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1870s Letters from J. C. Bartlett
Joseph Callaway Bartlett came to Texas in 1831 as a seventeen-year-old young man and after the Battle of San Jacinto served in the Army of the Texas Republic for three months. In his sixties, living in Navarro County, Texas and widowed for a second time, he wrote to Gen. Robertson (probably Gen. Jerome Bonaparte Robertson) and Moses Austin Bryan (who was a nephew of Stephen F. Austin, "Father of Texas," and who seemed not to remember his correspondent) about military service in the days of the Republic of Texas, land values, grasshoppers, his slim pocketbook, and other matters. The originals of these letters are in a folder marked "J. C. Bartlett 1873-76" in box 2H118, Texas Veterans' Association Papers, A-Fn, at the Center for American History, University of Texas, Austin. Spelling and punctuation are as in the originals.
May the 9th 1873
My Dear old Friend it is impossible for me to attend the meeting of the old Veterans of Texas at their present meeting. My pecuniary circumstances will not admit it. I would Like verry much to be there at this time to injoy the company of the Soldiers of '36. Perhaps it may be the last opportunity offered to me, It will dubtless be to some of us, as we are gradually passing away and in a few more years at most we all will have gone to that Country from whose Bourn no Traveler has Returned, The places that know us now will know no more forever, If we are not permitted again to meet on Earth I hope that we may so Live that we may all meet in that House not made with hands Eternal in the Heavens, Is the sincere Prayer of an old Soldier of '36.
You want to know of thos that can not attend the meeting the date of their arrival in Texas, I crossed Red River at what was then known as Dooly's Ferry in December 1831 and arived on the Brassos [the Brazos River] in May 1832 Where my Father settled three miles east of Chappell Hill, It may seem strang to you that I should have been here so Long and not be able to attend the meeting but it is never the Less true, And it is hard after suffering all the hardships incident to the setting a new country and contributing my services in Wresting this country from Mexico and the Indians that this should be the [p. 2] case but it is even so, You may think it strang that in all this Beautifull country, the Land that I helped to Redeem from Mexico and the Indians and made it a fit abode for civilization, This Land of my home for 42 years, The Land That I expect to die in and be Buried in, not one foot of it belongs to me.
Farewell Each and every one of you. I would Love to take each of you by the Hand and give it an old fassioned shake, you must take the will for the act, May God take all of you into his holy Keeping is the furvent Prayr of an old Soldier of '36,
J. C. Bartlett
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Rice Texas Apr. 3d /74
M. A. Bryan
Dear old Friend I saw your circular in the Galveston News of Apr. the 2nd addressed to the Veterans of Texas pleas send me a certificate that will enable me to avail myself of a free pass on the Rail Way to Houston, I was debared the great pleasure of meeting the old veterans at their Last Meeting on account of inibility to pay my fare, I am verry poor, You know that I have been in Texas a Long time but that is no evidence that I am Rich, I would be verry proud to meet you all once more on this side the Pearly River.
(Long years have passe old friend since we First met in Lifes young day And Friends Long Loved by the and me Since then have passed away)
J. C. Bartlett
Rice Texas Apr. the 11 /74
M. A. Bryan
Dear old Friend
Yours of the 8th is at hand and contents duly notice you seem to be at a Loss to Know which one of the Bartletts I am. I am a son of Jesse Bartlett, You will know me now. We [were?] together a good deal in the fall of 32 in old San Felipe during the time that Father was Building a Livery Stable for John Rice Jones. We have not met verry often since then. We met at Corsicana in June 72 at the first temporary organization of the old Texas Veteran Assasiation, You want me to hive the names of any old veterans that I may Know There is G. W.Shelton of Corsicana David McCanlis of Dresden Navarro County and Thos Ponder of Dresden and B. L. Hearn and Joseph Boren of Ellis County, Ennis is their P.O. Our old friend Js. Clayton is dead he was Killed last summer by a Threshing Machine, In Regard to your Lands in this neighborhood I think it would be hard to sell at any price for cash at this time although there is Lands selling in the same neighborhood at 3 to 5 dollars per acre in trade and on time. I think you had better come up and se it. I think if [three unintelligible words] it you would Like [two unintelligible words] enough to settle on it The country around it setting up [page 2] rapidly, with Regard to the Branch Road I have heard nothing said about it for some time past. I think if it is ever built it will be some time in the future, Must I write my name in the certificate myself, ask Gen [J.?] B Robertson who Js Bartlett is he can tell you, he was my colonel, and I was his captain in the Archiv War, farewell untill we meet in Houston on the 21st of May.
Yours Fraternally J. C. Bartlett
March the 6th 1876
M. Austin Bryan
Dear old Friend Again the silent wheels of time thier anual Rounds hath scriven and brought back the ever memorable 6th day of March The aniversity of the fall of the Alamo the darkest hours that Texas ever saw. The sun of Liberty sank verry Low almost disappeared below the horizon But it Rose on the Plaines of Sanjacinto with such [unintelligible word] that it illinated the World, and placed Texas valor on the Highest pinacle of Fame. I have not met a Veteran since our Last Reunion They are scarce in this part of the country. [page 2] I want you to write to me and Let me Know where our next Reunion will be and what arrangement has been made with the Rail Road if any for our conveyance The 21st day of April I think was the day agreed upon for our next meeting. I Look forward to our Reunion with feelings of delight. It will be so pleasent to meet and talk over the scenes of Forty years ago almost half a century, What a change. The Rivers. The Hills. The Plains. are the same. but all els have changed, This Leaves all well Farewell and may the Blessings of Heaven Rest upon you and your is the Prayer of your friend, J. C. Bartlett.
[Page 3] Adress J. C. Bartlett Rice Texas
Rice Texas March the 14th /77
Mr. M. A. Bryan
Dear old friend Pleas let me know where the Texas Veterans will hold thier meeting this spring. by so doing you will much oblige your old friend I have not seen any of the veterans for a Long time There is verry few of them in this part of the country I Recieved a Letter with a Centenial ticket from you Last June but did not go My Financial condition would not admit of it. I answered your Letter at the time and enclosed one dollar in it. I presume you never Recieved it. as I got no answer from you, no news in this part of the country save Grass Hoppers. We have enough of them, Pleas write soon and oblige your old friend and another Veteran J.C. Bartlett
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