On November 22, 1918, she wrote to William:
“But I was expecting you to come. It is a heavy disappointment to me.”She really wanted him to come back home. She is very aware of what is happening in the country. They didn’t have electricity so no radio but news was shared throughout the area.
Grandpa worked for the railroad and didn’t make a lot of money but Grandma was thrifty and could certainly make the money last. Still, Martha was concerned.
“I wanted you to come and try to farm or something that wouldn’t leave you on Starvation if you get sick. It troubles me more than I can tell you. To think if you get sick or hurt you would have nothing to ward off starvation. You never can save anything on Public Works. The next 3 years will be hard to live. Prices will be so high, and nothing growing to you will make hard times for you. If you can come I will rent the ground from the house down. Let me know soon. Wm, if you could see as I do you surely wouldn’t depend on Public works for a living.”One of the things I remember my grandmother saying is that she didn’t want Grandpa to work in the mines. She was adamant about the mines and part of the reason they moved. Grandma would not have been pleased with the next part of the letter.
“Wm, I think this mineing Co will start things lively now the war is ended. They have brought in a boiler that has taken 2 month to bring it from the Mntn. They are mining and building. Some workhands are scarce. Della's Sam has been running their big motor trucks bringing supplies from the mountain.”Changing tactics, Martha goes back to being self-sufficient.
“Wm, if you had a few acres of the Burk place or there close before the boom comes. Be we have here good enough if we could improve it and (unknown) it shape, we are just the proper distance. For all but school, I would like for you to tell me just what your think of it. I’ve yet have 5 good hogs to butcher I’ve thought you would come and killed a shoat weighing 160 lbs. Pork has been selling for 25 cts. I think corn will be 2 dollars.”
January 1, 1919 Letter to William:
While Martha shares family information, she is still trying to get them to move back.
“It is raining now. When it clears up Victor wants to kill 3 large hogs. I wish you and Nellie and Ralph was here to help. Wm, can you use home made tobacco. tell me I will send you some. Did you get the check for rents in my last letter.
Write me all you plans for the future Wm., couldn’t you buy cheaper from people in the country and save something.
Nellie could you raise a pig or can you have chicks. I would want one or the other. A pig would grow dollars fast. Come out here I will give you one. Is Wm working of a Knight yet. I wish he had a daylight job. Nellie write me often if nothing but a postcard. Tell Ralph I want him to come here and play with Jewel so I can write. She tries to help so much I cant hardly do anything for her. All of you come to see me.”
October 10, 1919
In the 1910’s the railroads were looking for reforms. In 1916, they secured the Adamson Act that provided 10 hours of pay for an eight hour day. They carried out a national strike in 1919 but the strike was not successful in making further changes. Martha is worried about Will’s safety and offers some advice and the invitation (again) to move back home.
“Wm, Tell me all about the strike will they bring you in it. If so, take no hand in the Rioting. Be just as quiet as you can. Spend some of your time writing to me or come and stay with me.”
We only have the five letters written by Martha to William. They cover only one year in the lives of these people.
My grandmother would never have gone back to Tennessee or Missouri where she was from. As I wrote in an earlier post, once my grandma made up her mind, it was all over. I can not say for sure if they ever went to Tennessee for a visit but if I were to hazard a guess, the answer would be no,
The letters make me sad. Martha tried her best to entice them back to Sneedville. I must have been hard for her. The girls all married young and although two of them stayed in town, they had their own lives to live. The boys all married when they were in their late 20’s or early 30’s. She got used to having them around. She wanted my uncle to grow up with the rest of the grandkids and would have enjoyed William's other two boys. However, it was just not meant to be.