This letter was written by a gentleman named Staley from Saint Louis, Missouri. I thought his first initial was a “V.” but I could not find any census record consistent with that name for that period of time. As the initial somewhat resembles a “T,” I searched and found a “T. Staley” in the 1880 US Census in Callahan county, Texas. This Staley was born in Virginia — his father in Pennsylvania and his mother in Virginia. He was a 63 year-old farmer at the time, making his birthdate approximately 1817, which seems appropriate. However, I cannot confirm that he is the author of this letter.
Staley wrote the letter to his friend, Hiram Crigger (1812-1880). Hiram was the son of John Jacob Creeger (1778-1860) and Mary Catherine Copenhaver (1786-1860) of Blue Springs, Smyth county, Virginia. Before his marriage, Hiram served in the Indian Wars in Florida. He enrolled on 8 October 1837 in the 1st Regiment of Missouri Volunteers and soon after was transported by ship to Tampa Bay. By February 1838, he was ordered back to Jefferson Barracks near Saint Louis to be mustered out of the service. If this is the same Hiram Crigger, it appears that he worked on the Santa Fe trade for a few years before returning to Virginia where he married and remained.
Addressed to Mr. Hiram Crigger, Fulton, Callaway county, Missouri
Postmarked St. Louis, Mo.
Saint Louis, Mo.
March 25, 1840
I have received no communication from you since I saw you and therefore conclude to write you. I am half inclined to go to Santa Fe. I have given out the idea of taking goods myself. I have conversed with Mr. Ferguson of this city who has been in the trade a long time. He says the trade is not so profitable as formerly — that it is rather overdone &c. I have a strong notion to go anyhow and if I could get an agency of any kind from those having goods, it would be very acceptable. I would not go as ox driver or anything of that kind for the wages they give. I would rather pay my way if there would be anything to pay — than to do it. I want you to give me all the information you can on the subject — the time the company starts &c.
A friend of mine wants me to go to Texas [and tells me] that I could get any kind of business but I cannot go south at present. I am affected with a chronic disease which threatens to haunt me all my life. I have been advised by the doctors to take a trip to Santa Fe or to the mountains which preferably would effect a change in my system and rid me of a horrid curse. My disease is Leprosy — a constitutional disease. I have been affected with it for several years slightly, but each year it increases. This alone will induce me to take a trip to Santa Fe. From thence I should expect to go to Texas. I must go either to Santa Fe or to the mountains.
I want no incumbrance to detain me at any place, consequently I would prefer going as assistant or agent or something of that kind for a company. Please write me and let me know what arrangements you have made or expect to make. No news.
Yours most respectfully, — V. Staley
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.