Several years ago Tara Beery purchased several letters written by Elizabeth Scott, the wife of William Scott, who completed construction of the historic Scott House in Hillsboro in 1844, off of eBay. In the letters written to her son, Samuel, Elizabeth discusses family issues and events from 1880 to 1885, and “did a lot of good gossiping about people in Hillsboro,” Beery said.
The book titled “My Very Dear Sam” is currently on sale for $20 at the Highland County Historical Society’s Highland House Museum. It will also be available when the historical society hosts its second Pioneer Day on Saturday, Aug. 14 at the Scott House on West Main Street in Hillsboro.
“I researched those people and events and that’s what the book is,” said Beery, a Hillsboro veterinarian. “The letters are printed verbatim, then after the letters I tell who the people were and what they did with their lives.”
All proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the historical society, which will host Pioneer Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature historic-themed booths on at least 11 Highland County communities as well as other historic displays showing how life was for local residents during the days of pioneers.
Beery said Elizabeth did not pull many punches in the letters to her son, who married another woman named Elizabeth that he did not get along with very well.
Only four members of the original Scott family that constructed the historic Hillsboro home, plus Samuel’s wife, ever lived in the mansion. Beery said Samuel is the most interesting of them.
“He was exceedingly educated, but just kind of messed around until his father’s health brought him back here,” Beery said.
After his return to Hillsboro, Samuel became president of the First National Bank, but it went belly up under his administration. Beery said Samuel was found liable and had to pay a very large sum of money to his creditors and depositors.
“Then he disappeared into the house and did research and writing of Spanish history and translated ancient laws into English,” Beery said.
Two of the people discussed in Beery’s book are Ulric Sloane and Casper Collins.
She said that if you looked up shyster lawyer in the dictionary, the description would perfectly fit Sloane. She said Sloane once represented well-known Hillsboro bandit Bob McKimmie, who some historical accounts say hid gold from his exploits around the area. Beery said that at one point McKimmie wrote that he coming back to Hillsboro to go after Sloane because Sloane stole some of his money.
Caspar Collins, the Hillsboro native that Casper, Wyoming is named for, is also mentioned in the book. Collins was in the military when he was killed by Native Americans at the age of 20, but there are several different accounts about the details of his death. Beery said that upon researching him, there is a lot more to his story than she ever knew.
“He actually was very friendly with Native Americans in the area he was in when the forces met,” Beery said. “Members of the Cheyenne tribe who knew him broke off the attack and tried to tell the others to go back, but unfortunately he ran into a group who did not know him.”
Beery said “My Very Dear Sam” is an interesting family history, but is fairly short.
“I like to write, and the big thing is I really like those letters,” she said. “I collect a lot of Hillsboro memorabilia and it always bothered me that if my house burned down, that it could all be completely gone. So I wanted to get the word out there and pass the information on to other people.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.