Freel Family

Emigrant Profile

The following letter was given to Jim Tompkins by his aunt, May Hawley Oglesby.

May Hawley Oglesby was related to several pioneer families including the Hawleys (1848), Belknaps (1847 and 1848), Starrs (1847 and 1848), Rowlins (1853), and Freels (1852). It is a pencil copy on thin parchment of a letter written to John L. Hughes of Iowa in 1852.

A notation on the letter written by the transcriber (probably a woman, possibly in 1852) reads, “Copy of a letter written to John L. Hughes telling of the death that occured {sic} in the Freel family to which Sophia Freel Parkinson who remained in Iowa, belonged. The wife of John L. Hughes being a Sister of Mrs. Amos Freel.” The letter’s author had asked that the letter be shared with relatives; therefore, making a hand copy was the only way to share news with family members during that time period.

The letter reads:

Ash Hollow, June 23 – 1852
14 miles from Ft. Laramie

Dear Uncle:

I find here a station for the purpose of conveying a letter to the states and I hasten to inform you of our travels and the incidents pertaining thereto. First of all I would mention the sickness we have had and I am sorry to say the deaths.

First of all Francis Freel died June 4 1852 and Maria Freel followed the 6, next came Polly Casner who died the 8 and Amos Freel the next, he died the 9th and LaFayette Freel soon followed, he died the 10th, Elizabeth Feel {sic}, wife of Amos died the 11th, and her baby died the 17th. So you see we have had a sad affliction on our short journey. You see we have lost 7 persons in a few short days, all died of Cholera.

Although I know it will be a sad epistle of news to send you, still, I feel it a duty to let you know how matters are progressing, but Thank God we are all well and likely to do well for we have had no sickness since the baby died. Please let Sophia Parkinson read this letter when you have perused it and let all of our friends know about our sad affliction. We have had very good luck with our teams and have prospered well except sickness and deaths.

And I would say here a word about traveling and tell it to all of your friends that think of coming on this vast prairie, it is this, do not, as you value your lives, ever drink water out of Springs and sunken wells on the side of the road or any where else. Always use the Platte River water and you will have no sickness. Even if you do have to go a mile or two miles, do it rather than to drink out of those cursed pittholes {sic} of deaths. For it is nothing less than that caused all our sickness.

We didn’t know anything about it, and as the water is generally good and pleasant to drink, we thought we were using the best water. So remember this, and as I said before, advise your friends to do the same. I have not time to write more at present, for we are stopping our teams in the middle of the road for the purpose of writing this, So good bye for the present. I will write to you again the next oportunity {sic} and believe me yours as ever.

Your affectionate nephew
George Kiser
Ann Kiser