2000.1, Charles Francis Himes Family Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.
You can scarcely conceive of the pleasure your letter gave me when weary, and hungry, I arrived in Fillmore about 8 o’clock last night. I have turned Pedestrian and am pretty well hosted in this county. I have traveled on foot from St. Joe to Marysville due West and South and over a great portion of this and adjoining Western country. I started for Marysville from here last Wednesday on foot and alone. Staid all night with Prof. Luckin about five miles from here, and next day launched out on to the prairie. “Launched” is the proper word, for traveling on prairie and ocean are very similar. Talk of straight, crooked, forked and main woods like in the east! And then imagine the quandary a traveler must be in when out on the broad prairie, out of sight of houses, men, trees, fences, fields or anything that would indicate the existence of human beings, he comes to a point where the trail forks in two, three, or half a dozen directions. One of which alone can be right and each is equally probable to he that one. Because on the prairie you are much like a Union saving politician!!! Knowing no north no south no east no west and nothing about the country. To add to the previous misfortune a copious shower of rain came up suddenly and without aforethought as they frequently do in Missouri defying and disobeying diagnostication of the weather prophet; I knew it would be but a few moments duration but sufficient to wet me and instinctively looked around for a shelter not even a stone or a cave or tree offered itself. The prairies here are more rolling than Pennsylvania land as the hills follow each other in quick succession leaving no flat portion at all, and flowers are just beginning to sprout and the old dried (illegible) is sending up clouds of smoke in all directions. The view is more restricted than on the Illinois flat--- ----about equally monotonous the hills being drawn up like regulars. There is no sound to be heard save the cackling of prairie hens. I think Cowher Could have been suited in the west when he signed for that large and vast wilderness ???” After walking about 18 miles I put up at a fine large brick two story house (a rare sight in this country) as any house you find is willing to entertain strangers (for remuneration of course). Col. Prater resided here an old Kentuckian very wealthy. He has two very fine daughters, intelligent girls. I met the district teacher he is a well educated man and teaches the Col. Daughters Latin. I also met a man and family from Wayne Co. Pa. acquainted with some of my old friends there a man of some means he has bought 480 acres of land and is going to farm. His piano and two daughters will be out soon. He is of the opinion Mo. Will be a free state soon. I advised him not to lay the flattering unction to his soul, revolutions require time. I went to Marysville where town property sell’s at the rate of about $1.25 per acre and I think right at that. Went to court where they were rushing business in a real Western style. But as I had to stand, there being no seats for spectators and the floor paved with flat stones, I left very soon. By skillful maneuvering I managed to get to the second table for dinner and satisfied my craving appetite as best I could on biscuits and pork. With a plentiful admixture of dirt, I went back to the cols. that night to get good lodging and be prepared to proceed Fillmore-word the next day. Marysville has about a dozen or twenty houses mostly stones could be brought out with several thousand dollars but yet profess to do a wholesale business are the purchasers I know not situated as it is on an almost unimproved prairie not near the river or any great thoroughfare. But every western store does a wholesale business that is they are willing provided they have buyers. Col. Porter and I met a Virginian who knew students at Old Dickinson and gave me a great deal of information. Next day Saturday Col. and I started in a buggy for Mr. Woodcoch’s where Mr. Tucker is staying a few miles from here, and you must know a buggy ride is a great rare privilege in this country, but the Col. could almost fill it without me and it was a---concern but still showed his aristocracy as others a little below generally ride a mule which singular today is very aristocratic here. We have a horse with us tied to the buggy behind which---halters escaped four times we finally made it so strong that several horses could not have broken it but the muleish beast came off victor at last tearing the top off breaking axle, and strings had to be patched and tied as only a man fertile in expedients as a western man could do and left the horse to go where he pleases as we were then on the prairie. Experienced as he is he attempted to---a few miles (2) of---in any course of preceeding day and we got last, had to fix the buggy every few miles, ropes wore out and I preferred to walk fearing we would break down in those regions of---space. At sunset we---at out---after traveling all day to get a distance of 12 miles over good prairie wood. I walked to Fillmore after dark through timbered brush, and west packs of yelping comes at every house. Every house has from 3 to 6 dogs from the size of an elephant down to a rat but more of the former. In going into a mans house by dark to inquire the way he congratulated me on getting in and wondered where his dog was he found him growling about 10 feet from and was surprised that he allowed me to come in. That is the most border ruffian feature of the country. Besides the---dialect and they say “them moloked?” “them salts” making it plural always. But I fear I become tedious to relate, to relate my experience in Mo. Would require folios but I must relate another incident. I went into a farm house to stay all night after seeing the family of children I noticed one of a more light complexions and yellow flayer hair, I told the woman that was the best looking child if the lot when behold it was a little slave girl, I knew not how to make amends or to apologize but they relieved me much by saying I was not the first one made the mistake. One negro ran off from here and took another with him and sold him. I suppose I wrote you of Prof. Tuckers and my adventure on mule back.
You call me a homeless wanderer as if I was a wandering-jew. I am enjoying myself much and only lack someone to share it to make it greater enjoyment. Prof. Tucker and I have had fine times. I am in search of pleasure and am satisfying my curiosity now while I have an opportunity. I don’t know what will prevent my going home in the fall but I think it is equally easy for some one to come out. I am anxious to see you all from Harrie? Up, you may expect me home at least when the R.R. is finished if not sooner. Give my --- to Harry Irvin and tell I am well and in good spirits with Democratic principles triumphant I have had and last adieu to slavery agitationalists. I am sorry the school at Oxford is going down it ought to be upheld and sustained so that I would be able to employ a good teacher, it shames me to think of Oxford and vicinity in regard to the school question. They show more interest anywhere else even in this border ruffian country. I wish Lan. would take a stout and study perhaps he would do better away from home but I don’t know where ---at Margerth Hall. You are more persevering with your French than I expected you would be. I am glad May mogupes do well with her music. I noticed in the Balt. Sun that --- was appointed to the US circuit. I think he is rather a showing man, such a character I have given him, judge for yourself. You will have company---, Mary Camfelb, Geo. Hines and house cleaning time would be no storm to me now. I am very stoical and can put up with anything. Tell Aunt Ellie to persist and she will finally prevail for “he is a fool who thinks by force or skill to change the current of aomaus will. I expect to see---out before I return. Easter japed here with a few comments. I presume you receive my letters regularly now the roads are good and spring has fairly commenced the grasp is---. I shall rejoice indeed when I start for the Atlantic slope but there are a few miles between us. The contract of a stage route to California has been given out. Is there much excitement about Kansas yet? Wilmot won’t be elected will he? They call me an abolitionist here sometimes. Write soon your affectionate –C.F.H