Salina Public Library Local History Collection

Thumbnail image of the 1st page   Title: Letter from Robert Muir, Jr., "Valley Home," Saline County, KS, to his parents, Robert, Sr. and Jane Muir in Sparta, IL
Author: Robert Muir, Jr.
Date: February 14, 1863
Type: manuscript
Physical description: 1 sheet (2 p.) ; 7.5 x 12 in.
Notes: Letter mentions a visit by a Kansa Indian, making fence rails and posts, trapping wolves; birth of sister Janet Anderson's son, born Jan 6, 1863.

View the original letter: pages 1, 2,


14 February 1863 Valley Home

Dear Parents

I received your letter a few days ago and was happy to hear that you were all well at home and that brother Bryce and the rest of the boys in the army were enjoying good health. Well, Mother I have just been disturbed and had to quit writing on account of one of the Kaw braves making his entrance in at the cabin door. He seen the molasses bottle standing on the table and wanted to get some. I gave him a plate full to lick and keep him from troubling me while I am writing. Judging from his looks he is very fond of them. They are camped about a mile north of our house. In going to town they pass by the house. They very often call in to see how we are getting along and beg something to eat or something else. So you see we are not altogether without visitors in the wilderness of the west, although we would rather be without sometimes than be bothered with them. Tom and I just returned home from a rail making excursion (visited on the road) a few days ago. We were out about two weeks and made fourteen hundred rails and 4 hundred posts, 9 hundred of them is 12 miles from home, the balance 25 miles. It is a long way to haul, but even at that distance they are cheaper than lumber. I have calculated the cost of both kind of fences and the result of my calculations was that rails at nine dollars per hundred is as cheap fencing as lumber a 2 dollars per hundred feet and the rail we can get by our own hand labor. The lumber would be outpaid money. The rails that Tom and I made will not cost a dollar per hundred to lay them down on the place. So you see we have 2 dollars of clear gain on every hundred over a plank fence. I am a little afraid I will lose what labor I done for the fellow that bought the mule from Mr. Phillips. He is doing no good for himself nor the country with his mule. She has done no running since November and but very little before that. He owes me about 2 thousand feet of lumber and I don't think I will ever get a foot of it if he does not take another way of doing business. I can get along for fencing without it but still I don't like to lose it altogether. Willie is gone down to Council Grove to mill with a load of wheat to get ground. We are looking for him tonight. He took 3 horses with him to try and trade one off since we think we could do better with fewer horses and two yoke of oxen. Robert Crawford and Tom and I is going out on a wolf hunt in a few days. We expect to be gone a month if we succeed. Well, we have got 20 dollars worth of strychnine to take with us. If we run on to a place where wolfs is plenty we will make money fast, if not we won't. Mother you wanted to know how we spent our Sabbaths here and if we had preaching pretty regular here. There has been preaching here very regular ever since I came out here and when we are about home we go to church on Sunday and spend the Sabbath as near right as we can. But we have great need for a few such men as Uncle James in this country for to advise us and take an active part in all that is good. When I am on the road with the team I generally drive on Sunday believing it to be better to drive than to lay over and sit around a log fire all day without any reading material. And the fact is it very seldom happens that on our layover for want of a suitable place where we can find wood and water handy[sic]. I expect to be down at Leavenworth about the first of April if we succeed on this hunt. If Mr. D. Gemmel is coming out this spring as I have heard he is, I wish he would try and make it out to be in Leavenworth about the time. I would like you and father to get your Likeness taken and send them out by him. Be sure and get them taken and send them. I would like so much to have them. Write soon and let us know how you got along paying the debts this fall and how Bryce is getting along. Tell Janet I was happy to hear that she got a little son. (A baby boy was born 6 January 1863 to Janet and James Anderson.) Tell her to take good care of it. We are all well, hoping you are the same.

Your affectionate son, R. Muir

[Written on the back of the letter] Tell Bryce the next time you write him we are getting along. I will write him pretty soon. My best respect to all.

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