W3368 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from John Puckridge
Jan 31 1880
To: Rev. Thomas Baker, Hamilton, Ontario
From: Brantford W.T. Line, [Ontario]
My Dear Sir.
As I am well aware from many tokens of good-will, and the number of letters you have written to us, that you still exercise a warm interest in our welfare I make bold to ask from you an especial favor. It is to obtain positive advice, which from the peculiar circumstances in which I am placed I hesitate to seek in the usual way. I feel it a duty which I owe to others, and in this instance to my brother more particularly, as he is I think chiely concerned, and of course anxious anxious [sic] to know his true position relative to the sum of $2000.00 willed to him by my late step-father. The question is this--Does the fact of a person who is appointed an Executor (not alone, being at that time personally indebted to the Testator [)], have the effect of canceling the debt, or leave him at liberty to ignore the same should circumstances favor that plan. I regret to state that our old friend and early companion of my poor late Brotherinlaw [sic] is very much, or I should say exactly in the position described relative to the Estate of my late very unfortunate stepfather, who had in the face of many grave faults some redeeming qualities but for which, he would have been miserable enough.
He has left a very short Will bequeathing to me, and to my children after me the 75 acres of Land which we have called our home for 5 years, and to my only surviving Brother the sum of $2000, the residue (if any) to my mother during her life &c. No other relative partakes though he has several I believe. "But here arises the difficulty, the note to which I alluded in my last letter is the only document besides the Law to which I would attach any value." I have endeavoured zealously to look after these matters without at the same time doing serious injury to the standing of our former companion & friend, which Kind regard I begin to fear is not well appreciated. I had one other reason besides friendship & that was prudence in this matter for I have no doubt you will be aware that I allude to Mr. H. Hart and I have this idea that he has lost a good deal of money in one way or another, & being a poor Farmer myself & him a professional I did not look for fair fighting should that unfortunately occur, I trust you will excuse the liberty I take, particularly as I ask yr. [sic] confidence, should you deem it requisite would you refer the question to a legal personage as I think for the time present my brother's prospects are of but little value. I omitted to say that any expense incurred I shall gratefully repay a the earliest opportunity
to No. 2
having the Land only left to us, and that being well guarded against any incumbrances [sic] in the future during my time you will perceive that at present I am not very much more wealthy than formerly, yet I sincerely trust this may be the turning point in my destiny relative to debts.
I hope that Mrs. Baker's health is ere' this very much better1 and that you also can yet enjoy a good share.
Am thankful to say my wife is slightly better but the heart still very weak & which probably must continue (to take the most cheering view of the case) but altogether we are now getting on very comfortably especially as regards the younger members of our household. Willie goes with his cousin very cheerfully to the distant school only 1 1/2 miles where there is a male teacher tolerably competent I think. As I have been very closely engaged lately with our usual cares and a good deal of writing &c. to my friends in England I cannot say very correctly the extent of progress the boys are making though I know its a great improvem't on our nearer school. My niece is certainly much improved in all matters & respects excepting the misfortune of her speech2 Maud & my brother at home say that my Mother is quite well considering her late hearty trials. When it shall please God to call her away then I understand the Law & money that has been a source of shocking troubles will be divided, with our united
[Written sideways across W3373:] Kindest wishes for the health of yourself & Mrs. Baker & your younger members of family.
PS. It seems a question whether Mr. Fussell was worth in his own right $13 thousand dollars or nearly 6000.$'s [sic].
[Written sideways across W3372:] "I beg to thank you for your last letter giving me both advice & consolation therein & which I found was to the point.["]
1 Mary-Jane (MacIlwaine) Baker was Rev. Thomas Baker's second wife and the mother of Mary Baker McQuesten. She was in poor health as she suffered from diabetes which, at this time, doctors could not adequately treat.
2 John Puckridge was taking care of his nephew Willie and Willie's sister Charlotte (or Lottie) after Rev. Baker had removed them and their siblings from the care of their stepmother Maria (Mudge) Baker. It was Lottie who had difficulties with her speech as she was born with a cleft palate. Around 1881, doctors operated on her throat to close her open palate, but the surgery did not take and her condition was the subject of letters for almost another two years.