56 September 13, 1868

Ralph asks his father if Ashfield has a “Grant & Colfax” flag yet.

Ralph Ranney writes to his father Henry with news of his peddling trip across Vermont and New Hampshire. He has visited a series of towns from Claremont New Hampshire and up the Connecticut River, finally reaching Northfield in central Vermont. Ralph says he will go to Montpelier next, and mentions that he has been travelling by train between towns and has passed several villages by because they seemed too small to be worth stopping at.

Ralph says he has been “netting” about $15 per week in profit, which is pretty good for 1868 but not unusual for a peddler. He asks whether the other silk peddlers have left Ashfield yet, and if so in which directions they went. This suggests Ralph is probably selling silk thread again.

Transcription follows images:


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


Northfield Vermont

13th Sept. 1868

Dear Father

It is time for me to write you a few lines again and I enclose it in this to Rosa as I’ve only one envelope by me in which to send both. I wrote you I think at Bellows Falls. Since then I’ve been in Charlestown N.H., Springfield Vermont, Claremont N.H., Windsor Vt., West Lebanon N.H., White River Junction & Wt. River Village Vt. Till I’ve brought up here nearly in the centre of the old Green Mountain State. Trade has been on the whole just about as it was on the first week. I have been netting I think about $15. per week profit.

I am pretty confident that I can keep up to those figures at least if there is no unforeseen obstacles to prevent. I don’t know but the price of easily smuggled goods may be a little less as far north as Burlington. From the Junction to this place I didn’t stop as all the towns are very small indeed should think this place about the size of Greenfield. Montpelier is about 10 miles distant shall go there next. Have you sent Pratt Bros that money yet? If not do so immediately as neglect may injure Mr. Howes’ credit which I should be very sorry to occasion.

I have been obliged to stop work two or three days on account of the rain but have had a few days extra success to counterbalance.

So far as I have travelled the Apple crop seems to be very good in all places. Even the old trees seem to bear well. Have the Church boys, Ryland and other silk peddlers gone out yet? And if so do you know in what direction? I can’t think of anything that will impress one of the greatness of our country any more than to travel mile after mile by rail in a little state like this and then look at the United States map and compare distances.

Has Ashfield got a Grant & Colfax flag yet? How do the Ros Eldridge potatoes turn out? Don’t think I shall get around before election if I do then.

Write everything you think I shall want to hear. How all our folks are especially. If you write before Sunday direct to Montpelier if not until to Waterbury.

Yours in haste


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