28 March 2011

Amanuensis Monday: 8/15/1900 Penitentiary Letter from Henry M. Walker

Having a genealogy blog pays off once again!  A nice couple from Kansas were going through the estate papers of one of their g-grandfathers and found a letter written to their ancestor on Nebraska State Penitentiary letterhead.  Out of curiosity they Googled the name of the author of the letter and found him, my g-grandfather Henry Martin Walker, and his story on my blog!  Then out of the goodness of their hearts they emailed me to make contact and then sent the original letter to me.  Two strangers richly blessed me -- I pray God blesses them!

The letter is dated three months before Henry's early release on good behavior from a four-year sentence for "shooting to wound" his wife.  According to my new friends, their ancestor the recipient was an attorney and a banker.

Handwritten on Nebraska State Penitentiary letterhead, dated August 15, 1900, from Henry M. Walker, prisoner #3033, to Mr. H.H. Andrews of Callaway, Nebraska.  Transcribed with all spelling and grammar errors as original --
Dear Sir,
It has been along time since I heard from you or anyone there I have heard at last what the news papers said was the cause of my trouble and it has explaned a good deal to me but it is strange that Mr Holladay or any one else neather told me or shode me a copy of it especly when they beleived it as much as it appears every one did but of corse the facts were brought out at my trial, Well that is all past and my turm nearly expired and I hope that I will not find any one that will care any more about taking care of me than I care to have them I expect to see Mr B. in Lincoln and find out how we stand financly.  Will you please write to me soon and tell me whether Milldale P.O. is discontinued or is the same P.O. Mistress of it now that was four years ago?  or have you heard how my boys are geting a long and the rest of the family?  How are the crops?  and oblige,
Please excuse mistakes and poor writing.
I remain as ever your friend Henry M. Walker No. 3033
--  1) It is a strange feeling to read that and know one of his "boys" he is inquiring about is my grandfather. 2) Milldale was a small but thriving community in Custer County, Nebraska.  At least it was until the railroad decided to bypass it, now it is nothing more than a bunch of crumbling foundations hidden under the wild prairie grasses. 3) The newspapers account of when Henry shot Lucy was quite dramatic, and it seemed ludicrous to us who read it that he was only charged with "shooting to wound," when the newspapers made it clearly out to be attempted murder.  So here Henry is claiming the true account is not in the newspapers but in the trial transcripts.  I have a cousin in Custer County who hopes to get a copy of the trial transcripts at the courthouse this coming week, if they still exist.  The courthouse burned to the ground on January 13, 1910.

UPDATE: ANOTHER LETTER FOUND!  My new friends in Kansas found another letter from Henry to their ancestor H.H. Andrews, and are putting it in the mail to me.  I will post that one here too.  It is dated shortly after he started his prison sentence and they tell me that it seems to indicate that the two of them were in business together.  All records point to Henry being a farmer.  Perhaps Mr. Andrews was part owner of the land and crops?  I have asked my new friends to also keep an eye out on Mr. Andrews business papers, perhaps they will find details.

Copyright © 2011 by Kevin W. Walker

1 comment:

  1. Kevin:

    What a find! I keep telling all my genealogy friends that they need to start a blog if only to make contacts like this. I can't wait to see what that first letter said!