This letter was written by Andrew Nelson Jenks, Jr. (1836-1914), the son of Andrew N. Jenks, Sr. (1806-1894) and Philura Higley (1804-1888) of Marlboro, Windham county, Vermont. Andrew wrote the letter to his brother, Charles Emerson Jenks (1845-1864) who later enlisted in December 1863 in Co. I, 8th Vermont Infantry and was killed in action at the Battle of Winchester on 19 September 1864.
Andrew N. Jenks, Jr. was married in December 1864 to Susanna Jones Higley (1837-1910). By 1870 they had settled in Fulton, Whiteside county, Illinois, where Andrew’s occupation was “painting.” In 1880, Andrew and his family had relocated to Jefferson Township in Stephenson county, Illinois, where his occupation was given as “painter.”
Addressed to Charles E. Jenks, West Halifax, Windham county, Vermont
Kent, [Stephenson county] Illinois
Saturday, January 4th 1862
I now find myself here in Illinois and take pleasure in writing a few lines to you to let you know that I arrived safe here and got here the last day of December. I did not come through Michigan for Uncle Charles [Jenks] does not live at Ann Arbor now so I was told by Uncle George. He lives some 12 or 20 miles from there with his son, [Rev.] George W. [Jenks].
I spent Christmas with one of our cousins in Buffalo, New York — that is George [W.] Jenks. His daughter Mary is married [to] a man named Giles [Perry] Glass, keeper of court house and jail [Deputy Sheriff & Jailer] for a few years past. He is going to leave it January 1st for a better berth. I had a fine visit and left for Chicago. Stopped from Friday 11 a.m. till next Monday evening there. I saw one of Livingston Jenk’s sons — a lawyer — and I believe he said his father lived in Vermillionville [LaSalle county, Illinois] yet and is well &c. ¹
I called on William H. Tucker. He is in Chicago and has an office and I suppose he makes a good deal of money for he is situated near the head of the heap. He is like Gustavus J., lives as he goes along tho’ I don’t believe he is so extravagant.
Elliot Blanchard ² is well. George is about half sick of the West. Sometime last summer he saw some mud and so much level land not far from Chicago. He thinks that it is also. Oranges’ folks are all well and glad I came out. The country looks better than it did when I was here before. ³
I visited Camp Douglass in Chicago. There was six ½ thousand soldiers there and saw them on grand parade and saw a number of boys from this section I was well acquainted with. They are well-armed [with] Enfield rifles and expect [to] leave next week for Kentucky.
Uncle George’s son Alonzo [Percival] Jenks lives about 30 miles of here in [Darlington, Iowa county] Wisconsin and Dr. Jenks wife’s daughter Celia [Therese] Carlton [1834-1917] and Mr. John [Moore] Cobleigh [1823-1881] married. He is a merchant and lives in Morrison, Whiteside county, about 36 or 40 miles from here.
Uncle George’s wife has 3 sisters only a short distance from Alonzo Jenks so we have some cousins out here too. I have not seen any of the Higley’s yet tho’ they are most all well.
We are having a hard northeast storm. There may be 3 or 4 [inches] on ground now. Pork is worth $2.80 per hundred. Orange had a lot of it. He don’t know how many hogs he has got. Had 11 hogs with hog cholera before he killed any. I guess had 60 to 75 hogs. Orange had a good crop of potatoes — new kinds. He is selling some for 50 cents now. Potatoes rotted some and some fields most all rot. Orange’s did not rot. _____ and seedlings are very mealy and dry.
Write soon, Yours &c., — A. N. Jenks, Jr.
¹ The son was Chancellor Livingston Jenks (1828-1903), the fourth of seventeen children born to Livingston Jenks (1789-1863) and Sally Buffington (1796-1866). Chancellor and his father were ardent abolitionists. In August of 1860, when he was in downtown Chicago, [Chancellor] Jenks saw a runaway slave girl at Clark and Van Buren Streets named Eliza Grayson struggling in the grasp of her master, Stephen F. Knuckles, and Jack Newsom, a commissioner under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 declared that all runaway slaves upon capture were to be returned to their masters. Abolitionists nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law” for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves. Seeing the young girl struggling with the two men, Jenks promptly rushed to the assistance of the girl with the result that soon the entire group were rolling over each other in the gutter. When police officers arrived on the scene, they were all taken into custody. The runaway slave alone was imprisoned; the others being well known and responsible, were released on their own recognizance. Planning to get the better of the slaveowners, Jenks immediately swore out a warrant charging the slave with disorderly conduct. Jenks’ mentor and fellow abolitionist, (now Justice) Calvin De Wolf issued the writ at 10:00 at night. George Anderson, Deputy Sheriff (who was in on the “conspiracy”) served the warrant at once, and took the girl from the police station with the apparent purpose of producing her before the magistrate. On the street he was surrounded by a howling mob of several hundred persons, and, when the crowd was dispersed, the prisoner was nowhere to be found. Before morning Eliza Grayson was on her way to Canada and freedom. Back in Chicago, the Federal Grand Jury which was then in session, promptly indicted Chancellor Jenks, Calvin De Wolf and George Anderson on the charge of violating the Fugitive Slave Law. The affair coming to the knowledge of President Buchanan, he made the somewhat natural mistake of supposing “Chancellor” Jenks to be a judge of one of the State courts on the chancery side. Indignant at this instance of open violation of a cherished (by Buchanan) United States statute, he telegraphed the United States Attorney at Chicago as follows: “Prosecute Chancellor Jenks to the full extent of the law. For a private citizen to be engaged in such nefarious practices as he is charged with is bad enough; but a high officer of the Court, should be severely dealt with. (Signed) James Buchanan, President.” Shortly afterward Abraham Lincoln was elected President, the Civil War broke out, and the political complexion of the Federal officers at Chicago changed. As if by magic, the indictment against Chancellor Jenks and his two “co-conspirators” was dropped. [See Under Every Stone]
² Possibly the same Elliott Blanchard who worked as a baker and resided at 47 S. Union Street in Chicago in 1862.
³ I believe Andrew is referring to his relative, Orange Higley Phillips (1823-1901), of Kent Township, Stephenson county, Illinois, with whom he is visiting.
My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.