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At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

James, Frank (1844-1915) to Anna Ralston James

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC08991 Author/Creator: James, Frank (1844-1915) Place Written: Gallatin, Missouri Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 4 October 1883 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Letter to his wife from prison. Discusses plans for the future, their relationship, his case, and the mugging of his friend. Expects "When I come I am going to have my way for the same length of time that you have had yours, that will be will be five years, Dont say a damed word, You should be willings to live up to the "Golden rule" If you dont write me word that I can do as I please I am going to take a bee line for "Salt Lake" when I get out." Discusses an incident that happened to his friend. "I had a letter from Marth and she tell me she and Buck was going out calling the other evening and a big black negro caught her around the waist and snatched her pocket off her arm and made away with all her valuables...if that had been Mage and she had that little pistol Mr negro would of got a leaden missile in his back side when he went off. Inquires after his children, "How is Mage getting on at School? And whats my little precious man doing every day? Does he ever talk about his old father? I would like for him to learn his book a little but so he can read to me when I get old and blind...I tell you when a poor fellow is locked up and his wife is sailing around it keeps him right uneasy...But I must try and not think about it, for I don't want to loose my mind, I hope to live to do some good in this world, if only to raise boys, I want just about six...when I get old, it would do our old hearts good to see in our old age six or seven fine manly looking men and with pride we could point and say, "All those are ours" Dont you think so? I am not simply talking to hear myself talk or to tease you but I am in dead hard earnest and mean it all and if do not agree with me I may not be as faithful in the future as I have been in the past. Tell me when you write all that is going on and for heaven sake dont forget your poor old hen picked husband. Signed "Ben," for his alias Ben Woodson.

People: James, Frank, 1844-1915.
Ralston, Anna, 1853-1944.

Historical Era: Rise of Industrial America, 1877-1900

Keywords/Subjects: Criminals and Outlaws, Marriage, Women's History, Prisoner, African American History, Crime, Children and Family, Education

Sub Era: Development of the West