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About the Dunlap Letters
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About the Dunlap Letters
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About the Dunlap Letters

The Dunlap Letters were written in 1841. Both were written by Rachel Malone Dunlap of Greencastle, Indiana, and sent to her son, Ephraim Dunlap, of Liberty, Illinois. The letters have been kept by the family for 160 years. They are currently in the possession of Susan Ferguson. Susan has photographed and transcribed the letters and has graciously offered to share them here on the Adams County ILGenWeb site.

Letter 1
This letter was written February 9, 1841. In this letter, Rachel expresses her sadness at being separated from her children and her sorrow at the news of the death of her son-in-law, James Tomlison. Her words are moving as she tells her son, Ephraim, that he must now take care of the little ones. Rachel had little formal schooling, so her words were written phonetically. Reading her words aloud, just as they are spelled, one can almost hear her accent and the manner in which she spoke.

The letter raises many questions. What disease was sickening the horses? What was the medicine they tried? Who is the Tompson who was hung on Friday in Greencastle [IN]? And what was his crime? (The letter mentions that the funeral service was to be given by the preacher from the cart before the hanging.)

Please read this wonderful old letter. Afterwards, your comments about the letter are welcome on the Dunlap Letter Discussion Board.

Letter 2
The second letter was written June 27, 1841. Things have gotten harder for the Dunlap family; their health is not as good, crops aren't doing well, the horses are sick and money is scarce. Rachel is thinking about moving the family to Illinois and asks her children to sow turnip seeds for her. She's also concerned about her newly widowed daughter, Lucretia, and her financial welfare. There are legal issues involved and, again, Ephraim is put in charge of sorting things out.

A comic note, Narcissa fell off a horse while trying to jump on and hurt herself. She gets a dose of frontier medicine.

Rachel closes the letter by saying that she can't express in writing all the feelings she has for her family and expresses her hope of seeing them once more.

This letter raises questions too. What did Rachel mean when she asked her children to sow turnip seeds for her?
Dunlap Letter Discussion Board
These letters are very old and sometimes hard to decipher. They bring up events and customs now long forgotten. We invite you to read the letters and then go to the Discussion Board to post your comments about the letters. If you have insight about the content of the letters, please tell us about it on the Discussion Board.

Census Images
Happily, by 1850, the Dunlap Family was together again, living in Adams County, Illinois. The 1850 Census shows the following enumerations:

Family 135 Ephraim and Mary
Family 136 Rachael, James, LeGrand & John and
Family 137 Colatinus, Eliza and Andrew


Transcript of Dunlap Letter - February 9, 1841
Letter from Andrew Dunlap to his son Ephraim. This and a second letter were given to Julian Scott Perry by his grandmother Jennie DuPoy Dunlap. They were in her husband's (John S. Dunlap) wallet after he died. Julian had them framed between glass in the late 1930's. His wish was that they be given to the Historical Society of Adams and Quincy County. They are now in the possession of Julian's daughter, Susan Perry Ferguson, who promised that they would go to the Historical Society.
John S. Dunlap

Letter is written by Rachel Malone Dunlap (mother), Andrew Dunlap (father), Narcissa Dunlap (sister) and other family members to:

Ephraim Dunlap, 2nd child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap
Lucretia Dunlap, 1st child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim
(James Tomlison, deceased, husband of Lucretia)
Emily, aka Emlla, daughter of James and Lucretia
James Andrew, son of James and Lucretia
Euphrazina Dunlap, aka Zina, 4th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim
Colatinus Dunlap, 5th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim
Children referred to and residing with Andrew and Rachael in Ladoga, Ind:
Narcissa Dunlap, aka Narsisa 3rd child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim
James Dunlap, 6th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim
Legrand Dunlap 7th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim
Elizabeth Dunlap, 8th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim
John M. Dunlap, 9th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim



Names of others in Indiana:
Thomas Maloan [correct spelling Malone], referred to as "Uncle Thomas" Rachel Malone's brother
Nancey Maloan [correct spelling Malone] (referred to as an aunt), wife of Thomas
Evalina, aka Evalin, daughter of Thomas and Nancy
Jonathen Gill, Polly Gill & Emley Gill, children of Samuel Gill & Sarah Malone, Rachel Malone's sister
Elizabeth Barns
James Pharmour
Mr. Ashley
Caty Hashbarger
Zacrih Maharney
Elick Mcfidil
Sally McCammons
Mr. [or Ms] Lafolet
William Berd
J Giles
Miss Overstreat
Margery Mongamery
William


Letter #1
Address

Ladoga, In[diana]

Feby 15

Mr Ephraim Dunlap

Adames Cty

Liberty Illinois

The PM at Liberty Ill will distribute at Vincennes

or mail directly to this office

Ladoga is 44 miles West Indianapolis

Febuary the 9 1841 india put. Co

Dear Children wee this evning take our pen in hand to writ you a few lines to let you no that wee ar in joying a reasnebal [reasonable] poartion of helth thanks bee to god foar his blessings and wee do [paper torn here] [sincerely] hope when thes lines comes to hand [paper torn here] [that] the [they] will find you all in good helth we receved you leter yesterday evning datied January the 24 which giv us sorrow to the hart to hear that James Tomlison was ded but it was so ordained by our maker that we all must die

and we must sub mit to his will to bee dun and not hours [ours] but we all ar troubled about you Children much in deed but you must picke up Curreg [courage] and doo the best you Can Children I do hoape the day will roale round when wee all will meat in this world again your aunt nancey maloan was hear last evning when wee receved your leter and Elisabeth Barns and thomas

maloan and jonathen gill [came] over las night two [too] and the [they] all apiered to bee sorow with us and james pharmour was with us last nigh lucretia and Zina I was glad to hear that you Could git soamthing to do to make something foar your selvs Ephraim do act the part of a father with them Children as the [they] all must look to you foar the [they] hav

no won els [no one else] to look to but you I charg you Ephraim to take good cear of them until their father Comes to them and I do fell [feel] satisfied that you will lucretia and Euphrazina doant brake your selves doun warkig [working] take your worke gest as you can stand it Colatinus my little soun I want you to bee a good boy and bee good to lucretia in per tickular and bee good to little emla and james andrew Colatinus james is going to school he will soon be at the single rule of thee [?] Emley gill is mared [married] to Mr ashley Caty hashbarger is mare to Zacrih Marney living in Ladoga elick Mcfidil moares [?] is mared and has got all of his children

at hoam Sally MCClammons is ded shee had something like the hed [head] pluresy joseph lafolet['s] oaldes [oldest] son is bin [?] very ill at this time with som thing like the hed pluresy Euphrazina Narsisa is seting in the coarner spining two [?] Elizabeth seting at my rit hand peacing a quilt your papey [pappy] is by the fier talking a iooation [?] to james and legrand Emley bless your little swet [sweet] looks I wish I Could see you wonst moar

John talks a bout you every day sais he want to see little emley the Children talks a grat deal about you all in dead [indeed]

Back Page begins in the handwriting of Narcissa Dunlap

Dear Bothers and Sisters

I now take up the pen to wright afew lines to you to let you know that I am not Dead [could be "deaf"] nor mad at present Tho I have nothing of importance to wrigt you but I can tell you I went to meeting on Sunday out to Mr. Lafolets And Evalin Polyjane Gill & [?] William Berd and Raichel were all in the slay [sleigh] they came home with me and tuck diner and I went home with them [unintel.] I hav been to [afers ?] quiltinges one at Harisess One at J. Giles one at Berds one at Barnes [nearl ale?]

[All?] the youngsters in this negbrhood is a fixing to go to Greencastle a frday to see Tompson hung His funerl is to be preached while on the cart before he is hung tell Colat I have not forgot him but to come over and I can tell him a geadeal [good deal?] more than I can wright Miss Overstreat payd me a visit yestarday I must leave room for father so good night/ Narcissa Dunlap

[new handwriting, probably Andrew]

you wanted a [re heining?] about the horses as for that [emane] I cant tel weaher [whether] it will do any good or not your uncel [uncle] thomas has tryed [?] it on Sam but it hasent done any good if it woul do good he does not at tend [attend] to it cloas enuf to no any thing about it my horses is in good [plit - unintell] Jabes cunnels [?] is nearly gon I never done any thin for him I have on [no] room to write any more my best A Dunlap

[new handwriting]

Dear Brother and Sister MCL my best Lov and Complements to you I loang to see the time roale round when we shal meat again I hoape tha we will be spared to meat in this world one time moar

Polly and William I want you to comfoart my Children all you can in ther distresses Ephraim your father wants to no in your nex letter what your prospect is foar raising a crop Euphrazina in all your letters send mee word what you and Lucrecia is adooing and how you ar coming on and hoar [how] little Colatinus is coming on Euph com over sam evning I have [paper is torn here] be par of stockings foar you [paper tear] DEJL[?]

[Written upside down on the bottom of page 4 in another hand?]

Legrand Dunlap Ephraim dunlap colatn colatinwn Margey Mongamery and famley ar all well





Transcript of Dunlap Letter - June 27, 1841
Letter from Rachael Dunlap to her son Ephraim. This the second of two letters that were given to Julian Scott Perry by his grandmother Jennie DuPoy Dunlap. They were in her husband's (John S. Dunlap) wallet after he died. Julian had them framed between glass in the late 1930's. His wish was that they be given to the Historical Society of Adams and Quincy County. They are now in the possession of Julian's daughter, Susan Perry Ferguson, who promised that they would go to the Historical Society.
John S. Dunlap

Letter is written by Rachel (mother) and Narcissa (sister) to:

:
Ephraim Dunlap, 2nd child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap
Lucretia Dunlap, 1st child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim, widow of James Tomlinson
Emily, aka Emlla, daughter of James and Lucretia
James Andrew, son of James and Lucretia
Euphrazina Dunlap, aka Zina, 4th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim
Colatinus Dunlap, 5th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim
Children referred to and still residing with Andrew and Rachael:
Narcissa Dunlap, aka Narsisa 3rd child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim
James Dunlap, 6th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim
Legrand Dunlap 7th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim
Elizabeth Dunlap, 8th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, sister of Ephraim
John M. Dunlap, 9th child of Rachel Malone and Andrew Dunlap, brother of Ephraim
Others in Indiana:
Thomas Maloan [correct spelling Malone], referred to as "Uncle Thomas" Rachel Malone's brother
Nancy Stuart Maloan [correct spelling Malone] (referred to as an aunt), wife of Thomas
Gill Maloan, "cousin Gill", son of Thomas and Nancy
Poly Jane Malone, [aka Mary Jane], daughter of Thomas and Nancy
Joseph Messick, husband of Poly Jane Malone
Jonathen Gill, Polly Gill & Emley Gill, children of Samuel Gill & Sarah Malone, Rachel Malone's sister

Address

Mr. Ephraim Dunlap

Adams Cty

Illinois, Liberty Co

[in green ink]

Ladoga, Ind

June 29

Gv it Eph

Front

Page 1

June the 27th 1841

Dear Children onst moar I am permited to writ to you to let you no how wee ar our famley ar jest tolerale [tolerable] well narcisa is not well noar has not bin well foar soam time she has somthing like the same complaint that she had in kentucky wonce before Elizabeth and john and legrand has soamthing like the hooping coaf and is pourley with it but is not confined to the bed noanfo [?] them your Papey is goan to meating to day to the Cross roads and oald brother John Smith froam kentuckey has bin hear [here] in this Countrey he preached in ladoga 22 of the 23 and 24 at the Cross roads

Ephram your pap has 17 acres of coarn in and looks tolarble well the season has bin dry and croaps not verey good oats is verey low [?] our wheat looks verey well but the flax is no acount [account] hear [here] well Ephraim now I a goaing to say soam thing a bout mooving and I do not no what to say foar wee do not no how we can sell our croap yet but your pap [paper torn]s he entends to come if he can oald doal [a horse] looks well and joab [a horse] looks well but oald print has the same disease that all the rest of the hoases had she has a tolerable good Coalt [colt] and douls Coalt is a good Coalt and the Cows looks verey well and the hoags is in good living oaru [?] times is verey hard hear [here] and money scearse and

we cant tell yet what we can do but we think we will moav [move] some hows ar [or] a nother so I think you may pre pare foar us to come to your Countrey I want you to soe [sow] turnups seed foar us soe we drop the subject about moaving now about adminster on the a stat [estate] of Lucreca [wife of James Tomlinson, recently widowed] is it makes no diferns a bout it onley this if you do not adminster on it [,] what she makes so loang as she lives can be takeing froam hur So you adminster and be shoar to adverst insoalvent and then you will all be safe So we will quit the subject

Page 2

Colatinus my little sone [son] I jest agoaing to writ a line oar [or] too to you and I wod be glad to see you and I could tell you a weney little joake if I could see you James is a plowing the coarn and it is about waist high jock maloan was to see james a Saturday nih [night?] and soens [sends] his complements to you so far well Cola Lucreca tomlison [,] your papey had the swanke place valed [valued] and it was valed to $101 . 2 Ct by thomas maloan and jock gill was the valers wee hav roat [wrote] to frank tomlison if the [there] shod [should] bee eney thing coming to you to seend it to you so no moar about the place RD

[Narcissa writes]

Monday evening my Dear Brothers and Sisters I now take up my pen in hand to wright a few lines to you to let you know what has bin a going on in our Neighbourhood a few weeks ago Barney Tweker was mrred to alsey james last week Henry Clin landed with his lady from Kentycky [spiral mark] day Behold another weding I will tel you of last Sond [Sunday?] week at four o'clock in the evening Poly jane [aka Mary Jane] Malone was married to Joseph Messick there was not a great many there the ladoga boys was there, me and Doctor labyree [?] was the atendance [attendants] Eph [Euphrazina] your oald pardner Steped in without abid no one paid but very little attention to him and he left Eupha [,] Bill Grady was there he looked as wosan [?] as ever

Jo Mart was married this spring to a a Nik Mobley near danville cousin Hock and be [?] has give out gowing to kentucky this [unintelligible] aum Nancy has been very poarley this spring but has got beter [proper name] has got another fine hous put up having more room than I thought I will tel you a little about how trifeling I am and have bin ever since Aprile I have not bin abel to doe aney thing seasley [?] I cant weeve [weave] wash nor spin I have not bin bed fast quite [?] ND

Back of the letter
Page 3

I was a gitting better but las Saturday me and mother went to uncle Thomases and we was boath a riding dol [the horse] and when I went to get on be hind un fortunately I jumped too high and fel over dol on my back and hurt myself right smart So I went back in the house and staid all knigh [night?] cousin Gill went after Mr Williams and got me bled but I feel very soar yet so you all ma[y] guess how we git along excuse my bad wright and all mistakes if you please so now at presant but no [?] your sister untile death [?] Narcissa DT [scribble] S [unintelligible]

ED [spiral] ED [spiral] CD [spiral]

[Rachel resumes]

Lucretia and Euphrazina I was glad to hear that you was doing so well if I cant git to see you all I am glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well and had a plenty to do foar I am not able to do but verey little but I hav to do aheap [,] foar Elizabeth has bin verey weakley all sommer and I hav ablig to nock [?] round Colatinus [,] james helps me to wash and you must help Lucreca and Zina Children I wan[t] you all to be good to your aunt polly CMC [Polly Malone McClintic?] and to liv in peas [peace] with them we ar a fred [afraid] that you ant [aren't] as frenley as you oart to bee giv my lov to polley and william and all the famley and to all the frens in the Countrey Euphra Zina doant wear too much foar fear of your helth beeing injered by it Lucreca on request from your aunt nancy Maloan to you in particular she want you to writ perticulal wheather you do

bleav [believe] that Country is as helthey as this foar women or not she wants you not to fail in so doong and how the people looks as respecting helth bee shour and do so foar [for] hur helth is like my owne not good and nether of us likese to go to a woars [worse] won [one] if we no it o Ephraim I like to forgot you wanted to no the labred [?] of the rouse Calf well it is inglish blood

Page 4

Emley and little james andrew I want to see you boath I can tell you and eme [Emley] doant you foar git [forget] me foar I hop [hope] to see you agane John sens [sends] his lov to eme Children I jest quet [quit] by telling you all that you could not tell how glad I wod bee to see you all onst mour [once more] to gether I could not exspress my self to you by letter So far well my Children Rachel Dunlap Andrew Dunlap Ephraim Lucreca Zina Colatinus Dunlap


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