Kansas Collection Books: The Abolitionist, by George W. Schiller

Chapter 14:
Letters from Home

Albert's mother, Winifred, still resided in Cadiz. He had urged her to come to Kansas on more than one occasion. In 1859 he wrote her once again, hoping to bring her to be with him and his family and share his success. Albert reverted back to his Quaker speech in his letter to his mother. In other letters he used modern speech idioms. Albert's mother, Winfred, preferred to remain in Cadiz, Ohio, where she died in 1867 and is buried.

Dear Mother

April 24, 1859

I take the present to write to thee, as Dan Auld Is going to start to Ohio on the day after tomorrow, and will carry it, probably will deliver it in person. I have been thinking for the past three weeks what I should say to thee in relation to coming to Kansas. Without coming to a conclusion of what I should say to discharge my duty and obligation that I feel rests with me when I advise thee is such a weighty matter. But one thing be assured, that is thee does come I will do something in the way of trying to situate thee comfortably. Ruth and Will will be coming with thee if no more.
     I have so much to write that I am at a loss to know where to begin in order to get to the most important. I have received a letter from Uriah a few days since in reply to the one I wrote to him, or rather them, on the subject of coming to Kansas.
     He says he would come here if he could sell out in Iowa for an amount that would bring him and settle him here. I do not know whether to think that any of them will come here or not. I speak of this because that would have a considerable bearing with thee in making the decision. I think it probable that a few years may bring a few or all of them here. Time and chance will decide. If it wasn't that our

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country is subject to fever and ague, I would say unhesitantly that this is the place thee had better come to if thee were to leave where the are, but knowing this to be true I dare not insist on thee coming, however glad I would be to have thee. Auld will be in Cadiz and the probability is that he will detain in Harrison County for two or three weeks. He expects to bring his sister-in-law with him so if thee come the opportunity is a good one to come with him. I know he would give thee care and attention, all that thou would need in getting here, and would feel thee would be as safe in his care as my own, and I know he would give it to thee freely.
     I will make the deed and send it immediately after, if I do not get it ready to send by Auld. Thee can have the oxen if thee concludes go to Iowa and set a price thee self and time of payment. If thee does go to Iowa, I wish to know what one of the boys needs them most, or rather I want thee to tell the one that thee thinks is in the greatest need of them and to take them in the way I offer them to thee.
     We are all well except Walker and William: Walker is in bad health: has had ague since last fall. Is considerably swollen in his limbs: is bloated all over and has a bad cough. William has some ague but keeps it off with quinine.
     Answer me immediately after seeing Auld, whether thee come or no, and if thee do come I will meet thee at the river if I get it in time.
     I think it strange that David does not write.

Your Loving Son                    Albert.

Another letter from Albert to his son-in-law William Holtham, who was apparently in California, has been preserved. Albert writes about the woes of grasshoppers, money problems of his daughter Fred (Winifred) and the health of Grandmother, which presumably is William's mother, who passed away a few months later. This letter written in 1875 reads as follows.

Barrett, June the 11th 1875

William Holtham, Modesto, Cal.

Dear Wil

     Fred [Winifred] is with your mother for the last week, so we have heard no news from you for the last ten days. There has however, come letters for her that have been forwarded to Petawaka since she left.
     The hoppers are doing a great amount of damage to the crops generally. Their ravages are principally confined to the valley and adjacent thereto. Of the 80 acres of wheat I do not think we will harvest more than fifteen, if any. The hope of anything to harvest is in the patch of winter wheat on this side of the creek. They have commenced on the 24 acres of corn and if they meet with no backset will clean it out by Sunday. We are breaking the prime bottom and have planted about thirty acres of it in broomcorn all of which is devoured as fast as it comes up. We also planted 20 acres of broomcorn on the west side of the creek, which was attacked on one corner. On the whole our labor and seed are both sunk. The hoppers have not in any large numbers got their wings yet and are consequently bounded somewhat in their operations. What the consequences will be to the crops on the high prairies when they come to fly I can not, nor anyone foretell.
     The prospect is really somewhat gloomy in this part of God's Vineyard this season. If, in place of keeping up the feud with the devil He would turn his attention to the grasshoppers it would increase my reverence. I hear so many conflicting accounts about the crops In California as to make me desire to hear the truth respecting the Same. I hope you will give it to me.
     Fred is in a peck of trouble about the mortgage on your place. She has word from Koester that the amount is 300 dollars and he desires it paid and loth to leave until the lien is lifted. She asks me

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for advise which I decline to give except that it would be a good policy to secure the place for something to fall back on in case of need. I give the same to you to act upon or no as you see proper. She has one half the money (sent by you) with which to pay it off and in my judgment would be to add the next 150 to what you now have and pay it out.
     The folks are all in usual health but got the blues over the grasshopper ravages. I should have made an exception of Grandmother woes whose time I think is probably short. She is failing very fast---apparently worn out. The hoppers are at this moment flying over us from south to north by the millions. Write soon. Truly yours.

Albert Barrett

Still another letter from Albert to his daughter, Winifred, who was usually called Fred, was sent with instructions to forward it on to Jane. This letter was dated June 19, 1881. Apparently it was written while Albert was still in Marysville serving out his term as County Treasurer. The correspondence tells of Albert's problems both in Marysville and in the Treasurer's office. He also expresses his concern about his son William (Will), who had acquired a large herd of cattle and was attempting to drive them from Colorado back to Kansas.

Dr. Fred and Jane

Marysville, June 19, 1881

I have still had it in my mind to write in response to your letters and now that I undertake to do so I hardly know anything of mutual interest to write to you.
     I received a letter from Will on yesterday. He will, or expects to, start home from the first to the tenth of July. He will be a long time on the road and much exposed, so I am somewhat fearful of his getting sick on a slow drive of cattle through a distance of 600 miles. He says

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he cannot get a wagon and team for the trip, and will have to depend on packing their outfit on poneys. Cy is at home puttering at farming with small results from present appearances. Mother Is much troubled with pain in her side. She tells me some two weeks ago that it was going to kill her. She said nothing of the kind the last time I was home, but was moody and refused to undertake to come here, said she cannot stand the ride. She cannot leave home. Says she does not want to do so; but I can see well enough it is a dull place for her. She however bought chain for a carpet she had the filling for when she and I were in Frankfort on last Monday. Phoebe is with me here in the office. She does well better than Cy in some respects. The hands on the place board with Med for the last three weeks ever since Mary was taken unwell.
     There is considerable excitement in Marysville. There is a case of violation of the liquor prohibitory law to be tried here tomorrow and it raised a whisky insurrection that really looks formidable and if judged by the array of insurrectionists, their threats of violence along with their expressed determination to resist the operation and enforcement of the law. The rebellious class are principally, in fact all of them, our much petted dear "Foreign Citizens" That attract so much solicitude from the rulers in politiks that bid high for their votes, and vie with each other in their expressions of love for the "foreign broge". They have really been petted and flattered until they imagine themselves of far more importance than the natives, and that nothing must be done without their sanctions. I fell on this subject from two considerations. One of these is that I am one of threatened victims; the other consideration you can judge of. I hope however to see a good no, in from other parts of the county, that will give countenance and courage to the men that are "bearding the Lyon in his den". I think D. E. B. and possibly D. B. W. will be here. They are each a best if trouble should arise. The throng of business will compel my staying in the office, as it is the last day of the limit for paying the second

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installment of tax before advertising delinquents. Otherwise I should be a spectator at what is looked on as the crisis of the insurrection. The intention however is to "try again" if the results of tomorrows trial is not satisfactory.
     Aunt Winifred is on her pegs again apparently as well as ever after her narrow escape from the grim monster. Presume you know all about her sickness. There has been nothing of family interest transpired lately that would interest you. Walker is trying for a pension and thinks his prospect is good to secure it. His case is much more than many others who are drawing pensions.
     Mail this to Jane. Write, both of you and I will answer. Picnic at Barrett on the 4th. Maybe you will attend.

Good will to all                          A G B

Mary went to California to visit with daughter Jane, who apparently been in poor health. Albert had completed his last term as County Treasurer and was at home in Barrett the day after Christmas. He wrote to Mary ....


Barrett Dec 26/ 82 :

     Christmas is past and we are all alive, have survived the consumption of two fat turkeys with a fair proportion of palatable viands. Your last epistle containing the welcome news of Jane's improved health was received on Saturday evening. Hope her improvement is permanent. Hope you all had a "Merry Christmas". Although you direct your future communications addressed to Modesto I will venture once more to Caliente. I really at a loss to know what to write as there has nothing new transpired in this vicinity since my last. We have about 250 bus. Of corn in the field with about 2 inches of snow on the ground. The day is fair and pleasant with goodly prospect of snow leaving in a few days. Fred and Will were here yesterday. Fred yet. No more done in our settlement; will make

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other effort the last of the week, but with little hope of speedy close. No one sick or complaining about the place. Cy sent the P. O. order to Cressey with no directions or explanations. Will no doubt be all right. I suppose you intend coming the U. P. route home, although you Do not say so distinctly; but I do not see how the boys will get with you unless you start from Caliente. If anything occurs on the road telegraph and we will respond.
     Corn has gone down to 25c and still on the decline: looks a little blue about making any money: Have paid him $1000.00 My feet are cold and will quit. Good wishes to all.


Mary writes a letter to her son, presumably William, dated June 7, 1885 reporting conditions at Barrett.

Dear Son:
     Albert received your letter of the 26th. He has been very busy with the cattle until yesterday. He turned the cattle on the timothy next to the pasture. Concluded it was not worth cutting. The hail has about ruined all the small grain and damaged the corn that was up. The millet across the creek is badly damaged as well as the oats and wheat on this side and the young timothy is destroyed. We listed 30 acres on Cy's place. Are planting east of the railroad on new ground. They want to sow 15 acres of millet in the field next to the railroad. It has been so wet they couldn't get much done in the bottom until now. The cattle were turned in to the barnyard a few nights ago and broke out. Fortunately none were killed although two were badly crippled, old Whitey's calf and another one, but I guess they will get all right again. We concluded it would not pay to send the cattle down to Potawatomie, as we don't think it is very safe. Will let them run in the millet for about a month and by that time the grass in the bottom and pasture will grow. Albert is going to fence the bottom right away.

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     Walton came a few days since with outfit going west to get land. Stopped to do some breaking in the Moffitt neighborhood
     Keys and Ida will go to Irving in about two weeks and commence housekeeping. Keys is going to build a grocery store and going into business.
     Aunt Winifred's health is poor. Theodore sold his cattle. Ed Mooney has gone home
     Annie Johnson is working for Fred George.
     Phoebe and Fred were down yesterday. We all went up to Cy's.
     Cy has 60 acres of as nice as corn as there is in the country.
     The old darkey Johnson has good corn on Cy's place. Enghams were considerably washed out but have replanted doing alright.
     They got lumber for the house and it will not be long until they get into the house.

In haste, write soon.

Mary M. Barrett

P S. The girl is here yet. Albert says there is nothing for her to do and will have to go.

P. S. In regard to bringing the mill to Kansas, they all say it wouldn't pay at all that it wouldn't sell for anything more than old iron.

Bert Barrett, Albert's grandson became a master builder and architect. He rebuilt the old Barrett home and constructed numerous homes in the Frankfort-Barrett area and even traveled to Hubbell Nebraska to build a home for J. Conklin, who married l Wilhemina (Mina) Barrett, a cousin of Bert's. Mina Barrett Conklin, as a youngster, kept a diary. We read excerpts from Mina's diary:
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     "Pap lived longer than Mother Mary, by a short time. The Loves came back from California to care for him. The house we lived in was originally built for the Loves for a store to keep them here, but they went back and forth to California. The first time Memories Albert's name to his family was Pap and Mary was Mother Mary. I remember Pap very well was when we still lived on the farm before we moved to Barrett. We moved to Barrett the day I was five years old (October 3, 1891), so it would have been summer when Mama had me sew a button on Pap's shirt cuff, and I bit off the thread. He told me never to do that as it would spoil my teeth."

     "Aunt Fred Holtham spoke of the Lincoln assassination. It was two weeks before we learned of the event. She spoke of the horror of it all."

     "The Coffee family worked family worked for Mother. They were Negroes and lived in Barrett. They were hired help just like all the others that worked at the Mill. Pap did not operate the underground station for escaped slaves but let them stay and work as paid help. All the hired help and visitors slept in the old barn loft."

     "There was no name for the town until the Missouri Pacific railroad built the station there and named it Barrett"

     "One winter when Pap was ill and confined at home, he made a small bed from walnut lumber he had sawed at his mill. He only used a drawknife to fashion the bed. The little bed is still in possession of the Barrett (Conklin) family."

These old letters and mementoes from various members of the Barrett family bring back some of the trials and tribulations the early pioneers faced. We are grateful to have such sharing and caring relatives who furnished them for inclusion in this epistle.

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