Letter #3 – JANUARY 4, 1856  


A letter expressing concern about Aunt Reiley and persuading his cousins to help support her with gifts of money. Also repeatedly seeking more letters from English relatives.

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Reading January 4th, 1856 photo of Thomas Jackson hands son

Dear Cousin Caleb,
My son has told me since his return home, that poor aunt Reiley was still alive and gone blind with old age. And also very poor. I wrote to my cousin John Watson about her and proposed that her nephews here in America should send her something to help her along and make her a little comfortable this winter. There are six of her nephews here. Three of us & three of Watsons.

Well, Amos & William excused themselves for the present, and so likewise did my brothers Henry & Edward. But they all four of them promised to send something when they hear that I have your answer to say that what I now send is arrived safe. So me & John Watson have put in £1 each & I now inclose you a draft on Liverpool for £2 which please to get the money for. and then lay it out for our poor dear old aunt in the best manner for her comfort as far as it will go. And write me how she is,and when I get that letter I will see that these other four nephews

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make up something more immediately on the receipt of your answer to this letter. They are as well able to help the poor woman as me & John Watson and I know they will do it. You must please to write to me every month or two while she lives to let me know how she is and her nephews here must help her along from time to time. It is nothing more than what they ought to do. The poor old woman has always been poor ever since I can remember. But I know well that I remember that she was always kind to us all when we were lads in England. She was very kind to me when I was in England in 1842 and saw her last in a little brick cottage the grandfather lived in .

When you write to me you need not pay the postage of the letter, only 1 penny to Liverpool & I will pay the rest here. Just direct it to me Reading, Pennsylvania, North America it will come safe enough. And I would willingly pay the postage for a good long letter any time from one of my old friends and relatives in Dear Brave old England. The land

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of my birth and the land I must ever love and revere.

My mother is now over 80 years old and is very feeble and infirm. She had a sort of stroke about eighteen months ago and has been in a very poor state ever since. This winter seems to be very hard on her. She has been keeping her bed about 2 months and we never expect to see her up anymore. She has no pain though. None at all. Only weakness and slowly sinking to the grave under the weight of years and the exhaustion of natures vital powers. But she is well of and well taken care of in her old age. Mary and her have been living together a many years & now one of the sister Ann's daughters is with them to help to take care of her grandmother.

My son and daughter arrived safe home again on 25 of September last after a very pleasant passage & very pleasant trip altogether. They were much pleased with seeing thaeir English relations. Next summer or the summer after, I mean to come over and bring my son Henry with me, should we both live that long & be well enough to come.

I believe all here on now about as well as usual except my mother as I have already mentioned. Watsons are all well and prospering I believe. Aunt Watson still keeps up & seems very well indeed for her age. Cousin John Watson looks old and very much like his father used to look 20 years ago. I expect though he will write to you himself.

I heard of cousin John Slater's death (your brother.) I used to often wish he was here with me. If he had come here 20 years ago, this dry climate would have cured his asthma and made a strong man of him. I was very hearty here the first 14 years I was here, although I was so weakly in my youth while in England.

But then I caught a bad cold and have never been so well since. But that was the Drs fault. However I am nursing myself & getting along as well as I can. -

I hope yourself and family are all well and happy. We all send our best love to yourself, wife and all our nephews & nieces. And also especially to poor Aunt Reiley. And I beg of you to write to me oftener. Although we are so far away we very often think of you all and shall always be very very glad to hear from any of you. And be sure I am ever your affectionate cousin
Thomas Jackson

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I presume the Bank you do your business at will collect this little draft without charging much for it. I cannot get to draft only on London or Liverpool. Which can you collect easiest so I may know what to send to again


Thomas Jackson seems to have been the leader in seeking American financial support for Aunt Reiley who remained in England, presumably living quite close to Caleb Slater. For others researching the relationships between the various people mentioned in this letter, we believe that there is plenty of relevant information in this collection of letters yet we ourselves have yet to give time to put the genealogy all these together (April 2015) .. This is complicated because we believe TJ speaks of "3 Watson nephews" but they actually represent two generations. John Watson appears to be of Thomas Jackson's generation whereas his two sons, Amos and William, are also considered "nephews" but are actually one generation "removed"

Again it is striking in this letter how desperate Thomas Jackson is to receive letters from England. He shamelessly begs for replies and for news of his old home land. This desperation to hear news about his old locality and those folk he grew up with persists through his life. It may be a reflection of how lonely and pained his life was in America in his early days there.

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