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Stampless US Cover/Letter, 1854 - Newark, Ohio To Somerset, Warren County, Iowa

 
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Valued Member
Canada
92 Posts
Posted 11/08/2019   5:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Wigeon44 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
There is a cancel showing a postage payment (PAID 3) was made but no stamp. I believe the general use of postage stamps began in the USA 7 years previous in1847 but stamps may not have been widely available in small town America? Was this a commonly acceptable practice at this time?

The document on laid paper was tightly folded and I assume the letter formed the envelope as there is some remnant indication of a seal. The address is very unclear and confusing with words rewritten over other words- a postmaster's nightmare! The writer was a teenaged school girl and some of the letter was written awkwardly as well. The date handwritten in the letter was February 12th, 1854 but the postmark seems to indicate it was posted on FEB 20?? The year is not given in the postmark- was this a post office error or common practice? The town of Somerset no longer exists.

This was an interesting 3 page letter between sisters about daily family life issues. Through the local nespaper editor and historical society in Newark, Ohio (close to Granville) I was able to contact the living ancestors of these girls. Together we developed an accurate transcript and pieced together what happened leading up to and after the Civil War with this family. Two thousand acres of farm and woodland was first secured and developed by this Welsh family a few years before this letter. There are even published early photographs and accounts of the original family home and members of the family from that period.

My plan is to take a road trip to Newark with my wife in the spring to meet the family, see the beautiful Welsh Hills and donate the letter to the historical society.

Any additional postal history you can offer about the letter would be appreciated.



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Pillar Of The Community
United States
2066 Posts
Posted 11/08/2019   6:12 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add txstamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The postage was prepaid in cash for the single letter rate of 3c.

edit: it was perfectly fine to do this in 1854.
The use of stamps was taking off but their use was not compulsory.

At this time, year dates were seldom included in a cancel.
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Edited by txstamp - 11/08/2019 7:02 pm
Valued Member
United States
232 Posts
Posted 11/08/2019   7:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Linus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This letter was addressed to Somerset, Iowa in Warren, County. This is spelled Summerset today, and this area is on Highway 69 between Des Moines and Indianola. Iowa began mining coal in the 1840s and the Banner Mine was located at Summerset. The Welsh people were coal miners and they came to Iowa to work in the mines. The town was just a mining camp and disappeared when the mines closed. This land was scarred by the mining operations and was always an eyesore. The State of Iowa acquired it, built hiking trails around it, and turned it into a State Park today. The lakes are stocked with trout.

Linus

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Edited by Linus - 11/08/2019 7:21 pm
Pillar Of The Community
United States
607 Posts
Posted 11/08/2019   8:57 pm  Show Profile Check paperhistory's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paperhistory to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Prepayment of postage with stamps on letter mail wasn't required until January 1, 1856, so stampless letters are relatively common up till that point. The rate starting July 1, 1851 was 3 cents if prepaid and 5 cents if collect. This was the typical Newark postmark of the period. (I have a gold medal exhibit of Licking County, Ohio, of which Newark is the county seat).

Granville is home to my alma mater of Denison University and the current residence of my parents. Newark was home to the Heisey glass company - there is a museum there. There are also some significant Hopewell period earth works - the great circle and the octagon. Granville has a nice little historical museum, a few restaurants, etc. The welsh hills are indeed lovely.
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Valued Member
Canada
92 Posts
Posted 11/08/2019   11:18 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Wigeon44 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for the helpful feedback about the postmark and places mentioned in this letter!

The letter is addressed to David D. Jones who married Sarah Amanda Philipps pictured below. The sister writing the letter was Priscilla Philipps, 18 at the time. David fought in the Civil War and lived to 99 years; Sarah to 84. One of their daughters took up early photography and produced these and many more images. One of David's brothers, Thomas D. Jones met President Lincoln and produced a bronze bust of him which is displayed in the Ohio State House in Columbus.

A pictorial history of the Welsh Hills, settled by the Philipp's girl's grandfather in 1801 is available in an online format here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/P...780738578170



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Valued Member
Canada
92 Posts
Posted 11/08/2019   11:37 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Wigeon44 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Correction: The bust of Lincoln is made of Carrara marble, not bronze
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Pillar Of The Community
699 Posts
Posted 11/09/2019   06:19 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Glenn Estus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I wouldn't donate it to the local historical society. From personal experience and listening to other collectors tell about their experiences, the local historical society won't know what to do with it and after a few years it will probably end up missing.
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Valued Member
United States
466 Posts
Posted 11/09/2019   07:59 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wkusau to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would suggest making photocopies of the letter and giving those to the historical society and the museum. They could then make whatever display they want without damage to the original.
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Valued Member
Canada
92 Posts
Posted 11/09/2019   08:09 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Wigeon44 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you Glenn, you may well be correct but think in this case at least the risk is worth it.

The ancestor I connected with works/volunteers with the society and is the person who authored the little book I mentioned above about the Welsh Hills. I have been corresponding with her as well as her sister and a nephew from Chicago about the letter. They have been most helpful and excited about its discovery in adding to documenting their local/family history.

They plan to do a story for the newspaper about the letter and how it might have found its way to Canada. They have donated their large family collection of Welsh Hills photos and those documenting the Philipps family who were the original founders of the area to the historical society already, so the letter would be an added asset to this collection.

In my opinion the contents of the letter could be the basis for a compelling book or made for TV drama series on PBS. --- in the backdrop of settlement by a Welsh Immigrant clan due to political/treasonous acts, Priscilla pleading for Sarah to return home from Iowa because the mother misses her so much, the hint of some conflict between the father and Sarah's husband David, the illness from the "feber" of an uncle and his care and impending death, conflict with a teacher at the school who was fired and replaced, the impending wedding of Priscilla which didn't happen in fact for years after the Civil War, etc.... All interesting stuff for a Michener-like docudrama about settlement and early, rural life in Midwest America!

I found the tightly folded unopened letter in the bottom of a cardboard box of mixed stamp material salvaged from the K. Bileski estate- he had an undated card with it estimating its value at $30.
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Edited by Wigeon44 - 11/09/2019 08:16 am
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