Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Jennie Reed, July 27, 1862

In this letter from July 27, 1862, Samuel Reed writes to his wife from Ottumwa, Iowa describing the difficulties of running lines through the "rough and brushy country" of the state with a party of eight men who are "entirely unused to the business." He writes that he hopes conditions will be more favorable further from the Des Moines River or else the work will last into the winter. Reed states that were it "not for the few dollars I can make here more than on the farm I should be tempted to take the first train for Illinois and bid farewell to Rail Roading."

Dear Jennie

I know you will be very anxious to hear from me and I meant to have written to you from Burlington, but Sunday I went to church twice thinking I would have time to write Monday morning and went down to the office for that purpose but when there found that all the tools to work with had to be gathered together before train time and I had not a moment to spare even to write home. And when we arrived here 9 o'clock P.M. all was confusion and early Tuesday morning I went six miles west to commence work and have been running lines over high hills and through deep valleys where the brush and briers were as thick as they could stand and from six to twenty feet high. I came in last evening and shall leave again in the morning. My party consists of eight men besides myself all entirely unused to the business and as awkward as I should be in trying to make a pair of pants. And in this rough and brushy country I find it hard work to break them in, from appearances thus far it will take us more then July 15 1862 two months to make the locution but I hope that we shall find a more favorable country after we get away from the Des Moines River. If not a winters job is before us.

I have never realized more forcibly the engagements of quiet home life then for the past weeks and if it was not for the few dollars I can make here more than on the farm I should be tempted to take the first train for Illinois and bid farewell to Rail Roading. There is no use of saying anything about our eating and sleeping we have to do both to exist or I assure you very little of either would be done.

How I wish I were with you and our children this day. Here there is no church service. I believe there is once in four weeks but have not learned positively. We don't know how to measure blessings until they are gone. The evening I left Joliet there was in Chicago one of the most severe rainstorms we have had this season which seemed as we passed over the road to have extended into Iowa. The crops of grain and grass appeared to be about as they are in the vicinity of Joliet until we passed Galesburgh then corn was better but wheat not as good grass (timolly and clover) ripe and seed falling and not one acre in one hundred cut. In this part of Iowa winter wheat where there is any is good spring wheat and oats an entire [furlre] rust kills the oats and bugs the wheat. Corn looks quite well but late.

I shall write to you every opportunity and hope you will write me often. Kiss our two darling children for me.

Your very affectionately,

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Jennie Reed
  • Extent: 2 pages
  • Citation: Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Samuel Reed Family Papers, Box 2, Folder 28
  • Date: July 27, 1862