Item #8035 [Autograph letter, signed, to Ann Wright on the “exposed” frontier and a Native American massacre of twenty-one people.]. Joseph Lame.
[Autograph letter, signed, to Ann Wright on the “exposed” frontier and a Native American massacre of twenty-one people.]

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[Autograph letter, signed, to Ann Wright on the “exposed” frontier and a Native American massacre of twenty-one people.]

Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana Territory, 13 October 1816; 15 October 1816. 12.3” x 7.5”. 2 pp. The letter includes two 1 p. letters, one dated and the other undated. Address label on verso panel. CONDITION: Good, dampstaining, old folds, no losses to the text.

An engaging letter in two parts by an early Indiana settler, written two months before Indiana formally became a state (on 11 December 1816). 

Born in Burlington County, New Jersey, Joseph Lame (1766–1839) was a tanner by trade and is believed to have emigrated west in the company of his uncle Timothy Ewan who had connections to Daniel Boone. Lame lived in Scott, Kentucky from 1795 to at least 1800, and by ca. 1804 was living in Madison, Indiana. Lame was a member of the first Grand Jury of Jefferson County in 1811, and sold land to the Baptist Church in Hebron, Indiana, which was chartered in 1828. 

Writing to his sister Ann and her husband John Wright of New Mills, New Jersey, Lame opens the first of two installments on 13 October 1816, noting it has been “eighteen or nineteen year[s] since I could get any word from your or any of our connections in them parts. I had concluded you were all dead, or moovd to some other parts of the world.” Revealing his religious disposition, Lame writes, “I can simpathise with you in your troubles, but why should we mourn departed friends, it is but the voice that Jeses sends, you and I a little longer wait but how long there’s none can tell for death is ever on the wing.” He then describes his living situation: “I have been a living on this side of the Ohio River about nine years, five years were [where] I now live, here I expect to spend the remainder of my days. I have six hundred and forty acers of land and stock of all kind. I am not to say rich but in a comfortable way of living.” 

Lame proceeds to describe at length the difficulties he and other white settlers have experienced with nearby hostile Native Americans as well as a chilling massacre of settlers:

We have had troublesome times here in the time of the war [i.e., War of 1812 [1812–15]] as I liv’d intirely fronteer exposed to the savages. I had to move my familey about four miles and join with four other famileys and build a fort to keep our famileys in. My self and sons work’d our farm exposed to the savages through the mercy of God we were not hurt. The nearest mischief did to us was eighten miles were [where] 21 souls was massacred in one evening but through the mercies of God there is no more danger of them. God has promised to give the utmost heathen land to his son for his possession, people is settling verry fast and the Gosple spreading. I have not worked at my trade for several year only for my own family… I have health better since I livd on this side [of] the [Ohio] river than for some years before. It is a helthy fertile country. I may compare it to the land of promise that flow’d with milk and honey.

Lame’s second, undated installment (apparently composed on 15 Oct. 1816) begins with a brief discussion of family matters and the recent death of “brother Caleb.” He inquires how many members of his family have survived, and conjectures that the recent deaths in his family were caused by “something like the plag[u]e.” After asking his sister to direct mail to the post office in Maddison, Lame offers a description of the town: 

Maddison town is on Northwest bank of the Ohio River, a young but flourishing town and bids fair to become a place of importance in the State of Indiana, formerly the Teritory of Indiana. I live seve[ral] miles north of said town, were if any of my friends would wish to find me by or letter or other wise they can do so by sending or coming to Maddison as I am well known there being one of the first settlers of these parts. 

An interesting letter by an early Indiana settler, reflecting both the challenging circumstances and the promise of life on the frontier.

REFERENCES: Lindgren, J. Ralph. The Lindgren/Tryon Genealogy: The Ancestry of John Ralph Lindgren… (Victoria, Canada: Trafford Publishing, 2007), pp. 60–61.

Item #8035

Price: $950.00

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