Monday, July 8, 2013

The Tuder Letters - Part Two

In continuing the series on the "Tuder Letters" we will look at another undated letter from  the Texas Tuders back home to Kentucky. This one, like the first one shared, is from  William Henry (W.H.) Tuder (son of William and brother to Permelia Jane (Tuder) Gailey Smith) to his uncle Hezekiah Tuder.
In an attempt to date this letter we know that it had to be prior to W.H. Tuder's death in 1910 and after 1880, the time period that Strawn was established. Mr. Tuder mentions a horrible drought in his letter, which gives us big clue. The Handbook of Texas website says this about the drought... "One of the worst droughts in Texas history occurred in 1884–86, causing most of the farmers to fail and to return to the East."  That statement coincides with statements made in the letter. There is also mention of a new Texas silver mining operation, which would match the 1884 opening of the big Shafter Silver Mine in Presidio County. With those clues in mind plus a few others, this letter was likely written in mid 1885.

The following is a transcript of the letter complete with spelling/grammar errors. The underlined spaces were illegible.
Palo Pinto Co
Mr. H. Tuder. Dear Uncle I take the present opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know the present circumstances of west Texas. We have had a terable drought in this country covering fifty-two counties which is now calling for help.

There are many families that is out of bread now and others nearly out and very few have enough to do until Christmas and all or nearly all in debt. I have 3 bushels of corn, 8 bushels of wheat, and about 70 lbs of bacon and the hogs are starving for something to eat. It has been 13 or 14 months and it is dry from here to Arizona and the southern and eastern portions of the state. Portions of the same are short consequently they will be bound to suffer if not assisted in some way.

I am $75.00 dollars in debt all due now and this fall and not a dollar to pay with and we can not sell anything for money does not pay debts with it for stock will all die thats if it dos not rain soon.

The people have crowded the eastern portion of this state and are begging for work for bread for their families. Two years ago stock cattle was _______  but now they can be baught for $3.00 cows and calves for $6.00. Men are offering their stock for this and cannot get it. I haven you the facts of the worst of it. I will give you the ruhmors of the other. The governor says he will help us and there is and excitement about mineral gold and silver bing found in Texas. I reckon there is no doubt about the silver being in paying quantities.

I will have to close my letter for my neighbor is waiting on me to take to town so write soon and tell me all about your country.

Your nephew until death.
W.H. Tuder

This letter was among several uncovered by Hezekiah Tuder's granddaughter Willa Dean Noffsinger, who still lives near the old Tuder land in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. A special thank you goes to Mrs. Noffsinger and her generosity in sharing these letters.