Letter from Louisa Cook Walters to her friends
|Title||Letter from Louisa Cook Walters to her friends|
|Subject||Walters, Louisa Cook, 1833-1865|
|Women pioneers -- United States|
|Description||Letter from Louisa Cook Walters to her friends about having had sad news from home, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, violence in town, and other particulars about life in Placerville.|
|Creator||Walters, Louisa Cook, 1833-1865|
|Source||Louisa Cook Walters correspondence; MMS-1289; Center for Archival Collections; University Libraries; Bowling Green State University|
|Spatial Coverage||Placerville (Idaho)|
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,