I’ve continued to transcribe the correspondence of sisters-in law Ocie Williams and Dora McBride, which documents our great grandparents’ (challenging) migration from Arkansas to Texas in the 1890s. (1) The invented spelling evident in the first post prompted family discussion about formal schooling in that era, making the thoughts expressed in the third letter particularly interesting.
There are several mysteries: who was Bular? and who is Lonie/Lonnie and what was her “caper”?
Here’s a review of the family in which these letters were exchanged:
1-Jesse G. Williams (about 1837-25 October 1864)
+Christian Johnson (about 1837-17 July 1873)
. . . . . . 2-Elllison Williams (about 1857-1863)
. . . . . . 2-Amanda Williams (about 1859-22 September 1892) m. William H. Smith
. . . . . . 2-Henry Gravill Williams (25 January 1861-11 February 1891)
. . . . . . 2-Jesse D. Williams (27 January 1863-2 April 1949) m. Ocie Ola Manning,
parents of Jesse C. Williams
. . . . . . 2-Dora Williams (12 April 1865-15 February 1956) m. Charles McBride
Genoa Ark. Oct. 4, 1895
Dear sister and family
I recd. you kind letter some time ago was glad to hear from you but o how sorry to hear of Bular’s death let us not weep as those who have no hope your loss is her eternal gain let us strive more faithfull to gain that bright world. now that another loved one has gone heaven will seem nearer and dearer than ever before. It is not all of life to live nor all of death to die but let us strive to gain a mansion in the sky.
Ah! There will [be] a happy meeting one of these days we know not how soon or how late it will be but let us hope and pray to be ready when the master calls.
life is short and are all passing away we know not who will be called next but what we want is to always be ready and waiting to go when called. O I do want go there to meet the loved ones gone before and be with our blessed savior and sing praise around his throne. I will close we are all well we may be over there soon I hope you are all well.
from your sister Ocie
Mrs. Dora McBride.
Dear sister & family, I will write you a few lins in answer to yours recd. sometime ago. I would have wrote before now but thought we would have been over there before now but we have been so buisy of late we could not get off. But we will come soon I want to see you all once more before we go to Texas Mr. W_____ will try to get off in Feb. he has sold most of his hogs has the mule & colt to sell yet has got 32 head of cattle and wants as meny more. I went to town Sat. stayed all night with Suidie and went to Bobby Williams Sunday for dinner the first time I have stayed all night any where since I was at your house had a right plesent time of it. Ma is no better getting worse all the time. She looks so bad you would hardly know her the rest are all well except colds. I had heard of Lonie’s caper it seems that she didn’t like married life as well as she thought she would. I will close hopeing to see you soon. Ocie
[Suidie and Bobby are most likely Susan and Robert E. Lee Williams, first cousins of Jesse D. and Dora, and children of their paternal uncle, James M. Williams.]
Water Valley Texas July the 28th 1896
Mrs. Dora McBride
Dear sister & family I will try & write to you again I got a letter from you of the 30th of June. I had written you one the 28th and I waited thinking you would answer but you have not yet so I will write again. I am sorry I caused you so much uneasyness through my carelessness in not writeing I will try and be more punctual in the futer and hope we will keep our letters strate.
we had rain the 10, 11, 12 of this month is the last we have had our crop is looking very well and we think we will make 4 or 5 bales of cotton yet if we can have rain in Augest we need rain now the ground is getting very dry again I would have written sooner but we have had protracted meeting going on and been buisey all the time for two weeks. We had a good meeting 15 converts I enjoyed the meeting very much. I will close this leaves us all well exceped the baby [our grandfather, Jesse C. Williams] he is cutting teeth and is not verry well he is walking now could walk verry well before he was a year old.
Write soon and all the news to your sister and family. Ocie Williams
Tom Green Co
Texas May 6/96
Dear sister & family I will try and answer your kind letter I recd. sometime ago was glad to hear from you. we are all well and getting along very well. We had a rain the 11 of April. Mr W_____ has his cotton planted some sorgam [sorghum?] and miller maze cotton is up but not a good stand yet. It is needing rain again. The ground is so hard now he can’t plow until we have more rain the wind blows so it soon drys the ground. I have planted me a little garden but I don’t think I will get much good of it the rabbits are so bad they will eat up all that they will eat at all and I can’t fence them out this year I bough a dozen hens I going to try what luck I can with chickens the people say the wolfs and wild cats are bad after the chickens here I haven’t much courage to get meny thought I would begin a few. We had a storm with the rain we had I thought for a few minutes our little house would blow over. One house blew down at Water Valley but no one hurt. A house blew down at Serling City about 20 miles west of here and killed one lady blew her out of the house and part of the house fell on her and killed her instently. She had her baby in her arms and it did not get hurt. Mr. W_____ has traded off all his cattle except 4 milk cows. Traded for mares and young mules 19 head in all. If he don’t sell them here he will take them to Texarkana about the first of Dec. and trade them unless he decides to keep them. Where is Lonnie is she at home? Tell her write to me I would like to hear how her and sweet is getting on by this time. Tell Mr. Smith [Amanda Williams’ widower] to hurry and get that house keeper and let Jessie [Amanda’s thirteen year old daughter] come here I could keep her in school eight months in the year here. She will be grown before she gets any schooling. I think about her often It is such a pity to keep her there without any instruction. Write soon with all the news. Ocie Williams ————————————————————————
(1) Transcription of McBride-Williams Correspondence, 1890-1934; privately held by Tom D Ellison in the Julia Mae Jenkins Collection, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Sierra Blanca, Texas; scanned by Malissa Ruffner, 6 October 2010, transcribed on 10-13 February 2011.