1863: Ethan William Davis to Betsey Ann Allen

Ethan W. Davis Letter of 17 February 1863 with images of his parents

This letter was written by Ethan William Davis (1836-1890)—the son of Harry B. Davis (1810-1876) and Eliza Green (1810-1883) of Rush, Monroe county, New York. Ethan married Betsey (“Bessie”) Ann Allen (1841-1905) and farmed in Greece, Monroe county, NY in 1865.

According to the book, “Wheatland, Monroe County, New York: A Brief Sketch of its History” by George Engs Slocum, Ethan Davis’s name was selected with fifteen others from his county in the draft of March 1864. However, Ethan’s name does not appear in any state rosters of those having served during the Civil War suggesting he must have arranged for a substutute.


New Lisbon [Wisconsin]
February 17, 1863

Dear Bessie,

It has been some time since I heard from you so I will improve the opportunity and have a chat with you.

The last letter I received from you I had forwarded from Cedar Falls to Marion, Iowa. In my last I said that a letter could reach me at Dubuque but was disappointed and did not get any, and came on to this state (Wisconsin) with a heavy heart.

I have been traveling for a firm in Milwaukee. I have been north nearly two hundred miles among the Indians where the snow was two feet deep and among the tall pines 100 feet high. How cold and dreary it would seem—much unlike home—when the wind would moan through the tall pines and not see a house for ten miles except Indians’ wigwam by the roadside.

It is very pleasant here today. It rained all day last Saturday and nerely spoilt the sleighing and today will finish it.

J. H. must be heard soldiering it now-a-days. I saw a company of soldiers that had been out after forty drafted men and got one. So much for drafting. 

Mineral Point is in a great lead region. I have some of the mineral in its natural state. It was a great curiosity to me and also some small pine cones. They will do to look at when I get home and refresh my memory of what I have seen.

I have that letter that you wanted me to get. Now Bessie, you don’t think that of me, do you? What Kit said about me? You have more confidence in me than that. I never thought of the thing. I wonder if the street cars run in Rochester.

Oh, when you [go] to your cousins after sugar, fetch me a toothful. I shall be home in three weeks. Direct your next to Dundee, Monroe county, Michigan. I have relatives there and will leave here next week.

Ever yours, —Ethan W. Davis

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