This letter was written by Peter J. Miller (1841-1910) who married Anna N. Warstler (1838-1910) on 6 September 1860 in Stark county, Ohio. In the 1860 US Census, taken in June, Peter was enumerated in the household of Mrs. M. Shellenberger of Marlboro, Stark county, Ohio. Peter’s occupation was given as “laborer.” Anna was enumerated in the same village living with her parents, Jonas and Elizabeth Warstler. By the time of the 1870 Census, Peter and Anna had relocated from Ohio to Monroe, Kosciusko county, Indiana, where Peter earned his living as a farmer.
Peter appears to have been the son of John P. Miller (b. 1813) and his wife Maria (b. 1819), both natives of Pennsylvania who resided in Bethlehem, Stark county, Ohio, in 1860.
Peter wrote the letter to his uncle George Miller (1804-1867) who was married to Lydia Newhard (1811-1890). George and Lydia had several children, to include: Christianna (b. 1837), Tilghman P. (b. 1939), William (b. 1841), Eli (b. 1844), and Peter (b. 1849). The couple lived out their days there, raising at least seven children.
Peter’s letter to his paternal uncle and family shares a reaction of Ohioans to the election of Abraham Lincoln and expresses some fear that the country will face “hard times” if the South does not “cool down” before the President’s inauguration. He informs them that the life of the president-elect has been threatened and suggests that Old John Brown is to be blamed for making the South “spunky” and emboldened them to carry out their threats of dissolution.
[This letter is from the private collection of Adam Ochs Fleischer and has been published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
Bridgeport, Stark County, Ohio
December 23, 1860
Dear Uncles and Aunts and Cousins,
I sit down to try to write a few lines to you to let you know that we are all well at present and so are all the rest of the friends as far as I know. And I hope these few lines will find you all well. I ought to have write to you for some time but I didn’t get at it. But I will let you know that I received your letter and I was very glad to read it and to read in it that you were all well for the times are mighty hard in Ohio at the present time for there is no money that goes except Ohio and the Old Pittsburgh Bank. That is all that goes here at the present time.
And there is a great excitement about the President that was elected. Some are almost scared to death while others only laugh at them. But for my part, I didn’t lose any sleep about it yet. But I don’t know but what we will have hard times if the South don’t cool down before the fourth of March for the way the papers say, they are going to kill the new[ly] elected President and if they will do that, then it will give hard times. But I guess they will cool down yet before that time. But all this fuss would not have been if that Old John Brown would have kept his fingers out of the Harper’s Ferry scrape. But that made the South spunky and now they are determined to dissolve the Union, and I, for my part, can’t blame them much for the black republican party used the South very mean so that I can’t blame them very much. But still it would be better to cool down than to dissolve the Union.
Further, I will let you know that I commenced to keep house and I guess we have plenty to live on for I butchered three hogs and have a quarter of a beef and I have some wheat and some buckwheat and corn. And so I guess we can get along very fine if we keep our health. And I think that it was most time for Christian[na] to catch one or else she will be in the bachelor line. That was the reason why I got married. I was afraid that they would turn me over to the bachelors and I didn’t like that. And if Christian[na] can get one in there if she will come out here, I will help her to [find] one for they are plenty here—and some old bachelors [too].
Further the weather is very agreeable. We have had some good sleighing but it didn’t last long and about the market prices, I don’t know anything. Well I guess I must bring my letter to a close for this time and I want you to write soon and not wait so long as I did. So no more but I remain your friend and well wisher till death. Excuse me for my bad scribbling and misspelling.
Peter J. Miller to George Miller
Ana M. Miller to Lydia and Christian[na] and Tilghman and William and Elias.
And all the rest of the friends and so forth. Goodbye to you all.