Amanuensis Monday: A Letter from Asa Minor to John P. Minor, 1837

The front of the 4″ by 5″ packet declares :

W                                                                                                                                                              John P Minor                                                                                                                                        Green County PA                                                                                                                                Big Whitely Ofice                                                                                                                                                    Pa

Kirkwood O                                                                                                         25                             August 22nd

On the back hidden amid some scribbled numbers is a thumbnail-sized circular stain, the remnant of some long ago wax seal.  The parchment-colored paper unfolds to reveal a letter, one long paragraph,  written on two 7.5″ by 12″ pages.  There are no commas or periods to help the 21st century reader mark the beginning and ending of thoughts.  Capital letters are used indiscriminately for proper and common nouns, verbs and adjectives.  Spelling is often phonetic and the same word can have multiple spellings throughout the note.  Fortunately the handwriting is legible, the ink still dark, the script remarkably like the cursive I learned in Mrs. Flora’s fourth grade classroom.

This is a letter written by Asa Minor (b. 1796) to his big brother John Pierson (Pearson) Minor(b. 1791) in 1837. *1  I have taken the liberty to present the letter with corrections, so that the intent of the letter is clear:

Warren County Ohio August 22nd 1837

Dear brother & sister,

I take my pen in hand to inform you we are enjoying good health  at present & our friends as far as I can hear are enjoying health through the tender mercies of a kind Providence.  I hope these few lines may find you all enjoying good health.  I have nothing particular to write you at present, only to scold you a little; that is if you ever received my last letter which I wrote,  I think, in May last.   I know it was shortly after Uncle Stephen Minor came with his news of having a bill against us & I have never received a line from you since.  I thought I would set down in a brief manner to inform you we are all well & also to try to persuade you to write me an answer to let me know if you are coming down this fall or not.

Also Concerning this money Scrape (*2): if our Ohio paper will answer you any purpose, I can have $200 hundred for you this fall if it will.  As I have 100 hundred coming into my hands & I have to take that or nothing.   I thought if you intend to buy any stock it would answer, as it will on all purposes here with the exceptions of Land.

We have had a tolerable wet summer here. Our corn looks well and oats but we have had a tedious time for harvest.  Our markets is as follows:  wheat is from 90 to $1.00; flour is 3.50 per hundred wt barrel  $7.00 per lb.  Oald Corn is 50 pr, oats 33 ½.  The horses is high but not so high as was in the spring, for you could buy  tolerable good gelding from 65 to 75 dollars.

I must come to a close as I am in a hurry to move at present but we remain your friends until death. Give our love to all inquiring friends and please to write in haste.

Asa Minor , Eleanor Minor

(to) John P. Minor,  Izabel Minor                                                               (PS) for Wool 33

*1:The brothers were part of the large Abia Minor family, which began with the marriage of Abia to Margaret Pearson in 1790, Middlesex, New Jersey.  When the boys were small Abia and Margaret joined the extended Minor family living in Greene County, Pennsylvania, at the southwestern corner of the state.  Abia outlived his first wife, remarried and continued to contribute to the nation’s population growth.  At some point after 1820 it appears that Abia moved his family to Warren County, Ohio; this migration certainly included the youngest members but may have also included children from his first marriage, including Asa, who married Eleanor Thompson.  John P. Minor married Isabella McClelland, and remained in Greene County to become a very successful farmer and investor.

*2 The money scrape refers to the Panic of 1837 in which a wave of state and private banks defaulted on deposits.  Loans were called in and credit was no longer extended, creating a cycle of business failures, high unemployment and rapid inflation.  Ohio had nine state banks, which had lent beyond its means and printed money unsecured by gold and silver deposits.  Paper money was not accepted by the federal government for postal transactions or land sales. The depression that followed the crash lasted until around 1844.



One thought on “Amanuensis Monday: A Letter from Asa Minor to John P. Minor, 1837

  1. Pingback: Amanuensis Monday: Article of Agreement | d kay s days

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