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William Masterson, Making a Living (Part V)

Later in November of 1891 William wrote again, thanking his sister for the picture of herself she had sent. He could not return the favor, because there was no photographer "in this little town."

"This part of the country is very rough nothing but hills and wood. It is not as nice a country as [Illinois]. . . .Well Ida I would like to see you the best kind and when I am 21 I am coming to see you if I have to work night and day to do it. I am going to see Mr. Stocklaufer next fall If I can, but I don't care whether I ever see her or not."

One way that William could make money was trapping and selling furs and oils from the animals he trapped.

"If I have good luck I can make about $15 ever month between now and spring(.) I can catch skunks raccoons opossums mink and ground hogs but I can't work at that in day(.) I will have to spend one of two hours at night to look at my traps and about that long in the morning to set them. I can get from .40 to 80 cents for skunk hides and from 60 to 80 for coons and 75 to $1 for minks and I will tan the ground hogs(.) I can get $1 a pint for skunk oil and 50cts for gal of coon oil(.) The skunk oil is used for medicine purposes(.)"

William was becoming quite the entrepreneur!

William wrote again February 6, 1892. Although he had been working very hard chopping wood all day, immediately after he received his sister's letter he replied. He wanted to share that he had a sweetheart! He was taking her to a dance that evening. Although he had this happy news to share, soon enough his thoughts turned to the past.

"Ida do you ever see mother and do you remember the time you come to the Asylum and how I cried when you left(?) If they ever try to manage me again I would die shotting (sic).You don't know how the poor children were treated when they done wrong(.)"

But then he turned to other thoughts to entertain his sister:

"Well Ida if you seen me in my trapping and hunting outfit you would not know your brother(.) Imadgin (sic) you see a 16 year old lad clad in bucskin (sic) pants a gun on his shoulder a revolver on each side of his belt and a broad rim whit (sic) hat on 5 or 6 furs on his back(.)"

February 17, 1892: As William grew older he continued to resent his situation:

"When you wrote me how long father has been dead I felt bad to think how bad I have benn done when I was so small(.) Mother will regret it someday(.) I think she ought to be ashamed of herself the way she treated us but we need not care now(.) . . . I remember when papa died I wanted (his) badge and his little white handle penknife when I got big(.) And do you remember his picture that hung on the wall mama sold or pawned it and then spent the money on whiskey(.)

Between February and July William had lived through the ague and the river was drowning all the crops again. He had joined the Sons of Veterans and was very pleased with all the friends he had gained. His sweetheart was a member of the Women's Relief Corps and he wanted to know whether Ida was as well. He apologized abjectly for failing to write immediately to Ida and explained at length how he was only waiting until she was settled in her new address.

William was clinging to any port in his stormy life and wanted to retain his sister's good wishes even though she was so far away.


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