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Osborn, Ezra
Autograph Letter Signed, Portsmouth [OH] January 7, 1823 to Dr. Samuel Elton, Watertown, Litchfield County, Connecticut

folio, three pages, and address leaf, split along horizontal fold of second leaf, some spotting, otherwise in good legible condition.

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Osborn a Connecticut emigrant to the Ohio frontier writes to an old friend back home:

     “Dear Sir,

          … we were for a number of years residents together under your father’s hospitable roof… How different my situation from that, which I at that period anticipated. I am now settled in a Strange land at that time the roam of savages, the haunts of the wild beasts of the Forest, on the banks of the Ohio River at a place called Portsmouth in county of Scioto. My circumstances are easy but not affluent. I hold an office under Government… My family is small, a wife and an adopted son. The necessary association attached to my office calls me into various parts of the State. On the Muskingum River not far from Marietta and near the place where Daniel Hitchcock [?] performed a tour of Military service before St. Clair’s defeat. I found an old friend whom you must recollect Capt. Ransom in a high state of prosperity… I also found at the same place Reuben Merriam who married Polly Noyes – their circumstances were not flattering… He and she both fell victims to the fatal Malady… they left eight children to mourn their loss- Ohio is a very pleasant country. The necessaries of subsistence are in the greatest abundance and extremely low. Pork and beef $ 2 … Wheat from 37 cents to 40 per bushel… all other eatables in the same proportion… Wild Turkeys a pair 25 cents… With these advantages, your Country is far more desireable to reside in if a person is well settled. Your land is not so prolific but … money is more plenty. A young man who wishes to improve his circumstances by agriculture would do well in this country, land a plenty and cheap. But for most Mechanics and day laborers, they had better remain in the old settlements. Men of Education easily gain preference here… If you should see Abijah Osborn, please to inform his brother Josiah lives on the Ohio River … at a place called Long Bottom … he owns a valuable farm and is doing well… Perhaps you wish to know what business I follow in this State. Ohio is divided into nine Judicial Circuits over which a president Judge presides. I hold the presidency of the 8th circuit. My youngest brother Ralph lives in this state at Columbus, the seat of Government. He has become very wealthy and holds high Honorable office in the State…”

Three decades after the Battle of the Wabash River in which the United States Army under General Arthur St. Clair suffered a great military defeat by Native Americans, the state of Ohio, established in 1803, was still frontier country. Portsmouth had become a city just eight years before this letter was written. The writer’s brother, Ralph, Ohio State Auditor, was defendant in a landmark Supreme Court case, decided the following year, involving the second Bank of the United States. Josiah Osborn, possibly a relative, named in the letter, was a Quaker whose home became an important station for fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad.