63 April 24, 1881

Henry’s younger brother Anson writes in late April 1881, a couple weeks after the death of their brother Lewis. Lewis’ health had been declining for years, and the previous autumn he had fallen off a wagon while hauling wood and had never completely recovered. Anson says his 22-year old son Everett is going to rent Lewis’ farm from his widow Sarah and work it. He reports that his family is well, except for his wife Caroline (Baggerly) who has a bad cold and neuralgia.

Anson mentions that he still receives the Springfield Massachusetts newspaper, The Republican, but says his own political leanings are more Radical Republican than middle-of-the-road Independent like the paper. Then he asks Henry to consider making a long visit to Michigan. Anson is only 48 years old at this point, but he will die at age 53, thirteen years before his older brother.

My transcription follows the images:


The original images are from the archives of the Ashfield Historical Society and are used with permission.


Hillsdale April 24th 1881

Dear Brother

After waiting this long I have just commenced a letter to you, hoping you will pardon me for my negligence in answering your very acceptable letter. I have sometimes thought that we would hardly know how many there were left of us if we did not write each other and find out how many were living and how many dead. The health of our family is pretty good except Caroline. She has a very sore throat and neuralgia and a hard Cold.

In regards to Lewis sickness and death he was not supposed to be dangerously sick but a few days before he died. Although his health had been poor for a number of years, not able to do much work aside of his chores. Each winter he would have quite bad spells with his lungs taking Colds and settling on his lungs. Last fall he was drawing a load of wood from his field to the house and in loading the wood he fell from the wagon and hurt him quite bad, which I think he never got over. It seemed to jar him all over and laid him up for some weeks. But he rallied from that and done his own chores for some time until he took a severe cold which run into what the Doctor called Catarrhal Fever, which terminated in his death.

Sarah still lives on the place and Everett our boy is going to work it this summer. He rents it of Sarah for cash rent. Lem is living in Hillsdale this summer working for a man by the name of Armstrong in a leather store. He comes home nights.

Now in regard to Caleb Phillips he was uncle to Abiather Phillips Sen. Harrison and Hellen were quite well the last we heard from them and also their children. Frank their oldest boy is married and lives in the north part of this state. He is in Charlevoix County working a farm.

The Springfield Republican we get regularly. You ask what I think of it. Sometimes I think it a first-rate paper and then again get so disgusted with it that I think I won’t read it. Maybe I am too Radical a Republican to like any Independent paper. I wish it was so that you and your wife could come out here to Mich on a visit. I would so much to have you come and make us all a long visit. We ought to write each other oftener than we do. I should have written sooner than this but I have so many cares on hand that I neglected too long by far. Lem agreed to write for me but he is so negligent, but he says he will write in a few days.

We have had quite a long, hard, cold winter. Wheat on the ground is looking very bad. I think it will not average half a crop this year. Emily Squares of Syracuse was here last summer and made us a good long visit. Now Henry my letter is very scattering and you must put it together to suit yourself. There is lots more that I might write about but perhaps I can coax Lem to write the rest. Our love to you all,

AB Ranney

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