I can’t be certain of his identity but I believe this letter may have been written by Sanford Troop (b. 1832), a native of New York State, who’s brother was a merchant in Mt. Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa. They were enumerated together in the same household in the 1860 US Census at Mt. Pleasant. Perhaps he was a buyer for his brother’s store which would explain his knowledge of commodity prices and the necessity of his traveling around Iowa.
He wrote the letter to his cousin who I believe was Thomas “Kinyon” Terry (1834-1900 of Norwich, Chenango county, New York. Kinyon was married to Lucy “Elvira” Gleason (1842-1866) in 29 August 1861 in Broome county, New York.
Iowa City, [Iowa]
January 5th 1862
Dear Friend Kin,
Many weeks have passed since I wrote to you, yet you have never been forgotten. And now, without making any apologies, I will endeavor to reply to you last favor.
My letter to Elvira was perhaps as acceptable to you as her, & as you are both one, you may not think that I deserve a real chastising after all. I have been to Mt. Pleasant since writing to Elvira but they would not let me stay long so I’m again on my errand of mercy, destined to Monticello, Davenport, Dubuque, & McGregor. The weather has been beautiful and the traveling good & I feel thankful that I have been so wonderfully favored. Today it is snowing and we have the promise of sleighing. I suppose you have already been favored with sleigh rides as good perhaps as when I lived near you. I have had but one sleigh ride and that was on a sleigh drawn by oxen on bare ground & uphill at that. I made it pleasant, however, from the fact that a jolly number was in company with me.
I should like to know what you are doing. I have not heard from the East in a long time. Perhaps it is owing to my own negligence in writing. If you do not think me wholly unworthy of a letter, I should like well to hear from you & the friends. I know not whether Libbie is at home or away. If Olivia has a melodeon or piano, I have a beautiful piece of music that I would like to send her. You will please tell me. It has been published only about three weeks. Composed & arranged by an intimate acquaintance here in Mt. Pleasant, it was played at the Good Templars Supper a few evenings since, held at the City Hall in Mt. Pleasant with great applause. Mt. Pleasant is quite a place for amusement & something is most constantly going on to make it lively. The 4th Regiment of Cavalry are yet in camp and adds, I suppose, to its liveliness. 1
I find the farmers rather disheartened & well they might while stock and produce remain at the present prices. Beef is now selling at three dollars, pork at two dollars, corn at ten cents per bushel, and other grain in like proportion. At Washington ( a business railroad town), these that I mentioned are the current prices at present. Yet we are hoping for something better than this. How soon they may be realized, I know not.
Kin, I have not much news to write you today, but if I find something between here and Dubuque that I think will interest you, I will write you from that place. I would like to meet you now & have one of those good old chats. When will that time come? I am alone today, yet I am not lonely for I have become hardened and accustomed to this kind of life. When I leave Mt. Pleasant, it is very unpleasant, but in two or three weeks I forget it during my business hours. But when the day is past & I am quietly retired for the night, my thoughts go back to the land of my younger days. I think how pleasant they were. But now it makes me sad and lonely so I try to forget them.
Kin, you well know that if our leisure hours are all taken up, it serves to hide & dispel the little sad thoughts & troubles that arise. I must write you a few words more & then bid you goodbye for the present. you must write me ad tell me about all your folks at home. My best regards to them all. Give the sincere sentiments of your cousin, Sanford
1 Co. D of the 4th Iowa Cavalry was raised in Mount Pleasant and the regiment was still encamped outside of town in January 1862. Sgt. (later Captain) Lot Abraham served in that regiment. I transcribed all of his war diaries on a website entitled, “My Own Dear Lot.” Here is the link to his diary from January-March 1862.