SCOPE: Letter from D. L. Stiles to a relative while on a trip along the Mississippi River in the Missouri and Illinois region, postmarked from Evansville, Ill. The letter details his journey on the Steamer Little Dove From Saint Louis to the Evansville region. He discusses in detail the lead production of Missouri and a mine operation he observes on the journey (based on the postmark and date, believed to be part of the Southeast Missouri Lead District river shipping point at Herculaneam.) He also discusses family he is visiting and the Irish population of southern Illinois.
EXTENT: One Letter, two sheets with script front and back. Folded to create four pages. Dated August 4, 1845, Evansville, Ill.
[PAGE ONE BEGINS]
Evansville Aug 4th, 1845
Dear Brother, I received your semi anual Epister a weak or two before I left for which I thank you. It is pleasant to receive letters from home this was doubly so to me at the time of its reception for I had just rose from a sick left weak and emaciated and although disease had wasted and weakened my frame it left my afflictions unimpaired and I must leave to your imagination the happy effect your letter had upon me. For I should fail giving you an adequate description of my feelings and greatful emotions it afforded me should I attempt it.
I greatly desire to accept your proposition and lit my face once more towards my “Northern Green Hills” but the season had already so much advanced I could not have time sufficient to accomplish so long a journey and be back in time for fall (illegible). and (illegible) called me to c--ti this fall. I therefore to git rid of confinement and the excep-- hot weather which the thickly ---ld up city narrow streets and increases beyond indurance resolved to leave the city for a few weeks in hopes to regain my health and I am so far on my way. I left St Louis last Thursday, the last day of July on board the little steamer Dove for the Rivers are so low that none but the lightest craft can move. When on board I found her full with passengers all of the births taken so my only chance
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was upon the floor. But through the kindness of the capt I was finally well provided for and had a fine trip, and safely landed at this port Saturday night being out 2 1/3 days. St Louis has a beautiful appearance. As we learn it there comes the arsenal and inch Some Barracks firmly situated upon the banks of the River on the Missouri shore.
Did you ever see a Shot town. We stopped at one a few miles below the city. You know Missouri supplies the world with lead for she is exceedingly rich in this oar. Here we look in 73 keggs of shot over 10 tons destined for Louisville KY. the stone house is just upon the bank of the river. 100 feet in the rear is a high cliff a perpendicular rock elevated some hundred above and furnace is built upon it summit. The furnace projects over the rock. From this the lead falls through sives of of s---- --ges through the open air 100 feet or more strighting into water and roll upon an incline plain to the warehouse. Here it goes through a process of Rolling and prepared for shipment. One of the blacks informed me that they made 100 kegs per week or 15 tons. You can form an estimate of the annual quantity turned out of this one article of commerce when I tell you that this is one of about a dozen in this vicinity how many in the state I am unable to say. We left about 11 o’clock. --le the next morning about 7 o’clock we reached the mouth of the Ohio. The junction of these two rivers forms a beautiful contrast they unite but do not mingle their waters for many miles. The beautiful Ohio north
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its clean and intrepid current seams to spur the ---- waters of the Father of Waters and seems to stru- to ma—t- her virgin purity. The Bank of the Pleasant Ohio have always had a peculiar charm and health to me in fact it is one of the most lovely streams in the whole west its banks are lined with rich and beautiful scenery.
I havent paper enough in this letter to say all I wish to. and shall write you again from the -- and White Sulphur Springs where I propose spending a short time for my health. I am writing in Cousin Shanklin’s Country Room. I found his Family --- will also Cousin Mary and Aunt Edith. I was greeted a hearty and cordial welcome by all and I shall not be able to get away from there today as I intended when I arrived. All hands are going to the Salt Spring today and there I shall turn myself away from there on the first boat that comes this way. Cousin Philura makes a fine to my Woma—and has 3 sons and one daughter. Mr. Shanks has been at one time considered worth 100 thousand and will be again very soon. That is if the Canal is ever completed to strike the Wabash River at Vinnbury it will -- the price of property here and he holds a large amount. This place really is doing very well. Mary has one the sweetess little creature you ever saw. I would like to see you! You speak in such glowing terms of Aunt don’t appear have grown old much and she is as spry as a cricket. First one up in the mornings and the last one to bed. She likes you and speaks often of you and John and all of our Family says she cant think but what is mush and will see mother again before she goes to her home many are the grateful and anxious tears that coat her cheeks while she talks over old things and the friends she has in Vermont. Evansville is assured to be a place of great commercial importance (illegible) to Wabash Valley. It is a pleasant and thriving place. Even now it has about 4,000 inhabitance. Cousin Reilly has two brothers from the Green Isle one of them is for Mr. Shanklin a pleasant and intelligent young fellow 20 years. the Irish have warm hearts p—er Known. Well the Reilley are from the North of Ireland and never would take the f— Irish except from their warm hearts. Which overflow with kindness they seem to think as much of me as of any Brothers. Cousin S. Family claiming my half of the t--- a of course if the others but aren’t he ---y at the latter. How they have my company rather the most, they would all su—long if they knew I was writing to you I must now – and bid you good by for the present, please give my love to your good lady and the Family especially to Dear Mother. D. L. Stiles.
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I was in hopes to have Baxter come out but if he and you all think best to have him stay and imbark in the low I shall not wrye his company here in to St. Louis. I was glad to hear so good an account of his improvement and I am sorry and proud to hear what you say of William. I surely join you in the hope that he will out grow it and become firm
and healthy. How long as he been so? And what is the course of it please write out all the perticulers in his case perhaps a change of climate will be beneficial and prove a cure for his complaint. I surely shall be for having come to the West please take it under consideration and see him upon the subject and write me early. I shall write you again in a few days from the Tar Springs. [END]
HISTORY: D.L. Stiles is believed to be David L. Stiles of Northfield, Vermont. This letter details a trip along the Mississippi River on the Str. Little Dove departing from St. Louis and joining the Ohio River heading east into Illinois. Stiles mentions White Sulpher Springs as a destination, possibly in West Virginia.
Stiles discusses in detail a lead mining operation he observes south of Saint Louis. This operation is likely to be part of the Southeast Missouri Mining Lead District. This regions contains the highest concentration of galena (lead(II) sulfide) in the world. Mining in this region began in the 18th century, with surface mining as the primary method circa 1845. By the time Stiles visited the region, the process had become quite involved (as evidenced by the equipment he describes) and profited from the work of many professional workers and African slaves.
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Preferred Citation note: The preferred citation for this collection is "From the collections of the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.”
The full letter is available digitized below:
Full Stiles Letter, Black and White - .jpg