Letter from William J. Johnson to his wife Maria.
Contributor: kcapson Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
He typed the letter entirely in capital letters. A "translation" into modern English follows.
NEBRASKA SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' HOME
DEAR M AN ALL THE REST
I THAUGHT I WOUL START THIS LETTER AN HAV IT READEY SO IF I GAT IN A HURE I COULD SUNE FINISH IT UP I THAUGHT LAST WEAK AT THIS TIME THAT I WOULD BEIN AURORA BEY NOW BUT I GAT LEFT BUT I DID NOT CARE MUCH FOR IT HAS BIN RANEN EVREY DAY A LITE AND I WAS A FRAD I WOULD GIT CAUGHT IN IT, IT HAS NOT RAIND VIREY HARD HERE BUT SOME PLASES THY HAD QUITE A STORME THERE TOO MEN WAS KILD BY LIGHTIN ONE MAN WAS ON THE WIGON AN HIS LITTEL BOY WAS SITTEN ON THE SEAT WITH HIM AND IT KILD HIM AN BOTH HORSES AN DID NOT HURT THE BOY AND DOWN JUT A CROWST THE LINE IN KANSAS THERE WAS THREE IN FELL AND RAISED SUM OF THE LITTEL STREAMS OUT OF THERE BANK THEARE WAS ONE COMMED TO COME IN A HOUS AND THE LADEY AN DAUGHTER AN SON TRYED TO GIT OUT AND THE ALL DROUNED. NOW DEAR I DONT LIK IT A BIT THAT HATTEY AN MOLLEY DONT HITCH BUT MABEY I CAN GIT THEM RECOND SILED AFTER I GIT THERE IF I DONT I WONT STAY THERE LONG UNLES I CAN DO LIKE I DID WITH KITTEY AND ONE OF HER NABOES LAST FALL WHEN I WAS THER THAY WANTED TO EAT ONE ANOTER UP A LIVE AND I KEPT TALKEN TO THEM TO BE FRIENDS A GAIN AN I GES TEY ARE YET I GES KITTY IS MAD AT ME FOR SHEE DID NOT ANSER IT AND IT HAS BIN SUM TIME JUST A BOUT A WEK BEFORE PAY DAY SHE ASKED ME TO LONE HER FIVE AND I WROTE AN TOLD HER I DID NOT HAV IT NETHER DID I HAV IT AN SHE ROT AN SAID SHE WANTD TO SEE IF I WOULD LET HER HAVE IT AN SHE HAST ROTE SINCE AN IF SHE IS MAD AT ME I AM SORREY BUT I CANT HELP IT FOR MY GOD KNOWS THAT I WANT TO LIV IN PEASE WITH EVERY ONE DEAR I AM TRYEN TO LIV AS I SHOUL AND AS I SHOULD HAV LIVED THRU MY HOLE LIF HOW MUCH BETTE IT WOULD HAV BIN FORE US ALL AN I AM SORRE I DID NOT ALLTOGATHER ON MY ONW ACOUNT BUT MY CHILDREN AND MY PRAER EVERY DAY IS THAY SEK A RELGIOUS LIF AN FIND IT THERE IS NOTHEN IN A WORLDLEY LIFE I WOULD NOT SUFFER ONE OURE THE WAY I HAV TO SUFFE SOME TIME FOR A HOLE LIFE OF WHAT THAY CALL PLASURE THERE IS NOTHEN IN IT BUT DROSS MAY 28 I JUS GAT A LETTER FROM MOLLEY I WROTE TO CHARLEY AN I ROTE TO HIM AND TOLD HIM THAT WHEN I GAT TO ST LOUIS I WOULD TELLEGRAPH TO HIM WAT TRAIN I WULD BE ON AN NOW MOLLEY WANTS ME TO TELLEGRAPH TO HER SO THAY CAN MEAT ME SO IT LOOKS TO ME AS IF THAY WAS FITTEN TO SEE WHO WILL GIT ME AN I DONT LIKE THE WAY THINGS IS GOIN IF THERE IS MUCH RACKET I WON STAY LONG IF I AM ABEL TO GIT A WAY FOR I HAV HAD ALL THE HEL ON THIS EARTH I WANT DEAR IF WE DONT MEAT NO MORE ON THIS EARTH I HOPE WE MAY ALL BE ABEL TO MEAT IN HEAVEN WHERE THERE WILL BEE NO MORE PARTEN MAY 30 AINT STARTD YET BUT I HOPE THE LORD WILL SPARE MY LIFE AN I WILL GIT STARTED TO MORROW I GAT A LETTER YESTER FROM KITTEY THAT THAY WAS ALL WELL DEAR IF I SHOULD MEAT WITH A SEARIES AXIDENT WHICH I PRAY TO MY GOD I WONT BUT WE NEVER CAN TELL WHAT WILL HAPPEN AND IF ENEY THIG SHOUL HAPPEN GO FOR THE RAIL ROAD FOR ALL YOU CAN DEAR IF I LIVE GIT THE I WILL RITE OR HAV SUM ONE RITE AS SONE AS I GIT THERE AND IF MY GOD SEES FIT TO TAKE ME A WAY BEFRE I GIT TO RITE A GAIN I HOPE WE ALL MEAT IN HEAVEN TO PART NO MORE IS MY PRYR MY LOV TO ALL MY GOD GIDE AN WATC OVER YOU ALL W J J
DEAR JUST AS I CLOSED YOUR LETTER THE AFTER NOON MAIL CAME IN I HAD QITE A SURPRISE I GAT A LETTER FROM MOLLEY AND THERE WAS A TEN DOLLRS IN IT I DONT SE WHAT MAD HER SEND IT I DID NOT ASK FOR ENEY I ANSERD HER LETTER A SATTER DAY AND I TOLD HER I WOULD BE THER THIS WEEK IF I COULD GIT A HALF RAIT TICKET BUT IF I COUL NOT I WOULD WAIT TILL NEXT PAY DAY FOR I WAS A FRAID I WOULD NOT HAV MONNEY A NUF TO PAY FUILL FARE AN OTER EXPENSES SO I WILL STRT TO MORROW IF GOD SPARES MY LIFE AN I AM ABEL TO TRAVEL SO GOOD BEY FOR THIS TIME HOPEN WEE WILL ALL MEAT A GAIN ON THIS ERT A GAIN W J J
Nebraska Soldiers' and Sailors' Home
February 4, 1906?
Dear Maria and all the rest,
I thought I would start this letter and have it ready so if I got in a hurry, I could soon finish it up. I thought last week at this time that I would be in Aurora (Indiana) by now, but I got left. But I did not care much, for it has been raining everyday and night and I was afraid I would get caught in it, it has not rained very hard here, but some places they had quite a storm there. Two men were killed by lightening. One man was on the wagon, and his little boy was sitting on the seat with him, and it killed him and both horses and did not hurt the boy. And down just across the line in Kansas, there were three inches fell and raised some of the little streams out there of their bank[s]. There was one commenced to come in a house and the lady and daughter and son tried to get out and they all drowned. Now Dear, I don't like it a bit that Hattie and Molly don't hitch (get along together), but maybe I can get them reconciled after I get there. If I don't, I won't stay there long unless I can do like I did with Kitty and one of her neighbors. Last fall when I was there, they wanted to eat one another up alive and I kept talking to them to be friends again and I guess they are yet. I guess Kitty is mad at me for she did not answer it [my letter], and it has been some time. Just about a week before payday, she asked me to loan her five [dollars] and I wrote and told her I did not have it. Neither did I have it, and she wrote and said she wanted to see if I would let her have it, and she hasn't written since. And if she is mad at me, I am sorry, but I can't help it. For my God knows that I want to live in peace with everyone. Dear, I am trying to live as I should, and as I should have lived through my whole life. How much better it would have been for us all. And I am sorry I did not all together on my own account, but [for] my children. And my prayer everyday is they seek a religious life and find it. There is nothing in a worldly life. I would not suffer one hour the way I have to suffer sometimes for a whole life of what they call pleasure. There is nothing in it but dross.
May 28 – I just got a letter from Molly. I wrote to Charlie. And I wrote to him and told him that when I got to Saint Louis, I would telegraph to him what train I would be on. And now Molly wants me to telegraph to her so they can meet me. So it looks to me as if they are fighting to see who will get me. And I don't like the way things are going. If there is much racket, I won't stay long, if I am able to get away. For I have had all the hell on this earth I want. Dear, if we don't meet any more on this earth, I hope we may all be able to meet in Heaven where there will be no more parting.
May 30 – I haven't started yet, but I hope the Lord will spare my life. And I will get started tomorrow. I got a letter yesterday from Kitty that they were all well. Dear, if I should meet with a serious accident, which I pray to my God I won't, but we never can tell what will happen, and if anything should happen, go for the Railroad for all you can. Dear, If I live [to] get there, I will write or have someone write as soon as I get there. And if my God sees fit to take me away before before I get to write again, I hope we all meet in Heaven to part no more, is my prayer. My love to all. My God guide and watch over you all. W.J.J.
Dear, just as I closed your letter, the afternoon mail came in. I had quite a surprise. I got a letter from Molly and there was ten dollars in it. I don't see what made her send it. I did not ask for any. I answered her letter on Saturday and I told her I would be there this week if I could get a half rate ticket. But if I could not, I would wait until next payday because I was afraid I would not have money enough to pay full fare and other expenses. So I will start tomorrow. If God spares my life and I am able to travel. So goodbye for this time. Hoping we will all meet again on this earth again. W.J.J.
Letter from William J. Johnson to his wife Maria, July 1906
Contributor: kcapson Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
He typed the letter in all capitals. A modern "translation" follows.
JUNE 17 1906
I WILL TRY AN ANSER YOUO EVER WELCOM LEITERS I GAT ONE YESTER DAY AN WAS GLD TO HEAR YOU WAS ALL WELL AND I HOPE WHEN THIS COMES TO HAND IT WILL FIND YOU ALL IN JOY EN THE BEST OF GODS BLESSENS I AM A FEALEN A LITTLE BETTER IN SUM RESPECTS SINCE I CAME HERE THANK THE LOR I COMMENCED TOO GIT BETTER IN MY SU STUMMACK BEFOR I HAD BIN HERE THRE DAY WHEN I WAS AT THE HOME I HAD TO TAKE MEDISON EVREY FIFTEN MINUTES SUM DAYS AND THEN I HAD TOO SUFFER A GRATE DEAL NOW SUM DAYS I DONT TAKE ENEY FOR IT AND SUM DAYS I MABEY HAV TO TAKE TOO OR THREE DOSSES THE WORST TRUBEL IS WITH MY BOWELS AND THOS PAIN I HAV HAD TO SUFFE EVERY DAY SINCE I HAVE BIN HERE IT HAS RAIND OR BIN CLODDE AN AS LONG AS IT IS THAT WAY I WILL HAV TO SUFFER THE REST OF THE FOLKS IS AS WELL AS COMMEN DEAR I GAT A LETER FROM YOU ON JUNE THE 11 WITH $500 IN IT AND I TELL YOU I NEDED BAD FOR IT TOOK ALL MY MONEY TO PAY WAY HERE NO I HAVE TO DEPEND ON WHAT MOLLEY AND GEORG CAN SPAR ME AND THT CANT BE VAREY MUCH FOR THAY HAV GAT NO INCOME ONLY WHAT GEORGE MAKES 6 OR 7 A WEAK AND THAY HAV HOUSE RENT TO PAY AND EVER THING TO BEY TO LIV ON DEAR I TELL YO IT LOOK HARD FOR THEM TO HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF ME BUT MOLLEY WOULD NOT CONSENT FOR ME TOO GO BACK TO THE HOME A GAIN SHEE SAIS THAT SHE WOULD TAKE IN WASHIN FIRST I WISH NOW THAT I HAD WAITED TILL NEXT PAYDAY BEFORE I COME I WOULD HAV HAD SUM EXTREY MONNEY TO WENT ON TO PAYD SUM OF MY EXPENCS AND BAUGH MY MEDISON WITH NOW DEAR I AM GOEN TELL YOU SUMTHING AND I DON'T WANT YOU TO LET ON TO HATTEY RITE TOO HER JUST AS YO IF YOU HAD NOT HEARD ENEY THING I WANT TO SE WHAT SHE WILL DOO YOU KNOW HOW CHARLEY AND SHEE ROTE AND WHAT GRAT THING THAY WAS GOEN TO DOO BUT THERE WAS NOTHEN BUT WIND THAY WONT DOO ENEY THING I TRIED TO GIT CHARLEY TO SHAVE ME ANN I OFERD TO PAY HIM HE PROMISED TO AND THAT WAS THE LAST OF IT FOM WHAT I CAN FIND OUT SHE IN ENTENDEDEED TO GIT ME HERE AND GIT THAT TWENTEY FOURE A MONT TO KEEP US THAT DRUKEN SUN AND HER SON AN LAW AN NETHER OF THEM IS WORTH THE PODDER TO BLOW THEM UP SHE MAID HER BRAGS THAT SHE WOULD GIT THE 24 A MONTH THEN SHE WOULD NOT HAV TO WORK OUT AND SHE WENT SO FARE AS TO SE A MAN TO SE IF I COULD NOT TAKE YOUR HALF A WAY FROM YOU AND I HAD NOT BIN HERE A OURE WHEN SHE TACKEL ME A BOUT IT AND WANTE ME TOO DO IT I TOLED HER NOT ON HE LIFE WOULD I DO IT THA I CONSENTE FOR YOU TO HAV IT AND I WAS WILL FOR YOU TO HAV IT AND THA I WOULD RATHER DEY IN THE DICH THEN TO TAKE IT A WAY AND PORE MOLLEY SPOK AN SAID THAT RIGH THT SHOE THE DIFRENCE IN TH TOO I DON KNO WHAT I WOUL HAV DON IF IT HAD NOT BIN FOR MOLLE AND GEORGE WHEN I LANDED HERE BUSTED FOR I COULD NOT STAND IT AT HATTEYS I WOULD RATHER DEY IN THE DITCH BUT I KNOW AS LONS LON AS M&G HAS A CRUST I HAV HALF TELL FRANK I AM A BLIGE FOR THAT MONEY I HOPE TO BE ABEL TO PAY IT BACK I DONT NOW WHAT TO DO FOR MONEY TO BEY MEDISO IT SO HIE LOV TO ALL AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL WILL RITE MORE NEXT TIME W J J
June 17, 1906
I will try and answer you very welcome letters. I got one yesterday and was glad to hear you are all well and hope when this comes to hand (you get this letter), it will find you all enjoying the best of God's blessings. I am feeling a little better in some respects since I came here. Thank the Lord. I commenced to get better in my sour stomach before I had been here three days. When I was at the home, I had to take medicine every fifteen minutes some days. And then I had to suffer a great deal. Now, some days I don't take any [medicine] for it, and some days I maybe have to take two or three doses. The worst trouble is with my bowels and this pain I have had to suffer. Everyday since I have been here it has rained or been cloudy. As long as it is that way I will have to suffer. The rest of the folks are as well as common. Dear, I got a letter from you on June the 11th with $500 in it and I tell you I needed [it] badly, for it took all my money to pay [my] way here. Now I have to depend on what Molly and George can spare me. And that can't be very much, for they have no income. Only what George makes, six or seven [dollars] a week. And they have house rent to pay and everything to buy to live on. Dear, I tell you it looks hard for them to have to take care of me, but Molly would not consent for me to go back to the home again. She says that she would take in washing first. I wish now that I had waited until next payday before I came. I would have had some extra money to go on [and] to pay some of my expenses and buy my medicine with. Now Dear, I am going [to] tell you something and I don't want you to let on to Hattie. Write to her just as if you had not heard anything. I want to see what she will do. You know how Charlie and she wrote and what great thing they were going to do, but there was nothing but wind. They won't do anything. I tried to get Charlie to shave me and I offered to pay him. He promised to, and that was the last of it. From what I can find out, she intended to get me here and get that twenty-four a month to keep us. That drunken son and her son-in-law and neither of them is worth the powder to blow them up. She made her brags that she would get the $24 a month, then she would not have to work out (outside the home). And she went so far as to see a man, to see if I could not take your half away from you. And I had not been here an hour when she tackled me about it and wanted me to do it. I told her, not on her life would I do it. That I consented for you to have it. And I wanted for you to have it and that I would rather die in the ditch than take it away. And poor Molly spoke and said that's right. Shows the difference in them too. I don't know what I would have done if it had not been for Molly and George when I landed here busted (broke), for I could not stand it at Hattie's. I would rather die in the ditch, but I know as long as M&G have a crust, I have half. Tell Frank I am obliged for that money. I hope to be able to pay it back. I don't know what to do for money to buy medicine, it's so high. Love to all and may God bless you all. Will write more next time. W.J.J.