Transcriptions of letters from John W. Johnson (Grayson County TX) to his brother Daniel C. Johnson (Overton Co., TN).
These letters were preserved by and given to me by Pauline Howard, a descendant of Benjamin Franklin Danner, a nephew of John W. Johnson. My Mother and I have transcribed them as best we can; we have added only a very small amount of punctuation.
November the 18 1873
Grason Co Texas
Dear brother & sister & mother I seat my self to drop you a few lines to let you now that we have landed in texas an are all well. we got on the trane at Nashville friday morninge at five a clock & landed at Denison texas Sunday eavinge at five a clock. We all stood the trip fine. it made Louisa & the gals sick to ride on the cars. Tha puked for too days. We had to wait at Denison one day for or bagedg. it got mispact in crossin the river at St Louis. We had to cros in a steam boat. the boat was crowded so that the bags wagons cold not get on. tha all come up right next day. We are at Brazz. tha are all well but *** he is chilen.
my trip cost me too hundred Dolars. I cant tell how I like it yet. the land is rich as it can be. the water is cold a nuff though it dont tast as good as tennessee water. I think when a man gets use to it he will like it beter. it looks like a man mite doo well here when he can get a start. it cost me all I had to get her & I will be hard run the first year. ever thinge is cheap exept corn. corn is 75 cts per bushel beef is 2 1/2 3 and as fat as ever you saw. I bough 100 pounds of flower & paid 3 Dolars for it. Bacon is 10cts. a man can buy horses mitey cheap & catel. good oxen 15 Dolars. you go to dick yeltons & git my water bucket. I come off and forgot it. tell grosen smith if he was here he cold make money just as fas as he wanted. Brick is twelve Dolars a thousan.
Braz wants me to help him improve his place. I dont now yet what I will do. I will right again when I git me a house. Tell Syntha ann the Baby is well & pirt. I think if we had a farm & house we cold do well here. the land is level as a flower an as rich as your botom (acres). the gals says tell tennessee tha wold be satisfide is we had a house & tha seen some indians & a heap of grate sights. I want you to right as soon as this comes to hand. I will right more next time so no more at present
Direct your letter to Bason Springs Grason Co Texas
JW Johnson DC Johnson
NOTE: I belive the reference to "Braz" is a James Brazzell Terry, and perhaps Louisa's brother. "Tennessee" was "Tennessee Lemong" a young woman living in Daniels' house as a servant.
March the 1 1874
State of Texas
Dear brother & sister & mother I seat my self to drop you a few lines to let you now that we ar all well & has bin ever sense we left Tenn. times is hard here in the way of provisions owinge to last year beinge a bad crop year. corn is one Dollar per bushel flower 4 to 5 per hundred bacon 10 to 12 1/2 cts per pound. I can say to you I have herd of Armstrong. she lives at paris. I will tell you something about the laws of Texas. a judgement runs out of date in about tenn years & a note runs out in four years. Bras wont pay (rest of this line cut off)
We have commesed plowing a piken for a crop. we have 35 acors to tend as good land as ever you saw in your life. Bud Dollit is goinge to crop with me. We get ever thinge found us but provision & we git two thirds of corn & cotton. We will put 25 in cotton & 10 in corn. people has all peded out ther sweat potatoes & planted ther guardion. true the grass is giten verry green & ever thing looks fine. people hant fed any here this winter. in fact I hant seen any winter here. I want to now if you had a hard winter thare or not. Benn I hant herd any thinge from Jack sense I have bin here. if you go to texas in fall come buy & well go with you. you can come in three days to Denison in 10 miles of me.
I got a letter from Noey a few days ago. I hant got any anseer from you fact I have never got nare a line from none of Louisas people sense we have bin her. I want for you to see Marion Johns & if he will pay tenn Dollards without a soot take it for 10 Dollars wold do me more good now than twenty in the fall. if you git any send it in a regested letter. if he won't pay it with out collect it acorden to law. I shal be hard run till I make a crop thoug we have got as good nabors as I ever saw to be no kinn. Naites (?) has bin to see us & stayd too days. I went up to Boles & flys & stayd too days. tha was all well & doing verry well.
the girls & louisa sendes ther love & respectes to you all & tennessee spleshly & wants her & ben to right & all the rest of you for you dont now how proud we are to git a letter from tenn. Benn I want you to take this letter up to your foks & coopers to let them red it. I want them all to right to me. I want to now if Lige has got well. tell my sisters I want them to right & Marion & foks one & all. Syntha an the baby is the smartest thinge you ever saw. it can talk & say any thinge it pleases. So I will have to close for the want of paper. right soon & often. from
JW Johnson TO: DC Johnson
LC Johnson Syntha A Johnson
NOTE: Benn is Benjamin Danner and "Jack" is his Benn's brother Andrew Jackson Danner. These are nephews of John. Coopers are David and Nancy Cooper - Nancy is John's sister. Noey is Noah Danner. Lige is John's brother Elijah. Marion is John's cousin.
March the 5 1874
I went to the office to day to mail this letter & I found one from you which I had bin lookinge for along time. I was glad to her from you all though sorry to here of or old mother beinge in the condishen she was in. I was sorry to here of the death of any of or old neighbors, the cabage seed you sent me come all right. Louisa found her seed that she though she had lost. tell Cook Byers that I was glad he thought a nuff of me to send his compliments. tell him to right & tell me all he nows & I will right to him & tell him what I think.
tell all my frends to right to me. if I was to right to all that wanted me too it wold consoom all my time. Louisa ses to Syntha ann she picked over a coten patch over & got a nuff to make them all a dress a peace. tha have borred a wheal & got it spunn. Time & Mate says tell Tenn to come up & go to meeting with them a Sunday & she will be shore to ketch a bo. right soon & let me now what is goin on & where Grosen Smith is. tell him his treade wole be a forthen to him here. So I will have to close. I hope I will see you all a gin some day. remaining you brother & sister till death
JW Johnson DC Johnson
LC Johnson Syntha Johnson
NOTE: Time refers to Fatima (John's daughter) and Mate to Mary J. (also John's daughter)
November the 25 1874
Bason Springs Texas
Dear brother & sister I seat my self to drop you a few lines to let you now that we are still in the land of the livinge & I my self has common helth sense I got well of the fever. the childern keepes chilinge. We have a hard time to get rid of them. I think I have got in a sickley plase. I have rented me a plase four miles from here on a high prerry. I will move in a few days. I wanted to go ferver south. my famley has binn sick so much I cold not go. I have rented & will stay in grason one more year. I want to see you all mitey bad. you dont no how lonsom I am. I dont feel like I had any frends sense my best is gone.
I hope this find you all well & doinge well. I want you to right as quick as this comes to hand & tell me all you can think of & give my respectes to ann & Lige & all ther folkes. I dont recon Dave & Nance has any for me. tell Unlce Billy I hant forgot him. tell Benn I want to see him & here him laff. Ann says tell Tennessee if she wantes to marey to come to texas and she will off soon. So no more at present. onley your brother till death
JW Johnson DC Johnson
Syntha ann Johnson
NOTE: John's wife Louisa has died from the fever he mentions and probably one of his daughters, Mary as there is no more mention of Mary in any letters. Ann is John's daughter, Nancy Angelina.
January the 3 1875
Dear brother & sister I seat my self to drop you a few lines to let you now that we ar all in comon helth & hope when comes to hand it may find you all well & doinge well. I received a letter from you on crimas day which I was glad to see & here that you are all well. I have moved five miles on the *** prery. our helth is improved sense we movd I think that *** get *** to fore long. I hade rented twenty acors of good land to tend. will put 10 in coton & ten in corn. I ** to sow 7 or 8 in oates. it is colder now than at any time sense I have bin in Texas
I want you to send me a tenn galen case of Brandey. you can put it in a box & pack fruit a round it to hoof it well & send it to nashville to the depo bey some wagons. I will send you instruction how to direct it on a piece of paper in this letter. right to me when you start it so I will now when to go to Sherman after it. fix it up and send it to me & I will pay you sometime. a nuff about that. tell Lige & noey & dick that I think strange of them not righten. I never got but one letter from them & have riten too or three to them. tell Sindy & Tenn that I have hard hard work to keep Ann. there was three young men here to see her yesterday
Tuesday morning the 4th tho tha have nothing strange could sense. I rote before corn is from 75 to one dolar cofe four pounds to the dollar sugar from 8 to 10 pounds to the dollar. every thinge else in propotion, if you want to take my paper I will send you the Sherman caryer. tell fly I was up to Bobs the other week and I was over the field he tended. I could of loaded 20 wagons with winter milon. I think he wold of done well to stade there all tho I wold a went back my self at that time if I cold though. I had a nuff to disencordge any body. tell all of my friends to right to me for I am glad to get a letter at any time & think Benn & Lige & Marion mite right
Syntha ann I will git the Babys pictor the
first chance & send it to you. I will have to take her to
Sherman & it is too cold right now. Ben Daner if Dank (?)
send me a box I wish you wold git some sasfras bark off the roots
& put it in it. it is worth one dollar a pound here. I will
send you a pare of mules pears rabit pears is my next letter.
give my respects to all hoo may inquire after me retain a good
portion your self. so no more at present only your brother till
death I fare well from
JW Johnson & family To DC Johnson
Sept the 2 1875
Grayson Co. Texas
Dear brother & sister I seat my self to drop you a few lines in anseer to yours that I received the first of this inst. I was glad to here you are all well though sorrow to here of so maney of or friends dyeing. I feel thankful that we have had as good helth summer as we ever had in or lives. we are all fat and ar galey. I hant herd of any sickness here except Brasey Terry & family that are all sick. tha live at the same house where I had my bad luck. I think this is a heap helther country than that from your letters. I hant herd of but one or too deaths sense I come here exept my **** family & I got in a sicley those I have had my helth splendid sence i left the timber & creaks. I am as fat now as ever & my children all looks well. Dealey is the prites thinge you ever saw. she is as fat as a fige. I will send her pictor in a short time. turn over to see the crop prospect
if I have no more bad luck I will git a start a gain this fall. I think I will clere 300 dolars with all I make. I have had someover bad luck I didnt hant made any thinge. Well now ever thinge is cheap here. I can buy a good horse for 25 or 30 dolars a good wagon for 50 & store goods is cheap coffee 41/ pounds to the dollar sugar 8 to 10 pounds to the dolar calico 8 cts per yd shirten 10 cts & ever thinge else is in propotion Buter sell well eggs & chickens from 15 to 20 cts pullet from 20 to 25. I ame to move in the fall. it will take me till Christmas to gather my coton. I ame to go where Welden Terry is. I wold be verry proud ben or some of the boys wold come out this fall. Ann wants to no what has become of Mandy Maxwell. Tell in Brilley store we hant forgot him. the children *** of him. Tell Elijah & Nancy & Ann I wold like to have a letter from them. I rote to Lige & he dont anseer. I hant never got nare *** of a pen from Davee nor Bills folks sinse I have binn here. I wold like verry mutch to see you all once more
We have made splendid crops of all kinds. I have 10 achores of corn that will mesher 40 bushels per each achor. I have made 10 in coton that will make a bale to the achor. it is as high as your fist & is full of boles as it can stick in. it is redy to pick in a few days. tha was the most wheat ** I ever saw in my life. it averges 24 bushels per achor. Some men had 5 to 6 hundred achors in. you ma no that made Wheat it conimiest selinge at *** is now 80 tha and less than one hundred wagons *** pase my dore hauling Wheat to Denison & Sherman. to ship corn is 40 cents now and it is comming down. Texas has had plenty of rain this time this portion of it. if I still keep my helth I wolunt come back if you rote & gave me my place. I am **** tolerable well keepen house if Ann would stay with me. I am afrade she will take a fool fit & marey. I have had hard work to keep her this long. She my sorrow be never got ***** to & *** letter she wantes tenn. to rite since she has rote to here twist
Fatima & Anderson is well & doinge
well. he has got as good a crop as I ever saw in my life. Glabe
Perry & family is well & doing well. Glabe made 800 bushels
of wheat off of ten achors. I beleave I have told you all I can
think of that has interest you any. I want you to to right as
soon as you git this an give me all the news. if that Editor is
at Livingston yet I wold like to have his paper one year. Let
me what has become of Uncle John & Poly. an Benn Daner you
must righ to me & tell Mario to right I wold like to here
from him. I gess he has to pack a babey in his arms in this time.
tell him & Lige if tha want to git a start tha had better
leave thare before tha git too *** famley. right soon. so no more
at present onley your brother till death from
JW Johnson DC Johnson
NOTE: John's daughter Fatima Elizabeth married William H. Anderson.
Nov the 28th 1875
Bason Springs TX
Dear brother I take up pen in hand to drop you a few lines in anseer to one I received from from you the other day. I am glad to here that you are all well. I sorrow to here of so many of our friends dying. it looks like what cant diye one day will another. This leaving up all well the helth of this countery is tolerable good now. people is busy picking out there cotton. I picked out five bale out of my patch & then sold the patch for a good wagon. I am goin to start to Sherman in the morning with my last bale. I thout I wold right you a few lines to take a longe & mabe if I am goinge
anderson & Time is her to day. Tha are all well & sende ther love to you all. I dont now yet what I will do in Anderson. talked of goin in the springe to Burnet Co where Jack Daner is if ever thinge works off right. I fell we will go Monday morning the 29. it came a northinge last night night. it is cold and uncuff thus morning to freeze chickens toses off & by night it may bey too warm to ware a cote. that is one thinge I have aginst Texas the changes is too sadent. I think from your letter ever thinge is cheaper here than it is there corn from 29 to 40 cents for bushel wheat from 79 to one Dol per bushel Beef 2 1/2 to 3 Calico the best 8 cts per yds domestic heavy 10 cts per yds cofee 4 pound to the dollar sugar 8 to 10 and ever thinge in propotion
you can buy a a good horse here for 40 dolars good long jack for 15 dolars milk cow from 15 to 20 oxens from 30 to 60 one to **** money is tolerable plenty here now since coten & wheat have come in to market. Jess is still driving a team at the gin at 14 dolars per month. the gin is in 50 yds of my house. he can come home ever night. Ann sends her love to Tennessee & wants her to right to her. right as soon as you can & tell me how Saley Terry is *** & is Sam Jeter alive yet or not. tell Benn & all of the boys to right. we love to hear from you all ever chance. it is so cold & I cant hardly rite. excuse this short letter & right soon. so no more at present only remaning yore brother till death
JW Johnson DC Johnson & Wife
September the 1th 1876
Burnet Co Texas
Dear brother & sister I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that we are in good helth & hope this will find you the same. I am in Burnet Co at Jack Danners. I was six days on the rode from Dewitt. I did not like the society in Dewitt. it was no plase to rase a famley. the people here seems to be more christonised & kind than any plase I have bin. Jack is doinge verry well. I hope him gether his corn. sence I got her he made abowt thirteen dred bushel. he has got a mitey good woman for his wife. she is as good & kind to the childern as tha was her one. I cant tell yet how I like tha countey. it is the rufest country I ever saw in my life. it is as ruf as the waterloo hills. it is good water ther is as good springes there as you have in tenn. the valees is verry rich. I dont know yet what I will do. I am in a bad fix to keep house. if I was fixt with a good housekeepper I think I wold be satis to live in texas. ths childern all look well and harty. I think this is a mitey helthy part of the state though I tell you its ruff. Benn I think you had better leave there & come where you can doo some good for your self. Ann tell your paw & maw that Jack is grumlinge becase tha dont right. tha had better sell out & come to Texas. if he was here I know he cold doo well with his trard. he need not be afrade of diinge for this is as helthy a plase as i ever saw. my misfortion is nothing to go by. when I come to tex I had no plase to go and unfortueley stop in a sickely plase. Sence we left thare we have had as good helth as we ever had in tenn. Benn you can by a emigrant ticket from Nashville to austen for 25 dolars. we live 40 miles of thare. if you want to come right & we will meet you at austen. I rite thaes few lines jest to let you no where we are & that we are all well. right as soon as you git this & give me all the news. you can give my love to all my old nabors & reserve a dobel shere your self. Direct to Shovel mount Burnet Co Texas
JW Johnson & famley DC Johnson &
Syntha Ann Johnson
NOTE from Pauline Howard: "Waterloo that he speaks of is a beautiful place (as I rem. it from 65 years ago). Nice swimming hole at least! It was a few miles from the Johnson farm. It seems that Ben Danner (my grandfather) lived with Daniel during his teen-age years. I suppose Daniel needed help on the farm and grandpa happened to be the one."
July the 4 1878
Bason Springs Tex
Dear brother I seat my myself to drop a few lines to you now that we are all well & hope that this letter finds you the same. it looks like you have forgot me. I have rote to you this is the third letter since I got any from you. I got one from brother Lige. he state you were all well. I havent anything strange to rite. we have had a pourer of rane this summer. crops looks the finest tha have ever sence I have bin her. it is my thot corn wont be worth 20 cts per bag. coton looks fine where tha got to work it. bacon is worth from 7 to 8 cts flower from 2 to 3 Dolars fir hundred
thare ar bilden rale rodes all thru this country.
tha are three hundred men at work in one mile of me. five to
compes getes water out of my well. thas country is improveing
mitey fast. if a pore folkes *** comes now tha will hop to go
West on the front. Billy & Tina is well & doinge tolerable
well. Time is a mother now. it is a boy. she calls him John Tom.
Ann & her man is well. they stade here last night. we are
goin to hawlings ties to morow at Gets
a peace. we can make 3 or 3 and a half a peace a day. We haf to hall 2 miles if I was first for it. I cold make money at keeping borders. Tha are payinge 4 four Dolars a week for bord in 50 yardes of my well
Well Ben Daner Lige sed you was comminge to Texas this fall. I was glad to here that. I want you to rite when you are goin to start & I will meet you at the depo. come as early as you can. in coton picken time is the time to make money. you can make one Dolar per day. I gese you make that. it looks like you mite. I think I will go West when I git my coton geterd to tri to get me a home of my own. I dont think it a wasto come back there. I wold be satesfide to stay & it cost too much money to go back & forth. Syntha Dealey is the prites thinge you ever saw & as smart as a stell trap. She pay a made by her self to times
rite as soon as you git this & give me all the nuse you can. I have went to the office 50 times expectin a letter from you. I rote one to Saley Terry & got no anseer. this is the last one I am goin to rite to any one that wont rite to me. So I will close. your brother tell death
JW Johnson To DC Johnson & Sintha AnnJohnson
NOTE: "Billy & Time" refers to William Anderson ahis wife Fatima, John's daughter.
April the 19 1879
Dear Brother I take the opportunity of droping you a few lines to let you now that we are all well & hope this will find you there in a samelike blessing. I reseaved your leter the 16th of this month which was long looked for. I am glad to here from you all. your leter come in 7 days from the time it was mald. times is tolerable good here. we have fine range. the hole plase looks like a wheat firled. I hant fed my horse more grane ** *** ** the first of the march & work them all this time. I have got me a nice farm started. if I can have luck to finish it. I had a 100 a corn in 4 *** of *** got 10 acors *** 6 in corn & in coton ***************
I have bilt me a house & got it covered though living on a dirt floor. lumber is five dollars a hunder. here is cost 150 at Auston. it is to hall 125 miles. tell Benn that Jack Daner in 50 miles of me. I git leters from his regerly. times for Ann is hard. there men gone to Austin after a lode of frate. Jes says tell Ben tocome out here to help him rope wild cows & milk them.he sees his on fun. I think if irolon Smithy was here he cold do mitey well.there is a site of mason work going on here. it is high to good pay. the bild nerly all rock fence & rock houses, if I was a good mason as he is I cold git rich in too or three years
tell dave Cooper that he had better be here a skinninge deer & turkey than to *** to ten the Yankey Cort for stilige. tell Noey that I got the twist of tobaco he sent me. I was glad of hit. I pay from 80 cts to 100 a pound for all the tobaco I get. there is good chances like to get land. any of them that wants land if tha have a nuff to run them one year & bild them a house tha ar all right. plenty of chool land & plenty of vacant land. if I has money a nuff to buy 50 head of sheep or 20 head of cows I woldent want any land. I will close for this time. right soon. your brother till death
JW Johnson TO DC Johnson
NOTE: "Dave Cooper" is John's brother-in-law.
Mason, Mason Co Texas
Feb 21st 1892
Dear Brother Daniel: Your letter of the 12th inst. came to hand yesterday. I was very glad to hear from you and my friends in Tennessee so I will answer without delay.
The last letter you sent to me must be lost, it never came to hand, or I would have answered long ago. The letter you recieved from one of my girls was from Delie my youngest, and she must have forgotton to put her signature to it.
I was sorry to hear that were so afflicted, and I hope that it reads soone but what it realy is. The reason why I did not come this winter is I was afraid I could not stand the change of the temperature, as it is much warmer in Texas than it is in Tennessee. I hope I can manage this summer or fall to come over there and find you healthy and well.
The state of health in our County is worse than I ever saw it. More people are dying this winter than ever before in such space of time. A disease called "La Gripp" takes possession of the people. It is mostly a bad cold, which confines the people to their rooms and beds. If they take care of themselves, it is all right, but if not, it changes into Typhoid fever, Inflammation of the bowels or pneumonia and proves fatal in very many cases. My family got through it all right so far, except Cooper, Oley's husband, who has the Grippe over a year ago and came very near to geting blind. It cost him a good deal in doctorbills and medicines, but he is all right now.
The prospect for farming is not so brilliant as it ought to be. Last summer and fall we had a terrible drought, no rain from end of June to middle of December. Then we had rain enough to enable farmers to break up the greatest part of their land. But now as corn planting begins we need rain again. When it will come though, God only knows. Cattle in general is in bad condition. No grass in the pastures, no feed raised makes many people sell their cattle for $4.00 the head round, and they are glad if they can sell it for that. In San Saba County, NorthEast of Mason Co the cattle die by thousand for want of grass and water, and towards the Rio Grande, it is still worse than in our next neighborhood.
There is good prospect for railroad as far as Llano town, which is about 36 miles from the town of Mason. It is to be finished by the 1st of April and they are working hard at it. This is just near enough, and we do not want it any nearer, I think we can do better without it.
Now to my own family. Tyme had a boy two nights ago and this gives me 22 grandchildren. If they keep on that way they can soon populate a whole territory, and it seems that they have took it into their heads to do it, at least they are on the best way to accomplish such a work.
Will. Anderson, Tymes husband, talks about leaving Mason and settle down somewheres in Panhandle of Texas. What he will do though, I do not know. I think he better stays where he is.
Looneys, that is Anns family, are well, at least as well as can be expected.
Coopers (Oleys) family are considerably well.