Recently, I rediscovered a photocopy of an undated letter from Albid Nigh Bauman to his second wife Martha. Albid married Martha in 1873 and died in 1891 so clearly this was written during that window of time. There are names and other identifiers mentioned that might pinpoint a closer date.
Here’s an attempt at transcribing his letter (please send comments if you can clarify more):
Hanna Tuckers oaldest daughter is dead Dead with the peunmony, bin dead over 2 weeks Marlam Hans is dead and leaves others in the Londure way Brothers Mary Hays the oald man that had the gin house got drunk last Tues and fell and broke his leg it was in the right I believe They is a large eeeansing Tran a running now from Louisiana to the west carrying 8 or 9 coashs [coaches] 6 trains on the Pacific runs passangers 9 passagner trains every 24 hours Cotton sells at 8 and 8 ½ Goods is cheaper than they was The Bruee house has got the county alliance train and Mr Anderson and Co is trying to oversee them and they ative [active] in some things Lumber wagons isstill a running Haulting lumber with Free State they leace to what is Van Zandt Co Heavy freights all the time
Marthy if you should take a mind to come with William it would be best for you to come on fryday so you can get your toah [tooth] work done on Saturday and the we can go back on Sunday
I dig not get the letter in the office I haste it to day Sunday 15 We are well and hear of no doutes __ smane ___ No more at present
in a different handwriting:
Fourth day of June 1892
Tom “gragan Miniaha. Texas
June 4, 1892
CaManty Upshur County, Texas
The content in a different handwriting has a date and location but that date was nearly a year after Albid died. So, I do not know the significance of the date. The location is where Albid and his family lived starting in 1885 and it is where he is buried.
This letter seems to indicate that Albid was living and working away from his family. Where was he working and where was Martha living?
According to a paper entitled The Heydey of Mechanicsville (page 9), Albid bought land in 1869 in Mechanicsville, Smith, Texas, was a wagon maker and owned a workshop. In 1875 he sold the land reserving a spot for his first wife’s grave.
The birth & death places listed in the family Bible give clues for when & where Albid & Martha lived.
- 1875 Smith Co., Texas – William
- 1876 & 1878 Van Zandt Co., Texas – Iola & Julius
- 1879 Kaufman Co., Texas – Belle
- 1881 & 1883 Smith Co., Texas – Althea & Mary Jane
- 1885, 1887, 1889, 1892 Upshur Co., Texas Zachariah, Rose, Jack and Dixie
- 1891 Upshur Co., Texas where Albid is was buried
One of Albid’s business cards still exists and it indicates he was the proprietor of the Mineola Repair Shop in Mineola, Wood, Texas. Albid’s granddaughter, Rosabelle, shared information that indicates he must have owned this shop at the time of his death. Specifically, in an undated letter to Larry Johnson she said “Grandfather Bauman had a shop in Mineola (the bus. card) and had been home for a few days. (’Home’ – across Blue Branch, down the way from your Mom’s Johnson’s). He was on his way back to Mineola when he became ill. He was able to make it back home but he died a short time later on July 12, 1891, at the age of 60.”
Albid’s granddaughter, Rosabelle, also shared:
You’ve probably heard that your great grandfather (A.N.B.) invented what is practically the same automatic coupler used on trains today. He trusted ‘a friend’ to take it to Washington to be patented. I can’t remember whether the friend patented it in his own name or whether he sold it to someone and they took out the patent. Anyway, Grandfather Bauman got no credit, much less money for his trouble and accomplishment.
Does any of this help in figuring out where Albid was working when he wrote this letter? He must not have been too far away because Martha could come visit on Friday and go home on Sunday.
According to The Handbook of Texas Online, “In 1873 the Texas and Pacific and the I-GN raced to see which could get to Mineola first. The I-GN reached the finish fifteen minutes earlier. A city government was organized in 1873, a post office opened in 1875, and the town incorporated in 1877, but a fire in the 1880s destroyed eighteen buildings. The town’s oldest paper, the Mineola Monitor, was founded in 1876. By 1890 the town had seven churches, several schools including a black free school, hotels, banks, and a population of 2,000.”
Trains were an important piece to Mineola’s economy, Albid had a business there, and he mentioned the increasing numbers of train stops in his letter. I think it is reasonable to conclude that Albid wrote this letter while he was working in Mineola. For there to be 9 passenger trains every 24 hours probably means this letter was written several years after that first train in 1873. It may have been while he lived here that he worked on the invention that is similar to the automatic coupler used on trains.
In addition to trains, Albid mentions a County Alliance. That is likely the Farmers’ Alliance that began in 1877 and by 1890 was a large part of James Hogg’s campaign for governor. Interestingly, Hogg lived in Mineola around 1880 because it helped with his travels since it was a railway junction and, in fact, his daughter, Ima Hogg, was born in Mineola in 1882.
Albid was staying in Mineola for periods of time while his family lived about 30 miles away. I don’t know enough about history to narrow down when he wrote this letter more than sometime between 1877 and 1891. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear from you.
Rediscovering this letter also means that I added to my signature collection!