This letter and the one that will follow are pretty much my favorite letters in this collection.
In January of 1905, P.W. and Clara Pearson are living in Laramie, Wyoming with their sons Elmer and Herman (my grandfather). P.W. is working as an engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad.
Back in Saunders County, Christian and Johanna (P.W.’s parents) are living on a farm they purchased in 1901, located in Stocking Precinct. But they want to move to Weston and live in town. The letter describes Christian’s worries about the old homestead place in Chapman Precinct. They don’t have a renter for it yet, and son Carl Oscar doesn’t want it. Christian is begging P.W. to come back home and farm the place. Daughter Lena has gone off to Chicago. The younger children are not mentioned.
The letter looks like it was written by a child – I would guess that it is was actually written by 12-year-old Lydia. Christian was always listed in the census records as being illiterate, although I suppose there’s a chance that he had gained enough literacy to write this letter in childish fashion. My guess, though, is that Lydia wrote it for him.
I will mention a few words here about Christian. I suspect he was a difficult man. P.W. pretty much ran away from home at a young age. The family story is that he left home on a bicycle and rode all the way to Laramie – probably before he was confirmed (i.e., as a teenager). The letter makes references to Carl Oscar causing “troubel” and that is not consistent at all with how he is remembered. It sounds like Lena has run off to Chicago. Christian is basically having a hard time bending his kids to his will!
Something else I can mention about Christian is his work record back in Sweden. Of all my Swedish ancestors, he moved around more than anyone else. He lived and worked on at least seven different farms between 1856 and 1863. He stayed at each place only a year or two before moving on to the next. (He eventually moved to Helsingborg and I haven’t been able to trace his movements there.) Was he a difficult employee or always on the lookout for the next great opportunity? His illiteracy is a consideration here too. My aunt Jane noted in her book that Christian attended the Swedish Common Schools, but yet he was illiterate. Did he have a learning disability? Jane also noted that he was remembered as being “a religious and stern man.”
On other side of the ledger, though, he was extremely successful in America. His sons Fritz and Oscar inherited farms and P.W. and Ernest inherited cash equivalents. He sent money to relatives back in Sweden so they could come to America, too.
So Christian is a bit of an enigma. The little fragments of family legend and sketchy records maybe don’t do him justice.
Here’s the text of the letter. There are several pages of “P.S.’s” after the main part of the letter.
I will today write you a few lines to let you know we are all well, hoping you are the same. Lena is in Chicago. I ain’t quiet sure when she is coming home. We have not rented the old farm out yet. We intend to move to Weston. Oscar don’t want to rent the land. There have been lots of people looking at the land but have been chased away. I offered Oscar it for 1200 but he wouldn’t do it. Then I offered it to him for 1100 then he wouldn’t give no security. I intended to have a little hold on the renter, what do you think about it? Oscar makes all the troubel he can for us. Lena went to Chicago 6 1/2 months ago. It cost us $205 for her. Oscar rented Charles Hadsall’s place by the corner. We don’t know if we are going to move on the old place or not. Don’t get surprised if you see the old place advertised for sale. I will now close with my letter for this time.
Mr. and Mrs. Pearson
When are you coming home
I suppose you have seen a advertisement in the [newspaper] a 400 acre farm for rent
I feel sorry to rent the place away to strangers. I want my own Children to have it. Please answer us on it if you can and tell us what you think about it. Write soon.
I intend to let you know about it. I intend you are going to have some of it too. Some time we must sell it or rent it away. It is hard for mama. She has to do all the baking and washing for the boys and Lena went and all the trouble beside.
Write soon please.
Oh also, here’s a weird thing. My great-great-grandfather Edward Frasier had a friend Perry Hadsall who he met in Saunders County sometime between 1880 and 1885. Is this the same Hadsall family that Christian mentions?