42 December 27, 1857

Lucius writes to Henry, a little over a week after returning from a trip to Ashfield and Phelps. He spent six weeks and a day away from home, which he remarks is just a day less than the time Henry spent away on his recent visit West.  Lucius says Alonzo Franklin’s family is well, and revives the perennial claim that Frank is putting his affairs in order in Phelps and planning to move to Michigan (he never does).

Lucius describes a severe flood (remembered in New York histories as the “Freshet of 1857”), which washed away most of the bridges around Phelps as well as several mills, and damaged the railroad.  He remarks that times are hard in Michigan, but apparently the Panic of 1857, which began in October in New York, did not affect Lucius badly enough to prevent his trip East at the beginning of November.

My transcription follows the images:


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


Allen Dec 27th 1857

Dear Brother

I presume that you would like to hear from me by this time, & I am very sure that I would from you.  I arrived safe home two weeks from the next Friday after leaving Ashfield.  I found everything all correct on my return Home, & we are all well at present.  I stopped at Albany one night, at Utica over one.  Train arrived in Vienna in the evening.  I found Franklin’s folks well & Frank was a making arrangements to move to Mich in the spring.  I had an excellent visit in Phelps & Hopewell, & in fact the whole visit was a good one.

They had a very heavy freshet in Ontario Co & in fact from Siracuse almost to Buffalo when I was there.  It swept off almost every bridge in Phelps both great & small.  It took both bridges at Orleans & all on the Creek to Vienna, & a number on the Canandagua Outlet.  It also done great damage to the railroad.  It took out about seventy feet of the high embankment East of Vienna in the hollow by Russell Bement’s old place.  It made a great Depot & the passengers had to exchange cars.

Harrison & his Wife were here Christmas.  I heard from Lewis yesterday.  He was on the Grand Jury last week at Coldwater.  We heard from Priscilla a few days ago.  She was well but did not weigh only 180 lbs.

I was gone just six weeks & one day on my visit, just one day less than you was.  We had some very cold weather the next week after I got home.  We had about 4 days of good sleighing & then it came off warm & pleasant & remained so until last week & now it is comfortable winter weather with about three inches of snow.  I wish that there was about three inches more.

I have not foddered much yet, sheep only 3 or 4 days.  Produce is very cheap of all kinds.  Wheat is only with 75 cts.  I think that it will be higher next spring.  I have not thrashed the balance of mine yet.  Times are, or rather money matters are, very hard this winter.

Ralph, I got some chestnuts on my return home.  What speculations are you into this winter?  Ella, have you got your pay on the Butternuts yet, & are you a studying Laws & Resolves as much as you was?

I have nothing more in particular to write.  Write soon, I want to hear from you.  Mother, Clarissa & Caroline send their Love to you all.

Yours in Haste

Lucius Ranney

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