Letter - February ?, 1870  

This letter is full of family news but gives us insights into Thomas Jackson's sad second marriage. He had boarded with Mrs Hicks and her husband but after he died, they married but clearly it was an unhappy experience that finally lead to them separating.

TJ was clearly going through physical discomfort in terms of his ability to walk and breathe.

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.

JW Middlesex Co N Jersey N America
Metuchen, Feb =70

Dear Cousins, one and all

Dear Cousin Wm,

I again take up my pen to write you a few lines after expecting a letter from you 12 mos. I hope we shall not cease corresponding while I live as I think of my English friends daily I rec. a news paper with your adress in it. I have sent you 2 since. The last time I wrote you I informed you I had sold my farm I will now tell you what we have been doing since; we left the farm Ap 30 - 68 and went to Metuchen to board with my wives brothers till we procured another home, we spent about 3 mos. visiting our friends that sumer Chas. was learning the carpenters trade at Metuchen (and this was the principal cause of my selling the farm he would not be a farmer he has learned the trade and is a good carpenter.) our first visit was to Thos & Ed Jacksons Reading Thos. was living with his wife formerly Mrs Hicks she still kept her confectionary store was suporting her sister (she is a nice woman) and sending money to England they behaved very kind to us but we saw that they lived very disagreeable together she told my wife the cause it was jealousy on her part in fact she would not sleep with him then. we staid at Ed's several days down at the lock house he & a Duchman was keeping groceries & beer was busy

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Ed's wife is a very pleasant tired woman they treated us well but I did not like there retailing beer (ale) Thos 2 sons was living at variance not speaking to each other except to guard (this is heathenish) Henry is married since we was their has one child I still correspond with Thos. I rec. a letter from Thos. some 8 weeks after we left them saying that she turned him neck & heels out of her house with his goods. (they had each other signed an agreement before marriage that each party should hold their own property thereafter) Thos. went to live with his daughter is there still she has 2 or 3 children her husband is a pleasant turned man a Machinist. I receive letters from Thos about each 8 or 10 weeks he is a miserable unhappy man he was so complaining in autumn that I thought he was near his end he could not walk a hundred yards scarcely so short of breath he is better this spring and is building a new house for his daughter just out of town he says nothing about his wife now. I do not know wether they are divorced or not. their trade is good Thos. is trying to console himself now with the universalist sentiments, which I am trying to convince him is a refuge of lies. I am trying

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to convince him that repentance & faith and obedience are indispensable to salvation God alone can change his heart. I will now leave him. We returned home by way of plainfield staid all night at John Smiths he had sold the house he lived in for a good proffit and was building a new one on the next lot his health was poor he finished his house and lost his health and died July 2-69 after suffering terribly his life was insured for 2000 dol which his widow has received. after paying all the debts she has say 1200 dol in mony a house worth 6 to 7 thousand dollars furnished which he left her while she lived and then to be sold and divided equally among the children 2 sons & 2 daughters one grand child Johns eldest son died last September of consumption his 2 son was taken by the rebels and died of want in prison so you see there is trouble in America too. J Smith rec.d a letter from his Brother 3 years since living at and keeping the (Rose & Crown Inn Somercoats Alfreton) I wrote him to inform him of his brothers death I have received no answer I have sent him papers also. I should be thankful to you if would give me some information about him if you can get it and also let him know of his brothers death. I should love to know if Father in (?)

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our next visit was to Woodbury Connecticut to my Wifes friends staid amongst them one month 4 families returned to Metuchen after a pleasant visit then visited Rahuvy or P Amboy about a month and returned to Metuchen to our boarding place I bought a building lot, 100 yds from the Church had a house built at a cost of 2700 dol 8 rooms beside garett and cellar Chas. helped build it we moved into it in July 69 we like out situation very much we can attend all the meetings we are near the depot we can go to Rahway or P Amboy in the cars in a few minutes as there is a branch R Road to Amboy we have no house nor even a fowl to take care of I have assisted Bro. Wm. a little on his farm but my health is failing I am always tired. and cough and raise considerable I am thankful I sold the farm as I could not do hard work now and farming is very dull now tax and wages are too high for the price of produce their are so many railroad facilities they bring corn from the far west even from California wheat comes on the new RR the change here is wonderful since you was here all sorts of wages are high still the working class can't save much as rents are very high so many foreigners coming but there is plenty of room (upside down) both South and West. Metuchen is growing very fast there is 10 stores here 5 Churches I am sorry one of them is a Catholic their is 5 schools 225 children on the list between 8 & 16 there is a many good houses built north from 2 to 10 thousand dol numbers of my merchants have been driven from NY city by high rents and tax have bought homes here and high their families here and go in the cars daily to attend to their business this is the case all round the vicinity of NY. Bro Wms family are all well his eldest daughter was married in autumn last to Ed Pierce a respectable young man his business is in NY city he comes to Amboy every night boards with Wm. this winter his son is clerk in a dry good store is a steady industerous young man but he won't farm Wm is also putting on the old main fast I advise him to sell his farm but it is his nature to be always busy. Amoss family is well he has an infant child by his third wife his daughters are both married Emily was here 2 weeks since she said they was trying to find a house in Rahway (her husbands business is in NY) they asked 300 dol rent for a small house 4 rooms Julia was married 1 month since her husband is keeping store in when Rahway they are living with his fathers at present his oldest son will be married in the spring I think he is a steady young man.

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Wm, I wish to know if you will write to me often or not I will answer you in good time and give you all the information you will not wish I hope you are comfortable are you keeping house is your dear child well how is Eli Coats & family give my love to them do you know any things about Wm Johnsons friends at Darlington Wm has lost his wife, died in childbed has 4 children lives a house is poor say of you know any thing about them Mr Plumly is as usual has 6 chilldren he receives 1700 dol besides a good house to live in & 4 acres of land he keeps a cow he says he is very much put to it to make a living and wants move salary I should very much like to see England again but never expect to may we all live so that we may meet in Heaven where parting is no more my wife & Charles send their love to you excuse my writing this way as I expect to put this in with a sheet to your sister I thought she would like to read this I thought you could make it out from your affectionate Cousin John Watson

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Wm, I said provisions was cheap I meant breadstufs meat is dear we have a new butcher shop here he charges 28ch per lb for best prices down to 14 I was in NY a few weeks since they asked 18ch per lb for good him quarters 14 for yrs sheep 10 ch pr lb whole pork 14ch butter 40 to 59ch pr doz. 20 to 25 turkeys I forgot to say that John Smith was prepared to die was perfectly resigned conscious to the last he had been a professor of religion over 20 years he was a good man. 4 of the school teachers hear are females 2 males 3 of them are taught in a room in the dwelling house by one of the daughters of the family a large majority of the teaching hear are females they will teach for less wages then men and equally as good they don't make much more than board and clothes board for females is say 4 dol pr week men pay from 4 to 6 I wish women get 10 pr month on an average men 200 pr year and board I mean servants Masons from 3 to 5 dol per day carpenters 3 to 4 still but few saves much money bricks are 8 dol pr thousand when I built they was 15 every thing almost is doubly price since the war yet they build 4 times as many houses now as before the war the facilities of this country is wonderful our currency (?) is all paper except cents, I have not taken a dollar in silver of gold since the first year of the war

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a new house near the reformed Ch was sold this week for 9000 Dol 1/2 acre of land there is a many families moving from the N E states to the South; land is very cheap there since the war a great many Slave holders ruined by the war they are fast recovering now. the farm South of ours was owned by Mr Howel an Englishman when you was hear was sold this winter by the sheriff to close a mortgage for 6500 dol 65 acres a poor house & barn land poor it yields half as much laying out in draining land is high in the vicinity of the R Road but I shall by your patience I must stop. now do write as soon as possible if you write to T Jackson don't name what I said about him, he always wants to know if I have heard from England when he writes to me. he would be very glad to hear from any of you there has been a many travelers this winter beging there liveing they spent there money for drink in sumer and sufer in winter. I must tell you about our well it is a galvanized tulee (?) 1 1/4 in diameter drove down a joint of 10 plat a time 40 ft deep we have always plenty of pure soft water cost 73 dol with pump in the kitchen send me a Darlington paper if they print one their I hope we shall often here fro each other while I live post facilities are so easy it is now down to 6 cents to England but what is that in comparison to friendly intercourse, Amoss says he will take up correspondence when I am gone

Sincerely J Watson


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