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Frances Shimer/Letters to Caroline Nash/1853-05-17

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Mt. Carroll, May 17th, 1853

Tuesday, 10 o'clock, A.M.

Dear Sister,

Yours of the 6th inst. was received yesterday. I ^ glad to hear you are well and getting along so nicely with house cleaning. I hope you have got through without getting sick. I have delayed writing so long for two reasons: one, that I have been so very busy, and another that we might get a start in our school so as to know what to write about it. I am home today, half mad with the tooth ache; so cold and settled in my face, all swelled up, as it was one time a year ago; it's not likely I shall write very scientific. Isaac left us a week ago today, went to Savana and so down the river the next morning to Ockwauka, I believe, and so direct to Peoria, etc.

You doubtless saw the announcement of our arrival etc. at this place in the Mt. Carroll paper of the 10th. Isaac subscribed for it so you will doubtless keep posted up in our proceedings, that is as far as anything of consequence transpires, as Mr. Wilson says, we have "the Press" strong on our side. You have doubtless received a third letter by this time, as we mailed one at Janesville, Wis. Perhaps I better date my letter back to that place and so tell you all about our journey through to this place. Well – we were detained by the rain at Janesville till Friday isarrdng inst) and finally were obliged to atart, and ride in the rain and wind nearly halfofthe time we were on the road. We took a private conveyance from J. to this place paying the man ^20 ana we were fortunate at that, for the roads were Perfectly awful, almost impasible in many place; the stages met with accidents almost hourly. Wo' or three stuck in the mud and passengers being obliged to leave them, one stuck there all night and is there yet for au^ht I know. sev¬eral were upgat and passengers bruiaed and scratches ana fri^hteaea most todeath etc.etc.; finally, we with such heavy baggage! etc. would not probably have got through by stage under a week at least, beside the risk of our necks, trunks, etc.

Well, as I was saying, we set out from J. Friday morning passed through Beloit, arriving at Rockton to dinner; about three o'clock we left R. and got off some ten miles of the Prairie towards Freeport when night overtook us and we put up a very neat, respectable looking place on the outside, but the inside oh Chloe! Well it was not a "regular public house” but They were in the habit of "accomodating" people - the woman was sickly, had poor help and as a matter of course a great snarl of youngones! Well we concluded we wouldn't have supper! *^P/In the coming it rained hard as ever but we couldn't stay so after hreckfas, ^ set out again, got about half a mile on our road, came to a slew and got stuck in the mud! Well, we had as fine a teega and good driver as could be soart up, but the taoklin wernt strong enough, first one whiffletree broke, the driver went back and got another and put on but by that time we were completely slewed..

Cinda and I got out and walked a rail out onto solid footing, the horses gave another pull and broke a tug. The men then unloaded the baggage, whole kit and cargo! the horses tried again, broke another tug on the empty wagon, and not a heavy one for a spring wagon either, well, then they got rails and pried the wheels up till the horses could draw it out: meanwhile it was raining quite smartly so Cinda and I took our umbrella and started along on foot, thinking a little exercise would be better than standing still, we had a fine chance to pros¬pect — well after about two hours we were snugly loaded up and on our way againt reached Freeport about two o'clock, where we stood for dinner, but on taking our usual peep into the kitchen, we concluded to fast till we reached our next stopping place! Freeport is about 25 miles from here and we thought to get to our journay's end Saturday evening but the traveling be so very bad we were obliged to put up at Cherry Grove, a beautiful little place, ten miles from here.

I can assure you it seemed good to get among civilized people again, it seemed like getting home almost. We had enquired at every staging place for Carroll, but no one seemed to know anything about the place or "Siminary" and we began to think Mt. C no great place, but after we left Freeport, the country was so much prettier and the roads (being on a beautiful rolling Prairie) much better, we began to feel as though we were not going entirely out of the world into the bushes and then when we got to the grove we found sensible people who knew there was such a place as Mt. C and that there was to be a Seminary there and vary politely furnished us with the "Republican" of that week in which was quite a long article advocating our enterprise, etc. Well the fun of it was I had given ex¬press orders that no one should tell we were the ladies destined for the enter¬prise, as we did not feel like being subjected to any criticism just then, but in less that two hours all in the house were fully aware that those were "the" "Seminary ladies? but it seems all for the best however, for we succeeded in pleas¬ing the Landlady so well that she has sent on her oldest daughter, a fine young lady of 19, although as the old lady said, "she didn't see how in the world she was going to get along without her." Well, Sunday morning we drove into town and put up at the American Hotel. Isaac called on Mr. Wilson who came to the Hotel and invited us to his house till we should get a boarding place, which we did the next day.

The country around Mt. Carroll is the most beautiful of any we have seen, excepting not even Janesvill the Prairies are not so very large and quite rolling in appearance, like the waves of the sea almost, This section too is much better improved, the building being good and roads fenced in, etc.etc. The village is - the ville of Mt. C. contains about eight hundred inhabitants, (that is half as many as Ballston Spa has). It's natural advantages are numerous; a beautiful stream, which affords fine mill privileges, seem to almost encircle the town and all along its opposite bank are beautiful little mounts for building locations. Squire Goss one of principal men here invited us out prospecting on ^ttrfc^y, for to admire the beauties of the town and give our opinion about the site for the Seminary buildings, which, by the way, they purpose getting erected this summer, the books are open for subscription, and as you will see by the Republican of the 17th inst. something over three hundred shares were taken in one day, though Mr. W. Miller (member of Legislature, states Attorney,etc.etc.) who by the way boards with us, said some days ago that he had got taken himself in one half day twenty five hundred dollars and knew of at least ten hundred more that was secure. At any rate there is considerable excitement upon the subject and there seems no doubt but that the enterprise will succeed and even exceed our most sanguine expectations, So far as the honor, fame, etc. is concerned but the profits will be anything but large for the present but then our labor will not be anything like as hard as if we were alone in a school for if one of us is not well, we can lay by, etc. Well, as I have said before, we se¬cured our boardingplace on Monday (the day after we got here) and got moved and settled. Now I suppose you'd like a miniature of our boarding house.

Well in the first place, it's "The Boarding House" of Mt. C. a neat little brick building situated on Main street opposite the Presbyterian church in which our school is at present. Mr. Byron Seaman is our landlord and his sister, landlady, their mother, an old lady, lives with them. Our family at present consists of Mr. Hallet and lady, (he's a merchant here) "Wm. pillar ^s^r." and mother, Mr. Bailey (a young lawer) and the two "Seminary ladies," Misses Wood & G. Cinda and I have the best room the house affords, which is the front parlor; it's furnished with a bed, side table for writing etc. a center table for our books,etc. a clock, waghstaad and appurtenances pertaining thereto, a lounge, rocking chair, sat of chairs, looking glass, and an open Franklin stove: the walls ornamented with our pictures,etc. Now don't you lh ink we have quite a cozy time ofit — Cur floor has a sale carpet on it tool cover it well over and a mat before the stove and one on each side of the door — all the above names is exclusively ours. Now as to eatables it'stha best place I have ever boarded at except Mrs. Bird's at Stillwater, in fact I don't know but I like this the better of the two aJL lausM eg ona evol eonea JS*?oH* tYTeve ao IfeT .noos .qcele^ iesl for besides everything beind done up clean and good it's all on 3^i^ liberal, plan, the chunks of puding and pieces of pie are cut after' of a patera and usually two kinds at that: the biscuits, large, light; and most like has? cookery of any place I ever hapansd to stop at - and then there's n youagones around, not a chick or child on the premises and noa careless, dirty irish dabling around - don't you think we aye very fortunate. And such appe¬tites as we have is a caution to sick iblksM Seems aa though I could eat anything, sad yet it's not such an unhealthy craving appetite as I have had at times before.

Friday evening, 20th. Well, I have got over the tooth ache, though my face is some swollen yet: I got wroth and broke off one of the offenders so I guess I shall have quiet times now. Cinda had a little touch of sick headache yesterday the first one she has had since she was at our house, but she has recovered from it much sooner I think, than usual; I am in hopes she is not going to be troubled so much as she used to be; her appetite is first rate,etc.etc. We both had colds when we got here, but we used Magnetic Ointment freely and I nave taken bloodroot every night since I got here till last night and our colds have vanished as if by magic.

Now as to our school, all the trouble there is, its prospects are too flattering, every things seems to go so much more smoothly than we dared to expect that it makes us to fear that it may not be lasting. We number but twenty five as yet, but are just commencing, it's a new thing, people must have time to digest the subject somewhat; many more are coming, Mr. Wilson thinks we will have forty this quarter sure and fifty or sixty before the close of the term. As you will see in the Republican, we have an Assistant, or rather a Teacher or Prof. of Languages to take our Latin class; it's the Rev. J.V. Allison, a Baptist minister who has lately come to this place from Philadelphia etc. The probability is we shall have to get a Music Teacher by another quarter. We are having rooms fitted up for our school which are going to be such more convenient than the church we now occupy: we go into them on Monday. Mr Wilson is very kind and attentive to all our wishes, he has taken the whole responsibility of having the rooms properly partitioned off, papering, whitewashing, cleaning and all, giving us no trouble only to give directions to him: also of getting us blackboards, ta¬bles chairs etc. they have offered to defray in part at leest the expense of our fixtures, but we chose to go on the independent plan, so the Trustees give up all to us to do just as we think best and taking all the income ourselves, let it be much or little as I presume it will be for the present, but I don't care if we but have good health, if we only payj^ur way for a time, if we can ultimately have a school that will be appreciated Jp I wish you would preserve all the Mt. Carroll "papers^you received Our week's work is done as we shall not teach Saturdays.

We open school at precisely 9 and close at 4 punctually. We have several boarding scholars from the country around; two or three invitations ahead to go out with them to spend Saturday and Sunday etc. if I only had Greg here how we would go it.

I have heen sorry a good many times we did not bring him: I have not a doubt but I could have sold him for three hundred before this time, had I wished to part with him; horses are even higher here than east. The night before we left Janesville we had a ride after a span of $600 horses! great coarse things, ex¬cepting the advantage of size, which made them more sale&ble, I wouldn't give Greg for both of them.

Tell Mary to be a good girl andtake good care of Mrs. Nash so she can come out west with her next summer. Tall her to write to me very soon ana tell me all a- bout the work andif you work so hard to get sick,etc.etc. If anything happens to us we can Telegraph to you in less than no time as the Office is near by in Mr. Wilson's room and he owns and opperates it so it won't coat us anything. and if you want us to come down to tea some evening just send a dispatch and we will be on hand in less than no time. The R.Road is goingthrough our village forthwith

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