W2960 TO JAMES ALFRED BAKER from his father Rev. Thomas Baker
Sep 13 1864
To: James Alfred Baker, Cold Springs
From: Newmarket, [Ontario]
My dear Alfred,
I have duly considered your request "to remain on Cold Springs a year or two longer," and am sorry I cannot comply with it. You have been on the farm seven years and a half on the 1st of October next and you are now worse in your circumstances than you were the day you entered upon it. I cannot indulge the least expectation that you will ever succeed upon it. How can I? Since you have been compelled to part with your cattle, your sheep, and what else I know not to relieve you from your embarrafsements [sic], and that too [sic] exclusion of your indebtednefs [sic] to me, which at your request I have cancelled on condition that it might be considered as what may be coming to you at my decease.1
You can if you please remain on Cold Springs till the 1st of April 1865, free of Rent, which will a further relief to you to the amount of $200.00, and as you will have your Fall crop to take off, which will cost you nothing beyond labour. I hope you will be able to rent advantageously a farm of 100 Acres, which I think you will be able to manage with more benefit to yourself than a larger.
Perhaps Mr. [Fussell]2 as he purchased a farm for John Puckridge may be willing to do as much for you. Charlotte is as nearly related to him as John, and has, all things considered, higher claims. You however will need a farm larger than John's; and, if I can sell Cold Springs, I may be willing to do something towards it; but at present I cannot pledge myself to anything more that I have done. Having myself helped so much already [sic]. I hope Mr. and Mrs. [Fussell] will now be willing to take their turn.
I shall forward a legal notice to Quit Cold Springs on the 1st day of April 1865, which will be tantamount to permifsion [sic] to remain until that time.
I cannot think that leaving Cold Springs can be very distasteful to you as I have heard from several persons that last fall you exprefsed [sic] your intention to leave Hugh Wright called on me last October, said "he had heard you intended to leave, that if you did he wished to hear it, and that he would give $600.00 a year for it, that it was a good farm and well worth it, and that he had made money on it.
I told him "I heard nothing from you about leaving, and if you did leave I thought I should sell it, and [??] no men [??] with it." He requested me not to part with it, saying "he would give me as much for it as any man would."
I hope you have gained experience, though it has been a dear purchase, yet I trust it will benefit you through life, that you will by its teachings be so enabled to manage your affairs as to render the future prosperous and happy to yourself and family, and though your household is now large, yet with economy sobriety, and industry with the divine blefsing [sic], which is so promised if sought for, comfortable maintenance may be attained for all.
That you may pursue this course and obtain the result for yourself and family, pray [I??] fervently
Your affectionate father
P.S. The farm is for sale--price $50.00 per acre 1/3 down the balance in a series of years, interest 5 per cent--or $45.00 per acre Cash down--apply to Mr. Downs or Mr. [Racey??] Brantford for particulars.
1 James Alfred Baker (1825-1876) was the fourth of Rev. Thomas and Sarah Baker's seven children. He married Charlotte Puckridge and together they had seven children: John Puckridge Baker (not to be confused with his uncle John Puckridge), Minnie, Alice, Mary Maud, Harriett (Hattie), William and Charlotte (Lottie).
In the spring of 1857, the family moved to Cold Springs farm which was owned by James Alfred's father, Rev. Thomas Baker, and located either in or near Brantford Ontario. The family paid rent to Rev. Baker, who in turn would sometimes help them to pay their debts. Even so, they were unable to pay what they owed, and in March of 1864, Charlotte wrote to Rev. Baker on her husband's behalf to say that they could not pay rent but would either sell all they could to acquire the money or they would stay until October and then leave, presumably so they could harvest that year's crop. Rev. Baker agreed to the latter proposition and put the farm up for sale. In May, Charlotte wrote back with a new proposition which was rejected by Rev. Baker. We only have the Reverend's reply to this letter, but it was likely that James Alfred wished to purchase the farm. His father rejected this proposal outright as James Alfred was insolvent. In addition, Rev. Baker had been steadily losing money on the farm for twenty three years and was not willing to give his son any more assistance with regards to Cold Springs. Rather, he was determined to sell the farm for a good price and cut his losses (W2953, W2957). Originally, James Alfred was to leave the farm in the fall of 1864, but his father allowed him to stay until the following spring, likely out of sympathy and pity for his son and young grandchildren. However, he did issue them an official notice to leave Cold Springs as of April 1, 1865 (W2964).
See also W3013, written by John Puckridge to Rev. Baker in 1868 concerning James Alfred's deep debt and the large loan that John had quietly issued him, which had never been repaid in full.
Sometime in the mid to late 1860's, James Alfred's wife died, leaving him with their seven children. Later, likely sometime in 1869, he married Maria Mudge who already had one child, Nelly. Presumably Nelly was her daughter from a previous marriage although we have yet to discover positive evidence that Maria had been married before this. Maria took care of her stepchildren after their father's death in 1876 until Rev. Baker learned of rumours that she had turned to prostitution to earn money, at which point he removed the children from her care. See W3155 for details on Maria (Mudge) Baker. See W3328 for Maude's placement in England.
2 Mr. Fussell is the stepfather of both John Puckridge and his sister Charlotte (Puckridge) Baker.