Voices from History: Tourism, 1844-style

By Pat Schley, DDMF Researcher

In the spring of 1844, Sarah W. Davis, who was 29 years old, and her friend, Rachel, planned a trip to see some of the sights and wonders of central Illinois. Thanks to a letter written by Sarah Davis to her mother, Lucy Adam [Mrs. William Perrin] Walker, detailing the trip, we are able to get a sense of what they experienced along the way.  The travelers who accompanied the plucky young Sarah Davis were her equally intrepid friend from Lenox, Rachel Colton, a single young woman, who was a sister of David Davis’ law partner, Wells Colton; amazingly, her nearly 2 year old son, George Perrin Davis; her hired woman, Catharine, who would be acting as George Perrin’s nanny on this adventure; and last, but not least, the aforementioned Wells Colton, who would be acting as the “beau” on this trip. 

At this time, it was considered improper for women to travel without a beau, a male companion who would look after their welfare and to take care of any sort of business that might arise along the way, such as finding accommodations each night, taking care of any repairs that might arise, safely stabling the horses and carriage each night, etc. Most often, this beau would be a trusted male acquaintance or relative of one of the women, and would be anywhere from his late teens on up in age.

In June, the previous year, 1843, David & Sarah Davis had traveled, along with their 1 year old son, George Perrin, back East to Lenox MA, Sarah Davis’ home town and the place where they had been married in 1838.   The Davises were eager to introduce little Georgie to family and friends for the first time.

They were also there to attend 2 weddings: Sarah’s youngest sister, Cornelia, would marry Joseph Hand Scranton on July 13th and Sarah’s childhood friend, Martha Colton, sister of David Davis’ law partner, Wells Colton, would marry Rev. Aaron Lucius Chapin on August 21st.  The Coltons would then be traveling to begin pastoring a church in the West, either in Burlington IA or in Milwaukee WI.

The Davises invited the youngest Colton daughter, Rachel, who was 20 years old, to accompany them back to Bloomington for a long visit. It would be quite an adventure for Rachel, an opportunity that she didn’t want to pass up.

 “Did you know that I think seriously of going to Illinois to pass six or eight months? Mr. & Mrs. Davis are urging me to return with them next Oct.  We are waiting to hear from Wells before we decide this important question.”  Lenox MA, August 11, 1843 (Beloit College) Rachel Colton to Aaron Lucius Chapin

The Davis family, accompanied by Rachel Colton, arrived safely back in Bloomington on November 21st, after a long and difficult trip made worse by the serious illness of 17 month old, George:

 “We arrived safely day before yesterday after an almost interminable passage.  The water in the Illinois river was so low that boat ascended with a great deal of difficulty.  We [ran] aground on the first boat, went ashore at Naples[1] on the Illinois river & remained there 3 days. We would have gone by land distance 120 miles – but Georgie’s sickness continuing, we were afraid to venture it = George has been very sick but he looks better today than he has … -& we are under no apprehensions about him. He is reduced a good deal & very weak.” Bloomington IL, November 23, 1843 (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library)  David Davis to William Perrin Walker

By December 7th, all was well in the Davis household:

 “George is now fast recovering but perfectly ravenous for eatables and as cross as a bear.  We are in good spirits once more, since sickness is removed from us.  Sarah & Rachel are both in good health…” Bloomington IL, December 7, 1843 1843 (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library)  David Davis to William Perrin Walker

Sarah & Rachel were having a very good visit and by spring, they were planning one more adventure before Rachel, accompanied by her brother, Wells, would leave for Milwaukee to visit to their new brother-in-law, Rev. Aaron Chapin, and their sister (his new wife), Martha, where he had accepted the pastorate of a church. It appears that Rachel was originally  supposed to end her visit with the Davises by late April but by then this trip had already been planned.

David Davis would not accompany them, as he was finishing up his spring circuit. He did, however, approve of the plan:

 “I left home above ten days ago, and it was the intention of Mr Colton & Rachel & Sarah, with Georgie, to go to Knoxville & Fort Madison, Iowa Ter[ritory] – and on return trip to visit “Nauvoo” the famous Mormon City.  Mr Chapin  came down from Milwaukie [sic] the day before I left home, for Rachel – but as this trip had been determined on & the chance of might not again occur to her – he returned, without her.”  Decatur IL, May 4, 1844  (ALPL) David Davis to William Perrin Walker

The trip began on Thursday, May 2nd and ended on Tuesday, May 21st.  Just one week after their return to Bloomington, Sarah wrote to her mother to tell her all about their trip:                                                        

                                                                                                                                    Bloomington May 28th 1844

My dear Mother[2],

                                 It is a long time since I wrote you – and it seems an age since I heard from home.  I received a letter from Cousin Frances Adam[3] three weeks ago last Thursday [May 2nd], the day I started for Fort Madison Iowa Territory[4].  My companions were Mr. Colton[5], Rachel[6], George Perrin[7] & Catharine[8]

We went in a covered carriage with two horses.  Mr Davis[9] was absent attending court when I left home.  We expected to find bad roads and in that we were not disappointed.  I often thought how Father[10] would have looked if he could have been in our places – fording creeks – riding down hill between deep ruts – and last but not least devising ways and means for going through a deep mud hole.  Rachel & I had our nerves well tried but I think she proved herself the strongest – as I lost all my color by running the wagon against a tree, the last day of our journey: while she passed it off as of no moment.  But after all our perils we are once more safe at home – and glad am I. 

ROUTEO 1 Jun 2020 VoicesJPG

We staid [sic] the first night in Peoria at Mr King’s[11].  Mr Metcalf and his family[12] still board there.  They are going East this summer – and in the fall design housekeeping in a new house Mr. M. has built.  They have two children. 

Friday [May 3rd] we started for Knoxville – which is 41 miles from Peoria.  The road leads you near Jubilee[13] the residence of Bishop Chase.

PHILAN 1 Jun 2020 Voices  [14]

Philander C. Chase (1775-1852) was, by this time, an Episcopal bishop.  Before coming to central Illinois to establish and build Jubilee College, he had founded and built Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, which still exists today.  David Davis had graduated from Kenyon after attending from 1828-1832, the first few years of Kenyon’s existence. He was 13 years old when he began his freshman year and 17 years old when he graduated. 

When he arrived on campus to begin his freshman year, this is what he found:

 “When David arrived at Gambier, only the foundation for the main college building had been completed…. A log cabin about 20 by 24 feet served as the main college building… Beside it stood a smaller house, occupied by the Reverend William Sparrow[15], senior professor, and by ten students, who lived in the attic. Half of the house was used as a recitation room.  That summer the Bishop had erected … four temporary plank buildings. Here the students slept in three-story frame bunks, three in a bunk, one above the other. As each student arrived, he took a sack to the barn and filled it with straw for a mattress. Bedbugs throve under these conditions and the boys susceptible to them were often black and blue. Rattlesnakes infested the campus, and wolves and bears roamed the surrounding forests.”[16]

During Davis’ four years at Kenyon, the college was being built. The last money that David Davis ever received from his stepfather was $45 given him when he left for his freshman year. As a result, Davis had to pay his own way through college by working on the Kenyon farm or by working on the buildings during the school year and through every vacation.

In July 1829, David Davis wrote home to his mother,

 “Bishop Chase has been gone to the eastward …And he is expected back in the course of three or four weeks.  We have upwards of 70? [s]cholars at the present time, we expect the middle part of the College to be done against next fall or at least wee[sic] hope so because the houses that we staid [sic] in last winter are very cold indeed they were not even plastered.  I like the institution well enough except that the boarding is very bad. Mr Sparrow one of our proffessors [sic] wrote father a letter and when you write again let me know its contents for I would like to know what he says about me whether it is good or bad…”  Kenyon College, Gambier OH, July 1831 (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library)  David Davis to his mother, Ann Mercer Davis Betts

                                         JUBILE 1 Jun 2020 Voices Jubilee College Chapel

Sarah’s letter continues:    

We should have passed the Chapel but the bad state of the roads induced us to take the nearest rout [sic]. 

The small towns of Kickapoo and Charleston[17] were all the places we passed through – and we crossed the Kickapoo [Creek]  and Spoon Rivers.  The country is rather pleasant. 

We reached Mr Holcomb’s[18] that night and met with a cordial reception. They live very pleasantly – have a good house and set a good table.  Their family consists of Mr Holcomb’s Mother[19] and his brother Hiram[20], Mr & Mrs H[21] and two children (little boys),[22] a servant girl, and some boys about the stable.  Mr H. has a farm. 

I saw the Miss Charavoy’s [sic].  Jane[23] has changed very little.  William West[24] a Richmond man, a widower[25], came out [from Massachusetts] and married Susan[26] the next sister to Jane and Elizabeth[27] a still younger sister lives at home – and teaches school. Mary the youngest child about 19 died in February.  She is spoken of as having been more lively than her sisters, and Jane feels her loss severely.  She had been as a mother to her ever since the death of their Mother.  They have a pleasant place. 

Mr West lives in the family with them at present.   I am much pleased with Knoxville, Galesburg, a colony six miles off is settled by eastern people – and is a very thriving place.[28]  The buildings are mostly good.  Waters is the name of the man I was trying to tell Father[29] of – who once lived in West Stockbridge. 

The Holcombs and the Charevoy sisters appear to have been friends from Sarah & David’s pre-marriage days in Lenox MA.  Richmond is a town very near to Lenox, only about 6 miles away.  Throughout the 1840s and into the 1850s, Sarah often mentions visiting or hearing news about the Holcombs and the Charevoys.

Friday we reached K[noxville] – and Monday [May 6th] started for Iowa.  I had intended leaving George & Catharine with Mrs H – but she was not in very good health & I thought it would worry her –[30] so we took our full load. 

I was very surprised when I first read this letter, to read that Sarah had taken her toddler son along on this journey.  George Perrin Davis would not turn 2 years old until June 5th,  one day shy of  3 weeks after  they returned to Bloomington!

The first day we rode through a creek so deep that the water came into the box of the waggon [sic] and filled my shoes with water.  We staid [sic]  at the town of Macomb [31] over night and kept ourselves quite busy drying the articles we had stowed in our bags, which were saturated completely.  The next day [May 7th] we were out in a storm and were quite damp.  Some time before night we stopped at Laharp [sic] a small town to spend the night as there was another shower in prospect.[32]  Well was it that we did for the rain fell in torrents.  The next morning was clear but we found a collar[33] or hame[34] broken, and the blacksmith detained us till nearly noon. [May 8th]   

                               Horse collar and Hames

 HORSEC 1 Jun 2020 Voices                                                HORSEC 2 Jun 2020 Voices  

diagram: motherearthnews.com                              https://render.fineartamerica.com/images/rendered/share/10760916&domainId=1                                     


I have no recollection of any other town till we reached the little town of Appanoce[35] on the Mississippi. Here we took a ferry boat for Fort Madison[36] – the residence of Mr Perry[37]. The river is a mile and 20 rods[38] ride at this place. 

FLATBO 1 Jun 2020 Voices      

Possible style of ferry boat used on by Sarah Davis and her traveling party http://www.museum.state.il.us/RiverWeb/landings/Ambot/TECH/TECH1.htm


IOWA N 1 Jun 2020 Voices


Mrs Perry[39] was very glad to see us indeed she was looking for us.  Mr P. was at West Point[40] attending court as a juror I think. 

The town of Fort Madison is in Lee County – is beautifully situated on the river & has 12 hundred inhabitants[41].  There are are [sic] a great many islands in the river covered with trees and add much to its beauty. 

Mr Colton went to West Point[42] on Thursday [May 9th] the day after we reached F.M.[43] and there he saw Nathan Isbel[44].  He said his family were well  - and Betsey[45] [sic] that tall girl was “teaching the young her idea how to shoot”. He lived in Denmark Iowa. [46]

Mr Perry got excused[47] and came home.  Mrs Perry has two children Howard[48] and Katy[49] - & fine children they are.  Katy the youngest is 6 years of age.  Mrs P. plays the piano, & sings psalmody[50] with a readiness that suits Mr Colton. I am sure I thought between Mr & Mrs P. Mr Wolcott a brother of Mrs Perry[51] & Mr Colton, I should go crazy. 

George[52] who was cutting an eye tooth was quite sick one night.  I soaked his feet and the next day was well. 

We crossed the river and rode to Nauvoo[53] on Friday. [May 10th]  We went to the house of Joe Smith the Prophet[54]

JOSEPH 2 Jun 2020 Voices

He found his house so crowded that he resolved to keep a public house and charge his friends for entertaining them.

JOSEPH 1 Jun 2020 Voices

The Joseph Smith Mansion house c. early-20th century https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/RelEd/id/4279

We did not see him as he had rode out, tho [sic] we staid three or four hours.  We had a poor dinner.  Saw the old lady his Mother[55] who shews four or five mummies for the small sum of a quarter and shews some Egyptian manuscripts that her son Joseph translates[56]

LUCYMA 1 Jun 2020 Voices

She thinks no one else has the power to do so.  The house is a good one- I speak of the building[57].  The town or city covers 5 square miles and contains 16,000 inhabitants[58].  Many of the buildings are good – most of the new ones are of brick. 

The temple will be a beautiful building when finished[59].  It is built of stone hewn – and is to have the face of the rising Sun as an ornament[60] [sic] to the Pilasters.

It stands on an eminece [sic - eminence[61]] with the river in view.  I am told the Prophet pretends to be governed by no plan in building this edifice but has revelations from time to time. 

From this point on the actual timing of the various legs of the journey home become unclear. At the end of this article, I have included a possible time line showing where the party may have been on any given day. After their trip to Nauvoo, other than the days that they arrived in Knoxville and when they returned to Bloomington, Sarah gives very little concrete detail regarding what day she is describing or how long they stayed anywhere. The possible overnight stay at Monmouth IL is also conjecture based solely on the distance between Burlington IA and Knoxville. An early departure from Monmouth, which is about halfway between the 2 towns, would likely have allowed for an early enough arrival in Knoxville to enable them to have the relaxing afternoon visit with the Charevoy sisters, which Sarah mentions.

Sarah’s letter continues:

Our rout [sic] home was not exactly the same as that we took in going – as we visited the thriving town of Burlington[62] on the Mississippi river.[63]  Mr Wood & Mr Armstrong, our former townsmen are living there.  You have heard me mention Mrs. Agnes Armstrong.  She was in Peoria at the time we were in Burlington, but I saw her there.

The town of B[urlington]  has 2000 inhabitants[64] – is built on a bluff – and presents a novel appearance – some of the streets having been built without grading – so that some of the houses are several feet above the others.

I went into some of the shops the evening we arrived - & found a fine assortment of goods – selling at prices that seemed moderate to us.  The houses are usually good. Mr Colton liked it much but like most towns in the West, it is full of Lawyers. 

We were detained two days by a heavy rain.  We crossed the river here in a Ferry boat – which took us 5 miles.  We reached Mr Holcomb’s on the 18th of May[65] – spent the afternoon with the Misses Charavoy.  They live very pleasantly.  Mrs Holcomb expects to be confined this summer.[66]

I saw Mrs Friesby in Peoria[67] – perhaps you recollect the lady we travelled with once on the Erie Canal.  She has lost her husband.  Mr Colton spoke in such high terms of her talents – that I advised him to court her.  However he rather declined – perhaps fearing his suit that he drove in had made an unfavorable impression.

We reached home the 21st of May [Wednesday] -& glad were we to find ourselves safe at home.  My yard was full of roses and fragrant with the syringa[68]

We took tea with Mrs Ewing[69] at the Hotel, and should have been very happy if Mr Davis had been at home.  He had left the day before for Hennepin[70].  He returned however in a few days.  Last week he went to St. Louis – came home on Monday night of this week-

{The following is written across the top of the first page of this letter}:

he brought me paper[71] for my dining room.[72]  I have had my bedroom enlarged by throwing my buttery[73] and bedroom together.  It is not quite finished.  Rachel & I have been turning carpets today.[74]  My parlor & hall carpets.  I am just doing my house cleaning.  My Iowa visit prevented me from doing it sooner. 

Good night dearest Mother…


What follows is a possible itinerary using the references that Sarah gives:

Possible Itinerary for Thursday,  May 2- Tuesday, May 21, 1844

Day 1 (May 2nd)       Leave Bloomington; arrive Peoria and stay the night

Day 2 (May 3rd)        Leave Peoria; pass Jubilee College; cross Kickapoo Creek & the Spoon River on the way to the Holcomb’s house in Knoxville IL 

Day 3 (May 4th)        Visit Galesburg IL

Day 4 (May 5th)        Knoxville IL

Day 5 (May 6th)         Leave Knoxville IL: travel in the rain to Macomb IL; stay in Macomb overnight

Day 6 (May 7th)         Still raining; leave Macomb; travel as far as La Harpe; decide to stay overnight in La Harpe to dry out                   

Day 7 (May 8th)         Leave La Harpe after repairs to the collar/hame; arrive in Appanooce IL on the Mississippi RIver; take ferry across Mississippi River to Fort Madison, Iowa Territory

Day 8 (May 9th)         Wells Colton goes to West Point IA to visit an old friend from Lenox MA, Nathan Isbel/ Isbell; returns to Fort Madison

Day 9 (May 10th)       The adults [likely leaving George Perrin in Ft. Madison with Catherine] go to Nauvoo IL to see the sights and have dinner at “Joe Smith’s” house; saw the mummies and parchments with Joe Smith's mother as guide-cost 25¢; Returned to Ft. Madison

Day 10 (May 11th)     Spent the day in Ft. Madison?

Day 11 (May 12th)     Left Ft. Madison; travel to Burlington IA

Day 12 (May 13th)     Spent the day in Burlington

Day 13 (May 14th)     Spent another day in Burlington.  Wells Colton was considering moving to Burlington.

Day 14 (May 15th)     Delayed leaving by heavy rain 

Day 15 (May 16th)     Delayed again by heavy rain     

Day 16 (May 17th)     Left for Knoxville but since it would be a 44 mile-long journey, I wonder if they might have stayed overnight in Monmouth IL  or some other nearby town?                                               

Day 17 (May 18th)     Left Monmouth (or other place); arrived in Knoxville at Mr. Holcomb’s house in time to be able to spend the afternoon with the Charevoy sisters?            

Day 18 (May 19th)     Left Knoxville to travel back to Peoria; Stayed overnight in Peoria.       

Day 19 (May 20th)    Stayed in Peoria to visit with Mrs. Armstrong who was visiting Peoria from Burlington IA, and also to visit Mrs. Friesby

Day 20 (May 21st)     Left Peoria for Bloomington; home by afternoon and in time to take tea with Mrs. Ewing


 [1] Naples IL, due East and slightly N of IL Rte. 36 from Jacksonville IL, on the Illinois River.

[2] Lucy Adam [Mrs. William Perrin] Walker

[3] Frances Charlotte Adam [Mrs. Hiram] Eddy (1830-1910). Daughter of William & Charlotte Lawrence Adam of Canaan CT.  William Adam and Sarah Davis’ mother, Lucy Adam Walker (see endnote #2) were siblings.

[4] Iowa would not be admitted  to the union as the 29th state until 19 months later, on December 28, 1846.  For more about Fort Madison, see https://www.fortmadison-ia.com/index.aspx?NID=203

[5] Wells Colton (1812-1849),  law partner of David Davis, and brother of Rachel Colton, who was also on this journey. Colton died on May 26, 1849, from injuries suffered in the Great St. Louis Fire on the night of  May 17-18, 1849. For more on Wells Colton, see https://www.daviddavismansion.org/about/archived-research/79-voices-from-history-the-enigmatic-mr-colton

[6] Rachel Colton (1819-1923), daughter of Rhodolphus & Love Wells Colton  and  youngest sister of Wells Colton’s sister. (See endnote #3 above). The Colton family was from Lenox MA, Sarah Davis’ home town. Rachel had been visiting the Davis family since November of 1843. While Rachel was in Bloomington with the Davises, her mother, Love Wells Colton, decided to sell the Colton family home in Lenox and move to Milwaukee WI, to live with her daughter, Martha Chapin (Rachel’s older sister) and her son-in-law, Rev. Aaron Lucius Chapin. Rachel would also live with them until her marriage in 1851.

[7] George Perrin Davis (1842-1917), 2nd son of David & Sarah W. Davis. He would be the only surviving son of the Davises.

[8] George Perrin’s nurse and Sarah’s hired girl, possibly African-American, originally from Lenox MA.

[9] David Davis was still riding the Illinois 8th Judicial Court circuit as a lawyer at this time.

[10] William Perrin Walker (1778-1858) , Sarah Davis’ father.  See endnote #2.

[11] "In 1837, John R. Caldwell built a very nice three-story brick hotel on the corner of Adams and Fulton Streets, and leased it to John King, who opened it to the public as the Clinton House. Mr. King made an excellent reputation for the house and a considerable amount of money. He sold it, in 1846…” http://genealogytrails.com/ill/peoria/landmarks/EarlyHotels.htm

[12] George B. Metcalfe (b. abt. 1814), his wife, Caroline L. Bigelow Metcalfe (b. abt. 1815),  and children, Frank Metcalfe (b. abt. 1838),  and Theodore Metcalfe (b. abt. 1841). See 1850 US Census.

[13]  Jubilee College State Historic Site preserves a remnant of the school founded in 1839 by Philander Chase (1775-1852), the first Episcopal Bishop of Illinois. At one time, Jubilee College occupied a dozen or more structures on a 3,500-acre tract. The school included a theological seminary, a college, a classical preparatory school for boys, and a “seminary” for girls, as well as small farming operations.

The site’s centerpiece is an L-shaped building, the design of which was adapted from an Anglican chapel near London, England. Constructed between 1839 and 1844, the two-story native sandstone building housed the school’s chapel, classrooms, and dormitory space. Today the “restored” building’s chapel wing contains representations of an 1840s Episcopal chapel, a first-story chapel extension that served during the week as classroom space, and a second-floor dormitory room. The recreated schoolmaster’s office and library are located in the larger west wing, which also contains a video theatre and museum exhibits. In 1972 the Jubilee College site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Jubilee Cemetery, which adjoins the site, is private property. https://www2.illinois.gov/dnrhistoric/Experience/Sites/Central/Pages/Jubilee-College.aspx


[14] The Most Reverend Philander Chase, photo from the Library of Congress.

[15] William Sparrow (Mar. 12, 1801-Jan. 17, 1874). He was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. His family moved to Huron County, Ohio, and Sparrow became involved with the educational enterprises of Bishop Philander Chase. He taught at a school in Worthington, Ohio, administered by Bishop Chase's son, and then at Cincinnati College, where the Bishop was president. In 1824 Sparrow became the professor of languages at the newly opened Miami University, but within about a year he returned to assist Bishop Chase in establishing a theological seminary at Worthington. Sparrow was the principal and main teacher at this school, which evolved into Kenyon College and Bexley Hall Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon on June 7, 1826, and priest on June 11, 1826. In 1841 he moved to the Virginia Theological Seminary, where he taught for the rest of his life. His primary areas of teaching were church history, theology, and Christian evidences. He served also for a while as dean. He is known for the advice he gave his students, "Seek the truth; come whence it may, cost what it will." Sparrow died in Alexandria, Virginia. https://episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/sparrow-william

[16] King, Willard L., Lincoln’s Manager David Davis, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1960, pp. 11-12

[17] This may have been an error on Sarah Davis’ part when she wrote this letter.  Charleston IL is in Coles County which is on the eastern side of Illinois. It is approximately 142 miles SE of Peoria IL and approximately 40 miles due west of Terre Haute IN, which means that it was in the complete opposite direction from their next destination of Knoxville IL.

The only other explanation is that in 1844, there was another small town near Kickapoo which was also named Charleston. That town may not have survived and has been forgotten.

[18] William Horace Holcomb (1797-1893). Mr. Holcomb was apparently an acquaintance of Sarah W. Davis. He was from Richmond, MA, which is about 6 miles NE of her hometown of Lenox MA.

[19] Elsie West Holcomb (1775-1858), widow of Richard Holcomb; mother of  William Horace, Hiram, Henry, and Julius Holcomb. She was possibly a sister of Abner West, Jr., which would make her an aunt of William West. See endnote #22.

[20] Hiram Holcomb (1785-1847), brother of William Horace Holcomb. See endnote #18.

[21] Hannah Hinckley Holcomb (1812-1857), 2nd wife of William Horace Holcomb (b. 1797)

[22] William Horace Holcomb (b. 1838) and Charles Charles Francis Holcomb (b. 1842)

[23] Jane Charavoy (1806-1871). Daughter of Francis & Betsey West Charavoy.

[24] William West (b. 1802), possibly the son of Abner, Jr. & Sabra West.  If he is, then he probably was a nephew of Elsie West Holcomb.

[25] Williams’ first wife had died back in Richmond MA.

[26] Susan Charavoy (b. 1809), 2nd wife of William West.

[27] Elizabeth Charevoy (b. 1820-1908), daughter of Francis & Betsey West Charevoy; she never married.

[28] https://www.ci.galesburg.il.us/city_initiatives/historic_preservation/

[29] William Perrin Walker (1778-1858), husband of this letter’s recipient, Lucy Adam Walker. See endnote #2.

[30] Hannah Holcomb would have been about 6 mo. pregnant with George Henry Holcomb, who was born August 11, 1844.  George would only live 1 year, dying on August 12, 1845.

[31] Macomb IL is approximately 40 miles from Knoxville.

[32] La Harpe IL is about 23 miles from Macomb.

[33] A band of leather or rope that is placed around an animal's neck as a harness.

[34] One of the two curved wooden or metal pieces of a harness that fits around the neck of a draft animal and to which the traces [either of the two straps, ropes, or chains by which a carriage, wagon, or the like is drawn by a harnessed horse or other draft animal] are attached.

[35] Appanoose IL – Carthage and Appanoose IL were surveyed and laid out in 1835 and 1836. It was about 25 miles from La Harpe. Today there is no town named Appanoose but the area is Appanoose Township. From what I could find, I would think that Appanoose was located approximately where Niota IL is located today, across the Mississippi River from Fort Madison IA.

[36] The County Commissioner's Court at Rockingham in May, 1838, fixed the following ferriage rates for the Mississippi River:
 Footmen $.18 3/4
 Man and horse .50
 One vehicle and driver .75
 Two horses, vehicle and driver 1.00
 Each additional horse or mule .18 3/4
 Meat cattle, per head .12 1/2
 Sheep or hogs .05
 Freight per hundred .06 1/4
 From sunset to sunrise, double rates were allowed.

…While the ferries of early days rendered practically the same public service that the bridges of to-day do, they were, for the most part, established for private profit. And when one considers the striking similarity between crossing the Mississippi in a ferry-boat and crossing it over a bridge, it seems odd that a toll should have to be paid in the one case and not in the other. Nevertheless, free ferries were as conspicuously absent then as free bridges are prevalent to-day. On the other hand, the idea of a free public ferry was not altogether unheard of. By legislative act the commissioners of Louisa County were authorized to establish and keep a ferry across the Iowa River which was to render its services free to all the citizens of the county. And at the extra session of the First General Assembly the Mayor and Aldermen of Ft. Madison were authorized to provide for "the free carriage across the Mississippi river for one year, of all persons with their property coming to Ft. Madison for the purpose of trading with its inhabitants, and bringing marketing and produce to the place " http://iagenweb.org/history/palimpsest/1920-Dec.htm

[37] Carlton Holmes Perry (1802-1880)

[38] A unit of linear measure, 51/2 yards or 161/2 feet, therefore 20 rods = 330 feet or 110 yards. There are 320 rods in a mile. So this crossing was approximately 1.0625 miles.

[39] Elizabeth A. Wolcott Perry (1807-1892)

[40] “In the year 1834 a man by the name of Whiteaker, in looking over the beautiful prairies in and about West Point, was impressed with the place as a location for a town. His idea was that the town should be situated in the timber, or at least on the edge of the woodland. Mr. Whiteaker made the necessary steps to claim a large part, if not all the land upon which West Point is now built.It was early in May, 1835, when Wm. Patterson, Hawkins Tayler, Alexander H. Walker and Green Casey arrived on the Black Hawk Purchase from Illinois. They were all Kentuckians by birth and education. On being pleased with the location for a young community, they eventually purchased the claim of Hunsicker, laying out additional lots. The name of West Point was given it at the suggestion of the officers of the garrison at Fort Des Moines, who agreed, if allowed to name the town, to purchase a number of lots. Fort Des Moines was located at present day Montrose, approximately 15 miles distant.

Early County Seat. The Legislative Assembly of the Wisconsin Territory, having selected the “east half of southeast quarter of Section 5, Town 68 north of Range 5 west, located the county seat at West Point on March 20, 1843 (later moved to Fort Madison, some nine-miles distant).” The original court house building was 45′ by 50′ in size constructed of brick with a stone foundation in the present day City Square.

http://www.westpointiowa.com/town-history/  Today the population of West Point IA is about 941.

[41] The population of Fort Madison, Iowa today  is about 11,000.

[42] West Point, Iowa, which is about 9 miles NE of Fort Madison, Iowa, with a population today of about 950.  See Iowa close-up map in text.

[43] Fort Madison

[44] Nathan Isbel, Jr. (1801-1856). Son of Nathan, Sr. & Abigail Isbel. He was likely an old acquaintance of Wells Colton’s from Lenox MA. They were about 11 years apart in age, Colton being the younger man. It is possible that their families were friends.

[45] Betsey Isbell Nash (1798-1849), sister of Nathan Isbell, Jr. She and her husband Ira Nash lived in central NY state.

[46] Denmark IA is about 8 miles north of Fort Madison IA. In 1836, four families emigrated from the town and church of New Ipswich, NH to Denmark in what was then Wisconsin Territory, now in Iowa. Today it is an unincorporated town in Lee Co. Iowa. It has a population of about 420.  See Iowa close up map in text.

[47] From jury duty in West Point, Iowa Territory. West Point was then the county seat.

[48] Howard Wolcott Perry (1835-1921), only son of Carlton & Elizabeth Wolcott Perry.

[49] Kathryn Wolcott Perry (1837-1924), only biological daughter of Carlton & Elizabeth Wolcott Perry. Much later in life, the Perrys adopted a daughter Saidee Wolcott Perry (1851-1917).

[50] psalmody: the act, practice, or art of singing psalms in worship. Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psalmody. Accessed 11 Jun. 2020.

[51] Arthur Wolcott (1815-1873), son of Elihu & Rachel McClure Wolcott; younger brother of Elizabeth A. Wolcott Perry.

[52] George Perrin Davis. See endnote #7.

[53] Nauvoo is about 11 miles from Fort Madison IA. See Iowa map in text.  It was established in many different ways by many different people. Beginning with the Sauk and Fox Native American Tribes who were forced from their eastern homelands, and came to the Mississippi Valley and began making many permanent settlements near where Nauvoo is today. The early European explorers and army surveyors, who established many a post in the area and eventually started Nauvoo’s precursor towns, Venus and Commerce in 1820’s and 1830’s. The Mormons led in 1839 by their prophet Joseph Smith, who drained the swamps, gave Nauvoo its name and built a town that rivaled Chicago until religious percussion led them to head out west. The Icarians, a group of mostly middle class French idealists led by Etienne Cabet attempted to establish a communistic society in Nauvoo, Illinois to varying success in the 1850’s. https://www.beautifulnauvoo.com/nauvoo-history/

[54]   Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1895-June 27, 1844)

Religious Leader. He was the founder and First President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as the Mormons). Born in Sharon, Vermont, his parents, Joseph and Lucy Smith, operated a farm. When the farm failed, Joseph Senior moved the family to Palmyra, New York, hoping to do better. Near poverty nearly all their lives, the children had to work early to support the family, and as a result, their education suffered. At the age of 14, Joseph announced that he had seen a vision of God and Jesus Christ. Some years later, Joseph unearthed golden plates on a local hillside, and these plates would later be translated as the Book of Mormon. After printing and distributing copies of the Book of Mormon in the Upstate New York region, Smith gathered a small core of followers and founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Fayette, New York on April 6, 1830. Smith, his wife Emma, and several followers moved to Kirtland, Ohio, Far West, Missouri, and finally Nauvoo, Illinois to avoid religious persecution. After destroying a newspaper operation that printed negative material about him and his church, Joseph was arrested for "suppression of freedom of the press" and imprisoned at the Carthage Jail. On June 27, 1844, a mob of 200 men stormed the jail and murdered Joseph and his brother Hyrum. The brothers were buried together at their family homesite in Nauvoo, Illinois. Brigham Young became the next President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/962/joseph-smith

[55]   Lucy Mack Smith  (July 8, 1775 - May 14, 1856) Lucy Mack Smith

Born in Gilsum, New Hampshire, The United States
Lucy Mack Smith was the mother of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.

[56] For other accounts written by others who viewed these artifacts while visiting Nauvoo in the spring of 1844, go to: https://user.xmission.com/~research/central/lucymacksmith.pdf

[57] The Mansion House served as Joseph and Emma’s second home in Nauvoo, and they first moved into it on August 31, 1843.The Mansion House served to entertain many individuals that came to Nauvoo. Initially, Joseph hosted guests free of charge, but was unable to continue to support himself doing so. It eventually became necessary for him to start charging guests in September of 1843. http://mormonhistoricsites.org/mansion-house/

[58] By 1844, Nauvoo's population topped 10,000, with construction being the major industry. In addition to massive housing demands, Nauvoo also had two large public projects under construction: a beautiful limestone temple on the hill, towering over the entire community, and a four-story hotel at the river's edge. The city teemed with activity from blacksmiths, gunsmiths, lumberyards, brick and rope makers, and shopkeepers, women's and youth organizations, Masonic Lodges, and a university. https://www.beautifulnauvoo.com/nauvoo-during-the-mormon-period-(1839-1846).html

[59] The Nauvoo temple was dedicated in 1846. The building measured 130 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 162 feet tall to the top of the statue of Angel Moroni. It had an area of 54,000 square feet. The 19th-century temple, which was successively damaged by an arson fire in 1848 and by a tornado on May 27, 1850 was consequently condemned and demolished by the Nauvoo City Council. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/nauvoo-temple?lang=eng

[60] https://www.deseret.com/1989/11/28/18834428/nauvoo-sunstone-at-smithsonian 

[61] A high place or part; a hill or elevation; height.

[62] Burlington, Iowa, was founded in 1833, shortly after the Blackhawk Purchase opened the area for settlement. John B. Gray, the first American to purchase a lot in the settlement, named it for his former home, Burlington, Vermont. Prior to this, the area was neutral territory for the Sac and Fox Indians, who called it “Shoquoquon” (Shok-ko-kon), meaning Flint Hills. From 1838 to 1840, Burlington was the first capital of the Iowa Territory. https://www.thehawkeye.com/history

[63] It is about 19 miles from Fort Madison IA to Burlington IA.

[64] Burlington, Iowa Population 202024,510

[65] They reached the Knoxville area on Saturday, May 18th. It is approximately 44 miles between Burlington IA and Knoxville IL, which makes me wonder if they may have stayed at Monmouth, possibly, on the night of the 17th, and then traveled from Monmouth to Knoxville on the 18th.

[66] George Henry Holcomb was born August 11, 1844.  George would only live 1 year, dying on August 12, 1845.

[67] It is approximately 40 miles from Knoxville to Peoria. It was likely during this visit to Peoria that Sarah met Mrs. Armstrong of Burlington IA, as well.

[68] Lilacs

[69] Possibly Maria McClelland Stevenson [Mrs. John Wallis] Ewing (1802-1883)

[70] Hennepin IL

[71] Wallpaper

[72] The house that Sarah is referring to here is not the old Fell farmhouse or the I-house addition to it which preceded the Davis Mansion.  David Davis had built a house for Sarah to come to when they were married and she came West to Bloomington to live. It was approximately where the McBarnes Building is today.

Less than a year later, Davis would acquire the Fell farm property which included the land on which the David Davis Mansion sits today.  David, Sarah, who was about to deliver their 3rd son, Mercer Davis, and 3 year old George Perrin Davis, would move into the old Fell farmhouse which sat approximately where the mansion sits today.

[73] A buttery was a small room usually used as a storeroom; a pantry or larder.

[74] “Turning the carpets” probably refers to rotating each carpet in its space to lessen the wear to the same portions of each rug over time.

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