Letter - Metuchen March __ 1867  

Here is an extensive account of family news and great detail of the cost of labor, farming and the building trade. Because the country is rebuilding after the war, laborers are not interested in working on farms for the wages they used to receive.

NOTE: Unlike most of the letters from other authors, this one has had punctuation added and spellings improved to aid quick reading. The news relating to Caleb Slater and Thomas Jackson has been highlighted.

Dear Cousins one and all It is two years this month since I wrote to you and sent you our pictures. I have received no answer so I thought I would write again hoping that you would answer this and say what is the reason you don't correspond with me the last letter we received had cousin Calebs picture in it which I highly prize altho I should not have known him I am thankful to inform you that my health is good still I feel the efects of age very sensably 65 this month my wife is in comfortable health also, Charles is well is 20 this month he is a little taller than I am he sayes he intends to go to England sometime if he lives he wants to see my native place and your family which is about all the friends we have in England. Bro William's family are all well his 2 daughters are grown up they are amiable girls both members of the baptist church his son ___ is nearly as tall as his Father he is a clerk in a store he preferred that to farming boards at home brothers Amos (?) family is well he is married to his third wife 3 of his children are grown up two of his sons are in his store as clerks the youngest goes to school 3 of our cousins Hopkinsons have visited us from NY state my Aunt Hopkinson my Fathers sister is living yet she is near 90 has become childish has 3 children & 12 grand children I have reced a letter from Thos Jackson 3 weeks since they are all well are doing a large business his sons are single yet his daughter has been married some 3 years has 1 child I have not seen or heard from your cousin Charl(?) Slater from Brooklyn since he visited us as I lost the direction he gave me the said he had 3 1/2 dol pr day in the navy yard

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my cousin John Smith has had the rheumatism in one foot 2 weeks his eldest son was in the war throughout; government has given him employment as clerk in one of the departments at Washington at 1200 dollars pr year, he has a wife & 1 child he says he pays 40 dol pr month rent for a small house, his second son was in the war 2 years then taken prisoner by the rebls that is the last they heard of him no doubt he died for want like many thousands more the rest of his family are well. the war was a time of great anxiety. long trains of cars from the eastern and NY states daily passed on the rail road in our sight loaded with men going to the south but I need not enter into the particulars as I sent you papers frequently. I may say the war scarcely disturbed the prosperity of the month but rather encouraged it as there was plenty of government money afloat & high prices for every thing our tax 4 to 6 times higher than before, clothing some 3 times the usual prone(?) groceries the same. farming produce & labor in the same proportion; and the prosperity of the north since the war was over is unprecedented. same in the western states & east. but the southern states was terribly devastated thousands of good farm houses burned and I cannot tell how many towns & cities fences all burned for hundreds of miles but I have not got the history of the war yet; my wife had a brother and 4 nephews in the Union army 3 of them got safe home and have visited us they think it will take some 50 years to restore the South I am sorry for the poor blacks and others that were forced into it. but many of the old slave owners are as disloyal at heart yet as ever and have murdered many loyal citizans black & white since the war was over so that Congress has just passed a law to put the late rebel states under military government till they adopt

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the constitutional amendment, and an equal franchise of color. many of the proslavery democrats north was of big reb's as the South but they had to keep it in, time of the war but an overruling providence aided the North as soon as emancipation to the slave was proclaimed. their are thousands now south suffering for want, as their corn crops failed last sumer from drought we are sending them thousands of bushels from the north and clothing in short they have been given a great deal ever since the war was over; the churches north have aided them very much in establishing sabath and day schools so that we may hope in a few years they will be far more intelligent. no doubt you hear of the great emigration hear I think it is over 400000 last year; notwithstanding help is scarcer than ever was known there is so much public work going on and so many going west I see there is about 300 per day wives in N York yet they as 20 to 25 dol pr month my neighbor I still felt payed his Irishman 250 dol last year and board he refuses to stop another year for the same he says he will go west as the rail roads pay 2 dol pr day in fact the greatest earthly trouble I have is hired help; they behave very disagreeable and independent as is a national consequence from ignorant Catholics I want a man by the year a green Irishman asked me two hundred dollars he would have been paid about 6-8 £s; when I was in England we think of selling our farm and buying a house & land enough to keep a horse & a cow because of the disagreeable mess of servants. last harvest I paid 2 1/2 dol pr day for labor some paid 3 dol I see by the papers that crime is terribly on the increase, our jails are full one cause is such a thirst for wealth without labor another is the ofscourings of Europe are coming hear another is our laws are not strict enough yet there are a many arrivals in the Churches. and much good being done. Wm you would not know Metuchen again so many new houses built the high rents in NY are driving the merchants into the country within

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2 or 3 hours of railroad ride Metuchen will be a large town some are making a business of building houses to sell; land there is worth a thousand dollars and upward per acre it is the same in a circle of 50 miles round the city I mean in vilages adjacent to rail roads; carpenters wages are 2 1/2 to 3 dol per day masons 3 dol lumber is dear a board 13 feet long 10 in wide is ,40 cents other lumber is proportion my son took a notion to learn the carpenters trade with my wife's nephew who is building houses for sale at Metuchen I thought it would be a good branch of education; so I consented we made no bargain whatever Chas. is a national genius with tools he went to work with him last sumer after harvest after working 2 weeks he told him he would give him 1 1/4 dol per day from the first day. This sumer he will pay him 1 1/2 but I do not count on the money at all. He is worth more than that to work on the farm but I think it a privilege and may be useful to him sometime and his employer is a good Cristian man and says Chas will make a good joiner. one of my neighbors sons has engaged to wait in a store at Metuchen to have 100 dol and board first year he is 16 years old. of honest reputation. I will send you 2 papers with this I reced the London paper you sent and thank you for it I wish you would send me papers often. I like to have the Nott review & Ilkeston Pioneer the independent also I can send you papers oftener if you wish them. I have seen very little of this country I have been to Reading to see Thos. Jackson and to Connecticut say 150 miles east to see my wifes friends it is a hilly country adapted for grazing; the fences are mostly stone walls one farmer said he would prefer a farm that had stone enough on it to fence it I prefer post and rail fences and land clear of stone. now I hope you will answer this and say if you will correspond with me or not your late delinquency indicates that you have almost forgotten us. Please give my love to Ralph Burrows and say what he is doing and how trade is in England especially stocking weaving and how you all are individually I think of you every day I remain your affectionate cousin John Watson.

My dear cousin Caleb & C my wife Charles S. sends their love to you all


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