troubles which the "border ruffians" have been causing in Lawrence, Leavenworth, Kickapoo &c. We read them with the same spectator interest that you do. We do not feel their burden. We are very quiet here. We hope soon literally to be sitting under our own vines (Isabellas & Catawbas) with no Missourians to molest or make us afraid. In one respect the Missouri invasion was not without benefit. They have learnt that the Eastern Emigrants are no cowardly beggars (as represented to them) but provident, industrious men, ready (if dire necessity compel them) to stand up and defend their rights. The community here are very nearly united on the free-state question. But the majority would dislike and resent being called abolitionists. . . . Our community here are mostly Western people, some from Slave States. There is a prevailing sentiment against admitting negroes into the territory at all, slave or free. The Western people are far the most numerous in the territory. The country is so different from our Eastern country and the character of Eastern emigration is such (a majority as far as I have seen village mechanics with ideas enthusiastically excited) that I think one-half at least of Eastern people return. Those who stay love the country as they get used to it. The Western people find much such a country as they left behind them, and settle right down, build their cabins, fence and break up their fields and drop their corn, before you hardly know they are here. They have a strong instinct against slavery, do not want it about them, but lack the strong moral sense of its injustice which we feel.

We are anxious to stay here another season if we can. We do not like to turn back. The country in the main is very pleasant to us. We sigh for our home friends, and we miss your tumbling brooks, cool wells, frequent streams. Those used to the ague tell us we probably shall not be troubled with it longer -than till Spring. Can a country without swamps be subject to ague, after acclimation? If we can enter our claim and preempt it, I think it will be worth enough to pay us for coming here and I guess more.

Your son, John.

Osawatomie, Feb. 1, 1856.

Dear Father,

No mail has arrived without bringing us some welcome news from home till this week. Perhaps we will get two next week. I just take my pen and paper to let you know how we are, and not to write a letter. Sarah has had no chill since we wrote last. She is gaining strength a little. Franky is quite well. He is very busy when he feels at all well. He is writing a letter now on a chair, beside me, .as he sees his father writing, but I think the specimen of his chirography which we sent last week will suffice for a time at least. My health continues about the same. I fear I cannot do a great deal till the weather moderates. Yesterday was a very pleasant, mild day. At the warmest, mercury at 34°. Last Monday morning, mercury at 17° below zero. Today the wind blows cold from the North. Many cattle have died this cold weather. They do not make calculations here for such cold weather. The "skyey influences" I have noticed here are quite different from those I used to observe at home. I have seen what are called "sundogs" thrice, and once I noticed the same phenomenon about the moon––three moons––one faint one on each side of their central prototype, with rainbow-hued shafts above and below them. I noticed the other evening a column of light just after sunset, extending from the place of sunsetting the apparent width of the sun, half way up the sky. It resembled the tail of a comet except in its uniform width. But it was ten times brighter than any comet's tail I have seen. I have seen no auroras here.

You see I have nothing to write. You get the general news of the territory as soon, perhaps sooner, through the Tribune, than we get them. Were Missouri a free State, with the railroad facilities of Illinois (and why should she have fewer?) you would be nearer the news centres of Kansas at 1500 miles distance than we at 50. How does it sound to hear the steam horse snort and whistle in Remsen? It would be quite an additional inducement to go home to think of riding in the cars clear to Remsen.

>If any of you has a receipt to make ink, send it to me, and if the more rare materials, such as nutgalls, do not weigh over 1/2 or 1 oz. send them too.

Sarah sends love particularly to father and mother, and to all the rest. I join. Do not be discouraged in writing to us.


P. S. I do not remember that I have thanked you for the stamps. They were very welcome indeed. We were out, and could not then buy any here then.

If you have more than one key to Uncle Tom, we would be very glad if you could send us one. We could do good with it by lending it. They need light here on that subject.


Mar. 28, 56.

Dear Father,

Sissy's of March 4 received this week. We are very busy this week, making our cabin habitable, with new roof, a floor, windows, a door, &c. Have no time to write. Must be off early in the morning, with the carpenter, in a wagon I have borrowed, after the blind mare, and come home late evenings. I am in usual health. Sarah has had one chill since I wrote last week. Sarah joins me in love to all at home. In haste John.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Osawatomie Apr. 11, 1856

Dear Father

We received your letter containing the draft for $40.19 this week, for which we are very thankful. We are moving to day. Our house we have made pretty comfortable. But it has cost about $40, besides my own labor for nearly 3 weeks. I owe about $30 of this. We borrowed a one-horse harness and wagon to go up and back every day. My blind mare is quite servicable. She will trot along on a smooth road as well as if she had eyes. I have been getting up a club for the Tribune––20 copies on the $20 plan. I do not like to trust the money through the border ruffian mails East of us. A letter to the Tribune might be considered subject to detention and examination. Besides I will have to be dependent on you for some more money if possible. Will you send $20 to Greeley & McElrath for 20 Weekly Tribunes to be directed to B. Woodbury, Osawatomie, Kansas Ter.? If I can I will try to save out that amount till I hear from you, so that if it will be too great an inconvenience for you to spare it I will send it.

I shall not buy a wagon till I see if I can pay for it. The most encouraging thing I have to write is that my health is better than it has been in the territory or for long before I came here, excepting a severe cold I have just now. Sarah's health continues poor, but better than it has been. I am concerned to hear that Robert's health does not improve faster. I wish I were there, so I might be with him now. But I must close with love to all at home. How is your Cenhadwr list this year? The weather is quite mild here now. If we had your frequent showers grass would be abundant. As it is, there is enough for cattle to live on it. Send me a currant slip or two in a newspaper. John

[John R. Everett to His Sister, Cynthia]

Osawatomie Apr 17, 1856.

Dear Sissie

We received yours of March 27 this week. Also the four pretty little envelopes in it. Those envelopes are almost too tasty for pioneers. We have felt quite satisfied lately, if we could have an old envelope to turn and enclose a letter. [16] We are now in our own cabin. We find it very comfortable for summer. I shall have to fix it as I have time to make it warm for winter. We have a neat clapboarded door, a puncheon floor, smoother than common for such floors, a pair of stairs where they generally have a ladder, a window below, and a half window above. Our house is 13 1/2 ft. by 15 1/2 inside.

The weather has got quite mild. The trees are beginning to leave out. We would call it very dry, if we were in New York but the soil here seems used to dry weather, and remarkably retentive of moisture. We have plenty of spring water now on our claim on every side of us.

We all call ourselves well now. Sarah's health has improved wonderfully for a few days. I hope we are free from the ague now. There is less complaining of it now than at any time since last August. Franky likes his new home. "This is a pleasant house," he says. . . .

I wrote father last week, acknowledging his letter from Utica, with the draft of $40.19. Send me a few currant slips in newspapers. Cut off just last years growth. Shorten them from the end so as to get them in a paper. Also a Fastolf raspberry root, if you can. I believe Lewis or Eddy or Tommy could find a Pision of a pie plant root not weighing over two to four ounces. You could send that in a letter, perhaps with a little moss around it. A pint of apple seed came to this office in a letter last mail.

I send a little prairie flower. . . .

Longwood Place [17] Apr. 28, 1856.

My Dear Sister Sarah

The duties of the farm prevented our writing any letters to anyone last week, but I hope our folks, as they know we are in the country and consequently inconvenient to the P. 0., will feel no alarm in not hearing from us till the arrival of this.

I am sure they need not scold us for that little neglect as in other respects we have been most dutiful children, complying with their often repeated desire that we would get well, which I especially have done, as has also John to the best of his ability–– He however deemed it advisable to shake once more, which he did yesterday in his usual straight-forward manner. He had probably taken some cold as we had just had a cold rain that he had been out in a little–– I am as well as I need ever expect to be–– We are both, Little Franky also, very fleshy and should we continue to enlarge our fleshly boundaries in the same ratio as we are now doing, you will need if it is many years before we visit you, to order new and enlarged chairs and bed-stead for our accommodation, But this is not what I commenced my letter to tell you about–– I want to know in the first place before I commit myself, how many flowers have you gathered this spring? how many kinds have you seen?

If the Quakeress Sarah Ann, wife of Richard, had not called in this afternoon I would have culled a dozen or more choice prairie flowers for you a boquet and put them in this letter, perhaps you'll get them in another one of these days. Let me name some of the flowers I have seen] within a few days, first the little spring beauties such as have always greeted me in early spring in every land that has sheltered me; next, wild sweet Williams. Those two are old familiar friends. Then the violets. Three kinds I have already seen––also four kinds of grass flowers, one a beautiful little yellow star-like thing, the others different varieties of white flower grass. There is Lambtongue resembling the eastern Adder tongue, the flowers white instead of yellow like the addertongue. Indian paint is a name given to a little plant with deep yellow flowers, the juice of the root paints a bright red and is used by the Indians to paint their faces. There is another plant in blossom here which the Indians designate Spring because the juice of its pod furnishes them drink sometimes when traveling where water can not be obtained. We have plenty of Wild Cherry blossoms quite near our house, and a little flower peculiarly beautiful, the blossom of wild or sheep sorrel. Did you ever see it in Steuben? I never noticed it till I saw it on the prairies in Kansas although the leaves are perfectly familiar. The flower is a fine purplish pink and altogether quite enchanting. That I believe numbers all that I have seen, though I noticed today a cluster of buds on an Indigo plant that grows by the path leading down to our spring, were nearly bursting into bloom–– I think we shall be able to count them among our April flowers yet–– What think you of our flowery home? Come out here and I will show you our building spot and if you dont almost swoon with the overpowering beauty of the surrounding scenery––dont visit Niagara on your way back. You couldnt appreciate its sublimity–– I must close for John has come in for his supper––and tis, after seven so I presume his appetite will not relish a long delay

Yours mid flowers and sunshine
Sarah M. C. E.

Osawatomie Monday evening.

[April 28, 1856]
Dear Father

The rainy season has nearly come. This, with our distance now from the mail may make the intervals longer between the mails. Rain affects the streams here more than with you. We had an all-day rain last week, following a rain two days before, and the creek, that runs through our wood, that we generally step across, and that was sometimes dry last summer, was a rod wide. I was just starting to the village, but that stopped me effectually. If I had crossed that, I could not have crossed the Pottawatomie, for the flood carried away a fallen tree, our foot-bridge across that stream. I do not think I shall now try to buy a wagon this summer our house has cost so much; perhaps not a harness without I can see it perfectly clear for me to do so. Sarah is going to try to make a saddle. I feel very anxious about Robert.

Your affectionate son John.

P. S. I wrote two weeks ago, requesting you to send twenty dollars for twenty copies of the weekly Tribune to this place. I retained the money, hoping you could advance it for me. I feel mortified every time I think of it to have been obliged to do so. We could neither of us do any work of account for seven months, and a part of the time could not do the necessary work of the house. But we hope brighter days, are before us. We expected some chills this spring, but so far have been better than we expected–– John

Osawatomie may now boast of a printing press. It was in Kansas a week ago, and probably is now in town. [18]

Osawatomie, June [MS. illegible] 1856. [19]

Dear Father

We were disappointed in not getting our usual letter from home this week. Hope you are all well, and that our dear brother Robert is no worse. We have nothing disastrous to record of ourselves. We are in the enjoyment of our usual health. The border ruffians have been in our immediate neighborhood, but we did not know of it till two days afterward. A week to day the two companies of soldiers encamped here left for Lawrence. [20] In the afternoon of that day the border ruffians to the number of 150 came into the village of Osawatomie. They immediately commenced pillaging, stealing horses, &c. They went to the principal boarding house, where there were a great many emigrants stopping, who had not yet made homes of their own. They broke open all the trunks, took all the money they could find and all the firearms they could find in the house. They went to all the private houses, and took all their arms. They took all the horses they could find around, about 14 in all. Mrs. Mendenhall, a widow and a Quaker, had two horses at the blacksmith's shop that afternoon, but he could not shoe them, and she left about fifteen or twenty minutes before the thieves came in, and so saved her horses. This was a total surprise to the people here, but I was not at all surprised when I heard of it. The soldiers came without our request and went away just in the only time they were at all wanted. They seem to be only efficient when on the side of the Missourians. That is of a piece with the whole machinery of justice. Free state men here are treated just as negroes are at the South. They are a class devoted to oppression and persecution, and when protection is needed that protection is at a point where it is not wanted. This same band of marauders were at Prairie City (called also Palmyra or Hickory Point) the day before. There was a camp of free state men there too, determined to drive them back. At that crisis Col. Sumner appears. He commands both parties to disband. [21] The free state party obeys. The other party promise to obey, and go off in the direction of Westport in Missouri. But as soon as Col. Sumner is well gone, they commenced stealing horses, and turned their course here. There is another company of cavalry here now. Their Captain is said to be a free State man, but I do not suppose that makes any difference; he obeys orders.

Hope you will not feel alarmed about us. It seems to me if the North at all realized our situation, they would with one voice administer a rebuke to the present infamous administration, who for a short lease on the spoils of office, deliver us over as victims to the marauding Missourians, that would be felt and heeded. Look at it. Our prominent men are captured and imprisoned or driven out of the state, some murdered, others imprisoned without even knowing the crime charged against them, and the worst enemies of the actual settlers are furnished by Gov. Shannon with U. S. arms and munitions of war. Such are the actual facts.

We try to "possess our souls in patience," and hope for the best.

With love to all. John.

Please send the enclosed $2 to the Tribune for additions to B. Woodbury's list at Osawatomie. I sent $4 about 2 weeks ago to you for the same. If not received I suppose it will be their loss as I enclosed it before the P. M.

Remsen, June 11, 1856.

My dear Son

Yours and Sarah's and Franky's letter dated May 31st was received last evening––very welcome indeed–– Since the occurrence on Pottawattomie Creek which we had seen in the papers we were very much alarmed for your safety––and we are still so, as I saw last evening that about 100 armed men were preparing to come over from Westport to "Scour Southern Kansas of all Abolitionists &c", which must include your little spot–– I fear you will not be safe–– And I do not think Sarah would be safe, as she hints, to remain alone to take care of the place! Oh no, if you have to flee, you had better all come. But I hope this storm may yet in some way be averted. Take your neighbors the Quakers' position of non-resistance––calmness––and kindness to your bitterest foes,––and in the Lord's hands you will be safe.–– ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Your father Robert Everett.

Osawatomie, June 27, 1856.

Dear Father

As there is room on this sheet I use it to write a few lines. We are in the enjoyment of our usual health, and nothing evil has befallen us since we last wrote for which we should be thankful. The soldiers are still here. Our printing office was not destroyed as reported I see in the Eastern papers. It was buried in the ground and they could not find it. [22] Neither were there any houses burned as reported. When Lawrence was sacked, we heard the same account as you first got, but the subsequent accounts came correctly. So with our place. A great many rumors fly, about the same occurrence. And when they come to be printed they seem like accounts of different events. Thus all the accounts you read of disturbances on the Pottawatomie and Osawatomie have their origin in the killing of the five pro-slavery men about 8 miles from Osawatomie, [23] and the raid upon Osawatomie. That is as far as our immediate neighborhood is concerned. We hear by every one that comes in from a little distance of outrages, robberies and murders. A few days ago Mr. William] Gay the Shawnee Indian agent was shot a little way from Westport by some of Buford's South Carolinians. [24] But it is only where the odds are overwhelming and by private assassination that the slavery men get the advantage. In every open contest so far the free state party have been successful. I believe our friends have not the least idea of abandoning the contest. We feel that we are right in principle, we have a great majority of actual residents, and the heart of the North is with us. I was very sorry to see that Fillmore had lent his name to the use of the houseburners, thieves and murderers here. [25] I thought even he had too much sense and humanity left for that. I pray God he may not have many followers. If Northern men could see things as they are here, the Republican candidate would receive 99 out of every 100 votes I verily believe. I fear we shall see more troublous times yet, unless something effectual is done for us at the East. Why does not the House of Representatives initiate something bold, decided and effectual and make their weight felt as it should be.–– Remember when you read of our place in the papers that we are 2 1/2 South of Osawatomie. The centre of disturbances is North, and that way the invaders come. They might burn the town to the ground, and we not know it till next day, unless we saw the smoke over the woods that line the Pottawatomie.

It is a very great pleasure to hear from home so regularly. Hope that ours reach you safe. We have not missed a week in writing for a long time. Must close now with love to all from John.

(To be continued in May Quarterly)


1. The Kansas Historical Society is indebted to the Rev. J. E. Everett, of Brewster, N. Y., a son of John and Sarah Everett, for permission to publish these letters.
2. John R. Everett was born in North Wales, February 24, 1820, and came to this country with his parents in the spring of 1823. He was graduated in 1840 from Oneida Institute, of Whitesboro, N. Y., where he learned the printing trade. He followed this trade in his father's printing establishment until a short time before removing to Kansas.
3. Sarah M. C. Everett, was born January 23, 1830, in Edmeston, N. Y. She attended Mount Holyoke seminary for a time and taught school. She and John Everett were married July 19, 1852. Her death occurred at Corry, Pa., August 21, 1864.
4. Frank aged twenty months; Henry, six months.
5. Robert Everett's ministerial work in America was in both English and Welsh churches. In 1840 he established a Welsh magazine of religion and reform, Y Cenhadwr Americanaidd (The American Messenger), which was pledged to abolition and prohibition. He edited and published this paper, with the assistance of members of his family, until his death in 1875. His other literary work included the compilation of a Welsh hymn book. See Dictionary of American Biography (Charles Scribner's Sons, N. Y., 1931), v. VI, pp. 226-227.
6. The original plat of present Kansas City, Mo., filed in 1839, designated the settlement Town of Kansas. This was generally shortened to Kansas. The name was later changed to City of Kansas and finally to Kansas City. >
7. The Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company was incorporated in April, 1854, but organization was never completed. Operations were carried on during 1854 under the management of a board of trustees using the title Emigrant Aid Company and a new charter was secured in February, 1855, under the title New England Emigrant Aid Company. The hotel here referred to was the American House, owned by the latter company. It was a stopping place for settlers on their way to Kansas and headquarters for Free-State people.
8. For a brief sketch of Baptiste Peoria, see The Kansas Historical Collections, v. XII, p. 339, footnote.
9. The name Osawatomie was formed by combining portions of the names Osage and Pottawatomie.
10. By the terms of the treaty of May 10, 1854, the Shawnees surrendered to the United States their reserve of 1,600,000 acres and received back 200,000 acres for distribution among members of the tribe. The diminished reserve was almost entirely within Johnson county. Each Shawnee was allowed 200 acres, or land was given to groups in unPided quantity. By the terms of article 3 of the treaty, the United States agreed to pay to the tribe in consideration of the cession and sale of lands, the sum of $829,000, of which $40,000 was to be invested by the government for educational purposes, $700,000 paid in seven equal annual installments and the residue of $89,000 to be paid after the last installment.
11. See Footnote No. 5.
12. The so-called science of phrenology, which claimed a relationship between the faculties of the mind and the regions of the brain, flourished on this continent during the middle of the nineteenth century. The American Phrenological Journal was published by Fowlers & Wells of New York. The Water-Cure Journal and Herald of Reforms was another publication of this house. Water-cure, or hydropathy, was a method of treating disease by the copious use of water, both internally and externally. It was closely allied to other reform movements of the period.
13. Ague, the commonest form of malarial fever, was the enemy of early travelers and settlers in the territory. Journals and letters of the period contain frequent references to the disease which was marked by paroxysms of chills and fever occurring at intervals.
14. Richard Mendenhall came to Kansas territory from Indiana in 1846 to act as teacher for the Society of Friends at their mission in Johnson county for the Shawnee Indians. Sarah A. Nixon had come to the mission at the same time as matron. She and Richard Mendenhall were married in 1849 and returned to Indiana the following year. They came again to the mission in 1854, remaining about a year. In the fall of 1855 they removed to a claim about two and one half miles southwest of Osawatomie.
15. Orville C. Brown's connection with Osawatomie actually persisted for several years. Brown with William Ward of New York and Samuel Pomeroy, the latter acting for the England Emigrant Aid Company, was one of the original proprietors of Osawatomie. For a brief statement of the difficulties marking the early history of the town, see Russell Hickman, "Speculative Activities of the Emigrant Aid Company," The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. IV, p. 258.
16. Many of the envelopes in which these letters were mailed from Kansas had closed letters from members of the family to John and Sarah Everett, and were in made to serve a second time by turning.
17. John and Sarah Everett gave this name to their Kansas farm home.
18. A small outfit for publishing a paper was brought to Osawatomie in the spring of 1856 by Oscar V. Dayton and Alexander Gardner. During the border troubles, the materials were hidden to save them from demolition.
19. Contents of the letter indicate that it was written on June 14.
20. Maj. John Sedgwick, with a company of dragoons, had just left for Fort Leavenworth.
21. Governor Shannon had issued a proclamation on June 4 commanding persons belonging to military companies unauthorized by law to disperse. Sumner was here enforcing the order.
22. See Footnote No. 18.
23. James P. Doyle and his two sons, William Sherman and Allen Wilkinson, were murdered on the night of May 24 by a Free-State party led by John Brown.
24. A company of armed Southerners under Maj. Jefferson Buford, of Eufaula, Ala., arrived in the territory in the spring of 1856. They participated in the sack of Lawrence, and before their gradual departure engaged in various lawless activities.
25. Millard Fillmore was nominated for President on the ticket of the American or "Know-Nothing" party in 1856. The party platform included upholding of the fugitive slave law.