Windham Life and Times – August 19, 2016

Letter From Windham, New Hampshire to Bellevue, Kentucky


Jerimiah Morrison was born in Windham NH on April 20, 1795. According to L.A. Morrison, “He succeeded his father on the homestead, where he always lived. He was a person of good judgement….He was among the earliest to espouse the anti-slavery cause, and at a time when it was not popular.”  He died of heart disease, in Windham, on November 24, 1862.

Silas Dinsmoor fitted for college at Williams Academy, in Windham and went on to graduate from Dartmouth College, in the class of 1787. He was appointed by President George Washington to be the U.S. agent to the Cherokee Indians in 1795. After serving in various capacities for the federal government, he moved to Bellevue, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, to where this letter is addressed. He died and is buried on the “Dinsmore Homestead,” which was owned by his nephew James.


Above: The James Dinsmore Homestead, in Kentucky, where Silas Dinsmoor is buried. It is a museum today.

Silas Dinsmoor

Bellevue, Boone County Kentucky

Windham, January 15th 1842

Dear Sir,

It becomes my painful duty to communicate to you the sad intelligence of the death of your Cousin John Dinsmoor. You have been apprised of the death of his wife. Since which he has boarded in a respectable family in the neighborhood; his health continued pretty good until September last. Since which time, he’s declined. About a week before his death, he was seized with influenza attended with lung fever which terminated his earthly existence on Tuesday the 11th January, at three o’clock P.M. His suffering had been very severe for several days but was very much relieved the last three days he lived and hopes were… by his physician and friends up to the moment of his death that his health might be partially restored and he enjoy comfortable health for some time. Providence saw best that it should be otherwise. He died suddenly without any apparent alteration to the very moment of his death and without a moan or struggle. Thus our friends pass away one after another. This aged uncle is the last member of that ancient family in this place excepting Mary park who still survives and is not enjoying good health— I have written this at a request of his, signified to me, before his decease.  And I have written with more freedom and greater pleasure from my personal knowledge of you as a friend of my parents. Although you may have forgotten me and most of your younger friends in this place, yet be assured that you are still held in respectful remembrance by many here. And although we may not hope to see you here again yet we would be very glad to receive a letter from you once in a while. We would be gratified to here from brother John’s family those of them in your region. James & Silas I believe are in your neighborhood— I will now introduce myself as a son of Samuel Morrison and Margaret Dinsmoor and say that I would be very much gratified to receive a letter from you. Direct to your obedient servant Jeremiah Morrison.

John Dinsmoor's house in Windham is still standing on Range Road

John Dinsmoor’s house in Windham is still standing on Range Road

The John Dinsmoor in the letter, was born in Windham in 1761. He married Isabella Hemphill in 1791.  He settled on the north part of his father’s farm where he was a blacksmith. Morrison says, “He was industrious and built himself a good house and barn, as well as blacksmith’s shop. But his farm was poor; and whether the shop took up so much of his time as to spoil his farming, or the latter occupation so engaged him as to ruin his business as a smith, or whether the intrinsic poverty of soil is enough to account for the fact that, it is certain that he failed at both occupations and about 1827, was obliged to sell his place. He then moved to the farm of Isaac Thom in Windham Range; this place is now (1882) occupied and owned by his grandson, Joseph W. Dinsmoor. Having profited from past experience, or owing to more productive soil, although he had passed the prime of life, he was successful at his new work, and soon became the owner of the farm. He was a man of decided convictions and unyielding opinions. Late in life, when perhaps his disposition had somewhat soured by his reverses of fortune, he was inclined to be morose and to look on the dark side of the picture. His wife was happily of the opposite turn of mind. Always genial and companionable, making the best of everything, by pleasantly agreeing with her husband in his sharp and often very just criticisms of men and things, he owed it to her that the thought was but momentary, which with opposition would have become chronic…His son John, their only child in the State, resided near him, and was drowned in Cobbett’s Pond in November of 1834. Thus they were left childless, as it were, in their old age. In January 1840, his wife, with whom he had lived in most endearing companionship died of paralysis. She had retired to rest at night, in her usual good health, but in the night her husband awoke and found she had lost the power of speech. And it never returned. Her death was a great shock to him, and broke up his home. He passed the remainder of his days in the family of his neighbor, Ebenezer T. Abbott, one of a family whose name is a synonym for humanities that cheer and relieve distress.” His other two sons, Nathaniel and William had removed to New York. Silas Dinsmoor died, July 17, 1847.


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