1849: Joshua Munson Beach to Charles Beach

This letter was written by Joshua Munson Beach (1806-1894) to his brother, Charles Beach (1801-18xx). They were the sons of Job Allen Beach (1780-1849) and Susannah Hathaway (1782-1822). Also mentioned in the letter is their sister, Eunice (Beach) Conger (1803-1864), who lost her husband Enoch Conger in June 1849, their younger brother Milton Beach (b. 1808), and sisters Jane and Lovina Beach.

In the letter, Joshua mentions the cholera epidemic that killed at least 6 percent of the population in St. Louis during the summer of 1849. The cholera inflicted its worst in late July with a weekly toll of 640, seven times the city’s normal death rate. The July 18, 1849, Missouri Republican newspaper noted 88 burials that day alone.

Stampless Cover

Top of Letter

Bottom of Letter


Addressed to Mr. Charles Beach, Rockville, Parke County, Indiana

Spring Creek, Sangamon County, Illinois
July 1, 1849

Dear Brother & Family,

Having neglected so long to write, I am almost ashamed at this late hour to make a commencement. I should have wrote a month ago, but Benjamin Beach wrote a letter which informed you of the death of Father, or would have done so — if he had sent it, but on some account he did not send it and therefore it has been omitted until the present time. He died on the 17th day of April after an illness of about a week.

I received a letter from Eunice Conger last week which announces the death of her husband who died on the 9th of June. He was confined to his bed 8 days. He started with a part of her family on a visit to see all his relatives and to recruit his health and traveled as far as his son-in-laws and saw his old neighbors for the last time. Eunice talks of coming down here on a visit shortly. Talks of going to see Jane, Lovena and perhaps will be at your house before returning. The family were all well when the letter left.

We are all well here and the health of the country around is in general good — but one case of cholera in town that I know of. In St. Louis, it is awful. As high as 130 have died in one day but I suppose you know all about that by the news of the day. I have but little more to say.

Our spring has been cool and backward. Corn is 20 days behind the times, but the weather is hot and showers every day, and the corn grows 2 inches per day. Most of the wheat crops are light although some pieces very good.

I received a letter from Milton in March, I think — or about that time — stating that he was coming to this country and was to have been here in April last. He wrote that he had traded his house and lot for a farm in Montgomery County, south of this 60 miles. I have not see or heard of him since. If you know his whereabouts, I wish you would inform me. — J. M. Beach


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