1860: Frank Gould to Lyman Sargeant Watts


  How Frank Gould might have looked in 1860

This letter was written by 19 year-old Frank Gould (1841-1920), the son of Bennett Uriah Gould (1797-1871) and Sarah Marsh (1805-1865) of Peacham, Vermont. After attending the public schools in home town, he came West in October 1860 and went to work for his brother, Leonard Gould, in the woodenware business, earning twenty-five dollars a month. He did not remain long in Chicago before returning to Vermont for three and a half years. By 1865, however, he was back in Chicago engaged in the horse trading business. In 1869, he joined his brother in the woodenware business again and after his brother died in 1896, he took over the entire business.

Frank wrote the letter to his friend, Lyman Sargeant Watts (1832-1872) of Peacham, Vermont. Lyman attended Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, graduating in 1859. He then attended Union Theological Seminary and the Andover Theological Seminary before he was ordained to preach in the Congregational church.


Addressed  to Lyman Watts, A. B., Peacham, Vermont
Postmarked Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
October 27th 1860

Fried Watts,

As it is a rainy day & looks rather unfavorable for trade, I will endeavor [to] fulfill my promise to write & let you know how I get along. The writing will be hard to decipher but you promised to risk that, I believe. Had a very pleasant journey coming out. Very good company all the way and as far as I have become acquainted with the customs of the West, I like it very well — rather bette than I expected.

The census returns show that the population of this city is not quite as large as had been estimated. It amounts to about a hundred & ten thousand. Business is very good in the city and the county merchants give a very favorable [account] of trade in the country — better than it has been since ’57. The company of which my brother is a member commenced last spring. They did not expect to do very much business this year but have done much better than they expected. My brother wishes me to remain with them for a long time if the business suits me. He intends to remain in it for quite a long time and there is but one other house of just the same kind in the city & that is rather going down through mismanagement. If I should stay here, after they get everything regulated, my business will be keeping books. We do not keep the store open in the evening.

I have studied a little since I came out here. Have a very pleasant place to board which people who came from Vermont & a good many of the boarders came from there.

Politics is quite lively here now. “Old Abe” seems truly to be the “peoples candidate.” [Owen] Lovejoy and several other celebrated men have spoken to very large crowds here and tonight, Samuel Galloway speaks in the “wigwam.”

The churches here appear to be quite prosperous. The prayer meetings are very well attended and there seems to full as much interest felt in them as the churches at home. There are quite a number of mission schools established in the different parts of the city. The one which I attended has about two hundred connected with it, mostly children of the laboring classes. They were dressed quite well & appeared as well as could be expected for those who were collected in such a place as this.

This is as much as you will want to decipher at one time and perhaps more than will be of interest to you. But please, excuse all mistakes.

From your friend, — Frank Gould

P.S. Direct to Box 2370

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