Ranney Letter #28

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Lucius writes Henry and Achsah again, in spite of the fact he has not heard from them since his previous letter of early September. Lucius apparently finds the long silence unsettling and says “we are all anxious to hear how you all get along.” He gives news of the family and neighbors, and of his farm. His daughter Carroline, who is now about four, has been to party for a little girls at a neighbor’s house, and had a good time. Lucius probably includes mentions of Carroline for his mother’s sake, rather than Henry’s.

Anson has gone to the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, to take a four or five week teacher training course. In the nineteenth century, a lot of professions such as teaching and medicine were taught in short, intensive programs. In the mid-1800s, for example, the “medical lectures” at colleges like Dartmouth lasted only fourteen weeks (and cost $50). People went, learned what they needed to know, and returned home. Sometimes they went back for a second course of study a year later. Then they took an exam. Only at the elite colleges did students stay for long academic terms. The multi-year, residential college life we’re so familiar with was something only the rich experienced until the establishment of land-grant agricultural and technical colleges during the Civil War, and then to a much greater degree in the twentieth century with programs like the GI Bill.

My Transcription:


Allen Oct 22
nd 1854
Dear Friends

I wrote a letter to you some five or six weeks ago, & have not heard any thing from you since that time. But however having a few leisure moments this evening, I thought I would write you again a few lines. We are all well. Anson is at Ypsilanti to school at the State Normal School. He went about three weeks ago. He will probably stay about two weeks longer. He went with Mr. Beers. I presume he will teach this winter.

We heard from Franklin’s folks some 3 or 4 weeks ago by way of Mr. Everett Baggerly & his wife. They are here on a visit & expect to spend a few months here. We like John Baggerly’s folks quite well for neighbors. They said that Frankiln’s folks were well.

Lewis and Sarah Ann moved to Quincy about two weeks since. Henry Koon got a letter from Harrison about a week since. He said that he should start for home about the first of December. We got a paper a day or two since from California. Suppose it was from Lemuel. We have not heard directly from Priscilla in some time.

We have just finished husking corn & digging potatoes. I had three hundred bushels of ears of corn, & 75 bushels of potatoes. We have had a very pleasant fall so far, & but a very little rain until today. Today has been a very steady rainy day.

I hope that we shall hear from you soon. We feel anxious to hear how you all get along &c. Do you get the Hillsdale Standard regular? We send it times & matters move along about as usual. We milk 3 cows. Butter is worth eighteen pence. I let Lewis have to old Brin cow. Snap & Old Yellow are sleeping around the fire as usual.

Carroline went to a little girl’s Party to Mr. Brockway’s yesterday. She enjoyed it well.

Please write as soon as you receive this.

Yours in Haste, Mother, Henry &c.
Lucius Ranney

Mother, if I do not write more on this slip of paper I am afraid that you will think that I am wasteful. Well what shall it be? There is so much that I might write about that I hardly know what to write. Well we are a fattening a beef & six hogs. We have 22 pigs about 6 weeks old. They are just right for roasters. We have 10 spring pigs. We raised one calf this summer. It is a nice one.

We also raised a nice lot of chickens. Mrs. Ford started out a visiting a day or two since as usual. She went to three places & they were all gone. You know that she is very persevering on such occasions, consequently she made us a visit.

Lucius