Kansas Territorial Documents


Henry B. Shaw



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A letter written by a homesteader named Henry B. Shaw to his cousin Thomas Shaw. Henry lived in Lawrence, and Thomas lived in Norwich, New York. In this letter Henry talks about living in his cabin, gives details about Territorial Kansas, tells his cousin that he should come here to farm or find work, and describes Lawrence™s businesses.

Physical Description

Two pieces of paper folded in half measuring 5" x 7.8" and an envelope measuring 5.5" x 2.9"


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Sunday eve, Lawrence Kansas Terr. 22nd Nov Dear Cousin Thomas, I was thinking today that I ought to write to you & I have therefore acted accordingly. I hope you will return the compliment & I shall look for a letter in return about twenty-days from this date. You know I used to tell you that I should not always stay in Louisville & think that I have done right or have taken the first step towards right. I am at work at my trade in Lawrence & shall probably clear without a doubt this winter two dollars per day & more in the spring & have a chance to get a claim of 160 acres of land that is better for raising melons than your old Pittsville or old Otsego for raising beans. The soil is black and loamy or light to work, not a stone or a stump to trouble a man only where this ledges of rock which are valuable for building (more on the side and top of the page) - Please correct all mistakes. I shan't read it if you can. It looks like the old [illegible] himself but I can't have time to write again Mr. Thomas Shaw Esq. Norwich Chenango Co. New York Two cancellation stamps say Lawrence Nov 23 KT purposes. I wish that you could come to Kansas and get three dollars per day as I believe you could if you got once started in business for some man here or hire you a room and then paint all the carriages for some man steady and then all the rest of the time (& probably that would not be much) you could paint for others around town and make four times what you can in Norwich. But I do not wish to encourage any more the best friend in the world to leave a place in the east for the west, as they might not like it & then I would be to blame. I do believe you could get well off here in five years. Get a claim for two hundred & then go to work at your trade in town & earn double the wages & that claim would be gaining all the time & you too. But I have not been here long enough to tell you all the inconveniences of a new county but they, have got to be greater ones than I have met with yet to make me start for the east. I like Lawrence & the county raised here & from the Missouri river through the Delaware reserve from Wyondotte the county is beautiful & they say that the most of the Terr. is like it if it is it is good enough. Common day labours will get from two to three dollars per day equal to mechanic wages & no one need think of picking up gold in the [illegible] or in the pararies, but manual labor is well rewarded & that is right for more to work & get paid for his labor. [illegible] as receive with money can double it by speculating in property if he invests in the right time & you can loan money here from three to five [illegible] a month. Better than [illegible] a year in Chenauga. I have got the worst pen I ever tried to write with I believe & you can read it or let it alone that is My apoligy, good it is not. If I had any spare time I would take a clean sheet & commence anew but have more than a hundred letters to answer & write to those that I promised to before I left. Please excuse the blots & I will do better next time. If you will send the miniature of your wife & self here I will preempt half of Kansas for you & her & the children. Give her my best regards & tell her to come to Kansas where land is to be had cheap enough for a farm for each of them don't care how many & better than the rest of the world. Grandy Sanderson & Stub Shaw & Bill Bard & Cole Whitney came with me & are well all but Brandy. He has been sick ever since he came five weeks but is now so he will work next week some. They send respects or would if they were in here. I am in our cabin writing & the cook is washing the dishes just been to tea. We all keep bach hall and hire a cook a young man from Maine a good cook too I assure you. We enjoy ourselves first rate us happy a set of fellows as you ever saw. Guess we call it the St. Niculas Hotel & a better boarding house than on average I think. We had Turkey last Sunday. Cooked nice & tasted good you would though it had been our last. Lawrence is a nice town for one so young & so much to contend with being burned once & trouble the most of the time for here has been the centre of all their black damning deeds if I may be allowed the expression. But it is peaceable times here now & we or free state men carried the election without trouble & she is bound to be free or the soil of Kansas will drink the blood of thousands of free men for the majority will hardly submit to a minority so trivial as this Terr. presents. You can buy at the stores here all the comforts that you could in Norw. I belive there is four churches & over than twenty stores & filled to the roof (More at the top of the page)- Now you don't put off writing & never answer this. My best regards to your wife and the best wishes of your cousin Henry B. Shaw. & you can get flour & meat as cheap yes beef steak the best kind for six & seven cents per pound but board at the hotels & lodging is six dollars per week & four & one half & lodge your self. You will think that I am particular about matters but what is the use of writing without you do tell these little things . I hope you will write all the news of your friends & your wife write. This is for her as well as you. I am sorry I could not have seen her before I left but was not sure of coming two weeks before I left. Now if you will do that send your & her likeness in a case together you shall have mine & my wife when I marry. I ask it as a favor from you & if it was not for making You offended I would enclose a five for the trouble. But there if you don't think enough of me to do this go to Thunder with your cargo. You will hear from me often enough to know I am alive & kicking if there is a chance for you touring I will write to you & let you know. If you come in the spring I could warrant you that is as much as I belive I live that you could get all you could do at good wages. If you in the spring early you could go & get a claim preempt, that is build a hut of logs & have a kind of a door, roof & windows & floor no matter if you could throw a cat through between the logs it will hold it & eat & sleep in it one night or two & have a witness & there go & file or swear you have such a claim & such improvements & (more on the side of the page ) - Write soon & send that miniature. I will keep it as long as I live you will [illegible] saw her & she is a cousin of mine you know. To pay your money about two hundred & you are all right better land than you can get in that town or in York state. If you will pardon me for such a looking letter this time, tell your wife I will see if I can't make the next look a little better. Don't show it for a [illegible] if you do I won't write again. So consider it is from Kansas & written in a log cabin on a rough table, room about 7 by 9 & warm as any ones parlor it is dining reading room parlor all in one. I have sent a drawing of it today to sister Deliaette. Will you please for my sake & friendship too, to go down & see it & make your cousin a visit now [illegible] throwing of that peculiar feeling & go you know that you would be real like a brother. She D. does not know you if you met in the street. Now do this for me write all the news of the Norwich men & all about Delie & William & all the cousins. Send the miniature. Written in pencil - Territory created by act of May 30, 1854; State created by act of Jany 27, 1861 1857-60

Letter from Henry Shaw to his cousin Thomas Shaw


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