With this next letter the realities of life in the 1820s on the frontier are made clear. It is hard reading.
Friends of Champlain:
We have delayed writing to you for some time in hopes to be able to give you a more favorable account of our health and circumstances – since we came to this place until all most two years since we were wonderfully favored with health, but since that time we have ben visited with serious trials of sickness and distress – Eli was taken with a fever one year ago last May which terminated in a fever sore on his right arm near the shoulder joint and continues a running sore now. Several pieces of the bone have come out – he is now able to do some light chores about house and go to school – Sally has ben much out of health for more than a year past she was so afflicted all last winter with the rheumatism that her hips are drawn out of their proper place and remains quite a cripple( 37 years old) – the forepart of November last she was apparently brought to the brink of the grave but contrary I think to the expectations of any of her attendants she is so far recovered as to be able some days to sit in her chair and knit or sew a little and have rode out a few times in the sleigh to some of the neighbors but has not been so well this week past – the rest of our family are in tolerable health especially the youngest (Sheldon) which we call the Doctor is as lively as a colt. We had a handsome little stock when our sickness commenst but doctor bills and hiring womens help has swept it off – in the course of the last year I have disposed of my best horse and four cows and have not yet through with the Doctor yet – it takes a good cow to pay a girl for 12 – 14 weeks work. Produce of all kinds here is very low and money scarce – it is with much difficulty to obtain enough to pay our taxes – it is quite the reverse from what it was when I came here for then land and improvements and produce of all kinds were high in the extreme – I had no money to buy land with but laid out what little property I had for improvements and now I expect to be under the necessity of letting the land return to the Office – but sickness, death, trouble, disappointment is the common lot of mankind and we seem to be having our part of it at present – but a few more rolling suns will carry us beyond this veil of tears – but our great and important errand is here to live and conduct in such a manner as to obtain an inheritance in a better world.
Mr. Arwin Webster and family moved from here last spring expecting to take up their residence in the State of Indiana or Illinois, we have had no particular information from them since they left here.
Yours affectionately, Jacob Crossett
An infection which would today be cured with a pill disabled Eli for life and sickened him or years. He died in michigan between 1840 and 1843 around age 32 - 35. Eight pregnancies and deliveries in 15 years without good pre or post natal care made Sally old before her time. The family's health insurance was grazing in the pasture. Strong faith and strong character were to see them through the raising of their boys and the ability to leave them each some money to get a start with. Here is the final letter we have from Eli to his cousins:
and Nancy Dickenson
From: Eli Crossett
I barely know how to commence writing but I think I shall nor be particular about the style but will send you a few lines to let you know that I have not forgot you and tell you that we are all in tolerable good health at present. Mother has been unwell a considerable this summer by spells but she is now in quite good health – I myself have been greatly blest with health for more than a year – I think I have not been sick a day since a year ago last spring – It seems lonesome place at fathers now for the boys have almost all gone from home there is only three at home now – Russell got work about fifteen miles from home and Martial is going to school in Middlebury six miles from here and Royal has gone to learn the tanning trade in this place. Powel, Alfred, and Sheldon are at home – Father received your letter about the middle of October but I did not see it until a week ago when I was at home – You requested to know where Eli D. was – He and Uncle Moses was at fathers in Sept. Eli went from there to Lockport in Niagra County on the canal – we have not heard from him since – he did not know certain whether he should stay there or not – we had not heard from him since last December until he and Uncle Moses came to fathers in September. Uncle Moses stayed five or six days and then went on to the west for four days travel and then returned for home – he was looking for a place to move to he is going to move to Caldonia near the springs and calculates to take a tavern stand there – it is about forty miles from here – we expect him along in the course of two weeks – he was to be here the ninth of November – he will probably be at fathers soon after he arrives there for he left his horse and Eli's little mare there and went home on the canal – Eli went to the west with him and then around and came to Caladonia and then fetcht the horses back to fathers one week after they left there before he went to Lockport – he talked some of going to work in a carding machine there if he did he would stay there some time if not he should leave there then home. I cannot know exeactly where to direct your letters – we have had a very fine season for the past – it has been somewhat dry some part of the time but it has been as good for crops as common I think – it is now getting to be rather wet muddy wether in this part – I guess that you will think by this time for me to stop unless I can write something of more consequence – but you must excuse me for I am not in the habit of writing letters – this is the second that I ever wrote – I shall therefore conclude soon – I do not know as you can find out what I have wrote for my pen is rather poor and my hand trembles so ever since it was lame that I can write but very poorly – give my respects to Aunt Betsy – tell her that I have not forgotten her yet and I hope she will not forget me – tell her that I hope I shall have the priviledge of seeing her again sometime or other but I do not know as I shall – perhaps I may after my time is out here – I shall calculate to leave this place soon I shall come into that part sometime or another – I must now bring my lines to a close – I hope you will excuse my mistakes and blunders – forget me not for I am sure I shall not forget you – write often and I will try not to be so neglectful as have been here before – I do not know as I have anything more to write so I will therefore say goodbye for the present but forget not to write after.
It is interesting to note that for Sally and Jacob, home is really Castleton where all their family remains. For Eli and the boys it is Orangeville. They, in their turn go west and set up new homes. On it goes generation after generation. Sally died in 1833 and Russell, Alfred, and Eli did not survive their father who died in 1843. Probably Paris Olin did not survive either since we have no record or mention of him. Martial continued the farm, and Powell, Royal, and Sheldon, and many of Martial's children went west to the new frontier in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Their stories are told under each name. Western New York was building up, the Erie Canal opened in 1825 and commerce and settlers came streaming in. Extra sons had to find their fortunes where there was cheap land.