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Louisa Cook Walters Correspondence- MMS 1289
My Dear Friends,
Your letter of March 12th was received last evening and if you could have seen how welcome it was and how much pleasure it gave me, I am sure you would have felt more than paid for the trouble of writing. I read it aloud and when I got through Mr. Walters said he should think that would be almost as good as a visit home, and so it was the next thing to it, though not quite equal to it. But O, I seldom get a letter that does not give me a heartache too.
'Tis only three years this month since I left the States, but what terrible changes have taken place in that time. It seems as though the destroyer has taken the flower of the country and among them all, dear Mary, none came so near to me as the loss of your two boys, none that it seems so hard to be reconciled to as that does even yet; and now comes another, poor William Brayton. Oh dear! Oh dear! How hard it is for such poor, weak, short-sighted mortals as we are, to understand that all things are well. How many are left who seem to be but a bane to society, of no use to themselves or to anyone around them, while such as Milton, Wm. Brayton, and his father and thousands of others who are the stay and staff of helpless youth and old age are taken. Truly "as far as the heavens are above the earth, so far are my ways above your ways, saith the Lord". And well that there is one who guideth the affairs of nations, and maketh even the wrath of man to praise him. While all lovers of their country were rejoicing over the victories of our armies at Richmond, and all over the South, the telegraph flashed to us the terrible intelligence that our Chief Magistrate had fallen by the hand of a treacherous, cowardly assassin. I think no news could have struck such a chilling blow upon the hearts of the people as that did. A defeat at Richmond, or even the loss of Washington would have been nothing to it. But now that the deed is done, now that our noble President is gone, and we must needs look calmly at things as they are, may not our great loss be eventually for our country's good? Abraham Lincoln has done his duty faithfully, honorably, and from principle, and his country will ever honor and cherish his memory with the same veneration as they have our Washingtons; but Lincoln was so magnanimous, so whole-souled, and generous, was there not danger of too much leniency; would this wicked rebellion have met its just deserts at his hands? Be it as it may, we are sure there is some wise end to be accomplished. Copperheads, I think are a little in the majority, at least they managed to win this election last fall in this territory.
Nearly every country in the world is represented, but Bridget and Patrick are the predominant elements. The good, the bad, and the indifferent are here, but as in all new countries, a great many are here who are too mean to be tolerated anywhere else. A few weeks ago a man was shot by his brother in a house just across the street from where we live. Mr. W was the first one in the house after the shots were fired; they quarreled about some trifling matter, drew their revolvers, and in a few minutes one was shot through the hand and the other was dead. Yesterday two men had a dispute about a mining claim, when one drew his revolver and shot the other through the thigh, and then through the heart. These are the first instances of the kind in this city since I came here about a year ago, although these shooting affairs are quite common in mining countries. I think this state of things will not last long here, as the people are getting roused up about it, and if this last affair does not, one more such case would be sure to call Judge Lynch to a seat on the bench and a mob jury would bring in and execute the verdict and sentence, before one of the officers of the law could make a common arrest.
I wish I was a word painter. I would try to show you our town as it looks to me from the window where I am writing. It is so different from your idea of a city at home. There are people enough and houses enough and many of them are quite tidy, but the most of them temporary residences, put up in the cheapest way possible for a transient stay. They are built of slabs or shakes or logs or anything that could be procured. The inside where there are any women, however, generally look real well. We have no such thing as plaster here, as there is no lime, but we buy the cheapest kind of cotton which is about three or four shillings a yard and line the rooms with it and then paste on wall paper the same as on plastering. This makes a room look neat and is quite warm. The houses generally look just as they do in the suburbs of your large cities, where it is filled up with Irish cabins. We have a very good school which Mary is attending. The teacher gets $100 per month. Wages are five and six dollars per day, women get $50 per month and board. Board is from 12 to 16 dollars a week. Flour is 40 dollars per hundred, but when the roads are better, so it can be got here, it will be down to 20. Bacon is 60 cents per lb, butter one dollar, sugar 50 cts, coffee 1.55, tea $1.50, dried apples 50, peaches 75, eggs 3 dollars a dozen, hay 20 cts per lb., chickens 5 dollars apiece, cows 75 to 100 dollars, milk 50 cts a quart, etc. Tell George if he was 23 or 24 yrs old I would say come, but this is the hardest place to live upon principle I ever saw and the young are almost sure to be led away. Sunday is the business day, all accounts are settled, marketing done for the week, and one half of the men work as hard as on any day in the week. Gambling houses, saloons, and restaurants abound on every side.
My brother Henry talks of coming, but I must say, though I would like to see him or Georgey either, yet I could not advise them to come. Georgey, when you can bring a wife with you, then come, for I find a pleasant home is one of the best safeguards a man can have in this country, but when you come, then come to us first and I have got one of the best men in the country who will welcome you and do anything in his power for you. If you want to come the quickest way, come by water with about 100 dollars; if the cheapest, come across the plains and work your passage with some one who is driving teams. Your shoemaking I cannot say much, the work can be done so much cheaper somewhere else and imported here than it can be done here, that there is little of it done here in the basin. O how I would like to see you all. Mr. Walters says [written in margins] I may go home this fall, but I do not want to go yet for a year or two, as I shall probably never make but one visit more to the States. I would not go back there to live for anything. I like this coast much the best. You ask me if I am getting old. I suppose according to the course of nature I am, but I do not feel as old as I did ten years ago and my glass tells me that I have lost that sickly, sallow complexion I used to have. Indeed, I should feel quite young, only that I have a girl around here almost as big as myself calling me Mother. Give my love to my friends in Ottawa Co. I suppose they, some of them, feel hard that I do not write more, but if they only knew how hard it is to carry on a one-sided correspondence I think they would blame me less. I have written so many letters that I received no answer to that I am quite discouraged with writing.
I have a good Christian husband, Mary, and it is such a help to me. I have spent the last winter so pleasantly. I wish I could have one of our good visits tonight. I should enjoy it so much. Tell Grandma Brayton that I sympathize with her in her loss, but tell her that I am sure she has a comforter who will be more to her than sons or daughters. Write to us often. Janie, you must consider this letter is to you too.
Your affectionate friend,
My Dear Sister Emma,
Your letter dated May 11 came to hand yesterday, and found us in that kind of halfway state between sick and well, with the exception of Mr. Walters, whose health is quite good. Mary has the whooping cough and today is quite sick with a fever. She has coughed about four weeks and lately she has no appetite, and if she eats anything she cannot keep it on her stomach, so that she is getting quite weak. Nearly all the children in town have it, and some of the grown folks, too. I caught a cold five or six weeks ago, and now I am coughing as hard as ever I did in the States, just from sympathy with the others. I think barking must be contagious, for I cannot hear a child cough without having a real time of it myself. You wanted to know if that deep snow was gone yet. Yes, the old snow is gone except in the tops of the mountains, which are not far off, but if you had been here yesterday morning you could have seen some that was "bran new" and fresh. The day was cold and real wintery, but today the weather has changed and the air is warm and quite like our June weather at home. If I do not get better of my cough, Mr. W. says I will have to take a trip to the valley, where the climate is warmer. The air is so light here, so high up in the mountains, that I do not believe it is good for the lungs to stay here too long.
Well, Emma, I am real glad you have got a good husband and I hope you may long live to enjoy each others society and to be a comfort to each other. I believe the married life is the happiest or the most miserable way of living and I believe that I know by experience the truth of this in its fullest sense. I think Mr. Walters has but few equals and it is my greatest pleasure to anticipate his wishes and to make our home cheerful and inviting as possible and I know it is fully appreciated by him, and so far, I think there are but few happier families than ours has been and I hope will be as long as we both live. But Emma, I think I have the advantage of you in one thing. My husband is an active Bible Christian, and though he is my superior in the Christian graces, yet my tastes and his are perfectly agreed in this matter, and we are trying to go hand in hand in the narrow road that leads to life eternal. You, too have a Christian husband, and O Emma, do you not think that now is a good time to choose your father's God for your God? I do not know how you feel on this subject. Perhaps I shall offend you, I do not wish to; I only wish to entreat you to choose now that better part which cannot be taken from you. Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all things shall be added unto you.
Amos is interested in the Sabbath School too, is he not? Mr. Walters has been superintending the Sabbath School here for two years. He makes it a very interesting one. He has his own way of managing the school and the children think there never was such a man before and I think they are about right.
Tell Mrs. Johnson that I am much obliged for that little photograph. I think it looks like the other children. I would like to send ours, but there is no artist in the country. There has been one at Bannock City, 12 miles from here, through the winter, but the whole town and everything in it was destroyed by fire about two weeks ago. They charged 12 dollars per doz. for them.
I must tell you that Mr. Walters has been buying a new house this spring. We have rented a house since we were married, until last Monday, when we moved into a house of our own, and for want of something better to write about, I will describe it to you. It stands with the end to the street, with a front door and one large window. The front room is about twelve by fifteen, I guess. Back of this is a sitting room with a nice fire place and back of this is the kitchen. There are two cupboards, one open and the other a real nice close cupboard and a sink with a tin spout to carry off the water to a ditch some distance from the back of the house. The rooms are all lined and papered and altogether I do not think there is a nicer house in town, although there are many larger ones. Well, I must close for I am owing a letter to Ma and will try to write to her tonight. I am getting quite negligent about writing to everyone but Ma, but I think it my duty to write to her, whether I have time to write very much or not.
I like the silk you sent me very much. The floss is 50 cts here & the silk two dollars. They have brought some in this spring. I think it a very good way to get little notions, only it takes a good while. I sent to Godey's in Phil. for needles and sent a dollar about the time I sent for the silk to you. About a month ago I got an envelope with ten papers of needles from them. The same needles would have cost me five dollars here. Bye and bye I am going to send to you for a collar. The plainest worked ones here are three dollars apiece. Collars & cuffs five dollars a set. Mary sends her love to you and says you must not get jealous, for Aunt Sarah hasn't got anyone to get things for her as you have.
Give my love to Amos. Tell him I wish you both very much happiness. Mr. Walters joins me in good wishes.
Write to us often & soon.
Your affect. sister,
Tell my new brother if he will write to me I will answer his letter with a great deal of pleasure. Emma, you spoke about some new songs. If you have anything new, Mr. W. is a good singer and he would like it very much, but if you cannot get the notes within two weeks after it first comes out, we will have it here as soon as you could send it. "Just Before the Battle" was worn as near threadbare here last fall as any such song could be. We had a splendid Glee Club here this winter, which Mr. W. belonged to. They had a good many new pieces of music, "Brave Boys are They", "Rally Round the Flag", "That's What's the Matter", "The Dying Soldier", "Brothers at the Door", and I don't know how many others. "Gone to the War" was another very pretty one and was very much sung. We are in a fast country.
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