When I went to visit my family this spring, I came home with a new batch of stories. My mom had taken some old letters, typed them up, and put all those stories in a binder. I ran out of books to read, perused the shelves out of boredom, and found new anecdotes to delight in.
The letters were a challenge to read. Cursive and I tend to exist in conflict. But the original letters are still kept between the typed pages if I really wanted to be old-timey.
Speaking of old-timey. The 1860s. Am I right? Crazy kids. Going off to war and then considering quitting because the vast majority had not been paid for their fighting efforts.
The night after they were paid 7 of the cusses ran home. When the report became current that we would move Monday, there was a general skedaddle.
The ladies were not immune to antics. Going off to school and reading such forgettable authors as Charles Dickens. 😉 Oh 1860s.
Probably the quirkiest note I read was from a letter dated April 22nd, 1863. The soldiers saw the enemy coming towards them, but they did not have a cannon to fight them off. So, they took the steam pipe from a nearby building, the wheels off of a wagon, and they pretended they were going to fire at the other side.
…tha thot it was a twenty ponder we went throu the moshens to load it…
Hey, if it worked; kudos. It reads like the enemies were scared off just fine. Then there was the most dramatic letter. The one that makes you sit and think for a bit.
I have sad news to write to you to night… A short time since some Colorado ranch men claimed that they had had some cattle stolen and they found some of them in Mr. Watkin’s ranch with the brands changed and they procured a warrant and drove the cattle off. For this he had them arrested and they were let out on bail. He was then arrested for cattle stealing and waiving an examination said he could show bills of sale for all the cattle and prove that he bought them. While out with the sheriff procuring bail he was assassinated in a most cowardly manner. He and the sheriff were returning to the jail after night when fourteen or fifteen masked men stepped out from the corner of the court house and seized the sheriff. Mister Watkins ran for his life but was shot down and the next morning his lifeless body was found hanging from the railroad bridge. He was a resident of Chaffee county but his murder occurred in Fremont county. Indignation meetings were held in the county seats of both counties and the assassins were denounced in the most scathing terms. The speakers spoke of Mr. Watkins as a man of excellent character and the papers say that there was no evidence whatever that he stole the cattle. One Speaker Judge Garrison denounced one of the parties who claimed Mr. Watkins cattle as ‘the biggest cattle thief in Colorado’ and said he would devote all his energies to unearthing the perpetrator of the dastardly outrage and his remarks were greeted with rounds of applause. The bereaved wife and friends of the deceased will have the warm sympathies of his many friends her who are among our best citizens. Then she says my husband is noble good and honorable in every particular of his life.
It plays out like something from a western. Folks trying to make a life for themselves out in the frontier. A man calls another man a thief. The lawman comes into the situation. But the posse has their minds set on an outcome and they are out for blood. Except in this story, we see the repercussions of it all.
In the short sketch published this week in the Bellefontaine Republican it is stated that Lauren was educated at Earlham College Richmond Ind. and there met his Mary Green daughter of John Green of Pickrelltown and became engaged to her. Not being able to leave his business in Colorado he sent for her and last february she went there and was married to him. She traveled alone about seventeen hundred miles. She told her mother that she expected to visit her every year as long as they both lived. we were anticipating a happy reunion the coming winter. she says in her last letter ‘We had so many pleasant plans laid for coming winter and spring. I can scarcely bear to think of them now. Lauren has been to me every thing that a husband could be who wished to make his wife happy and I loved him to idolatry.’
You gotta feel for the gal. Having her way of life ripped away from her in one day. It is not like a woman back then could all of a sudden become the sole bread-winner. And surviving the frontier life without a spouse? Yikes.
I think I will go up to the ranch tomorrow and try to settle matters their as soon as I can. I will remain until justice has been done and then I will feel that there is nothing more to keep me here.
I say, let us leave the cruelty of the past in the past. I propose a moratorium on murder. No more assassinating my relatives. You did in a president. You beheaded royalty. (I think she was family. Again, we were “probably” related.) What say you stop disposing of my kinfolk?
At least my relatives were not mobsters. That is a type of “family” I could do without. Can you imagine trying to keep track of the body count? The capos, the lieutenants, moonshine; death all over the place. I think I will stick with the family that I was born into, thanks. I will appreciate them as long as they are around. Probably even a bit after that.