How to Donate
This collection consists of digital copies of letters and papers in the possession of Nancy Ann (nee: Eales) Brown, of St. Louis, Missouri. The Eales papers graphically illustrate the destruction of an Archer homestead by disease during the yellow fever years of the 1880s. In the course of researching her family history, Mrs. Brown discovered that her great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Thomas and Sarah Eales, lived briefly in Alachua County in the 1850s and then bought and leased property near Archer in 1881. Between these two dates, the family seems to have resided primarily in Iowa and Kansas. However, in 1886, Thomas, his daugher, and his youngest son returned to Archer to visit Henry Allen, the man who managed their property. At this point in time, Thomas and his son Robert seem to have been engaged in the business of raising and selling various breeding pets, especially rabbits and guinea pigs, supplied by a dealer in Norfolk, Ohio.
While in Archer, all three
members of the Eales family, as well as Mr. Allen, were struck down by
a tropical fever. Their illness is not identified but was probably
yellow fever. Both Gainesville and Jacksonville suffered through
an outbreak of this mosquito-borne disease two years later in 1888.
News of the deaths in Archer reached Thomas' surviving son, James,
through W.J. Morris, an Archer resident. A subsequent letter from
African-American resident Dock Rodgers describes the burning of the household
bedcloths, the difficulty of feeding the various animals, and the depressed
market for land sales. The texts of both letters are reproduced below,
along with a brochure sent to Thomas Eales offering ferrets, rabbits, and
guinea pigs for sale.
Donated July 14, 1999, by Mrs. Nancy
Ann (nee: Eales) Brown, Great-grand-daughter of Thomas Eales, St. Louis,
|Brochure, Joseph Gibbs, breeder and dealer, who supplied the Eales|
Dec 31 1,86
Mr. Eales Sir
Your brother Robt. was burried yesterday after a long illness. I am his nearest white neighbor, a half a mile east. I helped to burry your Father and burried your Sister alone and had all to do in burrying Robt. except some help from two colored men. I did all for Robt. that I could do seeing after him & taking things to him to eat. Henry Allen died Sunday last then we got Rodgers to stay with Robt. Last Monday Robt. sold the team harness & wagon for 50 dollars got ten dollars cash simanote [?] a note due first of March next of forty dollars. Robt gave Rodgers the ten dollars for his services & had 70 cts in change left & a due bill of forty five cents. The due bill & 70 cts I paid to the doctor. There is 35 cts still due the doctor, a store bill & the funeral expenses which will be small. Robt. had sold a good many of his pets and has now got one dog two prairie gophers nine rabbits nine China pigs thirty one guinea pigs and two cages of white rats. I have Rodgers employed to feed them until we can hear from you. We are paying him 40 cts per day. I made a statement to the proper officers and they told me to go ahead & buy things and burry Robt, collect the note, pay the expences and send you what was left. Now we want you to write at once and let us know what you want done and who you want to do it. If you want me to be your agent give us your directions about the animals. Every body says kill them but we cant without your orders. Then the farm. The colored men Robt. was [was] renting to seems as good as any chance. Let us know at once for the fences need a good deal of repairs and it is time to commense farming. Do you want to till, What is your prices and so on.
Hoping to hear from you at once, I remain
P.S. The tax on the farm has not been paid and is now due but will be no per cent added untill the first of May 1887.
Dock Rodgers, Archer, Fla., to James Eales, Barry, Ill., 1/13/1887
Jan 13 1,87
Mr. James Eales
My dear friend, I recived your kind & welcome letter & was glad to hear from you. I was sorry to heare of your acident. James, I sent you all the papers that Robard give me and all that I could find. I sent them by register. I had to pay for them here. The animales will cost $20 dollars in advance here before they can go by express. I dont know what to do about them. They are costen 40 cents per day here to attend to them.
The horses & wagon was sold for $50 dollars. 10 dollars was paid Charli [?] The balance W.L. Jackson claimed it. The bed close the docktors had them burnt up on the account of they sickness being ketchen.
James, the place is in a bad condition. The grove is looking verry sorry. The cattle is took the feild on account the fence being no lonnt.
James, please let [me] heare from you as soon as you get this letter because I has a job of work of from home I has to finish up & I can't leave till I heare from you again what to do about sending you the animales. The noat [note] that Robard had that was due on the horses. A white man has got it. His name Morrist. He seen to Robard being bearried & he is the man that is holding the noat. The bearriene of Robard did not cost morriest more than 20 dollars. He is got the dog, he wants her.
James I would like for you to come and see about this buissness. W.L. Jackson say that your farther owed him 17 dollars & promist to send it by register & when he recive the letter there was only 3.00 dollars in it. You must look over the papers that I sent you and you will find the register receit that your farther recive from W.L. Jackson. He did not say enything about it until after the death of Robard. You will find in the count book where Robard only owed him five dollars and eightty-eightt cents. Here is Jackson account he give me.
James, the way I & Robard had range about the place I was to got there on the place and work for five years & the end of five years I was to pay him 2 hundred dollars for the place & I was to keep up the taxes on the place. He has not paid his last years taxes on the place. He tried to sell for one hundred & fifty dollars cash. He could not sell. Land is gone down to nothing. All of the northerns are leaving here. Lands are cheap.
Your farther & brother & sister is all bearried in W.L. Jackson simitearry west of Archer. Lewis E. March bought the horses and wagon. Robert owes me for taken care of the animals. I promised to tend to them for 40 cents a day. James, that will be all right with I and you. I will close yours truly,
Friend Dock Rodgers
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