View of Southport, Wisconsin, October 1844. Gilbert J. Vincent.
View of Southport, Wisconsin, October 1844.
View of Southport, Wisconsin, October 1844.
View of Southport, Wisconsin, October 1844.
View of Southport, Wisconsin, October 1844.
View of Southport, Wisconsin, October 1844.

View of Southport, Wisconsin, October 1844.

Southport, Wisconsin Territory, 28 December 1844. Ms letter on folio letter sheet (34 x 43 cm), with wood engraved view (12.5 x 36 cm), signed in the image “R.N White.” Addressed on verso, and marked “Bristol, Wis. Jan. 1, 1845.”.

An engaging letter of a Wisconsin settler on an unusually large pictorial letter sheet featuring a marvelous wood engraving of Southport, Wisconsin.

In this letter addressed to his brother and sister, one Gilbert J. Vincent writes of the price of commodities in Wisconsin, the death of an emigrant girl, a barn he is planning to build, the availability of wives, and so on. The letter is addressed to one Ebenezer S. Wadsworth of New Britain, New York. The letter reads in part:

Dear Brothers and sister I take this opporunity… father and mother are vary smart for people of thare age. Hour winter is vary fine hear we have not had two inches of snow hear this winter … I will give the prises … 25 corne 50 barley 45 potatoes 25 pork … Vincent came to this cuntry this fall he lost his oldest child soon after he got hear sche took the canker rash on the way sche lived a few days after tha gat hear … I have bin giting my timber for to bild me a barn in the spring the sies is to be 36 by 50 I I have got my materials all on the spot and pade 50 dolars towarge bildind it. I let the man have a yoke of catle. Dow and I think of starting in a few days to go up north to spend 4 or 5 months in the lumber country … to the young men I daunt think thar is much danger in waiting a litle longer i must tell you thare is a first rate cause her for giting a wif[e] i can count fifteen girls her in hour owen neighbour hood first rate girls if you cant perswaid them to com come with out tem i warrent you to git first rate won hear.

Appearing at the head of this jumbo letter sheet is a view of the bustling port of Southport, Wisconsin (present-day Kenosha), on Lake Michigan. Steamboats and sailing vessels appear in the foreground, with the buildings of Southport in the background. Two ships are docked at long jetties, both busy with passengers and laborers. Among the various buildings pictured is a nautical observatory at the water’s edge. Incorporated in 1841, Southport took its name from its status as the southernmost harbor on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. When it became a city in 1850 the town was renamed Kenosha after the Chippewa word “Kinoje,” signifying pike or pickerel.

According to Groce & Wallace, engraver Roswell N. White worked in New York from 1832 to 1837 and in Chicago from 1846 to 1848. However, given Southport’s proximity to Chicago, it seems likely that this letter sheet was printed there, which would place White in the city at least as early as 1844. Hamilton lists numerous works to which White contributed illustrations.

A delightful Wisconsin Territory letter sheet and letter.

REFERENCES: Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564–1860, p. 681.

CONDITION: Some wear at margins, small hole in center of letter with small loss to the text, old folds; the view is a nice dark impression.

Item #5334

Price: $950.00

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