1832: Jacob Simmons to Lucretia (Walker) Canfield

Grave marker of Lucretia (Walker) Canfield

This letter was written by Jacob Simmons (1789-1834) from his home in Springville, Erie Co., New York. It was addressed to Ezra Canfield (1786-1846) but Jacob directed his message to Ezra’s wife, Lucretia (Walker) Canfield (1791-1856). The contents clearly indicate that Jacob has previously lost his wife, the former Charlotte Canfield (1793-1827), and has placed his children with relatives or hired others to board them. Apparently one of his daughters, Harriet Simmons, has been staying with her Uncle Ezra and Aunt Lucretia in Ellicottville, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y., which is about 20 miles from Springville.

Very little genealogical information exists for the Simmons family. My research has not turned up the parents of Jacob Simmons. I did learn that he was born in Salisbury, Litchfield Co., Connecticut in 1789 and that he married Charlotte Canfield on 15 October 1814. From this letter we learn that there were at least four children (2 boys & 2 girls) born to Jacob and Charlotte Simmons: Richard, Cyrenius, Harriet, and Lucema.

Subsequent research reveals that Cyrenius Canfield Simmons was born on 9 March 1819 in Black Rock (now prt of Buffalo), New York. His biography says that around 1820 the Simmons family moved from Buffalo to Ellicottsville, and then around 1825 to Springville. Jacob Simmons and others are credited with building the first academy building in Springville. After his father died in 1834, Cyrenius went to live with relatives in Batavia, New York. He went to have a successful career as a lawyer and public servant in St. Louis, Missouri.

[Editor’s Note: I have transcribed this letter by correcting the spelling and adding punctuation to make it easier for the reader to comprehend what Jacob is trying to communicate. When you study the actual letter below, you’ll understand why this was necessary.]

Stampless Cover

Letter, Simmons to Canfield


Springville, New York
May 14, 1832

Mrs. L. Canfield,

I received your letter on Saturday last informing me that your health was not good which I was sorry to hear. You wished me to take Lucema home. I have engaged a place at Truman White’s for Harriet and Lucema for six shillings per week this summer. I have no housekeeper at present. Mrs. Samson left my house before I returned home from your house. Polly Ranelle kept house for me till last week. She is now gone to Fredonia to live. I shall be obliged to break up housekeeping — how long I can’t say.

This week I shall go to Boston [Erie Co., New York] to work. The better part of next week, I shall be at home. You may then send her home as I shall be at home to care for her. My children have good places [to live] except Richard and Cyrenius. Cyrenius has got over his lameness. I then send him and Richard to Batavia. I shall write to you.

As ever, — J. Simmons

  • Truman White settled in Concord, Erie County, New York around 1810. His residence was south of the village on Cattaraugus creek. Truman’s grandson and namesake was the judge who presided over the trial of Leon Czolgosz in the assassination of President McKinley.

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