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Hill Country Living

No Trip Home After Jab About Parents’ Age


It’s a Wagner Week and this first letter comes from the category of letters I call “railroad letters.” They are some of my very favorites. They are written by friends and family members who are working on the railroad out west somewhere. I always love their descriptions of where they are. Some writers go into elaborate details about the wild landscape around them. Others just seem massively homesick. They either love it or hate it. I think Cousin John is in the latter group.

The second letter is from patriarch D. R. and, I must say, I think he and Maria are overreacting a bit. I mean, they are not letting John Henry come home because he said Maria was old? 

My seven year-old yelled that I was wrinkly when we were eating supper with friends at Ajax the other day. I didn’t make him walk back to Water Valley. I told him he was right and my wrinkles were caused by him doing things like screaming that I’m wrinkly in public places – so it’s all his fault. I win the parent-off this time, Daniel and Maria!

The Fort Worth & Denver City Railway Company

Wichita Falls

11/25 1886


Dear John,

I believe it is my time to write. But you must excuse me for not writing sooner.

I suppose you heard of Sally O. marrying.

Uncle Eugene has been very sick. I hear he is improving. I think he was discourage more than anything. Else, poor fellow. He has had a hard time of it. John he looked harder when he was here than I ever saw him look before. Holes in his pants and elbows out. Don’t tell any of the folks, though.

We shipped 12 dozen prairie chickens this A.M. Everything is so dull here. I haven’t been with a girl in months. Corrie writes every week. She is a nice girl. Said in her last letter she had just received a letter from you. 

Are you going home Xmas? I was going home then but don’t guess will go now until next summer. No fun there in Winter.

I guess you will be there during the summer months, won’t you. I will have a little time then and intend to have some fun. I saved over five hundred dollars the first twelve months I was here. If you are in Water Valley in the summer we will have all the fun there we can and take a short trip to Memphis and take the girls in. What do you say?

Write soon and I will write more next time. 

Your afct Cousin,

Jno W. Smither



Water Valley, Miss

Dec 6th, 1886


My Dear Son,

I am awful sorry that I have to disappoint you but it will not be best for you to come home this winter. It is unnecessary for me to go into details. I suppose all you want to know is whether you can come or not, you will only have one day holiday and I do not want you to go anywhere. You offended your mother — she is quite sensitive as to her age. And also myself by your remarks about our getting old and feeble. But we will forgive you if you say no more about it. Enclosed find a check for 15. Please pay Dr. Junter out of it and keep the balance. Your mother is talking of sending you a “Christmas” Box. Please do NOT BE IMPRUDENT during Xmas. Remember I expect you to behave like a gentleman. 

I think I will sell an interest in our business this winter.

I will write you more fully later.

Your father

D. R. Wagner

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