Feb 7, 1874
Mr A.G. Lafferty
Dear Son Your kind letter of 7 of June has come safely to hand and you may be assured that it brought very serious thoughts to my mind. to one more time look upon the handwriting of an absent son separated from me for 24 years (1)– what desolation has time brought in that time your letter finds me as well as could be expected for a man of my age
I have lately received two letters from your brother Burwell both came there in 15 days they gave a sad account of your connection that you left in the country. They state that them two is all that is left of all the connection all dead and gone- Dow, Martha, Jane, Matilda, Elvy (2), Sarah, Lauisa and Francis.
Burwell is married and has 3 children and two dead- Margaret is married and has 4 children they both live in Izard County Pineville Izard County Arkansas is their address, they write to me that they are all coming to Texas next fall- (3)
your Uncle Binks and wife have long since been dead-
your Uncle Henderson has been dead about 4 years and his daughter Leusenda also,
i am living here all alone about 2 degrees south of New Orleans right by the bay where steam ships are arriving every day in the year –
about the first of the year I got in a fight with a man on my old place on White River and pretty well used him up so that together with my other troubles brought me to Texas I left Burwell all the farming tools three negros and the old farm on White River, the fight I got into was of such nature that I could not very well stay there without having to kill someone else–I tried hard to get the family to come with me to Texas but with all to no purpose so after remaining there about two years after the fight I pulled up my stakes and on the 9th day of January 1855 (4) I set out for the land of bloodshed and strife and when I got here I felt ruined and disappointed and reckless-lived a wandering life had no friends did not try to get nor make a friend of no man- my rifle gun sixshooter and bowie knife was all the companions I wanted—
In 59 near the Rio Grand I fell in with a party of Comanchie Indians and got robbed of everything I had and was wounded so bad that I was cripple for 3 years and six months-I have the arrow spike that I carried all the time in my body yet and intend to keep it for an inheritance for those that come after me-
all western Texas is a healthy country but not much of a farming country the time has been when a man could live very ease here but not so now they have legislated the country into a hard fix though after all I think it is about the best country that I know of there is such variety of soil and climate that a man can pick almost any sort of place he may want either on the mountains or the bay,
Dear son I am so old that my hand trembles and I so get tired you will excuse my imperfections- I see by your letter that you are the father of 4 dear little children now my son you will realise what anxiety toil and sorrow by day and night a father goes through bringing up his children- the debt that a child owes his parents he can never repay – only to his children- as for my part I can say with a clear conscionse that my children was the great object that I wanted to live for and dreaded to die for–separate and apart from them the world holds but few charms for me consequently I look upon the whole toil and labor of life as being spent in vain as far as I am concerned, so we must look for a better world that this for our reward.
Dear son write to me as long as I live-if I could give you a history of my life in this strange country it would be a large volume-I did not hear from Burwell nor none of my people for 12 years until lately so my son farewell for the present I am still your affectionate father now as when I use to rock you on my lap when a little boy. No more at present but remain your aged father until death.
Lorenzo D. Lafferty
Abney states that he first met Lafferty in 1869. It’s not known when he started to work on the book, but it was likely well in the works by the time of this letter, if it was to be published in 1875.
- This leads to a presumption that L.D. saw Albert about 1850, perhaps just after his son mustered out of the military after the Mexican War.
- Daughter Elvira, not wife.
- Daughter Margaret married Dr. Charles E. Benbrook. On the 1870 Arkansas census, they are in Union, Izard County and they are still in this location in 1880. Margaret dies in 1882 in Arkansas and Dr. Benbrook goes on to marry 4 more times. They did not move to Texas, although they may have come for a visit.
- This presumes that “the fight” occurred early in 1853, according to L.D.’s arithmetic.
- If L.D. has not heard from Burwell “nor none of my people” for 12 years, this presumes that he last had communication with them in 1862.