Letter #31 – 1871  


TJ is still craving letters from his home area of Ilkeston in England. He goes on to reveal that he had a low opinion of his father who seems to have dumped TJ and his brother shortly after they arrived in America. (Although he was described as arriving in 1829 with his three sons, his father clearly never stayed around TJ and basically left him to his own devices.

There is no mention of his father or the unexpected genealogy of his half brother until this intriguing letter

I really do wish some of you would write to me. I do so wish to hear from you. Wont William write to me. If I knew his present address I would write to him. I have a good deal to tell him. ??Poor William. I heard of his marriage and I knew that he had got a good deal better wife than he would have got here. I heard of his sad bereavement and my own experience of 28 years ago taught me how to feel for him and sympathize with him most truly. Such is life. High hopes and lowering fears. Bright prospects, great expectations, sad, very sad disappointments. "Men never is, but always to be blessed"? But I hope cousin William learned how to be reconciled to the inevitable, and bowed with calm resignation to the dispensation of an overruling providence. At times now I look back 30 years ago, and feel terribly lonely. Why? Because I know how much more happy all these long years would have been if the mother of my children could have lived to be the loved companion of my later life and cheered the evening of my days "when old age cometh on and the days draw nigh that we have no pleasure in". But it was not to be. Why should vain regrets oppress so long? It is the weakness of human nature, amiable though that weakness may be, still it is a weakness. Why mourn over that which cannot be mended? True. But some have a much more terrible story to tell over than others.??Well now, cousin Caleb, write to me wont you, or your daughter or William write. Anybody write rather than nobody. And such long silence. But you are somewhat kind, for I do sometimes get an Ilkeston paper. In future I will send you more in return. I will send you one every week.?My brother John has not written to me once in the last eleven years. I don't know where he is, or what is become of him. He knows my direction. But it is clear he wishes to have nothing more to do with me. I never wronged or harmed him or his in any way, and with all my heart I wish him and all his family well and well to do it every way. We were only half brothers,

(Start of second side)

I know. But the same sire was the Father of us both. And if his father did marry again and have a second family to encumber on the embarrass him, it was no fault of mine. When I brought my mother and the whole of that second family to America, John's father was entirely rid of us. But he would not stay rid of us. He did not like the riddence. He followed us to here and we made his last years comfortable and laid him to rest where his dust now reposes with my mother, my brother Sam, two of my children and one of my grandchildren. ?Then why should John be so cold and so distent with me? He has been unfortunate I know. He has had a hard life of it. Perhaps he has a hard life of it now if he still lives. But I was not his guardian He was his own master long before I was 21 years old, and I left England when I was 22 and had nothing to do with him. But enough of that. Now I must close. Hoping you are well, prosperous and happy, and the truest and kindest love to you all I am
Yours affectionately
and truly Thomas Jackson


We guess the date of this isolated page on the basis of TJ's comment that his own bereavement was "28 years ago". We know his wife died on January 19th 1843 (in Birmingham on a trip back to England), so this allows to date this sheet around 1861.

We now see that his many references to "my brother John" who stayed in England for most of his life was presumably his half brother.

It sounds as if TJ's father sired "Brother John" well before TJ came on the scene and thus John was much older than TJ. We have guessed that Thomas H Jackson (whose estate TJ took control of in was Bro John's son.

It appears magnanimous that Thomas Jackson would provide a home in Reading for his father and Brother John (and Thomas H Jackson, when the relationships with that side of the family were strained.

There is still confusion surrounding these relationships but this letter provides valuable insights if some historian or genealogist can work them all out.

We welcome your comments on this document
or this website in general.

Click here to leave a comment