This letter was written by James Jones (1835-18xx), the son of John Paul Jones (1797-1834) and Mehitable Weed (1800-1871). James’ father was engaged in the iron foundry business in Mt. Eaton, Ohio until his premature death in 1834. Following his death, Mehitable moved with her family to Allegan, Michigan.
The author’s older brother, Francis “Frank” Alton Simpson Jones (1827-1895), enlisted in 1847 to serve with Co. H, First Regiment US Mounted Rifles in the War with Mexico. When Frank returned from the war he engaged in the grocery business, and later in the fur business, before entering the lumber business. Frank was married in 1857 to Asenath Ann (Cray) Jones (1841-1897), the daughter of Col. John S. Cray of Palmyra, New York. His biographical sketch in the Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California claims that he sold out and started overland for California, arriving in Virginia City in August 1860, where he engaged in quartz mining. He eventually settled in Chico. This date seems premature to me, however. Frank and Asenath were enumerated in Allegan in June 1860 and this letter hints they were still there at least a year before it was written which would have been December 1861.
James Jones wrote this letter to his wife, Emily Jane Ketchem (1836-18xx) whom he married on 25 April 1861 in Allegan, Michigan. For James, this was his second marriage. Less than four years earlier he had married Louisa Jane Gillman (1837-1859) in Allegan. In the 1860 US Census, James and Emily were enumerated in Allegan residing with his stepfather Cephas Field (1785-1861) and his mother Mehitable (Weed) Field (1800-1871). In that census, James’ occupation was given as “Sailor.” Unfortunately I cannot find any further record for James.
San Francisco, [California]
December 30, 1862
I will now once more after a long while sit down and try and write to you my dear, dear wife. I have been as busy as I could be trying to make something and i think I have been successful but it will yet require a little time to have it come out all right. I have been nearly all over California and Nevada Territory. In fact, I have traveled further enough to of taken me home to my dear wife & mother but I am still here and under the present circumstances, I think it is best for me to stay here until this war is at an end and it don’t look much like coming to an end the way our generals are working. But I hope there will be a change so as to bring it to a close soon. But we are not a going to leave you there much longer but we will send for you to come out here between now and April sure, for I know you are all anxious to leave and we are certainly anxious to have you. Oh how glad I would be if you were all here now. But I trust you will all soon be on the way here if we are not disappointed and I don’t think we will be this time. And perhaps [my brother] Frank will soon come here after you. He will if things come around as I expect but I am not positive.
I wrote you from Carson City and sent you 20 I believe about 3 weeks ago which I hope you have got by this time and now I will send you in this 20 or 40 more and will send you some more soon. I don’t know how I will send this but I think I will sed it the same as the last. I am going to the bank soon as I finish writing. I have not heard from Frank but once since I left and have not heard from my wife for a long time or anyone at home but I presume Frank has got a number of them for me and I will be glad when I get back to the mountains so that I can hear from my dear wife. Oh how glad I will be if you are all well. I am going to start back over he mountains now in a few days but before I go, I will send you some more money &c.
Dear Emily, when I commenced to write this letter I intended to of written you a good long letter but there has been 3 men in to see me so as to detain me and I want to send it out today so I can not stop to write much more now, but will try and write again tomorrow when I send the 2nd Certificate. Emily, I wish you would let Asenath have a part of this which I suppose there is no need of my telling you but you must all try to get along the best you can which you will do, of course, and try to be happy as possible and trust to luck for peace and better times to come for it will not be long before we will either send for you all & I hope mother & [my sister] Asenath and my dear, dear wife are all well and happy and all of our folks the same.
Emily, don’t worry any about the war for when you get out here you will be out of the way of all war troubles and we will be as happy as can be & in one of the healthiest countries in the world. If you could only see me now. I am as healthy and as rugged as can be &c.
But dear Emily, I cannot stop to write anymore now for I must go to the bank before it closes &c. So goodbye for this time.
From your ever true and devoted husband till death. To Mrs. Emily Jane Jones, my dear wife, Allegan, Allegan county, Michigan
— James Jones
P. S. I almost forgot to send my best wishes to all friends and love to mother and my wife & father & mother & Mary and all the rest of the folks & best wishes to Friend Ed & my friends Mrs. Julia A. Lee &c.