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EJ Phillips' son Albert Nickinson was 23 and living in Middletown NY in 1886 and trying to figure out what to do with his life and considered going to Texas. As far as we know neither he nor EJ Phillips ever got to Texas. I wonder where we could get an idea of what they knew about Texas from newspapers and other sources they were likely to read or hear about.
My dear Son,
I think the Texas scheme a very good one if you had the money to carry it out -- but there lies the difficulty. I cannot as you know do anything more. I am willing to pay the two $50 notes due on the 20th of this and next month respectively -- but you would want $200 more to go comfortably to Texas. And there you would be running the risk the same as you now are doing, although I suppose there is more chance of business growth in Texas than in Middletown.
Mr. Riley's proposition is a very fair one and I could not offer any opposition to your accepting it -- but I have not the money to help you accept it. If Mr. Riley can do what you have proposed to him -- and you feel that the change would better your condition -- you have my consent to try your luck, and I will do what I can to help you.
Fever and Ague I guess are a part of the trials you may be exposed to -- but there is always something to battle with, and perhaps it is not so bad in that part of the State. Dr Nagle is very kind to think of you, and I would think he would not make the proposal if he did not have a very good opinion of Mr. Riley.
My dear Son,
In my reply to your former letters, which you will receive to-day I have given you my views on Texas and what I could do and would do. That is pay the Johnson notes and help you as I can spare the cash from my salary. If you feel that you can take the position, I think it is a good one. Of course you may find many annoyances and many troubles, but those have to be met everywhere and I think you can battle with them there better than in New York.
I give my consent to your going as I feel it will be to your advantage -- and if I had the money you want, I would send it to you -- but I have not. Do not worry about the Johnson notes. If necessary Aunty will be responsible for them until I can send her the money. Texas is a good way off and I shall not be able to see you very often -- but if I know you are doing well I shall be consoled knowing that it is for your advancement.
Act as you think best. I like the tone of Riley's letters but yet we do not know the man, so you had better have all arrangements set down in black & white. Dr Nagle having loaned him money must have great confidence in him, for the Dr is very careful of his dimes. Love and Kisses from your loving Mother
June 13th 1886
My dear Son,
If I could fly I would be with you to-day -- for I dare say you are lonely and so am I, although I have been in Maud's [Harrison] room and with [Walden] Ramsey & Miss [Marie] Greenwald reading the morning papers. But I keep thinking of you all the time and wondering which way you will decide. I suppose I shall hear tomorrow if you have heard from Mr. Riley.
Hattie thinks it a splendid chance for you, if you can get there, but does not see how you will be able to manage it. That is our trouble isn't it? I am sorry I did not go to Middletown to see you from Utica. I had four days to do it in, but thought of the expenses and that the money would do you more good, then my presence could do, for so short a time. Of course, I had no idea of a change being made. I dare say you will receive letters from me while in San F'co in Texas as soon as you would Middletown. The Southern Pacific you know runs through the Northern part of Texas.
How do you think you can get the $75? I think you may through the Dr or Mr. Boardman be able to get reduced fare from New York to Galveston. I asked Maud [Harrison] is she could get a pass for you by the Mallory Line. She said yes, if you could give her two or three days notice and she would do it. But you know she romances considerably and you might not have time to wait as long as she would take to get the pass.
Telegraph me if you decide to go -- as a letter takes two days to reach me, and that is a loss of time. Should Mr. Riley's reply be satisfactory and you go, telegraph "All is well" and I shall understand you are going. I mention this way of telegraphing supposing you may want to keep your departure unknown until prepared to go.
Mr. Palmer is not here, or I would state the affair to him and try and borrow the money from him. Miss Greenwald kindly intimated that she would help me -- and if you are pushed, why perhaps I can get the sum you want. She knows a young man who went down to some part of Texas a couple of years ago and who is making money fast. --I forget what she told me he was doing -- but she thinks it is the right thing for you to go.
Well I guess you will be tired reading this long letter, and yet I could keep on writing this way all day. Should you make arrangements to go, telegraph all you want by night message and I will pay for it here. My heart is with you in all you do -- It is hard to have you so far away -- but life is before you -- and if you succeed in your undertaking we may yet enjoy many days together in the "Lone Star State".
God bless you and keep you in Uprightness, Honor & Sobriety! Always remembering (as I know you must have done in many instances) -- To do unto others as you would have them do unto you -- The Golden Rule -- which always comes out right in the long run. Enclosed find V with love and Kisses from your loving Mother
Tremont House Chicago
My dear Son,
I must say that I felt rather happier than I have done for a week, when I read your decision to remain in Middletown for the present. I did not wish to oppose you in the Texas affair, still I could not help thinking it was a great risk. You are now your own master, and in Texas you would again be in partnership, and with a man whom you do not know as well as you did Seymour.
Have a little patience. 4 months is a very short time to give Middletown a trial. I cried all the time I was writing to you on Sunday for I felt --that if you went to Texas I might never see you again. You know, your Mother loves you! and I am your Mother. And to go so far away to take up your abode, made me very blue, although I think in Texas you would not have the long winters and deep snows to contend with, as you would have in Dakota or Wyoming.
[Walden] Ramsey had a sister whose husband owned a ranch about 9 miles from San Antonio, Texas and he lost a good deal of money. Ramsey's sister says the heat there is intense. I have just telegraphed you that I am pleased at your decision to remain in Mid.[dletown] for fear you might change your mind before this got to you. Love and Kisses from your loving Mother
June 16, 1886 from Chicago to Middletown
Glad of your decision to remain in your present position.
New York, Nov 10 1886 The Dr. [Nagle] rec'd a letter from Riley [who had gone to Texas] who continues to improve. His business is beginning to do the job work himself. Has bought $200 worth of new type &c.
History of Texas Post Reconstruction
Dallas State Fair & Exposition charters 1886 http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lks02
Fort Worth in 1886 http://www.birdseyeviews.org/zoom.php?city=Fort%20Worth&year=1886&extra_info= Image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:San_Antonio,_Texas_in_1886.jpg
San Antonio in 1886 http://www.birdseyeviews.org/zoom.php?city=San%20Antonio&year=1886&extra_info
Southern Pacific Railroad http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Pacific
Last Updated Jan 14, 2018
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