Letter from Henry Q. Jennison, 18 August 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

St. Boat Rapids Aug. 18th. /41—
Revd. Jos. Smith
Dr. Sir,
I am just returning from the East with a first rate Set of Levelling, or Civil Engineers instruments, and Should you in the prosecution of any of the improvements in your , need my assistance in Architecture, Engineering, or Levellings. Ten years practical Service in , & as Resident, & Assistant Engineer, with References from the Commissioners of the above States, and of , will entitle me to your confidence—
In haste I am yours very Respectfully
Address H[enry] Q. Jennison
Iowa Terry.
Charges very Moderate} [p. [1]]
[page [2] blank] [p. [2]]
[page [3] blank] [p. [3]]
Revd. Jos. Smith
Ill. [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    Nineteenth-century engineering instruments included various kinds of levels and rods used to mark surveyed distances, altitude changes, and locations. (Gillespie, Treatise on Levelling, 5–30.)  

    Gillespie, William M. A Treatise on Levelling, Topography and Higher Surveying. Edited by Cady Staley. New York: D. Appleton, 1874.

  2. 2

    Leveling instruments allowed civil engineers to make topographical observations and geometric determinations about the land, which in turn allowed surveyors to lay out settlements in an orderly manner. (Gillespie, Treatise on Levelling, 1–4.)  

    Gillespie, William M. A Treatise on Levelling, Topography and Higher Surveying. Edited by Cady Staley. New York: D. Appleton, 1874.

  3. 3

    Jennison was in Pike County, Ohio, by at least March 1833. (Pike Co., OH, Marriage Records, 1815–1913, vol. 1, p. 203, 5 Mar. 1833, microfilm 292,748, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  4. 4

    According to a later history, Jennison was a resident of Logansport, Indiana, in 1831, though the source may be inaccurate since it suggests that Jennison and his wife married in Indiana in 1831 despite other evidence showing that they married in Ohio in 1833. The history does, however, help establish the timing of Jennison’s work in Indiana. (Gideon, Indian Territory, 333.)  

    Gideon, D. C. Indian Territory: Descriptive, Biographical and Genealogical, Including the Landed Estates, County Seats, Etc., Etc., with a General History of the Territory. New York: Lewis Publishing, 1901.

  5. 5

    Jennison and his family moved to Bloomington, Iowa Territory, by 1839. (“Death of Mrs. H. Q. Jennison,” in “Old Settlers’ Register,” 1:175; Muscatine Co., IA, Land and Lot Deeds, 1838–1930, bk. B, pp. 155–156, 26 Oct. 1839, microfilm 1,003,316, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    “Old Settlers’ Register,” no date. 2 vols. Musser Public Library, Muscatine, IA. Transcript available at http://iagenweb.org/muscatine/index.htm.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  6. 6

    Engineering and surveying on the American frontier could be quite profitable, with some surveyors earning upward of $100 per week. (Opie, Law of the Land, 47–48; Chura, Thoreau the Land Surveyor, 3.)  

    Opie, John. The Law of the Land: Two Hundred Years of American Farmland Policy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

    Chura, Patrick. Thoreau the Land Surveyor. Gainesville: University of Florida, 2010.