1829: Kezia Shepherd to Elisabeth (Paul) Shepherd

This letter was offered at auction on e-Bay in April 2011. I transcribed it directly from the internet.

The letter was written by Kezia Shepherd of Red Oak, Brown County, Ohio in 1829 when she was 17 years old. Kezia was born 5 March 1812, the daughter of Jacob Shepherd (1780-1868) and his second wife Nancy Yamston. Kezia died 3 September 1873. The recipient of the letter was her sister-in-law, Elisabeth (Paul) Shepherd who had married Kezia’s half-brother, Smiley Shepherd on 9 April 1829 in Adams County, Ohio — some six months before this letter. After the marriage, Smiley took his wife to Tazewell County, Illinois, where he had settled the previous year. Later they resided in Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois.

Other members of the family mentioned by Keziah include her siblings Isaac N. Shepherd (b. 1809) and Sarah Shepherd (1814-1835) who visited an Aunt in Kentucky. Nelson Shepherd (1804-1888), Smiley’s full brother and another Tazewell County early-resident, is also mentioned.


Elisabeth Shepherd [and Smiley Shepperd]
Point Pleasant
Tazewell County, Illinois

October 3, 1829

Dear sister. It is with great pleasure and satisfaction I teake the presant oportunity of sending you a few scrapes of my pen to let you know that I have not all together forgotten you. We are all by the blessing a kind providence in good health all the friends and neighbors as far as know enjoying the same blessing. Mother has not been able to go about all this summer scarcely with a beating in her head but she has got better.

Isaac Shepherd and Sarah has just returned from a visit in Kentucky to see our aunt McClannle but they have moved to Indiana about a year ago. Aunt has another daughter and unkle Sill continues to take as much grog as ever.

John Wills and Polly Devore was married the first of September. Tell Nelson that Wilson Campbell and Sarah Ann Porter is married and Mr. Blancherd and Betsy Collins also. It is expected that George Southerland and Polly Shepherd will be married very soon.

There has been so many writing that they have not left me any news. I wish you to write to me and let me know how you are satisfied, how you like the people, country, and everything else and whether you think you will ever come to see us again.

Tell Smiley to write to me. I would have wrote to him but I had not time. No more at preasant but remain your friend, — Kezia Shepherd


Taken From the Marshall County Republican, February 6, 1868
Smiley Shepherd said: “I settled where I now live in 1828 and during that year traversed all the country between the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers and I saw but very few whites. I was at Chicago and was offered a good whaler claim on 160 acres where the city now stands for $250 dollars. The only whites living in Chicago at that time was John Kinzie and family, Mr. Clayburn and family on the north branch, Alexander Wolcott, Indian agent; John Baptist Beanbien, Indian trader; Billie Caldwell, head chief of the Pottowatomies and Ottawas, an educated half-breed Indian; George W. Dole Robinson, a Canadian and chief of a band of Pottowatomies. In 1828, I told some of my friends in Ohio that I thought that we would have steam boats running on the Illinois river, but they laughed at me. In 1830 I saw the first steam boat on the river and think we had six that summer. Religious meetings had been held regularly since I have been in the country. I made the first coffin made for a white person in Putnam county. It was for the son of Aaron Whitaker’s.”

HISTORY of PUTNAM COUNTY from its EARLIEST SETTLEMENT to the YEAR 1876 by Rev. H. V. Warren

In addition to the traders mentioned, permanent settlers had located in the vicinity of Hennepin as early as 1828, in which year Smiley Shepherd arrived, and a year later brought his wife, who was the first white woman to set foot on Hennepin Prairie, which she did, June 1829. Their son, Augustus Shepherd, was born February 7, 1830, being the first white child born in Hennepin Township.

Others mentioned in the letter include:

Polly Devore, born 17 February 1801, was married to John Wills on 12 September 1829. She was the daughter of David Devore and Alice Mann of Red Oak, Ohio.

William Wilson Campbell, born in 1806, married Sarah Ann Porter on 20 August 1829 in Brown County, Ohio.

George Southerland, born in 1800, married Polly Shepherd on 13 October 1829 in Brown County, Ohio.

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