Charles Lowell



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"The following curious and highly amusing document, was handed to us by a friend, who desired to see it in print. We are informed that the questions were copied verbatim from a printed circular, signed by Charles Lowell, Esq., of Ellsworth, which was sent to several of the Postmasters in Illinois, in 1839, for the purpose of obtaining information in regard to that country. A copy of this circular falling, by chance, into the hands of a wag at Jacksonville, he returned it to Mr. Lowell with answers annexed, as given below. Mr. L. being, we presume, little pleased with the character of the answers, refused to take the document out of the Post Office, and it subsequently passed into other hands. We have been much amused with the replies of the Jacksonville wag. They contain the most admirable burlesque upon Western life that we have ever seen."

Publication Date



Thomas W. Burr


Bangor, Maine


19th century humor, Ellsworth Maine, Bangor Maine, Jacksonville Illinois


This item is best explained by calling it 19th century sarcasm. Charles Lowell of Ellsworth, Maine, had sent a questionaire to several Illinois town post offices asking about the conditions, geographically, socially, economically, traditionally, and otherwise of the Illinois plains. An unnamed "wag" found this questionaire in the Jacksonville, Illinois, post office and responded to Lowell with no small amount of sarcasm. For example, one response is as follows: "as for cash, we do not know what it is, except what we read in the newspapers, coonskins being our principal currency." Lowell, not happy with these responses, left the returned questionaire in the post office in presumably Bangor. The responses amused the locals so much that it passed from person to person before eventually getting published. The publication date of the paper is not known.

Lights and Shadows of Western Life: A Faithful Picture, by a Resident



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