Following are letters written by my Great Great Grandfather Gideon Noble Lewis to his mother (Sally Ann Lennon Lewis) and brother (Charles L. Lewis). My grandfather, Karl Sobieski Putnam had these letters in his possession and gave them to my mother. Recently she gave them to me to keep. I have tried to transcribe them word for word below. Some of them were in envelopes, others just loose. There are only a few instances where I could not read the word written. Iíve tried to interpret the word but have enclosed it in brackets [ ].
Sally Ann Lennon (1808-?) is the daughter of Daniel Lennon (July 18, 1783-October 27, 1874) and Elizabeth Noble (1786-March 25, 1870). She married Truman Lewis (1806-before 1855) in Acra, Greene County. Truman was the son of Truman Lewis (March 24, 1774-April 12, 1824) and Polly Olmsted (1779-April 16, 1837). The family moved to Sidney, Delaware County before 1850, and then on to Saybrook, Ashtabula County, Ohio. Gideon was born 1835 and died October 23, 1871. Charles, his brother, was born 1844.
Contributed by Sylvia Harper Nelson, October 23, 2000
Envelope addressed to Mr. Charles L. Lewis, East Durham, Green Co., N.Y. (Postmarked Saybrook, Ohio, May 7 - 3 cent stamp)
Saybrook Rainy Day May 7th 1863
Your letter was received day before yesterday, and I will try and answer to stop all grievances about my not answering letters.
You seem somewhat over anxious about having our Babyís name changed to Carrie. Now for the life of me I can see no more beauty in Carrie than I can in Hetty, but maybe there is a Carrie in East Durham that makes the name appear more beautiful to you than it can to me, but with all due regard for your feelings and differences we can not consistently change Hetty for Carrie.
You seem to think it a great misdemeanor for me to let a letter remain unanswered for a year and I must plead guilty and have only the one plea of want of time to put in for my justification. But I canít help but think the injunction from you comes with greatly diminished force when you acknowledge you have several letters remaining to be answered which have been due quite as long as my letter to Aunt [Vi or &] finally I would say, "Physician heal thyself."
The community have been much afflicted here this winter by sickness. Nearly forty have been buried in the Township within the winter months, of those you would be likely to know there is Uncle Daniel Hayes, Mr. Jeffyrs, Fernando Smiths Grandfather and Chas [Walthers/Walkers/Walters] wife, [Morry] Jenks, Margaretís Father is very sick with the [saure] fever now and the chances are against his recovery.
Hiram Waymire is better but is not nearly as well as when you knew him. He is merely lingering with the Consumption to die. What kind of a badge do you call that on your coat Butternut or Union S. A. Y.
We have organized a Union League in this town and are going to have every man who is for the union unconditionally join. We have now over fifty without any special efforts and will probably reach 150 members soon.
The Spring is very backward, the pastures do not supply much feed yet. Hay is $10 Corn 40.c Oats 56 c. wheat 12/ Potatoes 6/-. Dry Goods too high to talk about at all.
We are now enjoying a north east storm which has been raging for two days with no prospect of abating but we have had but little rain for the time it has been coming.
Peach Trees are not yet in bloom but one or two warm days will bring the blossoms out. Apples are hardly started. Wheat generally looks well. I have planted an orchard of Peaches this Spring. All budded trees and in two or three years I would like to have all my Friends come and each peaches with me. Wonít you come, I bought me a horse this Spring and I am well suited with it. Come out and I will show her to you for a quarter. I can not reconcile myself with the way that Fatherís property has been settled, for I know that after all debts had been paid there must have been a balance in favor of the property for the personal property was appraised at enough to pay for the debts but since his death things have been growing worse and worse very fast. Write me what you think of the way it has been settled.
I never should have signed the Deed had not Mother been so anxious to be rid of her responsibility and even now I think I have done wrong in not making things more apparent. They all seemed to think I was mean in not signing so I thought if Mother was so bent on being cheated out of all her property I would stand in the way no longer. I will answer Aunts letter soon as I can.
Give my best respects to all the Friends and believe me as ever. Yours Truly
G. N. Lewis
Saybrook Feb 23rd/64
Dear Brother Charlie
Your letter came to hand in due time and I now hasten to answer. We have been well all winter. Never have we all been in so good health a winter before. The winter has been open and warm except two cold snaps, one commenced New Years and continued one week. The other commenced Feb 15 and continued four days. We have had very little sleighing thus far and shall probably get but little this winter.
I can not tell you what wages will be here as there has been no talk yet about hands. They are paying one dollar per cord for cutting R R wood and 1% per day for other work but there is no one at work by the month that I know of. The best way to make wages is to buy timbered land and cut the timber of which will nearly always pay for land and all . Lumber is very high as well as wood. Wood brings $3 on the track. Mother writes me to advise her about her future course. I know hardly what to advise. She wants to take a Dairy farm stocked. I know of no such around here and I do not think it the best for her to try to manage a farm. I should rather say go out to a small piece of land of her own and make a living rather than take large Farms on shares. This has been my experience anyway. I would be glad to have you all come out here and find a house in this place if in so doing it would suit you. I think you can find plenty to do and good pay if you will only come along.
My greatest fears are that mother will get homesick and feel as if she was far away from home. If she can make this place seem like home nothing would please me better than her and your company. I write this to you and Frank individually.
I am cutting R. R. wood have about fifty cords cut have got in some logs to the mill too. Margaret says she is going into the business making segars [sic] so I must needs smoke. My tobacco crop this year was good so I think she ought to make good segars[sic]. George shot one deer but I guess he did not get a chance at any of the Dears at least I have not heard of any of them being wounded. Geo and Jo each one got one. Joe a doe and George a buck. The snow went off so soon they had no chance to kill more than they did but they are plenty in Pennsylvania where they went. I am glad they have the business settled with Grandfathers, but Mother says now she is in more trouble than ever, she has four hundred dollars and she donít know where to put it and have it safe. Well the perplexity must be great.
There are plenty of places around here that might be bought if Mother wishes to invest her money in Real Estate. I have not answered her last letter yet but shall do it soon but how I shall write I cannot tell. She always asks my advice and then does contrary to what I advise. Maybe that is nearer right than I advise I canít tell. If she wanted a dairy farm why did she not keep the old place. It was as good as any but I make all allowances for age nervousness. I expect we of Saybrook will have a draft about the tenth of next month which if it does not draw a blister will draw out quite a [hu___]. We have to raise twenty two and that takes every tenth man liable to the draft, which will be putting on the mustard rather thick. But I say take all the men they can use and end up this infernal Rebellion with a snap to it, such a snap as will stretch Jeffís neck together with his whole crew. I sent to New York to John. H. John [store or stone] and bought me a Gold Pen which I call good. John Burke has bought Dan Shermans store and they are now moving it to the Depot - Stephen and George Massinghams have been in Poughkeepsie to the Commercial College. George was sick and came home but Steve is there yet. Robert Wilkinson enlisted in the 14th Ohio Battery and was killed in the battle of Chickamauga. Thomas Wilkinson also enlisted and died in Nashville of Dysentery. Many of the boys have reenlisted and are home on their furloughs but they will soon be off again to the wars. I have a very fine young Peach orchard started. Come and help me eat the peaches. Write soon. Your Brother, Gideon
Byron [Lembire] is married. Morrison is postmaster and they are having lots of trouble with him. They spoil his ______________ ______ and pull things around finally.
Charlie is almost big enough to go hunting with you. He often goes with George and he makes great reckoning on going with you when you shall come out and see him.
Saybrook Aug 20th 1864
We received your letter last Monday and I now take the first opportunity to write you in reply. You seem to have some very harassing thoughts about the draft. I would be as glad as any one to have this war ended but I think there may be worse things even than war if there should be a peace negotiated which would dishonor us as a nation in our own eyes and make us feel the loss of all national honor. How soon would we relapse into the imbecile state of Spain. But such a thing is impossible. The people of these United States are bound that the Rebellion shall be crushed out, no party can long live which advocates a dishonorable peace, they be a "hissing and a byeword." and they would soon stink in their own nostrils.
When we undertake to weigh the sacrifices and toils which we are called to pass through (and they are great) with the rights of humanity and prosperity of this nation and the progress of civilization in all the world how little sense the sacrifice which we are making. The world looks to us for the consummation of all its dreams of liberty and must we cause the millions to cast away all hope at once, nay verily. When I look at this contest in the light of the Scriptures I can see that God was angry with us as a nation on account of the inequity in our midst. I donít think we were alone guilty because of Slavery, but many were our sins in a national sense. We were a covetous people and with our better advantages we were more guilty than many more ignorant nations. The Scriptures say of the servant who knew his lordís will and did it not "he shall be beaten with many strikes."
What is more astonishing to me than anything else at the present time is that certain dough Faus[sic] advocate the policy of allowing the sordid States to come back with all their Slavery even if it were practicable the thing would be an insult to the feelings of the north which would cause an outburst of indignation such as no one ever saw. The people of the Northern States have had their feelings so sorely tried with this rebellion to allow the states to retain the very thing that caused the rebellion. The Religion of the land is all arrayed in hostility to the [p_____] institution and when the feelings of community are so aroused it is not in the nature of things to pacify it by a mere toy, there must be a substantial guarantee. Daniel Webster says such feelings are not to be trifled with.
Our Township quota is thirty one thus far we have enlisted only two but I think we will be able to enlist nearly if not quite the full amount. We are prepared to pay $300, Township bounty which with all other pay make quite a respectable sum for a volunteer. Other towns around here have their quota nearly full. There is a great many putting in individual substitutes. F. H. Lewis has one in the field he paid $200 and I think many others will put them in if we can manage to pay them the township bounty. If I am drafted I see no other way only to go and try my luck for the year.
We are getting a soaking rain now it commenced last night and rained about twenty hours steady and now it rains considerably. I think our drought is broken up and we shall have a good time to sow wheat. The wheat crop around here is not yielding as well as many calculated only from four to eight bushels per acre. Wheat must be high for the year to come.
Friends are all well. Our Family is smart Hetty is getting quite well again. Give my respects to all inquiring friends.
I can not think of any more at present, hand this to Charley and Frank and all there. I will write them soon.
Yours truly, G. N. Lewis
If you have any peaches will you buy us a bushel of dried ones and send them to us and send your bill we have none here this year. Apples are a good crop. Write soon and let us know whether you are coming out here or not this winter if Frank and Charley are intending to go to school this winter they would find a good place here. We have an excellent school with a good teacher so if they wish to go send them out. Plenty of rain now too wet to plow or sow. Write soon. We have our quota nearly full so nearly we shall have no draft to speak of not more than two and not them if we can find the men who will fo for five hundred dollars.
I will write Charley and Frank in a few days.
Good bye, G. N. Lewis
Envelope addressed to Charles L. Lewis, East Durham, New York (postmarked Saybrook Ohio Sep 7. - 3 cent stamp)
Saybrook Sept. 6th 1864
Dear Brother Charlie
Your writing by the way of Mothers letter was thankfully received and we were glad to get some tidings of you. You claim a balance due you on former letters. This I can hardly allow for when I write a letter generally I write to you all about alike a bit to one and then a bit to another so I canít see but what I use you all alike.
But really I canít find opportunity to write half as often as I would like. My other duties keep me very busily engaged and seldom to I have a leisure evening like the present. Without any further preliminary remarks I will open the battle.
We have been very healthy for the past year with the exception of Hetty the youngest. She has had two severe attacks of sickness but is now nearly recovered from both. The Boys are tough and rugged and the way they learn is a caution to all Empire State younguns. Charley has finished his first reader and will begin his second in this his first-term of school and Jon has nearly done his first. Donít you call that well enough for such as they.
The last call for men is upon us and the draft for this District is to take place today unless postponed and we have heard of nothing to that effect. In this Dist the officers have had more men to enlist than they could muster in so I think they will hold off with the draft. Our quota was thirty one and we have nearly if not quite filled it up. We have paid about five hundred dollars bounty per man which takes off the money some. The Township has raised one hundred dollars per man and the balance has been met by private subscriptions. Last night our subscription amounted to about eighty four hundred dollars which is no small sum to raise in about a week. The Copperheads lay hold and lift like Bull Dogs. They see now they must either fish or cut bait and they choose to shell out. There is about two of that strips liable to a draft in this Town to one of the other so they have the fun of doing something for their Country. Quite a number of the Chivalry Skedaddled before there was any thing done to clear the Town from a draft. One of them is down in Delhi now or in that security. If Tar was not so dear I wish they would put a bit on the end of his nose as they do sheep and for the same purpose vis to keep the flies away. The man is Lewis E. Corbin Esq all of Saybrook Ohio & Copperhead at that. Several others found they had urgent business all at once in some of the Western States and some even found they had Friends in Canada whom they could see by crossing a very narrow sea and away they went but somehow as soon as the fact was fully established that we were to have no draft all found they liked Saybrook the best of any place in all the world and thus ended the Skedaddle.
Politically we are in a little rough weather just now. The [F___out] party will poll quite a number of votes in Ohio but not enough to throw the election into the hands of Little Mac.
The Wade & Davis letter has had no other effect here only to kill Wade deader politically than any many in the United States thatís all of that. So far as I know old Abe stands head and Shoulders ahead of any candidate in these parts and with a blow or two more like Atlanta will be so far ahead that the rest will be nowhere.
I do wish you would come you here and stay this winter if no longer. Try and get Mother started. We have a house, room to spare even if she should come so she need not fear of crowding us out.
I have not time to write more so I must stop and go to bed as I am to thresh tomorrow.
Good night, G. N. Lewis
Envelope addressed to Sally Ann Lewis, Cairo, Green County, N.Y. (Postmarked Saybrook Ohio Sep. 7 - 3 cent stamp) - (No letter inside)
(No envelope) Dec 5th/64
Dear Brother Charlie,
George wrote this letter in part a great while ago and left it for me to finish and send off but the time has been so well filled up with the varius duties of life that I have never had the time to finish and send it till now. I have just finished husking and am nearly done with my summers work, have a few stalks to haul and then I can say the harvest is home. The fall has been very wet since the first of Sept. so it was almost impossible to get a good time to dig potatoes but they are mostly dug, and corn is well along with the husking. I never knew such a call for work as there is at present. Ordinary day laborers are getting two dollars and scarce at that and I see no possibility of wages being lower until some are released from the Army and I hope it may soon be that those now fighting in defense of our country may lay aside the weapons of war and take again the instruments of Peace and cultivate all the blessings of Peace and prosperity but may this never be until Rebels lay down their arms crying enough.
Georgeís Hurrah for Little Mac is a little ill timed at present, but, things will turn out so sometimes in the best of Familys. Hiram Waymire is dead, died in the Spring. I would like to take a trip with you to the mountain house some summers day but donít see how I can just now under the circumstances conveniently. The young folks around here have all married and settled down and gone to raising Soldiers and are having remarkable good luck. Lydia has married Gary and they have a Soldier Boy born with arms. Hopkins married Lib Walker and they have one also. Harvey Miller & wife have two and his wife is lying very low with consumption and a lot of others whom I have not seen to tell.
Addison Brockett has sold out and is going west in the spring and I shall sell if I get a chance and go too. Write me soon and let me know if you are coming out here this winter and all the news.
Love to all. G. N. Lewis
On the back of the above letter (or the front) is the following letter:
Monday morning Oct 17th/64
Dear Friend. One line to let you know that we are all well hoping this may find you the same. I have heard that you was drafted into the malitia [sic] & that you had to train last week. How do you like the service & are you coming out here this fall. Let me know what is going on down there. I have not been a hunting for two weeks. There has been lots of pidgeons [sic] out here two or three weeks ago but they have all left now but there is a good many squirrels down in the north woods & I would like to have you come and help me to kill some of them. There is lots of work to do out here. They pay $1.00 per cord for chopping wood and every thing is proposition but there is nobody to do it. I must stop. I would write more but I have run out of words so good bye. Write immediately.
Hurrah for little mack
Envelope addressed to Charles L. Lewis, Cairo, Green Co., N.Y. (Postmarked Ashtabula O. Feb. 5 - 3 cent stamp)
Saybrook Feb 5/70
Dear Mother & Brother
Yours came to hand in due season. We are usually well. We have a boy two weeks old Thursday.
Margaret is getting along smart. We have had about one week of good sleighing with only about three inches snow. The ground is frozen so it makes good going in the woods. If Uncle Walker wants some flour I can get him a good article of white wheat for about $7 per bbl Red for $6.25, or I can buy the wheat and have it floured. Will do either at a moderate commission.
Hiram Lewis is here. He came back three weeks ago has not been down yet. Clark Brockett has come from Kansas for Bell and they are going to marry soon.
I delivered your companion business to John.
The friends are all well as usual. Except Joseph. He had the measles and then took cold and then last I heard was likely to have run of Typhoid Fever it will give him a good shaking if it gets hold of him good.
I canít spend time to write any more at present. Answer soon.
Yours, G. W. Lewis
If Uncle Walker wants flour now is the time to buy in my opinion.
When are you coming back. All the folks are asking me and I wish to tell them. Give my specks to all.
Home Table of Contents Letters from the Past Home Page