Last winter I visited one of our Gailey cousins, Eva Louise (Fry) Stork, and she was kind enough to let me look through her family folders for any information that I might not have in my records. After looking through countless articles I came across a folder labled "Tuder Letters". Could it really be? Could this folder contain letters from our Tuder ancestors back home, describing their hardships, what their life was like? Surely they are not the letters I had come to the realization that just didn't make it out of that era? To my surprise, what I found in that folder covered all of the above and then some. I found the folder to contain six letters ranging from the late 1870s to the early 1900's from each of the three Tuder brothers, N.F.M., W.H., and J.E.D., who were brothers of J.W. Gailey's mother Permelia Jane Tuder.
To set the stage the Tuder family migrated to Texas from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in the mid to late 1850s. The patriarch of the family was William Tuder, the father of Permelia Jane, Nicholas Francis Marion (NFM), William Henry, James Edward Daniel, and Rosannah Millianna. Along with them was William's second wife Sarah (who was the mother to Rosannah), Sarah's son Etson Campbell from her late husband, and Permelia's new husband Asa Lomax Gailey (whom she met along the way). William's first wife was Jemima Brown and based on new findings in the letters, she may have actually died after the family left Kentucky.
When the family left Kentucky, William's parents (William and Permelia) were still very much alive along with roughly 8 siblings. William was the oldest, and his closest in age brother was Hezekiah, who was four years younger. Hezekiah who stayed in Muhlenberg County was the recipient of the mentioned "Tuder Letters".
A lady by the name of Willa Dean Noffsinger, a descendant of Hezekiah, discovered the letters from Texas when going through an old cabinet years ago. Sometime in the 1970s or 1980s one of the early Gailey historians (either Edna Smith Fry or Zina Gailey Betsill) made contact with Mrs. Noffsinger and she was gracious enough to share copies of the letters.
I will share the oldest letter first and share the other letters in subsequent parts. From reading the letters we know there was prior communication between the Texas Tuders and their Kentucky relatives. While there is no date on this first letter, it can be derived that it was written around 1874-76 based on a couple of clues in the letter. This would have been within the first five years of the family living in Eastland County, Texas, after their ten year stay in Bell County. Below is my transcription of the letter complete with all of its misspellings. Being that the letter has a couple of illegible words I tried my best to fill in the blanks. The underlined words are left to be determined. The actual letter will appear below the transcription.
Address W.H. Tuder of
I forgot to tell you what killed mother, it was the measels. She all ways said if she ever got them they would kill her. Rosannah has got them now Permealia Jayne's oldest daughter has them and I am losing every day when I will take them. There is three families of us, 14 in all and three out of the 14 that has had them. We are looking for all to be down with them. I don't expect that Father will be there soon for he continues ill nor gets well, as a _______ in some way. We have a late spring cold weather is lastin well, I will close again,
We learn in a later letter that Hezekiah likely asked William to return to Kentucky to help settle his share of their father's estate.
More letters are coming soon. Check back for The Tuder Letters Part 2.