This letter was written by 35 year-old Maine native George Crosby Russell (1827-1912) while serving as a quartermaster in the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry posted at Benton Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri in April 1862. We learn from the letter that George was discharged from the service due to a change in regulations requiring that quarter master positions in the cavalry be filled by company officers. Census records show that George returned to Wisconsin and later moved to Madison where he was employed as a “claim agent” and later as a “bookkeeper.”
George was married to Hanna (“Anna”) M. Haskell (1831-1913), a native of Massachusetts, in 1854 and had children named George Haskell Russell (1854-1927), Mary M. Russell (1863-Aft1880), and Jessie Russell (1875-19xx).
George wrote the letter to George Augustus Tiffany (1785-1863) whom we learn held rental property in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 1862 Milwaukee City Directory indicates that George Tiffany was a printer and boarded at 292 Milwaukee Street. We also learn that George Russell’s wife was residing with the Edgar C. Jennings family near the city limits west of town on Spring Street. Edgar was born in 1819 and came to Milwaukee with his father Royal Jennings in May 1843 whereupon they opened a general mercantile in the Hustis Block at the northwest corner of Third & Chestnut Streets under the firm name of “R. Jennings & Co.” They advertised their store under the banner, “Hurrah for the West Side.” In 1853 they moved their store to No. 9 Spring Street where they resumed business until 1855. Edgar later became a clerk for the Northwestern Mutual Life company. [Source: Pioneer History of Milwaukee by James Smith Buck.]
Addressed to Mrs. George C. Russell, Care of E. C. Jennings, Spring Street, Milwaukee
St. Louis, Missouri
April 15, 1862
George A. Tiffany, Esq.
Capt. Palmer informs me he expects to leave your house in which he lived about two or 3 weeks hence.
All of the Quarter Masters of our Regiment have been this day mustered out — among them your honorable servant — for the reason that in cavalry all such officers must be from company lieutenants and we are none of us company officers. Hence, in about 10 days or so, I shall be in Milwaukee and think I would like the house again if agreeable to Mrs. Russell, and you have no objection. At any rate, will you do me the favor to retain it until you can see her about it. She may be found at Mr. Edgar C. Jennings on Spring Street near Gifford’s Nursery about 2½ miles from Spring Street Bridge. At any rate, do not let it until you see her or hear from me.
I cannot tell myself until I hear from her what she would prefer in the matter. You received your rent all right, I suppose.
We are having fine warm weather. Peach trees are in bloom and the fields look green and nice.
In haste, yours, — George C. Russell
I have two applications for the house. Still I will give Mr. Russell the preference if he wants it and is willing to take it as it is. I cannot at the present rent lay out any money on it this year. Mr. Chenowith who wrote me yesterday wants an immediate answer and if you wish it, please write me a line immediately through the P.O.
Yours truly, — G. A. Tiffany