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William Masterson tells a Secret (Part VI)

After a long break in his letters, William wrote to his sister in May of 1893. He had been to Mexico and worked as a cowboy:

"Oh Ida I wish you could see that country, it is such a nice place(.) I expect you have read of heard of the cowboys I was with them and was offered $40 a month and board to stay, but I got homesick and could stay no longer(.) They was very few white people down thear (sic)."

Just a couple months later he wrote from Olathe, Kansas on July 1, 1893. He was making good money -- $2 a day! He planned to visit Kansas City and have his photograph taken, so he could send one to Ida. He assured Ida that he would not tire of her speaking of her religious convictions in her letters, even though he had no religion himself. He wondered what his relation thought of him, or if they ever spoke of him.

William was very sad to reveal that Mr and Mrs. Cleaver had separated -- ended their marriage in fact. . .

"It was because she thought I was more young and handsom (sic) than him(.) They have one child and he is going into law withe (sic) her and try to get it and I am the main witness and he wants me but I told her I would tell nothing and will die before I will swere (sic) against her(.) So that is the reason I left(.) But don't worry yourself there won't be any trouble about it(.) But Ida that bad brother of yours (illegible) about broke more than one heart in that country(.) They can say I am wild but I am no fool(.)"

In November 1898 William wrote from Kaseyville, MO (Macon County) to tell his sister he had not joined the war. He was 23 now, and we have to wonder whether he kept his vow of returning to see Ida when he was twenty one. He had received a letter from Mrs. Stocklaufer and they were asking him to return to their home. He had no money to make his way there. He had a hunting accident during the summer and was shot in the leg. He had recovered from the accident and did not tell who had helped him or nursed him. He had not seen a town for three months and he did not call Kaseyville a town as all it had was a post office and one store. Even the war had livened up Kaseyville and William seemed to abhor the quiet.

William was now in regular correspondence with the Stocklaufers and he stated that Mrs. Stocklaufer loved him like her own child. He regarded her as the best mother in the world -- he had visited them the past spring and when he became ill she nursed him all through his sickness.

Ida wrote to William in December, threatening to join a convent if he did not come to New York:

Why do you have to do such a thing(?) There is no one in this world I care for more than I do you and whenever you go there we are separated in this world and my chances in the next world is very poor(.) Now Ida don't think I don't want to see you because I don't come there(.) Remember I was turned out in the world before I was 15 years old(.) I had no one to educate me or teach me a trade of any kind(.) And the only way I can make a living is by hard labor . . . I never did work at anything but farmwork and I never lived in a city since I left N.Y. so you know I would be very useless in a City unless I had a job that suited me.

Such was the tragedy of all the orphans. Once they were sent to the West, they were utterly unsuited to city life, or suited for only the most unskilled labor there. In Illinois the price of land was so high as to prevent young men from farming their own land, and they were then tied down to tenant farming.


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