[Errors have been preserved during transcription.
Changes to punctuation are indicated by [ ].]
[This letter contains more than one postscript by
John Puckridge as well as a brief note on the envelope by Rev.
W3013 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from John Puckridge
Dec 29 1868
To: Rev. Thomas Baker, Newmarket, Canada West
From: Paris, Canada West
[The following sentence is written upside-down in the top
margin of the first page of the letter:] I am quite serious
in my meaning at the end of letter J.P.
Rev'd T. Baker,
I have for some little time past thought of writing you, but as I am sure it will be unwelcome tidings, those that I wish to communicate have delayed & should not even now, but that feel I am performing a duty in so doing, shall
therefore beg your attention to these lines.
I know not, that you are aware of your sons [sic] Alfred's position, but from a knowledge that you did for a long time correspond, and that too since my poor sister's
death,1 I judge you have an opinion, I feel sorry enough to tell you that trials, and adversity, have not made him a much better man than he was some 5 Yrs. since when he appeared rather to court than avoid evil tendencies.
You of course, know his disposition I may say character pretty well. I should probably make myself more intelligible by stating that after I returned from England we, myself &
wife, spent some weeks at Cold Springs, by the kind
invitations of Alfred & my sister, and being young in life made many calculations for the future. We could not but observe that with Alfred's large family and large business as he managed, that he had considerable anxiety, especially when crops were light, still, as he was and is a very
capable man and possessed of good judgement in agricultural
matters particularly, we had no doubt but that he could
bring up his family respectably and make a comfortable home, ( please excuse these rambling remarks, which are intended
to introduce the main subject matter, I am disturbed a good
deal in writing by our eldest child being very ill, and her mother being much fatigued, I have to attend to her at intervals to give medicine &c. [)]. I would state that my sister spoke to me of these little temporary difficulties, and pressed me in Alfred's name some few months after to assist him with money, stating as one reason that I was a
favourable member of our family, which was partly correct, and secondly that their credit was good enough, but having no real estate they could not borrow for any length of time. My step father unfortunately (we always supposed) was hard
in money matters as well as my mother, and as Charlotte
stated they never had given them any amt. she as well as
Alfred thought it would only be doing right for me to raise money $500, on my freehold and that Alfred should give his Note for the sum, this was of course to be done quietly, as far as friends were concerned it would not matter but that
they were aware as well as myself that such a proposition
would not be sanctioned by Mr. F. or my mother to whom I was indebted for said property.2
To this however I agreed, considering I was doing a right and an [?] action, and raised by a mortgage $600, one
of which I reserved myself and gave five to Alfred on his
Note alone for 2 years, though in the first instance but one year was stated as being long enough to straighten the matters. I soon found however by observation that Alfred
was unsteady. Though attending to business dilligently [sic] at times and I was requested as things were not prosperous as he would wish to make no allusion to the matter of obtaining this to you or any other of our friends, as regards yourself I kept my promise until now.
Well, Alfred deceived me a good deal by his
representation. I did not suppose he owed for back Labor, and many other things which afterwards I was cognizant of etc., the time of his Sale & previously I spoke to him [respectg.?] the debt as the note would mature in the Jan. 7 following and all would have gone right enough even then
to no. 2
[Written at top of page :] No. 2 & read Sheet throughout
had he been content to have staid at Cold Springs looking after his own business, but that he was unwillingly to do. At his solicitation I bought in the wheat which was knocked
down at 7$. I think he had valued it at $12 per acre, and as my note was not due, wished me only to retain it for him, he would take nothing less than 12 as he was certain the 40 acres would be worth $600 at Harvest, I bought some $90
worth of Stuff some of which I never removed at all as
Charlotte had need of it [.] Have always regretted I did
not go on to the extent of note but was assured even then, I
should not be the loser, it was a debt of honor, also you
know probably Alfred went to the West (Illinois) at this
time, Mr. Munch & Pullan managing the Sale, both men who have sponged on him for years.
This affair (to make it short) caused me to have to Sell my little farm [?] here and my health failing again had not the spirit to rent, consequently I was thrown on my resources with something like $400 only when I squared matters besides Alfred's note, which I kept in hand trusting
as he would neither give permission for me to dispose of it or sell me the growing wheat at a fair price, he would make it at a future time. You know I expect that wheat the 40 acres was a total failure, my Crop was bad also, very bad as
I had the disadvantage of a skimmed 48 Acres. (Actual
measuring called 50 Acres).
I went to Michigan and engaged as a farm labourer for 5 months, my sister Charlotte died, our sympathy for Alfred and the children was awakened and we ultimately moved over to the Soule Pine Farm as my wife had promised in my absence, to which I made no objection [.] While there, rather while my family was, as I was often away looking for
some opening, that sum of money came from England and it was not until my wife apprised [sic] me that Alfred was almost wasting it, I made the very unpleasant proposal of directing
according to many promises previously given. I rec. $150.00 about Feb. 1, (last of course, I have date but that's of no import.) and a note for the remainder $265 due in 1st of Nov. last, [throwg.?] off all Interest for about 2 yrs. I believe, and things went smoothly until Spring time when I
found Seed [Plaster?] &c. was badly wanted, I therefore
helped & advanced Alfred to amt. of $85 besides small
matters in tea, flour &c.--he promising faithfully to return
at any rate before Xmas. I did obtain good part, and was
promised the other as usual, when he fell back into old
habits & I made up my mind to trouble no more, though I was
in need of provision &c. which he had on the farm [.]
I am now Clerk for J.W. Coburn at the Plaster Mill here, I have a delicate wife & 4 little children, & I have the bare sum of & $300 to live on but would have stood that out.
No.3 I will only add if your patience is not exhausted, that I surely wish some method could be devised to place him once more in a way to get his living comfortably [.] It may
be disgust for present circumstances and disappointed hopes make him thus, God knows, if that is the case, something might even yet be done.
I cannot end without saying to you in Confidence as I
write the whole of this, that I know your Grandchildren will
not be left unprovided for by my parent and step-father;
would my circumstances allow it, should ask you to come up
to see for yourself the truth of these strange assertions.
Permit me to say once more I am not prompted by ill-will to
act thus. I am only doing a duty to my family who need it now. I am credibly informed Soule wishes to get rid of Alfred and go back on the Farm himself or a connection and in that case will probably go to Missouri, U.S. a point we have both thought of for these 2 Years past. I might write more but it would not probably interest you.
Trusting you will kindly read this, and then inform me if not a too painful task what you think of my action, I
very respectfully yours
To Rev'd. T. Baker
P.S. I would not wish this to be read by others [exceptg.?] you should have reason for allowing it. I do not wish to add any insult to Alfred's supposed injury. I should say if I remain quiet others not as regard debt.
P.S. I am not sure in my own mind of Alfred's Sanity from recent events. J.P.
(Will explain) more fully should you wish "this
[The note written by Rev. Baker on the envelope reads:] Alfred and Cold Springs--Sorrow & disappointment.
1 John Puckridge is the brother of Charlotte (Puckridge) Baker. Charlotte (who died, likely after 1864) and James Alfred had seven children, John P., Harriett (Hattie), Alice, Mary Maude, Minnie, Lottie, William. James Alfred Baker remarried to (Ann) Maria Mudge in 1869 and subsequently died in 1876, leaving his children with Maria, who was not their natural mother, and who was incapable of caring for them both financially and morally (W3156, W3161, Farmer 12), and Rev. Thomas Baker had to make arrangements for their education and care elsewhere. For more details, see W3155.
2 Mr. F. is probably Mr. Fussell, John Puckridge's stepfather.