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Benjamin Basil Jackson Family Papers: Transcripts - MS 797
Staunton, Macoupin Co., Ills.
Oct. 4th, 1874
Mr. G.G. Banks:
Your kind favor arrived at its destination yesterday; and afforded a pleasant surprise to the receiver.
You speak of the weather and roads being so nice there, they are just so here, how I would love to ride out and see the country in this locality! Min told Frank today that the next time he comes home, he must procure a two-seated buggy and take us out riding. He came home this morning and will stay till tomorrow morning-the first time he has been here for six weeks; but she has been to see him twice during that time. They are just like two lovers, only not quite so shy and knowing they would rather be alone, I came into another room to write you. Frank looks very natural, only I think he is more reserved than formerly. He says I look and appear just as I did ten years ago.
Ms. Lou Smith has given up telegraphing. She is only seventeen--has had no experience in business of any kind and is even a poor reader and speller and although she learned telegraphing very fast, yet we all concluded that she had better give it up for several years at least, as the care of the work, the studying of common branches and telegraphing altogether was more responsibility than she could endure and struggle along with, so Min made her the offer of keeping her just as she would her own daughter till she was married giving her the privilege of reading and improving her mind and she will furnish her with a bed and other things when she marries, which will not be many years hence, judging from her disposition and good looks. She gratefully accepted the offer and says she is much happier since all responsibility is off her mind. Lou is a little like Miss T (but then there is more than one Miss T, either of them will do to compare) and Min and I have taken her through a course of lectures on propriety; and oh! What a change we have wrought for the better. She is a good-hearted girl-a good cook-neat and tasty; and an almost indispensable maid for Min, in dressing her hair, fixing bows, ribbons, collars, & c every day. Min and Lawrence are very nice in their manner and conversation and scrupulously exact with Ona in every way, they hardly allow her to laugh aloud-their training of her is the nearest perfection I have ever witnessed anywhere and she is a superior child beyond a doubt. Oh! We get along so nicely here together just as five. A few minutes ago there was quite an excitement among the verdant youths occasioned by a large vehicle covered with gilt and bright colors, with gilded statues on top, and many silver bells, altogether about twenty five feet high and drawn by ten white horses. Frank says he thinks it is a calliope-a steam musical instrument to be used by Howe's Great London Circus tomorrow.
[Along side margin]
Well it is almost sundown and they are all going out to have a game of croquet and want me to join them, and as I need a little experience I think I had better go. Did you ever play it? I think it is real nice. Do you still play baseball every Saturday?
Monday afternoon, Oct. 5th, 1874
It is now nearly twenty-four hours since I began this letter. Everything has been all excitement and confusion here today, as the "circus" and the "green 'uns" from the country have been pouring in from all sides and it is now fairly under headway. Frank and Min are at the office, the rest have all gone to the show, and as I sit here I can hear every note of the music, and when I listen I can hear what the clown says and the uproarious laughter following; for their tent comes to the corner of this lot and Min felt afraid this morning and coaxed her kind husband to stay till tomorrow. We are all going to the show tonight-we have complimentary tickets. Min says they always give operators tickets-they get considerable telegraphing done. She gets her coal cheaper than others-at car load rates-viz. 8 cents per bushel, other people pay 12. There are two coal mines here--one above, one below town--ship large amounts of coal, employ eighteen or twenty hands in one--they get paid by the bushel for digging, making from four to eight dollars per day. There was a boy about the size of Clayton killed at one of the coal shafts since I came; he was ringing the large bell, when something broke and a part of the bell hangings fell on his head, he had made four dollars that day. His mother became partially insane at his sudden death.
They employ quite a good many hands here in the grist mills. Arch Hoxsley ( a partner in one of them) came over here last evening and had Min go to the office and send a message to Litchfield for more hands, as four of his had got on a spree. Old Mr. Hoxsley (the R.R. agent here) remarks every day about my improving so much daily, that is becoming so much more healthful looking-he says Staunton is renowned for being a very healthy locality. Today he wanted to know if Frank and I were not related--we assure him we were not--but he said he could hardly believe it as we resembled each other so much in every feature and look.
Oh! They have such a nice, comfortable home here--the house consisting of six rooms cost them about seven hundred, every cent of which they have saved in the last thirteen months. They have had some alterations and additions and finishing up since I came, but they had the most of it done, and moved in last January.
I can not tell yet how long it will take me to become proficient in the art of telegraphing; I can hardly judge of the future by the past; for as my mind expands, I can learn still faster each succeeding day. Now I cannot practice only when someone has time to practice with me; but when I can take from the main line at the office, I can spend as much time as I wish in that way; consequently learn much faster. I can begin to discern now and then a letter and the calls on the main line. Min's call is A.S. thus
(.- ...) the Antwerp call is D. thus (..-.) East St. Louis is K.Y. thus (.-.. .. ..). I think I had ought to practice three or four months yet. Min's telegraphing does not withdraw her interest and pride from household affairs. She is ever helping when here at the house; and more apt to take hold of some hard work than easy. She scrutinizes everything closely, every time she enters the house and desires perfect order. She takes an active part in the housework on Sundays, which seems to give her a relish for the office and sitting work through the week and that in its turn seems to give her a relish for an undress, wrapper, and housework on Sunday again. She has real good health; she has been knitting and sewing carpet rags lately. She can sew a large 1 1/2 lb. ball all of short strips of 8 or 10 inches in length while at the office in one day. She does not have her machine at the office.
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Tuesday morn. I went to the show--which was considered a good one by experienced sightseeing people. I saw and heard all I desired and more
This hardly deserves an answer, but please write anyhow to Mattie.
Oct. 7th, 1874
We heard last evening that there had been a man nearly killed and robbed for $4 before the show started away the night before and it was thought that the desperadoes were lurking about here yet, and as the pay car had stopped yesterday and gave Min $50 we became uneasy, and took all our beds into one room, and just as we got the doors all locked and bolted there came a rap at the door, and to Min's question of "What is wanting?" a gruff voice replied: "we want you to open the door." Min ordered them away severely and then we heard two voices outside, but we slept unmolested with a revolver near us, but we thought such circumstances would cause us to appreciate the presence of a gentleman friend if we could have one with us timid feminine creatures. Mat.
Staunton, Macoupin Co., Ills.
Friday morn, Nov. 6th, 1874
I imagine you are enjoying your morning nap just now; for I arose a four o'k and will try to scribble you a few lines to send on the morning train, so that you will get it Saturday afternoon. Now I greatly fear you will think me "green" to write so often but George I really can't help it as long as you don't seem disgusted. I have not felt at ease since I sent you that letter the first of the week; I wrote the most of it in a hurry; and can't remember now what I did write, only I am under the impression that you will be displeased with it and the thought of your entertaining any hard feelings toward me, almost crushes me-I can't endure it George, in connection with all I am struggling through with here, for our future welfare. I never in my life experienced such commotions and emotions of feelings as I have lately; I don't wish to complain for I don't want you to worry; but my whole being cries out for peace, peace, on any terms; I cannot suffer the stings of outrageous fortune-or adversity-and the withering pangs of rebuke from pretended friends, without love and sympathy from some source; so as long as there is any hope of our future union, let us have no wrangling; and if I have done or written anything to provoke you, I pray you to either forgive or forget me and tell me so. Let me be as happy as possible under the circumstances or let me know the worst that I may provide for it. I can't endure suspense. Min has got up and is scolding Lou terribly (as usual) and I write under the most torturing, scathing, humiliating criticism and censure every time I take a lesson. I have thought and hoped all along, till lately, that as I grew more perfect, that would cease to be; but instead it becomes worse and I have hoped against hope till I can hope no longer: oh! It is so hard to be sweetly submissive, and feel at the same time a thousand arrows through my heart; and lately they have remained there from one lesson till the next. The last thing at night and the first thing when I awake is that terrible heartache; but I believe I can overcome it, if you will only write me cheerful letters. Min is a good woman every way, very sociable, but everyone that comes into business relation with her, has to receive her severe reprimands, even the Station Agent. It proves to me every minute that a home would never be a home to me without perfect harmony. I didn't intend to write this to you; I hardly know why I have now, unless to warn you to write as pleasantly as possible, for I am growing so sensitive, that I am hardly myself, and hope you will pardon and excuse all the wild, improper, or incoherent things I write to you. I shall anxiously look for a letter from you, the last of next week. Don't let anybody see this.
[Along the margins]
I intended to have written another sheet for other eyes, but it is train time.
I guess I won't send any more letters with Sadie's--for it must have embarrassed you for them to send you word to come & get that one.
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