This letter was written by Daniel Underhill (1797-1869), the son of William Underhill (1773-1840) and an unknown spouse (1780-1821). Two of Daniel’s five siblings are mentioned in this letter, both having died previously: John Underhill and William Underhill. Daniel’s first wife was Winnefred Ball but she died in Kosciusko County, Indiana in January 1840 as did his eldest daughter, Eleanor Underhill, later that same year at the age of 21. The five children that accompanied their father to Iowa in October 1845 included John, Sylvester, Rose Ann, Daniel, and Caroline Underhill. Daniel’s second wife was named Agnes (the “Scotch woman”) whom he married in November 1847.
After the death of his first wife, Daniel’s father took Ruth Mathers as his second wife and had at least eight more children, all born in Indiana. The letter is addressed to Nancy Underhill (b. 1824), Daniel’s half-sister. She married a man whose last name was Shepley but he died young and left Nancy a widow before she was 25 years old.
[Addressed to Miss Nancy Underhill, Blackford County, Indiana]
Polk County, Iowa
July 28th 1853
Dear Mother, Brothers & Sisters all –
I take the present oppertunity of writing a few lines to you to let you know that we are all well as common at present, thanks be to the alwise disposer of events hopeing that thos few lines may find you all well.
Now as to news, I have none at this time. Times in this country are mutch as common = We hav had a verry long cold winter and a cold wet spring. Tho, after the weather became warme the season has ben as good as I ever have seean and our crops are very likely at this time and I think – if the season continue as good as it is now – that we will have the best corn crops that has been since I came out here and wheat crops look tolerable well and everything appears in a tolerable prosperous condition. Helth is good generally = and markets are mutch as common &c.
Now I can inform you that I rec’d your letter of the 12 of June last, on the 7 of this, inst. which was a greate satisfaction to me to hear that you ware well. It had been so long since I have seean you or heard from you that I had forgotten the names of part of the children. Now sister, I want you to write to me and give me the names and ages of all the children that is living and where they are and where Mother is living and how you are all geting along. And whether any of you live on the old place or not, or whare you do al live and what is going on among you &c.
Well you wanted to know something about what I am doing. So in answer to that, I can say that I am improving a farme which I commenced two years ago last winter but I am not geting along very fast. I am too poor to imploy hands to work and that makes work go off very slow tho I have a farme that I can make my living on and am still improveing a little.
Now you wanted to know whare my Brothers and Sisters all ware. Well, as to that, I can not say mutch, tho as far as I know they are all in Indiana yet that are living. John and William are both ded tho I expect you have heard of there deth long ago.
Now I will tell you some of my troubles. I sold goods in Indiana untill I broke myself up by loss of my first wife and bad management. And after my wife died, my eldest daughter died in the same year. That left me with five children, so in October of ’45, me and my five children came to Iowa very poor. And sense that, 4 of my children have married – two girls and two boys – and I my self married a Scotch woman that was married in Scotland and hir and hir husband came to America and he died in Iowa and left hir with two little boys. So hir and me ware maried in November in ’47 and sence that time we have 4 children born – two boys and two girls – which makes our famley to the No. of 9 now. This is a short sketch. But at some future time I will give you a more full account. So I must conclude for the present. Please excuse me for the presant. So I remain your affectionate Brother untill deth.
Daniel Underhill & family
Pleas to write soon and let me know all you can.