Here is an old letter posted from the former city of St. Anthony, MN from 1869. I’ve had it for some years, but didn’t get around to reading it until this weekend, when I was laid up with a cold and was looking for something passive to do.

St. Anthony was across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, on the eastern bank. It was annexed by Minneapolis in 1972. Nowadays, it’s the Northeast and Southeast neighborhoods of the Mill City.

At the time, Minnesota’s bracing climate was considered good for people with respiratory ailments. Henry David Thoreau spent a month touring the state in 1861 in search of adventure and relief from tuberculosis. He died the next year. Oops.

The letter writer, whose name is hard for me to read, appears to be David Lyon. He reports to his wife’s physician, a Dr. Ainsworth in Addison NY, on their progress and experiences in their new home. He offers advice – and warning – to others coming to Minnesota for their health.

To be honest, I have a hard time reading this, my best shot at translation is typed out below. If you can figure out some of the missing words, and can offer corrections to my interpretation, please share them in the comments section.

The images are full-sized to make it easier to read and print.


St Anthony Minn Nov 26th 1869

Dr. Ainsworth Addison NY

Dear Sir

To agreement and desire I write you that you may know of
the result of your professional advice relative to bringing
my wife to this state for her health.I can unhesitatingly
say that my wife has been much benefited by coming here.
And I feel to rejoice that I was prompted to bring her to
Minnesota ere it was too late. The climate is the principle
boast of Minnesota. It is claimed by residents here
to be the healthiest clime in the world. The truth of
thear belief is being ever day proven by the great numbers
who are being restored to health. The sun shines
most brilliantly when the weather is very cold here.
A person would be led to infer from this fact that they
could venture forth in Summer Costume but they
would not go far before feeling the necessary use of an
extensive ward robe. We have had much pleasant weather
since I have been here. Although we have very cold
weather here it is not unpleasant. The sun shining
brightly feeling (elegantly?)(?) hungry all tend to speak
of ones improved physical condition. There are invalids
here and vicinity from all parts of this and the old countries
seeking good health which I have no doubt they receive
provided they come here in time. But delays are dangerous
as can be seen here most any day by some coming here in
an advanced stage of the different diseases who had much
better have remained at home for this class of invalids
die the (?) by coming here. I have noticed while in
St. Paul invalids coming in by boat and rail who had
to be borne up on stretchers and I have often felt to
exclaim god help them if they have not got a bountiful
supply of green backs for there are plenty of suckers
at St. Paul that will fleece them by way of exhorbitant (sic)
charge &c. St. Anthony, where we are staying, I should
infer is a beautiful place in summer season, but I
can not say thear (sic) is not much (invitatering?) in its appearance
at this time of year, except however, its health giveing (sic)
air. I repeat that it must be delightful here in the summer as
there is so much to be admired in and about here by the
way of scenery (?) Minneapolis is a beautiful place
situated just acrost the Mississippi river from
St. Anthony. Minneapolis and St. Anthony (are) great manufacturing
Cities, except however in mid winter when
operations are in part suspended until the return of
warm weather. The (? ? ?) at both of these
places is great and much improved. I regard St.
Anthony and Minneapolis as almost one and the same
Place and would recommend Capitalists to come here.
I would also recommend invalids who are of need to come to
this state to choose St. Anthony or Minneapolis as the
locality is better adapted to invalids in every particular.
I would say to those of limited means who are forced
to come here on account of thear ill health or ill
health of some loved one that they should make some
arrangements for employment before leaving
their homes, for they will find many here who are unable
to get employment in any capacity at certain times in the
year. People should be careful to observe this fact.
I made the acquaintance of Mr. Sarewell(?) of St. Paul
who is an extensive and prosperous merchant in the
hardware business at St. Paul. He is a relative of Coe
Farnham of Addison and much of a gentleman.

I wish you would please inform the editors of Addison
Advertiser to forward me papers (We will pay.)

Respect yours,

David (?) Lyon (?)