Letter - JUNE 12, 1859  

It is now nearly two years since William Slater arrived in America to spend time with Thomas Jackson and his family.

Now he is leaving to return home to England and explains that work at Thomas Jackson's company had become scare. The letter gives a good feel of the family relations at the time.

Readers will find that William Slater wrote with very little attention to using commas or full stops/ periods. Here we kept the words and spellings but have often spaced the words to indicate what we believe are really intended to be separate sentences. We also add paragraphs hoping it may speed comprehension. The original form of the letter can of course be seen in its entirety in the scanned copies.

June 12, 1859

Perth Amboy,New Jersey

My dear Father & Mother,

It is a pretty good while now since I received your last letter and have no doubt you think it is "high time" you heard from me again I was very glad to hear that you are all well I am also glad to be able to tell you that I am as "hearty as a buck" but not quite so fast. You will perceive from the top of my letter that I am not at Reading now & I have no doubt you will wonder what is the reason. Well for one thing trade is very dull so I thought of making tracks for home and came on through Jersey to see my Aunt and all of them. As soon as I got to William's he said if I would stop and help him he would give me as much as I have been getting so I shall stay awhile. Then probably I may have the company of Mrs Hicks she wants to go to England as soon as she can dispose of her property either by selling it or renting it. I hope she will be able to do one or the other before I leave in fact I don't want to come without her if I do she says when she comes to England the first place she will go to will be over our house and I am sure you would like her, she laughed when I read Bessys letter warning me of the "Yankee bidders" she is an English woman and her Father & Mother live at Bristol.

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Aunt Watson has been very sick lately but now she is a little better I went to see her the other day she was very glad to see me and sent her very very best love to my Father and all of you and to her sister, John tells me he finds he is beginning to go down the hill he says his legs ache so and he's getting very thin I told him he should not wear such heavy boots then his legs would not ache so. I think if my Father wore such a pair of boots as John's one day he would in all probability throw them in the bridge hole when he pulled them of. I called on William Hopkins on my way here and stayed a few days with him he's doing a good business in the stove trade and all that appends to it. There are several English men friends of his to whome I was introduced when I first called on him who were as glad to see me as if they known me twenty years we were talking about England and different places "round horn" and one of the company said Slater do you know where Dirty Hucknall is so I told him I did whereupon they all began to laugh, I had a very pleasant time while I stayed with him

one day we went to Philadelphia in the light spring wagon and when we got into Chestnut Street the pole that connects the fore & hind wheels broke in the middle & hind part stuck in the ground hoisting the stern up and then wrenching the hind wheels

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clean sheer off and let the body drop back down & before he could stop the horses the fore wheels were in advance of the body considerably, so taking it upon the whole it was a tidy smash in a very busy street however we were not hurt, for my own part I was soon on terra ferma when I first perceived it, then another day I was out with him in another wagon and the axle broke when we were two or three miles from home such little incidents are not of the most agreeable nature in the world. John Watson told me what a long letter he wrote to you underlining it upside down I told him you had 2 shillings to pay on it he said the man weighed it and said it would just pass and he gave the money but did not see wether he put the stamp on or not. You must some of you write John an answer he would be very pleased indeed to hear from you, his farm and crops look in first rate order he says the land is just as good as the farm they had in Lincolnshire if the climate was as good as it is in England he could raise as much wheat and of as good quality he has a fine team of horses & a lot of good cows and I think his crops of wheat look better than any I've seen in that neighborhood, the day I was there the minister called to see my Aunt I had walked from William's that is about 8 or 9 miles so I lay down after dinner to rest a little my Aunt wanted to put a shawl on me but I told her I was warm enough

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however when I was pretty near sleep she commenced hitting me up with shawls and coats so I thought I'd let her alone I knew she wanted me to be comfortable so I went to sleep happ'd up something like Tom Loken whilst I was having my nap in comes the minister right in the room before I could get clean of all my Aunts kindnesses (however I woke up and have no doubt I looked something like what I did that night when Hopkins came let a [?] dowing and waked me to fetch his horse from Godbers) he is a very nice man and stop'd talking with Aunt a good while he told her he considered it a privilege to pay her a visit, when he was going away John asked him how he was off for horse feed he said he had just bought some hay but had not got any corn so John got a bag and filled it with oats for him, that's the way they serve the minister in the country. New Jersey is a very pleasant country in the summer I did not think it was so pretty when I was here in the winter. When I was in Germantown I saw a young man from Horsely Woodhouse named Parker he said he was going back about the 15th he knew Hardys of Heanor & John Turton and some others I shall not be able to write much more this time so my dear sisters and brother will have to be contented with being addressed very briefly as [?] Hides does his dearly beloved brethren, Hoping this will find you all well I conclude with my best love and am your affectionate son

William Slater


On the first page there is a reference to Mrs. Hicks also returning to England and this is somewhat surprising since she was the wife of Thomas Jackson's landlord in Reading. We now know from later events that, after her husband died, she and Thomas Jackson married.

On page 2 there is trivial reference to "Dirty Hucknall" which was indeed an old name for a village and was the source of much humor- even for expatriates in America. (We found that the town changed its name in 1907 to Huthwaite.)

There are other folk originally from England named and, given time, the relationships of these people can probably be determined.

For our purposes, the main characters are John Watson and his mother Aunt Watson. Both are reported as aging.

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