I search the Internet all the time for information about my ancestors. For months, there will be nothing new and I will believe that I have all that there is to find. And then something new will show up. Jerry did a Google search for “James and Isabella Wood” and that search found a newly created website called “Heart of Texas Tales“. This website is a project done by the Ft. Graham Chapter, Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (of which I am a member!). The ladies who built this website received an email after its launch from a man in Scotland who asked if they would be interested in a letter, written in 1851, from someone at Ft. Graham. They published the letter on the site as it documents the Wood and Park families’ journey from Scotland to Ft. Graham as told by Isabella Wood. Enjoy!
This is a transcription of the letter. The word “Copy” is on the original letter. Evidently, the recipients made copies to share with their family members or in order to preserve the letter. This is not in Isabella’s hand. For a PDF of the original letter, click here.
Mrs. Wood’s Letter
Received Oct. 1851
Sent away an answer to Mrs. Wood Letter on the 27 Oct 1851
Copy Mrs. Wood’s Letter
Ft. Grame Texas
America 1st Sept 1851
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
No doubt it will alarm you My writing in place of Mrs. Park, your daughter who died on the 15 June at a Mr. Lamb’s in Leon county on their way up the country 30 miles from the place where I was taken sick and three of my family. They thought me dying. Mr. Woods stopped with us in the house of a Mr. Marshall. Christina my fourth daughter died on the 8 June, aged 14 years of congestive fever and fifth day after leaving the company. Those that was well went on with the wagons indeed none of mine was free of sickness, two died afterwards, James aged 20 months died 13 June in the wagon as we went through a prairie 40 miles long and no house near, he was buried beside a little creek among a few trees. Martha aged 12 and Janet 6 was so sick they could not follow him to his grave. Martha got to Fort Grame and died on the 16, 24 hours after she got there about 6 miles from our place beside a good doctor but past his aid. She knew nothing for 3 days. They were left in a house in a strange country among strangers, they had the greatest of kindness shown them, everything was brought for their comfort, respectable grave clothes free of all expense. They were weeks from the time they left.
We stayed ten weeks in Mr. Marshall’s and ten days on our way. Mrs Park wrote you from New Orleans. We had 3 days voyage to Galveston. The cabin boy fell from the upper story of the boat and sunk to rise no more. Mrs. Park was washing the children’s faces when he passed and lamented she had nothing to through (throw) in his way to save him. Chairs was thrown over but the currant from the paddle wheel carried him away. Then three days at Galveston all in an Inn at half a dollar a head 31 in a company. Mrs. Park and us had a large washing of dirty clothes. My two eldest girls took sick with the heat. Her and me held on. Joking I said the old wives are better pile than the young girls. We knew nothing of sickness.
Our direction was by Houston. A boat went two days earlier up the Trinity the company 31 in number all agreed to that. We should have 150 miles by land travel. Captain MacKenzie and a Mr. Ballantyne managers for the company came to meet us at Galveston and having business at Houston, MacKenzie and Major Holme went to Houston and brought their horses and hired wagons up the country they would get cheaper than we could at Navarro where we should land and Ballentyne was with us and stayed till they came. The river had fallen so much we were landed at Mores Bluff 15 miles down.
A young man from England died going up river from drinking too much liquor at New Orleans one of our company. We camped beside mr. More. They were 10 days before they came. We were all so tired stopping the wagons did not come for 4 days more. We were two weeks drinking muddy water from the river in a low place beside the wood. We had good washing waster at a pond with a pot and tubs we washed every change as it came off. We had only one change out of the chests they were so blocked up among the luggage on an wagons to have more. >>>>> >>>>> troublesome. The first week the men went a shooting and fishing. Mr. Park shot a chawcoon?. The farmers came to ask them to hoe cotton and at half a dollar a day their meat and bed. W. park, John Paterson and Mr Barran, went to work at two houses four days. The English men only stayed 1 day the work was too hard for them. They breakfast at 6 work to 11 then rest in the shade to 3. Stop at 6. W. Park never bought easier work since he could work he was sorry he did not know of the place sooner. Mr. Halley was sorry at them leaving so soon. I always say that we got all our sickness stopping there. I and two of my daughters was two days sick before we left. W. Park got sick the night before. Mrs. Park said she had a good health as ever only for that finger she would say; it was hurt by a fish bone when helping to clean fish. The finger was the little one on the left hand. It kept her from many a nights rest that and a broken heart was the cause of her death.
We had some medicine the morning we started. I was much better and remarked to Mrs. Park how good in such a hurry and it would be a blessing if God was pleased to spare us all to our journeys end.
There were 5 waggons 4 with luggage and 1 for the women and children. The men travelled. N? W? Park sat on a wagon he could not walk. There were 4 & 5 yoke of oxen in some of them and such oaths at these oxen I never heard. We all go on till the third day. Mr. _______ a stone builder from London stopped at Mr. Lusks, got work he had not money to go farther. He drank all he could get. His wife and her sister, a little girl died in two weeks only one little boy left with him. I was taken to Mr. Marshall’s that night the family all came next morning to see me some of them lay down with me sick, the wagon stopped all day expecting some more fit to go next day. Mrs. Park and family stayed with us, next day (Friday) they went away leaving me and >>>>> of my family and Mr Wood who after got sick. Mrs. Park was in better spirits saying W was much better and she was well but the finger and would make my girls all the help she could with little James who after died. Hoping she would soon see me again. My mouth and teeth was black and they all cried in the wagon they never expected to see me more. Then all got on till Monday a day to Mr. Lambs when N Park and family was left he could not go further he was so weak, and died on Thursday 12. Mrs. Lamb told me he could speak till about ¼ of an hour before he died. Mrs. Park fell back fell back and said she was like Ruth in a strange land among a strange people. They carried her to bed. She called the children to her and made them repeat some hymns. They buried him on Friday. She spoke a little and of writing to you but she could not compse her mind. She told them of our kindness to them and of ten soverigns they got from us at Galveston and of their engagement and said she would go with us and do anything she could.
Saturday, Mrs. Lamb went to wash some clothes for herself and Mrs. Park that were required upon William and left her sitting singing a him to little William to make him sleep. One came calling that Mrs. Park had fallen. They carried her to bed. She never moved till Monday Morning. They were ordered to bathe her head with cold water. They kept bathing all night. In the morning she spoke and looked better. Mrs. Lamb went to her at breakfast. Said what do you want to eat? She looked and said she wanted water. She brought water and lifted her head to drink. Mrs Park had told Mrs. Lamb to call her Fanny after Wm died and she now looked surprised to hear one say Fanny in a strange place. At evening she appeared worse and never spoke more. She died on Tuesday night.
The children said little at their father’s death but they all fell on their mother and cried wonderfully. Mrs. Lamb has seven children of her own. An no Servant for no girls serve but blacks and many choose to have none. A Mrs. McAdam and Mrs. Ridgeway waited much on them in their sickness took away the children. Mrs. Ridgeway got Wm in her arm and David behind and rode away 5 miles after their mother’s funeral. Mrs. McCallum sister to Mrs. Lamb got Arch and Lillias. They are near neighbors. I expected to take them all when we got up thinking it my duty to do so coming from one place. I hear of Williams nurse saying “if I took Wm from her I might as well take her life”, she would not part with him. Mr Barrow from England who came on the voyage with us and was with us all the time 6 weeks after the deaths came down the country to see us and all the sick folks that was left by the way. He asked Arch and Lilly if he might take them with him it would save a little expense by the time we were able to go up. I thought it my duty to take them but so long as we were near them I could look after them and take charge of the chests. They were so dirty with the dust my daughters would not let them go away. I expected to bring David with me. I saw them all at Mr. Lamb’s. She said she was afraid of me taking Wm, but go to how I could not take him. She got him when no was to look to him and sat with him in sickness. I expected to take David with us but he would not go, they would rather keep him as part with him they have only one little girl such as David. She cried when we had come for the two boys and said we would take her two little brothers. I told them I would write you, if you were willing to let them stay I should not take them from them. I was to say they should be well used everyone I have inquired at say so. Lilly cried all day after Mr. Barron came for them. Arch Kicked and scolded Mr. McCallum was sorry to see them go away. They were so attached to them. He wished them back. Their luggage is with ours. I intend to keep them also and will look after David and William. I expect he knew me. He came in my arms but held out his little hand to “Ma” and “Pa” as they are teached to call them. Not to trouble them way Mr. and Mrs. Ridgeway. He made Mr. and Mrs. Park’s coffins and charged nothing for his trouble. I wish you and the friends to say what you think best to be done with the children and write us as soon as convenient and direct “Mr Wood near Fort Grame Texas America”. We expect to stop here till the season coll before we go to our land. We are near the doctor and market. We have fresh meat twice a week at 2 ½ cents a pound. We have a comfortable cabin good water few have the like this summer here. We have not seen any rain to count or since we came. The grass is quite burned up and not a vegetable to be seen. The sun has a burning heat it is cool in the morning and evening you will burn your head and feet to go uncovered in the sun. There is not a day but some one is sick or has a chill and will be so till climated. We have the privilege of milking a few cows which is very useful to us. The county is rich and good. It is a great change. The manners and ______ are entirely different. We must not look on anything but difficulties in the first year. Has been the will of God to spared us all but he doethe all things for good. They are all gone from the evil to come. Let us say with Job “He giveth and he taketh away and blessed be the name of the Lord.” Hoping you are enjoying the blessing of good health.
Mr. and Mrs. Wood