This letter was written by Jacob Wagnen Heydlauff (1849-1885), the son of German emigrants, Christian Franz Heydlauff (1804-1875) and Anna Maria Wagnen (1811-1893) who came to the United States in 1834 and settled in Michigan. During the Civil War, Jacob served as a bugler in Co. M, 10th Michigan Cavalry.
Jacob wrote the letter to his sister, Christina (Heydlauff) Danner (1842-1925), the wife of Simon Dennis Danner (1836-1896). Simon Danner served in Co. I, 1st Sharp Shooter Regiment during the Civil War.
We learn from Jacob’s letter that he worked for McCoy’s Great Western Stockyards. By 1871, when this letter was written, the McCoy’s cattle shipping business was in its heyday, shipping as many as 600,000 head of cattle that year alone. Abilene boomed as well. By 1870, the community had ten boarding houses, eleven saloons, five general stores, and four hotels.
To encourage the purchase of Texas cattle driven to the stockyards at Abilene, McCoy invited buyers to visit Abilene and to go on buffalo hunts.
October 29th 1871
Dear Brother and Sister,
Yours under date of the 20th came to hand yesterday and also four Ionia Sentinels and both were received with pleasure, I can assure you, as you give me a great deal of news both in your letter and by sending the papers. I do not know as I can give you any news that will interest you as there is not a person within sixty miles of here that comes from Ionia County that I know of. Sixty miles Northeast from this place is a place called Waterville where John Stone’s folks live and also several others who came from Ionia county. I have never as yet been over to see them but think I shall soon. I had a letter from brother William a few days ago in which he said that Mr. Burdick’s folks had been out to Waterville on a visit to John Stone’s folks and had I known of it at the time, I should have went over to see them.
Business is brisk here. Texas cattle are being shipped from here at the rate of from forty to one hundred and twenty carloads per day. I am still at work for Mr. McCoy. I have now worked for him six months but I think I shall quit him in a short time not but that he is a good man to work for. I do not think that I ever worked for or had any deal with a man that was any better to get along with than Mr. McCoy is.
The weather is fine here and it is just the season for hunting buffalo and antelope, both of which are very plenty a few miles west and south of here. Parties are starting out nearly every day to hunt them. Consequently dried buffalo and jerked buffalo and buffalo beef is quiet plenty. Dried buffalo can be bought for from three to four cents per pound by the wagon load. I should have sent you some wheat before now but could not find out the names for the different kinds but I am going out to buy wheat for a man in this place next week and will then be better able to select some. I will send you a few samples of both spring and winter wheat. I have also got some new kinds of peas and beans that I will send you soon. Flower seeds I have not been able to obtain any as yet but will do so yet if I can.
In my last I told you that I would let you know when I wrote again if I was coming home this fall but I am as ignorant on the subject now as I was then. Give my love to father and mother when you see them and respects to all. I am sorry to hear about so many fires in Michigan. We have plenty of prairie fires here. Write soon.
From your brother, — Jacob W. Heydlauff