When we last saw Mary Bassett, she was settling the affairs of her first husband, Asahel Platt with the help of her new husband, Jesse Morgan. My 2nd great-grandmother, she had married a much-older Mr. Platt when she was only nineteen, hoping for stability after her mother died. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way she had hoped, and he died just a few years after they married. Read Mary’s story here.
What is the Question?
Family letters that Mary and her daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand daughter saved, are helping me learn more about Mary and particularly about her somewhat elusive second husband, Jesse Morgan. One of my quests is to figure out why Jesse Morgan wound up in the little town of Killbuck, Ohio.
I had long assumed that Jesse was born in New York because of this letter that he received addressed to New York. But he probably was born in eastern Pennsylvania, where his father, Jesse Sr. moved from Connecticut. However, after the Jesse that became my 2nd great grandfather married his first wife, they moved to New York, because two daughters, and possibly two earlier sons were born there. In 1935 when he received the letter, he had a three-month-old daughter, plus the older children, but he moved the family to Killbuck before 1938 when his third son was born. His wife died,probably when that child was born.
The evidence is fairly strong that the letter he received in 1935 was influential in convincing him to move. He probably was a private school teacher, and might have wound up in Killbuck because there was a need for a teacher.
What to Look For in the Letter
- Aaron’s focus on the value of farm produce,
- a lot of family gossip–which is invaluable to the family researcher,
- a revealing couple of paragraphs pointing out the strong prejudices against German immigrants in the early 19th century. (I wrote about that anti-immigrant feeling in the late 18th century here.)
- His sales pitch to Jesse to come to Ohio, appealing to the sense of adventure and novelty.
Note: As with the previous letter I shared, I have added paragraphs and punctuation. However, I have left Aaron Purdy’s very original spelling alone.
July 21st 1835
Folded with Address on the outside; from Clark’s Ohio
Mr. Jessee Morgan
To: Volucia,Chautauqua Co., New York
Dear uncle I take this opertunity to inform you that we are all well at present and hope that these few lines will find you enjoying the same. I have just been perusing the last leter we had from you dated the 3rd of July 1833. We have not had any letter from you since but I think that father has wrote once since he received it. We hear from you by some one that moved from there and we only believe that you are still alive.
We just received a leter from Matilda [Morgan Howard] which was bad news to us. She writes that her oldest dauter is dead and the rest of them has been very sick. Towner Savage [Aaron Purdy’s borther in law] has had two shocks of the palsy [strokes] and is not able to do any hard laborer. We expect them here next summer. [Matilda and Towner Savage live in Oregon Territory] We have such bad news of the western country I think that we will be satisfied whare we are. I am now akeeping a store of my own on Dowdys fork, Mechanick[Mechanic] Township, homes county[ Holmes County, Ohio] I commenced the 18th of April. God only knows how I shal get along. I am aselling goods very fast.
(back of first page)
Wheat has been a beter price this Spring than it was even more before from 100 to 100.20
on the ___________ (?) which is not very far from us. Every thing that we have to sell we can get the cash for it and thare is no lack of it neither – corn 50c oats 31c and 37c. Some of our ole neibours were back to Pensylvania this Spring and it does us good to hear that old town says that we can raise wheat here and send it thare cheaper than they can aford to raise it thare.
I must tell you something of our prosperity. I have 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl, all healthy enough. Sally [Sister of Jesse Morgan] is married to George Bucklew and he is a brother to my wife [Belinda Bucklew] and if you call her duch [Dutch, meaning German] you may gess what he is and how well they are liked in this country.
I am sorry to hear of George [Jesse’s brother’s first wife died, and he married a second time. His second wife died in 1834.] having such misfortune in choosing a companion. If it be true to have the bad luck to meet with a dville instead of a friend, we only hear it from hearsay.
I want you to writ to me as soon as you can I think of enough to fill a sheet, and if you can’t think of enough perhaps some of uncle family can fill it with something interesting. I should like to know what you are all occuping and how you
you are ageting along. I want you to tell me the prices of your markets of catle, sheep, horses, wheat of which we have a plenty of here. I should be glad to See you here if you could come. I supose it would be more satisfaction from you to come here than for me to come there. I supose I have a beter idea of that county than you have of this.
I don’t know as I have much more to write at present only for some apologies made in your laste leter respecting some of the duch. I hope that you wont think any the less of me [or] Sally for choosing our companions because they are reported to be duch. Non[e] of us if we were as duch as the devil.
You must excuse me for not writing sooner and something more entertaining for I have so mutch to do behind this desk that I can’t think of mutch at this time
Yours with Respect, Aaron Purdy
The letter writer, Aaron Purdy, is the son of Jesse’s sister Hannah Morgan and her husband Isaac Purdy, who had moved to Ohio after they married–the only one of Jesse’s siblings to leave Pennsylvania. Aaron is married to Belinda Bucklew. Despite his enthusiasm for Ohio, he and his wife will eventually move to Oregon territory.
Sarah Morgan, who married George Bucklew, is the sister of Jesse Morgan. Her husband George is the brother of Belinda Bucklew Purdy.
Matilda Morgan Howard, Jesse’s older sister, has death and illness in her family.
Towner Savage, as described in the letter above, is the husband of Aaron Purdy’s sister, one of the many Purdys who move to Oregon Territory. (Her name was also Matilda. This family was one where they reused the names of sisters and brothers quite often).
George, Jesse’s brother lost two wives, probably dying in childbirth. The second would have died a few months before this letter was written. I believe the reference to “some of Uncle family,” has to refer to George as well.
Reading Aaron’s letter to his uncle has given me an enormous amount of information, and I believe has indicated an answer to my question about why Jesse moved to Ohio.