Bristol Inn at Historic Charlton Park

Cedar Creek Sep. 8th 1861

Friend Matthew

I have just brought your letter of Sep 1st to your father from Bristols and am now seated at your father’s table to write. The people here are all well. The letter you wrote to Tommy and Lucy has been received, also the one to Emery Jackson, but not until after Emery had left for the war. Well, I have some news to tell you if you have not received it from any other source.

Last week Samuel, Emery, Daniel Tolles, & Dewitt Keyes enlisted in a cavalry company formed at B Creek, [Battle Creek, MI] (Capt Rogers) 7 left for Missouri on Wednesday Dewitt Keyes deserted and has fled into Canada, as is supposed. Poor Dewitt! I pity his foolishness! I would have gone, had I enlisted thought I know I should have been shot the next day. Your people threshed a few days ago. They had over 400 bushels of wheat counting yours which reached 125 bushels.

I am boarding yet at Mr Jackson’s & trying to get in wheat on my farm. I don’t know what I shall do after that. My front teeth are gone and they will not on that account, receive me as a volunteer. Probably I shall settle somewhere in the practice of the Law. I am glad to see the commendable spirit you manifest in the service of your country & I hope God will protect you in his kind keeping & that you may soon return in good health with trophies of victory from the war But what the end will be we know not. The rebels appear strong in every part of the country. I fear Fremont will have serious trouble in Missouri & that civil war will yet break out in Kentucky. I hope still that better things are in store for this Government & that this rebellion may be put down. We have a rumor here that Jeff Daws is dead but it is not generally credited. The Stovepipe story had reached us in the papers before your letter came. Aaron Bunnell was married to Jennie Lewis a short time since & Sarah is possibly to have her dream of “marrying a minister” realized. A young minister named Gray, has been stopping there at her fathers sometime. Her folks think she has [s]mittened “Jeff” though I doubt it And if she has, she will regret it in my opinion.

How changed are my circumstances from what they were two years ago. I cannot fee[l] reconciled as yet to this terrible change, though I ought to be, no doubt. The forest trees begin to put on the appearance of the “lean & yellow leaf” The farmers are busy getting in wheat. But I must close. Write me if convenient and remember as one of your sincerest friends.

Yours truly

O L Ray

Owin L. Raymond or O.L Ray as he writes here, lived near to Baird’s family in Cedar Creek. He married Mary Wagoner in 1864 and is listed as a farmer in the 1870 census. Ray makes the first introduction to Baird’s family members, his father George and siblings, Samuel, Tommy and Lucy. Later posts will reveal more of their stories.

He also mentions picking Baird’s letter up at “Bristols”, a stagecoach stop, post office, tavern and inn, which was located near Bristol Lake in Dowling, MI. Bristol ran his stop only until about 1862 when the liquor taxes became too high and a competing stopping place was built up the road. Today, Bristol’s Inn can be found here at Historic Charlton Park and is in frequent use by school children and visitors, to see the building’s interior, click here.


Who’s Matthew Baird?