These letters were in the possession of Georgia Lee Brown Fowler, daughter of Mary Emma Baird Brown and granddaughter of George Washington Baird and Mary Elizabeth Traughber. Photocopies were provided to me by Robert E. Fowler of Houston, Texas in 1971. In the transcripts below, punctuation has been added for readability, but spelling is left as in the originals.
These final eight letters were written after George Baird’s death.
#10 17 June 1875 letter from Daniel Traughber of Fredonia, Kansas to his niece Mary E. Baird of Dallas.
This leaves us all well. I got home the next evening after I left Dalis, very tiard and dull from the loss of sleep and rest. Found all well as usual. Our crops of all kinds are very good. Our people are now harvesting the best crop of wheat ever cut in this section. The grasshoppers have done us very little harm but north and west the damage is said to be great. I have been pulling [putting?] blew grass up until I blistered my fingers and am not done yet. We wish to make a winter pasture and blue grass will stay green all winter where it will grow well. We have a very fine garden, I harvest the cabidge this morning.
Now as my hand is so shaky I must close but I wish to say to all you young and old I wish you to be truly Religious not in name only but in heart and soul, this is the great end for which we all should live. I send my best respects to all. I am yours in best bonds,
#11 17 October 1875 (date very faded, could be wrong) letter from Bertie A. Lee of Charlotte County, Virginia to Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Baird
Some time has elapsed since the reception of your most highly appreciated letter. When I received it, I intended to answer in a few days but postponed it from time to time. This leaves us in usual health, Mrs. Lee’s health is much better, but she is not well. How I would like to see you & family, memory often takes me back to Dallas & that should be all for I am coming soon in person and hope to get near you, as I love gook, kind neighbors. Has A(lex?) James returned to Dallas yet?
I hear that Dallas has improved a great deal and is still improving. Do you think I could get much sewing to do if I was there? We expect to leave here the first of next month. Ask Mr. Beard if he thinks Jenny (Jimmy?) can get business there readily. Is there many houses to rent now? Are rents as high as when we left? Our farm is for sale. If we sell I shall buy a place as soon as we arrive. Old Virginia is so dull. Money is very scarce. I have gotten a good deal of sewing to do.
Norman has grown a great deal, speaks of you all so often, says every day he wants to go to Texas. Mr. Lee’s sister speaks of coming out with us on a visit. How is Aunt Agnes? Tell her her dream shall come to pass, that she will see me soon. Does your daughter live in the Dallas area? If so my love to her. I know you nearly idolize her child. Mrs. Beard will you please write as soon as you receive this and let me know all I have asked in it. I will be so much obliged to you and will try and return the favor sometime soon. Our kindest regards to your family and friends…Your loving friend
Bertie A. Lee
#12 7 February 1876. Letter from Henry Traughber of Macon County, Illinois to “Mr. Beard & Family”
I am seated this pleasant evening to try to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still living and am well as —. I have had a great deal of trouble and have seen a great many ups and downs since I seen you. I rec’d a letter from Joseph Trobaugh a few days ago and he has settled about three [miles?] east of Denison and he stated in his letter that you said that if I would write to you that you would write to me. Well George I wish that you and Lizza would come and see me for the road is not more than half as long as it was when I went to see you. I understand that your town has enlarged a great deal since I was there. As I have not much of much importance to write, I will close by asking you to write soon and tell me how [many?] you have in family. I remain as ever your friend & uncle,
#13 24 April 1878 letter from Attorney A. E. Garner of Springfield, Tennessee to Mrs. Mary E. Baird of Dallas:
A. E. Garner
Comment: Mr. Garner was Alzeda Persise’s attorney, so his description of the facts might be suspect. Nonetheless, the situation was exactly as described. Mary Baird’s eldest son, George Rolando Baird, took charge of his family’s interests and hired a lawyer himself. Several brief letters between George and the attorney are not transcribed here. The court ordered the lots sold and the proceeds were divided among the heirs. Mary Baird received a one-fourth share and her five living children split another one-fourth share.
#14 21 April 1880, finished a month later. Letter from John W. Gorham of Blue Spring (Stewart County), Tennessee to Mary Elizabeth Baird of Dallas.
John W. Gorham, who is Mary Baird’s brother-in-law (he married Lydda Traughber), seems to be defending his raising of her brother Billy Traughber. Exactly what Billy Traughber did to become a black sheep is unknown.
We have received several letters lately from your boys and will answer soon. They have sent me several of your city papers for which present them my thanks. The reason for my seeming neglect to answer is my remoteness from Dover, my P. O., it being 12 miles and we have had so much high water and rain recently that it has made it very inconvenient for me to get my mail or to forward any, but I hope to do better in the future. I also received a letter of the 12th inst. Of Messrs Bowen & Goldthwaite, attorneys at law of your city in regard to some property allotted to my wife your sister from your father’s estate and will say in reply, for the present, that we never knew but little about his estate. It was a matter of little importance to us at the time of your father’s death for the reason that we then had plenty and but for the war we would have kept it. But the war broke us down and we have not recovered from it yet. And it is to late in the day with us to ever become wealthy again tho we are in comfortable circumstances. We own a good farm, stock, etc. etc. and make a good full livelihood having no family. Our children are all doing well.
Lydda says she never conveyed her interest to any one. As to myself I have but little recollection about the matter. As to the negro man Ben, I had a good title to him before your father’s death having had him owning and — paying tax, etc. etc., perfected my title. Besides your father gave him to me conditioned that I would raise Billy, which I did and paid all his expenses and that too with a liberal hand in every particular. I raised him well, educated him well, and venture to say that when he left my roof at maturity he was a young man of as much promise as could well be found. If he has turned out badly the fault was not in his raising as you well know. I never taught him by presept or example any habits of idleness or dissipation but to the contrary. But enough of this, let the passed be to us a bygone and we will look to the future for solace and that too with hope.
I intend to look after the property left to my wife verry soon. I expect to visit you this fall and will bring Lydda with me if she can be perswaded to leave her boys long enough to make the trip, but she can’t stay away from them long. They are all babys. With her at least, yet, the boys are all doing well, all sober, industrious, well to do farmers, good stock and plenty of all the nessesaries of life around them free of debt. Not one of them owes a cent in the world. They pay as they go. They make money and spend it liberally tho not extravegently, indulging in no habits of dissipation or idleness. In other words, they are men of thrift, but not withstanding all this they are determined to sell out and remove to some other country where they can farm on a larger scale, where they can use machinery. Newt likes your country verry well but thinks it rather droughthy and blustery, tho I am of the opinion they or he will take another look before they determine where they will finally settle. We will go with them where ever they go. Ours is an unbroken, undivided family, no divisions in our pollaticks, religion, etc. etc. We indeaver to live in perfect harmony with each other and I am happy to say have succeeded thus far most signally. In fact, we subscribe to Paul’s doctrine in his letter to the Ephesians of our Lord our faith (see baptism in fourth chapter 5th verse).
We have no news of general interest except that the times are something easier. Money is more plentiful and there seems to be hope of more prosperous times generally than for the past several years. But I am doubtful of it’s stability. Our health is better than for several years, tho we are both nearly worked down. It has been a very difficult season to plant out a crop. It has been unusually wet and laborers are hard to get and the price of laborers is high. The Iron Works have opened up and it has disorganized farm labor, in fact demoralized it, which has caused us to have to work very hard, too hard for people of our age. But we could not afford to let our farm lay idle so at we went and have stuck to it up to this writing May 21st. Just a month since the commencement of this letter.
Lydda sent the pictures of her 3 boys, Newton was highly pleased with you and your family and wishes to be remembered to all of you. He intended to call on his return from Waco but was too anxious to see mama, but thinks he will go out again this fall. I intend to sell my farm, if not I will rent it out and will remain in your country for sometime when I can some. I want to take a big hunt in the west and rest up. Molly is at Breckenridge and I or we will stay with her for some time. I close our kindest regards to you and family. Truly your friend,
Jno. W. Gorham
#15 6 February 1881 letter from John W. Gorham of Dover (Stewart County), Tennessee to Lee Baird, son of George W. and Mary E. Baird
Regarding the death of Billy Traughber, brother of Lydda Gorham and Mary E. Baird.
Yours of 24th ultimo. to hand we are really glad to hear from you, tho the news of Billy’s death is very dad to us, the more so when we take into consideration the great paines we took in raising him. We educated him well in letters as well as [more?] and when he left us at his maturity he was as promising a young man as ever left Tennessee. Honest, honorable, and in short was looked upon by every body as one of the most exempellery young men of our country. But his end, Oh how heart rending. And the more so to us as we raised him and loved him as one of our own children. But it ought to be to you boys a lesson, a lasting one, for the end of dissipation is ever poverty, misery, death. Will it stop there, I hope so, but fear the worst is not yet. But this is too gloomy to dwell on. I expected to visit your country last fall or this winter but the weather had been so verry extreme that we concluded to defer it to some other time and just when I can’t now say, but think it soon. My health has been quite bad this winter, tho better now, but I barely able to be —. Your aunt Lydda is in excellent health, quite fleshy but as sprightly as a girl. I don’t mean a verry young girl, say one of forty summers, a little gray but too fat for wrinkles. She is anxious to see your Ma as well as all of you. But whether she will go with me to your country is a little doubtful, she can’t bear the idea of being away from her boys, she is a great pet with them and they with her. The boys are all well and doing splendidly, all of them sober, healthy, well to do farmers, all of them free of debt with plenty about them to make them easy. They have a large wheat crop planted and are preparing to plant a large crop of tobacco. I am farming in rather a small way, tho I make plenty and something to spare every season which is well enough for an old man, having no family but my wife. We are rather lonely, but contented to enjoy the prosperity of our children. They are verry kind to us – no bickerings of any sort in our family so you see we are [bending?] our way down to the grave in peace, God be thanked. No news of interest, times are rather easy and prosperous in this country. Tell Tiny we write to him soon, I should have done so before now but for my health. Our kindest regards to your Ma and the rest of the family. Write soon. Yours truly,
Jno. W. Gorham
#16 5 July 1883 letter from John W. Gorham of Dover (Stewart County), Tennessee to Mary E. Baird of Dallas
Regarding the death of his wife, Elizabeth Baird’s sister, Lydda Traughber Gorham.
It becomes my painfull duty, yes almost heart rending duty, to say to you your dear good sister is dead. She died the 22nd ult. of what doctors term blood poison. She was sick but a few days and did not seem to suffer as much as many others do. She was perfectly calm all the time, and even in her dying moments she complained but little. She died as she had lived, at perfect peace with all the world and with God. She had Obeyed the Gospel several years ago and had lived a devoted member of the Christian Church from the day of her Baptism to moment of her death. Oh, my God, what a perfect saint on earth she was. She loved every person and thing and everybody loved her. I shan’t undertake to say to you anything in regard to my lost desolate condition for you know well that no two ever lived more agreeably and lovingly than we did. I am too much over come [to say more?] at this time. I am living all alone. The children are anxious for me to breake up and live with them, but I can’t do so now for the reason I have a growing crop and stock as well as my last years crop of corn, bacon, hay, etc. all on hand and I can’t afford to waste it. For as you know, I am growing old and quite infirm and prudence I think would say husband your means least I should become dependent on others for sustenance. It is true that I do not expect to live long, nor indeed do I wish to, but you know me well enough Lis to know that I love to be independent of all mankind for my bread. It is true and I am glad to say to you that no man was ever blessed with a more noble, generous and loving set of children than mine are. And they are abundantly able to take care of me as tenderly and affectionately as any are now on earth could do. Bob’s and [Curns?] wives are as kind to me as if they were my own dear children and all that, but nothing can fill the void made in the death of my dear good wife. No man was ever blessed with a better, but I must close this sad narrative. As ever your friend,
Jno. W. Gorham
#17 20 April 1884 letter from Henry Traughber of Mt. Zion (Macon County), Illinois to his great-nephew Robert E. Baird of Dallas.
I received your letter of the twentieth of last month but have neglected to answer it as soon as I ought. Was glad to hear from your folks again. I am as well as one could expect for one of my age. I am in my eighty-second year of life. My children are all dead but two. I have one daughter living in Humbolt, Kansas and Chapman is a living on the old farm. Sister Penelope is a living in Mt. Zion, Sister Nancy Pits is a living in Kansas and Caty Pits is a living in Missouri. The rest of my sisters and brothers are all dead except sister Sally and I do not now whether she is alive or not. I am a living on the farm with Chapman. I want you to write soon and let me know where your mother’s sister and her brother Billy Traughber are a living or not and were at. I was glad to hear from you and I want you to write soon and let me know how you all are. I remain as ever, your uncle,