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October 26, 2007

G.T.T. - From the Other Side

266. COLLINS, Jane L. Autograph letter signed to her husband Virgil in Houston, Texas, giving family news and urging him to leave Texas as soon as possible. Goshen, Connecticut, April 7, 1839. [4] pp., including integral address leaf. With postal markings indicating 25 cents was paid to send the letter and that it went by ship to New Orleans, where it was stamped by Texian mail agent Sam Ricker, Jr., with a bold, oval stamp in black ink. Creased where formerly folded, with splits along some folds (minor losses), remnants of old wax seal which cost one word when the letter was originally opened; address leaf moderately soiled. Overall, a very good example written in a clear, legible hand.

         An interesting, moving letter in which a young wife, left behind in Connecticut with a small daughter (two feet, seven inches tall), expresses her hopes and fears concerning her husband’s perilous business trip to Texas and their own future together. Opening with a review of their unsettled domestic arrangements, which initially included an ill-fated attempt to live with his parents, Jane vents her frustrations at the fact that they do not own their own home and land. Reviewing the various domestic arrangements that they have tried, she asks, “Now are we any happier or better off than we were before? I must acknowledge that I am not, and I judge from your letters you had as live [sic] be somewhere else as in Texas.” She then reviews in detail the comings and goings of various community members, including William Lyman.

         The second half of the letter is taken up with earnest appeals from both her and other family members that he abandon his Texas adventure. Houston is condemned as a thoroughly unhealthy place that he should leave as soon as he possibly can. She relays her own father’s sentiments on the matter: “My father wishes me to tell you expressly from him if you have not left Houston, to leave immediately[.] He had rather you would leave your goods unsold and come home pennyless [sic] than stay there another week.” This part of the letter is also replete with guilt-mongering. Mrs. Collins lovingly describes their growing daughter, who is frustrated that she cannot embrace her father but instead has to be content to send “as much love as the letter will hold which she thinks will be about a bushel.” If such appeals to paternal love did not move Virgil to head for home immediately, he must have been either dead or possessed of a heart of stone.

         Virgil Collins (b. 1810) and Jane Lucas were married in Goshen, Connecticut, on May 25, 1836. This newly-wed separation was obviously difficult on the young mother. This letter provides a rare insight into the life of one left behind. It is also an interesting example of postal history, especially the rare forwarding stamp of the Texian agent, whose services were necessary to send mail from the U.S. postal system into the Republic of Texas itself.  ($500-1,000)

Sold. Hammer: $500.00; Price Realized: $587.50

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