Letter From Deacon Nathan Johnson to Martin W. Johnson
Town of Russia, June 29, 1842
The following letter is a transcription of an original 3-page stampless letter written by Deacon Nathan Johnson of the Town of Russia to his
brother Martin W. Johnson, who had migrated out to Mantua, Portage County, Ohio. According to the book "Russia Union Church, 110th Anniversary, 1820-1930", an epidemic that local residents called
the "black tongue" prevailed in the area in 1842 and Nathan Johnson gives a first-hand account of its effect when it swept through his neighborhood. This is an
important local historical document - it provides an articulate account of the epidemic, may be the only documentation of the deaths of some of
the individuals mentioned, and shows the difficulty of maintaining contact with relatives who moved "West" at this early date.
My notes about persons mentioned come from a preliminary scanning through a few articles on our own site. If you have further information about your ancestors mentioned in the letter please contact the site coordinator or Jane Dieffenbacher (Fairfield Town Historian and president of the Kuyahoora Valley Historical Society). The original letter was donated to the Kuyahoora Valley Historical Society in June 2000.
Envelope dated June 29
Russia June 27th 1842
Dear Brother & Sister A long time has passed away since we have heard a word from you. Thomas wrote you last July stating some particulars with regard to Father's last sickness & death. it is possible you never received it, at any rate we have had no answer; we felt anxious to hear from you - I hope you will answer this immediately & inform us whether you have received the letter above referred to & of your welfare. It has been very sickly in this town for several months past and there has been a great many deaths there has been various diseases but the most prevailing one has been a kind of throat complaint which effects the throat and head frequently breaking and discharging from the throat, ear, or head, it has proved fatal in some instances especially among aged people, it has not prevailed in our immediate neighborhood until lately. Mrs. Almon Backer was the first case. She has been quite sick and not yet recovered but probably will, Rhoda has been quite sick with it for several days but has got comfortable again now, and Roxena also. S. Hubbard has had a pretty severe attack of the same complaint but is getting along, we hope the sickness is subsiding. I will mention some of the deaths that have occured within five or six months past from various causes. David C. Corp, Widow Taylor, William Worden, Gardner Hinkly, Benjn. Merriman this Mon Mrs. Nathaniel Waters Mrs. Nathan Millington Miss Ann Wood Mrs. Booth an old lady, Charles Burwell Mrs. Allen formerly Ruth Newman & a great many others Mother Briggs in feb last.
Our family is the same as when Sally left us, all in tolerable health, the three oldest boys are almost men in stature, altho Charles is a Small man, the boys are all at home except Charles I do not know whether you have been informed of his being in Pery & Swezey's store or not. he went there a year ago last Sept. for two years. Clinton has taken a start to grow some lately but is rather small yet & not very rugged, the same may be said of the girls. Edward is a very healthy boy goes to school every day can read a spell in Baker and Amarilla's health is tolerable but not first rate. She keeps house in the room in which Father lived. there has been a great vacancy in it since his death. there are a great many things occur daily to remind me of him, and we are all fast following those that have gone before us to the grave & divinity. Thomas is about as usual able sit up considerable & ride occasionally & is a good deal of company for us all. Our Neighborhood remain without much change, we expect Solomon Graves to be our nearest one west of us as he is now married to a lady from near Buffalo and preparing to keep house soon. All of Sally's connections are well as far as I know except Mrs Phelps who has been sick with throat disease but is better now I believe. Our business is principally dairying we milk 24 cows this season & shall probably make 6 or 7000 lbs. of Cheese. Last year we did not make near that amount & only got $5 per hundred this year it will probably do better we expect $6 or more. We have had two heavy frosts the forepart of this month it cut corn to the ground in most instances. it soon started again but looks miserable. english grain
looks very well grass is very backward & not very promising for a good crop of hay. When you left Russia I thot in about three years I might be able to visit you but when three years passed away I found I was not ready. for some time past I have looked forward to one year from this fall of a time when I may possibly accomplish it but what may transpire between this & that time or what hindrances may occur we cannot tell. I hope you will be able to come and see us before that time. & when you make up your mind to come let us know beforehand by letter that we may expect you. It is very difficult for Rhoda & myself to leave home at one time with our large family. We have help but have to not only see to business but engage in it closely ourselves. This is a busy world that whatever our circumstances or condition time carries us swiftly along to an unchanging world, and momentous consequences hang upon us. Brother & Sister let us in the midst of our cares consider the end for which we should live, to honor & glorify God & enjoy him forever. let us seek first the Kingdom of God & all these necessary things for the body shall be added to us. We shall be interested to hear any particulars with regard to yourselves & family or business.
Rhoda & the family send their love
Individuals mentioned, in order of appearance in letter:
The following information appears elsewhere on our site - "Russia Union Church, 110th Anniversary, 1820-1930", and is reposted here for your convenience.
Copyright © 2000 Martha S. Magill
All Rights Reserved.