This letter was written by Henry Pence (1768-1844) to his brother John Pence (1774-1841). They were two sons of at least 18 children born between 1766 and 1791 by German immigrants Henry Pence (1739-1824) and Mary Magdalene Blimly (1749-1824) of Mad River Township, Champaign County, Ohio. Also mentioned in the letter is another brother named Isaac Pence (1784-1854) who lived in Washington County, Iowa.
Henry Pence was born 4 September 1768 probably in Frederick County, Va. He died 11 August 1844 in Champaign County, OH and was buried there in Nettle Creek Cemetery, Mad River Twp. He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Koontz on 2 Jan. 1788 in Shenandoah County, Va. She was the daughter of Elder John and Elizabeth (Baker) Koontz. Elizabeth was born about 1767-1770 and died after 1797 and before 1803 in Shenandoah County. Henry married second, Eve Snyder on 5 July 1803 in Shenandoah County. She was born 30 April 1779 and died 7 Dec. 1861 in Mad River Twp. and was buried in Nettle Creek Cemetery. She was the daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth Snyder.
John Pence resided in Oquawka, Illinois, in 1841 — a frontier village on the Mississippi River some 20 miles north of Burlington, Iowa. Until 1841, it was part of Warren County, but is now in Henderson County, Illinois. He was born in the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia, and during the greater part of his life followed farming, but at different times was interested in other business enterprises, including that of milling in Bartholomew County, Indiana. In 1827 he emigrated westward to Illinois, locating near Rock Island, where he lived in a bark house for a year. In 1828 he came to Henderson County and purchased a farm three and a-half miles northeast of Oquawka, on the Henderson River, where he carried on agricultural pursuits for thirteen years, his death occurring in 1841. He had married Mrs. Elizabeth (Heaton) Record, and to them were born three sons and two daughters: Andrew J., who died in California in 1854; John A.; William H.; Caroline, wife of George Shores, of Swan Creek, Ill.; and Charlotte, wife of John Madden, a Government employee located in San Francisco, CA.
During the Black Hawk War in 1831, John Pence and others built a fort upon his land that became known as Fort Pence in which early settlers in the area took refuge from the hostile Indians.
Addressed to Mr. John Pence, Oquawka, Warren County [now Henderson], Illinois
Champaign County, Ohio
March 28, 1841
As I had a convenient opportunity of again sending you a few lines, I embrace the opportunity of informing you that we are all well at present and hoping these few lines may find you enjoying the same, and that our connections and friends in this settlement are well as far as I know and for which we cannot be too thankful. The enjoyment of health be prized above all Earthly blessings. As brothers, we used to enjoy the company of each other and from which we are cut off except by the letter, which is a great cut off. I should be glad. I should be extremely happy if you would take it upon yourself to come and see me once more. I am too old to come and see you. I expect you are becoming more frail and do not travel as convenient as you used to do. You wrote to me that you was destitute of sound Gospel preaching. I would like to hear from you how you are coming on now, whether you have any yet, and how many churches in your reach, and whether there is any prospect apparently of an increase in the church, and whether yo are built up strong in the faith. If so, what a blessing. Nothing can compare with this to have a hope beyond the grave. If it is a living hope, all is well to leave a troublesome world and go home to rest. What a happy change it will be. It cannot be explained in full. It is beyond man’s reach. But whilst we are here, we must expect doubt and fears, trials and troubles, and well will it be said these are they which have come up through great tribulation. I wish you would write to me ho brother Isaac is coming on and where he lives. And send my love to him and for him to write to me. And give my respects to all my connections and enquiring friends, — Henry Pence