Reading

Ranney Letter #25

1853-11-24ABRtoHSR
Anson writes Henry from the town of Reading, seven miles from the family home in Allen. He has taken a teaching job for the winter that pays $16 and board, which Anson says sounded like a better deal than $12 a month for working “out in the snow.” Some of Anson’s students are older and bigger than he is (Anson is 20), but that doesn’t seem to bother him. He likes the people, who he says are “good nice citizens.”

Anson says the family is well, and mentions that they had heard from Lemuel. Although he supposes that Lucius may have already written about Lemuel’s letter (if Lucius did write, his letter was lost. This is one of those remarks that leads me to think there were actually many more letters between the brothers than made it into the archive — which is remarkable, given the number that were preserved), Anson repeats Lemuel’s news from memory. He says Lemuel has offered to send him money for his trip, if he will come to California. Since Lemuel has already written that he would not advise friends to travel overland to California, this presumably means a journey by ship down the coasts of North and South America, around the Straits of Magellan, and up the other side to San Francisco. That would be quite an adventure for a twenty-year old from Michigan, and Anson seems to be considering it. Anson says if he goes he might retire to Ashfield afterward, once he has made his fortune.

My Transcription:


Nov 24
th 1853
Respected Brother

Having a few leisure moments to spare I will improve the time by writing to you. I am well & doing the same. I am about seven miles from Lucius in the town of Reading, teaching school. I have taught about ten days, and so far I like the business very well. My school is not very large now & probably it will not be this winter. It will average about from twenty five to thirty scholars. Some of them are men grown larger than I am. I get sixteen dollars & boarded. I thought that would be better than to work out in the snow for twelve. It is a first rate district. The people are good nice citizens, which makes it rather more pleasant.

I came from home last Monday morning. The folks were all well then. Lewis was at our house when I came away. They were all well there. We received a letter from Lemuel a few days since. Probably Lucius has written about it before this. He wrote that he was in good health and doing tolerable well. He was to work where he has been for some time on Clear Creek, twelve miles from Shasta City. He was to work by the month mining. He gets one hundred & seventeen dollars per month & boards himself. He wrote for me to go to California. He said he would send me the money in the spring if I would only go. He says that a laboring man can make more there than he can here in the States.

I must stop writing now for a while because it is most school time and I will try and finish after school.


Well school is out for the night and I am glad, for I am a little tired now but will soon be rested again. I received a letter from Harrison a few days ago. He wrote that he was well but a little homesick. He thought of coming back in the spring, in June I believe he set his time for coming back. He wrote that Lyman had been sick but was getting better so that he was up around. Mother she is in Phelps N.Y. I suppose she calculates on staying there throughout the winter.

If I go to California I shall probably go to Ashfield when I come back from the Gold Mines. Then I can have something to live on. I suppose you think there is not much to be made in California. Well everyone to their notion.

I thank you very much for the papers you send me, for I get some time to read them and find some good pieces in them. I suppose I shall have to quit for it is most time to go for my supper. Please write on the receipt of this. Write soon.

Yours Respectfully
A. B. Ranney

P.S. Please send my mail to Reading P. O. Hillsdale Co. Mich and Oblige A. B. Ranney