44 August 26, 1858

Lucius writes to Henry near the end of the summer of 1858.  Lucius says he has received two letters from Henry in the last couple of weeks, and he does not mention the death of his daughter in the Spring — suggesting once again that there were letters between February and August that did not survive in the archive.

In response to Henry’s inquiries, Lucius has talked to the miller in Jonesville about “flouring” some local wheat for Henry.  Henry apparently considered the miller’s offer, because he did the math in pencil on the last page of the letter.  The wheat crop was much lighter than expected due to the rust, a fungal disease once known as the “polio of agriculture.”  Lucius says he has no live-in hired boy this season, and is “both man & boy this summer.”

Definition: Offal usually means the parts of an animal discarded after butchering, but can also refer to the byproducts of grain milling.

My transcription follows the images:


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


Allen Aug 26th 1858

Dear Brother

I take the present moment to drop a line to you.  I have received two letters from you within two or three weeks & I now attempt in part to answer them, although with regret I have been very dilatory. I was at Jonesville a day or two ago to see about wheat & flour &c.  I saw Baxter, the man that owns the mill.  He said that he would flour wheat on a short notice.  His terms of flouring were this.  He would give what flour the wheat would make & furnish barrel & deliver at the Depot & he keep the offals for fifty cts a barrel, or he would give the offals (or bean &c.) and charge seventy five cts on the barrel.  He says that last year and almost every year 4 1/2 bushels of wheat will make a barrel of flour.  He has not tested it this year but he thinks it will take 10 or 15 lbs more of wheat this year than most seasons.  Wheat is generally poor & considerably shrunk this season.

Since the new wheat has begun to come in to market the price for white wheat has been from $1.00 to $1.15.  It may be a little lower but I think that it will run higher.  There is a great deal of wheat a going into the market.  There has been on an average for the last two weeks about four thousand bushels per day or 100 loads in Jonesville & about 1/2 that amount in Hillsdale.  White wheat I think now stands at $1.15.  At these figures a barrel would cost here from $5.70 to $6.00.

The wheat that is bought in this market is all shipped, not any floured here scarcely.  About the mark I did not think to inquire particularly, about the 1/2 barrels he does not put up any in that way.  But if he can get the 1/2 barrels he would do it.  He has got the same miller that he had when you were here.  He says that he will make a good article, one that take well to retail first rate.

If you see fit to get any put up I will assist you here.  I have been very busy this summer for I am alone.  Miles, the boy that was here last year, went to the State of N.Y. last spring and I am both man & boy this summer.  I have not hired much, only in harvesting & haying.

I saw a piece in the Northampton Courier concerning a man somewhere in the East that had tended eight acres of corn this summer.  I can say that of myself besides doing a great share of my harvesting & haying, I have about the same amount of hay this season as last.  I have not thrashed my wheat yet.  I thought before harvest that I should have about 250 bushels, but I think now that I shall have about 150.  The rust injured the wheat from one 1/4 to 1/2 throughout the state.  The prospect before harvest a few weeks was never better, but it has proved to be a short crop.  I also have got 12 acres of summer fallow which is partly plowed the second time, that I done myself in addition to all the boy work.           

Mother has had 3 or 4 shakes of the fever & ague.  She is better now.  Otherwise we have been well this summer.  Harrison & Lem have thrashed their wheat.   They had 100 bushels.  Anson has not thrashed.  He will have about 50 bushel. L. G. Says that he shan’t have not over six bushels.  Fruit is very scarce in this country.  There is no peaches.  We shall have about one half the apples as last year.  I have the same team that I had last year.  The Boys also have the same as last year.  My stock is about the same.  I summered about 10 tons of hay.  The hay crop is good this summer.  Corn about the same as last year.  There is not much old corn in the country, old corn is worth 60 cts.  Oats & potatoes are a light crop.

There is much more news that I might write but I have not time this morning as I have to go to Jonesville on business today.  I would like to write a little to Ralph & Ella but they must excuse me this time & write to me soon.

Yours in Haste

Lucius Ranney

H. S. Ranney

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