Letter #30 – FEB 6, 1871  

This letter contains a family review and is full genealogical information.

TJ makes reference to the Franco-Prussian war and admits a sneaking delight that the French were not having an easy time of it. (see page 4) He also empathizes with the ordinary people who were suffering for what the leaders were causing.

Once again he reverts to expressing his nostalgia for his old homeland and hopes still to return there.

Office of Reading Steam Cordage Manufactory
Reading, Pa., Feby 6 1871
My Dear Cousin Caleb,

I wrote to you some months since, exactly how many I forget. I have been expecting a reply but I suppose you think I dont deserve any yet awhile for my long silence before. Well, I think you are right in that, and I plead guilty of all the neglect you can lay to my charge. But as I now most humbly ask your forgiveness once again, I hope you will be charitable towards an old man's failings and gratify him with a restoration of your kindness and your fraternal friendship and affection.

For many weeks I have been thinking of writing to you but one thing or another has put it off. I suppose you think at my age I ought to have leasure to write such a letter any day in every week that passes. So I had. But somehow or other my time is very much taken up. We are all the time busy at the ropewalk & I like to help my boys all I can. I am most happy and feel best when I am busy at the ropewalk. I feel at home there. The ropewalk has been my hobby for over 41 years, and I am happy now only when I am riding that hobby.

Since I saw you last in 1842, Cousin Caleb, indeed I have seen a great deal of trouble. So heavy sometimes that

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my mind has more than once been very near breaking down. But mentally I am much better now. I have learned to look back upon the terrible incidents of the past 29 years with calmness and resignation. But it has made me prematurely old. At 64 I am grown more than gray. White - a hoary headed tottering old man.

But still trade and business is my hobby, although it is not money that makes happiness, as I have learned by a sad, very sad experience. Still I am much more comfortable now.

In 1869 I built a nice new house for my daughter and her husband, a very good and a very worthy man. I have been making my home with them for the last two years. They have three nice little boys who are very fond of Grandfather and afford him a great deal of comfort. I expect to end my days with them, be they few or many yet left to me here. I would come to England this summer if I could get away. But my youngest son, Henry, has been married two years now. I promised to build him a house too and he wont be put off any longer. And so I have to fix him a comfortable house this summer and that will keep me busy too. But I will come if I live a while longer. My great hope is that you may live, and I may live also, untill we can meet again once more on earth.

But enough about myself - my relations are all pretty well here, as far as I know of, except my sister Mary. She has had weak eyes from childhood and they are now failing

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so fast that in a few months we fear she will be quite blind. But she is provided for if that does happen so unfortunately. My brother Edward lives here in Reading, and is comfortable. My brother Henry lives at Pottsville and is comfortable too. He was down here the other day, looking very well and hearty. My sister Ann is well and comfortable. She lives at Scranton and is Grandmother to half a dozen youngsters. Her youngest married daughter was down here on the visit last summer, with her little boy. I have not seen any of Watsons for a year past. Then I called at Rahway and saw cousin Amos and his family. It is nearly 3 years since I saw cousin John Watson, and nearly 10 years since I saw William. But I get a letter from them every once in a while and they were all well, and well of when last heard from. I hope to see them all again this year.

We have had a rather severe winter here so far. Everything is covered with snow now and very cold out of doors but comfortable for those that have good warm houses.

I see that you have a severe winter in Europe. How terrible it must be for the homeless people whose houses have been burnt and battered down by the awful war now been waged in France. If the men who are mainly to blame for that mad and causeless war where the only sufferers it would be all right. I am sorry for the poor suffering French people, although they too are not entirely innocent of all blame for it either.

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When war was first declared by the French, the people cried "To Berlin, To Berlin". and fully expected to win easy victories and make quick conquests. But Johnny Crapan missed it most awfully. Dull and slow as the Germans were thought to be, they were much too nimble for monsieur this time, and La Grande Nation has made a worse mess of it than our haughty self-sofficient slaveholders did and in very much less time.

This part of Pennsylvania was first settled by Germans. They speak German here now. There are many native Germans here now and "they are most wonderfully tickled at the results of the war. And with the knowledge of history and the very strong English feelings that I still have, I cannot help sharing in their satisfaction to a certain extent. I remember well when England was at war with France. And I know what misery and suffering the first Boney would have inflicted upon my native land if he could have overrun it as he wanted to do, and as he did do to so much of the rest of Europe.

But, thank God, the wooden walls and brave tars of Britian were too much for him. And I hope the iron walls,sturdy men and steam power of the old England of today may be always able to afford full protection, and amply avenge any wrongs done, to the fast anchored isle whereon I first saw the light and breathed the first breath of life, and where I would like to sleep in death.


The letter is not signed suggesting that originally there were other pages that are now missing Unfamiliar Words

P 3 "...the first Boney" Napoleon Bonaparte,leader of France at start of Franco - Prussian war

is local slang for the town of Ilkeston where we know TJ spent his childhood.

P4 Johnny Crapan =Jean Crapaud (toad)....an unflattering name for the French nation that must have been popular with the English at the time.

See Jean Crapaud, as defined by Webster's Online Dictionary, "is a jocose name given to a Frenchman. It is intended as a national personification of the French people as a whole in much the same sense as John Bull is to the English. It is sometimes used as a literary device to refer to a typical Frenchman, usually in the form of Monsieur Jean Crapaud. More recently, in England the French are nick named " frogs" based on their supposed habit of eating frog's legs

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Notes From: Irvin Rathman

Jackson's daughter Matilda (1838-1877) - "Tillie" is carved on her tombstone - married the boy next door, Henry Connard, Jr. (1830-1907), who lived at 126 S. 5th St. She died young, from typhoid fever.

Jackson's last years were spent at the home he built for them at 708 Centre Avenue (no longer standing).

Sources: Reading city directories. 62 S. 5th St. became 126 S. 5th in the city's 1864 numbering system. Reading Times and Dispatch, Oct. 17, 1877.
Tillie and Henry Connard's tombstones at Charles Evans Cemetery in Reading can both currently be found at www.findagrave.com (accessed 11/6/2014).

Tombstone of Matilda (Jackson) Connard from
with permission of Mr. Tricker

Tombstone of Henry Connard Jr from
with permission of Mr. Tricker