1861: Ann (Updegraff) Starr to Nathan Updegraff Starr

How Ann might have looked in 1861 (Will Griffing Collection)

This letter was written by Ann (Updegraff) Starr (1801-1865), the widow of Merrick Starr (1795-1851), and the mother of Nathan Updegraff Starr (1825-1902) to whom she addressed her letter. Ann wrote the letter letter from Quincy, Illinois, where she resided with her daughter, Hannah (Starr) Willey (1830-1885) and Hannah’s husband, George F. W. Willey (1821-1892)—a native of Germany who previously served in the US 4th Infantry and was a Mexican War Veteran.

Ann grew up near the Quaker village of Mt. Pleasant—a rural farm community in the rolling hills of eastern Ohio. Her parents have been identified as Nathan Updegraff (1750-1827) and Ann Lupton (1767-1833) who came to Ohio in 1802, settling on Short Creek, some two and a half miles northeast of Mt. Pleasant where he built the first mill in the township. She married Merrick Starr in 1824 and raised their family as members of the Quaker faith, attending the Short Creek Monthly Meeting.

Merrick and Ann eventually relocated with their daughter Hannah and her husband George to Worthington, Franklin county, Ohio where Merrick earned a living as a shoemaker; George laboring as a music teacher. After her husband died in 1851, Ann relocated to Quincy, Illinois, with George and Hannah where George found employment as a “professor” of music, no doubt.

Ann’s letter provides us with a glimpse of Quincy, Illinois, in 1861, informs us of the “display and patriotism manifested on the occasion of the Fourth of July, and of the growing fears of a Rebel invasion up the Mississippi river or from the neighboring state of Missouri.


Addressed to Mr. Nathan U. Starr, Delaware, Ohio

Quincy [Illinois]
August 4, 1861

My very dear Son,

How swiftly time passes. It is now nearly a month since I received your most welcome letter giving me an account of the Fourth of July with you and although it is out of season, I will tell you a little of the doings here. There was much display and patriotism manifested on the occasion. There was a great military parade—two cavalry companies besides several other companies of soldiers, and firemen, citizens, &c. &c. marched through several streets and around the public square, and also an oration on the square by Rev. Edward Beecher of Galesburg, Ill.—brother of Henry Ward [Beecher], which was fine, and speeches by several citizens.

The North seems now to be united and the same feeling throughout to put down the rebellion against the government. The troops that enlisted here for three months and have been at Cairo, their time expired yesterday but few came back. They expected there would be an attack there very soon and as they were well drilled, they agreed to stay awhile longer. Gen. Pillow has a large force about twenty miles from Cairo and is threatening them but they are well prepared and anxious to receive them. The Rebels in Missouri are getting very troublesome and much more bold since the repulse at Manassas. There has not been any trouble here yet but some fears there will be. They are much enraged against some of the citizens of Quincy—Gov. Woods in particular—and had set a night to burn his house. There was a guard placed around the house but the enemy did not come. Mrs. Woods suffers much alarm. Moses will remember the house; he went to see it. It was not finished then. It is now completed and the family living in it.

I want to see you all very much indeed but do not know what to say about going this summer. G[eorge] & H[annah Willey] think they could not go. You kindly offered to take me to Mt. Pleasant if I come to Delaware [Ohio]. I received a letter from cousin Anna Mendenhall last week. They want me to make them a visit. She says Aunt Hannah wants me very much to spend some time with her. She is very lonely since Jesse’s death. Uncle Nathan is married but she did not tell me whom to. I suppose she thought I had heard it before. She said she had written to Moses and had received a letter from him. I suppose she told him all the news. There has been many changes since I was there. Do you ever hear from our friends at Mt. Vernon?

The weather is very warm and dry for the last week. The thermometer has risen to 104 degrees but there has not been much sickness here so far. We are all very well at present. You ask if I ever have any of those attacks to which I have been subject. I have not had any of them for some time and the last two or three were quite light. I hope I have got over them.

[Your wife,] Ollie [Olive Louise Horr], was not well when you wrote. I hope she has has recovered her health. I was glad to hear you & Mand family were well. Please write soon. G[eorge] and H[annah] send much love to you all with many wishes for your present and future happiness. Your affectionate mother, — Ann N. Starr

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