04 April 2011

Amanuensis Monday: NEW FOUND Penitentiary Letter from Henry M. Walker 1/17/1897

Written on letter-sized lined paper with no letterhead, addressed to "Mr. H.H. Andrews, Callaway, Custer Co., Neb." and dated "Jan, 17th, 1897," herein transcribed with all mistakes of spelling, grammar, etc., included --
Dear Sir:

I would like to see you cl much if my enimyes are not trying to rong you too but I will say if you make settle acpet a settlement of my busness with you from my enimyes and let them keep me locked you must not expect any more from me for I did think they might have given me a chance to cure my self and most my debts or at least not sent their influence quite so far from home but they say I might have been cured there in the bow if I had taken the Drs. Medicine but perhaps they don't know that Mr. Seasure gained my confidence and I took the medicine as he advised me to but I did not expect him to tell what was not so if they he did say at one time I should not go home if he could help it then, he may be a good Sherrif for all I know but I do not think he done right by me but if they try to make out I am lazy I can say I have never put my propity out of my name to keep my credeters from geting it or expected more of a sick person than a well person I don't supose I look as though I was sick but I dont beleave any of my folks that has not seen me for a year would recognize me but I may be as well as I can be as long as I am confined for the Dr here has only given me promices untill the last time I went to him and if they the Dr is my mind is to be docktered I and I the Dr why dont they let me but if I have no friends still there please send this to G.S. Miller Garden City Kan. I know I can he is still my friend and I believe my Wife and her father is to as well as Mother.

I can be found when not at Chapple on sunday in cell 39.  or I suppose me a letter would find me directed
H. Walker. 3033
Lancaster or
H. Walker
Lancaster Co.
No. 3033 |
I dont know why M M. was omited I will close for this time direct I have not received any mail yet

-- I monkeyed with the contrast and brightness of the scans to make the letter more legible.  I have a lot of thoughts about this letter, some of it, sadly is nothing more than speculation.  This is the second letter my new found friends in Kansas have found from Henry to their ancestor, the first being posted and transcribed here. Henry wrote this letter just thirty-three days after being put in prison, and the former letter just three months before release, and I see a world of difference. 1) I find this letter much more disjointed, defensive, and the number of words struck-out seems to indicate his thoughts were unsorted.  However the former letter was more lucid, accepting of his situation, and with absolutely no words struck-out.  2) He is clearly mentally ill.  The newspaper accounts pointed to paranoia, and I sense great angst in this letter.  He seems to point to mental illness himself, talking of meds and his head being "docktered(sic)" by the doctor at the penitentiary. 3) Can he really believe his wife and his in-laws are still friendly toward him?  It seems absurd, but then again, if he had a mental illness maybe they were sympathetic....at least until the shooting happened. 4) Was "Mr. Seasure" a real person or code for "seizures" associate with his mental illness?  5)  Mr. Andrews appears to be a creditor at this point, and Henry seems to say he treated "the well" and "the ill" the same, hinting Andrews should do the same for him.

Copyright © 2011 by Kevin W. Walker

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