|Rees Family Letters||Letter 5:||1885||Caleb Rees, Wales to Catherine Rees, Nebraska|
|Another letter from Cousin Caleb Rees, now 19, to Catherine Rees, now 21||
April 12th 1885
I received your welcomed letter, and also the Chicago Herald in due time; and I have to thank you very much for both. Your letter was made doubly welcome to me by the fact that it was the first I ever received from across the Atlantic, but I sincerely hope and trust that it will not be the last. I was also very glad to get the Herald, and in return I have forwarded you a copy of our Chester Guardian and Record, which I hope will have reached you ere you see these lines. I am glad to know you did not consider it a trouble to wade through my rather long letter, but I can understand that it is the name I bear that makes my letters welcome to you. It certainly does seem hard to be deprived of a kind and good father, but still it is "better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."
|Uncle Daniel is Daniel Rees, a brother of Catherine's father Caleb and the writer's father Stephen. Daniel died in America in 1880, leaving his wife Mary and daughter Etta, who was about 21 in 1885.||
I was extremely glad to hear from you that our Uncle Daniel left his wife and daughter in good circumstances, and that they are well. Should you write back again, I would thank you to send me their proper postal address, as I should like to write them. What age would cousin Etta be, I wonder?
Omereg (probably should be Cymraeg) is the Welsh language. Cymru are the Welsh people.
I was pleased to hear that your mother is Welsh, and that you are able to speak & read Welsh. I was quite astonished to hear that you speak the old language at your home, out in faroff Nebraska. I can only look at it as another proof of the indestructability of the ancient "Omeraeg" and the tenacity with which all Cymru cling to it. At my home there is nothing spoken but Welsh, the English is almost unknown there. That is in the upper portion of Pembrokeshire, but in the lower portion English predominates, and the place has been given the title of "Little England beyond Wales." In Chester, which is on the borders of North Wales, there are many hundreds of Welsh people; and a good number of Welsh Chapels. I dare say you have heard of the flourishing Welsh colony in Pategonia which has been established now for many years, & is well populated with Welsh emigrants, & their families.
Some eighteen months ago two cousins of mine, on my mother's side, (a brother and sister) left Wales for America, and on their way west from New York, a young Welsh emigrant fell in love with the sister and married her. He took her out far west (I don't know where) & the last I heard of them was that they were doing well.
As long as you are able to understand Welsh perhaps I may hope to receive the next letter in that language. I am sure I should be very glad of it. I understand the Welsh every bit as good as English, & until recently much better. It was my only language up to about three years ago, as then I could hardly speak English inteligibly.
|Uncles Joseph and John are more brothers of Caleb and Stephen Rees. Whitehook may be the name of a house or farm in Whitechurch, a parish next to Meline Parish. John Rees died two years before this letter was written, and Joseph Rees eight years after this letter.||
You ask about Uncle Joseph. I don't know his exact age but, but I believe he is over 70. He lives at Whitehook [called Whitechurch in other records], where Uncle John (who died some months ago) used to reside. Uncle Joseph has bought the place, & has one of Uncle John's daughters to keep house for him. He still continues at his trade, namely that of repairing clocks &c, & is strong & hearty. He is worth a deal of money which he has gained by hard work and industry. He is a bachelor, and is of very frugal habits.
Stella is a small town in Richardson County, in southeastern Nebraska, with a few hundred inhabitants. Catherine and her family lived a couple of miles from Stella, and over five hundred miles from Chicago.
Your description of the country out there was very interesting to me, & I should like to know more, about it. For instance, what is Stella? Is it a town? and if so how big? & how far do you live from it? and how far are you from Chicago? What sort of a farm have you, how do you manage it, & what do you grow on it? and many hundred such things I should like to know. Your life out there must be vastly different from life in England & Wales. You say you had plenty of apples last year, and that you wished I were near, so that you might give me some. Well so do I, for I am extremely fond of apples, & they are pretty dear in English towns. I congratulate you on having got rid of the wild Indians. I should imagine it made you somewhat uncomfortable when those savages were hovering about.
I was very sorry to hear that if I were to come over there, I should stand no chance of becoming a President. I really don't think that's fair. Why exclude the foreigner? I am obliged to you for your invitation to me to come over to see you, but I am afraid I must postpone my visit indefinitely, although I should like to come. I don't suppose there would be much chance for me in the newspaper line out there, and I am hardly inclined to turn my hand to farming. Of course America teems with millions of newspapers, but there are plenty of able and talented man there to do the work. I see a good many American papers, & I get the humorous Detroit Free Press every week and like it very much.
You ask me if as I am near London, I ever hear the great preacher, Spurgeon. You Americans seem to have a queer idea of distance. You, of course, think nothing of a railroad ride of a thousand miles. We here do, though. Perhaps you will be surprized to hear that I have been in London only once, the distance from here being about 170 miles only. I did not hear Mr. Spurgeon on that occasion, as I only stopped there a short time, but I saw the various places of interest of the great metropolis of the world. Just at present Mr. Spurgeon is in bad health, & has gone to France for a change of air. He is improving, & will return soon. He is one of the greatest preachers now living, and the Baptists think a great deal of him.
My brother Daniel, whom I told you in my previous letter was manager of our Crewe Guardian (which you will see at the top) has just gone to manage the Northwich Chronicle. Northwich is a town a few miles northeast of here. He comes over to Chester pretty often.
We as a family belong to the Independent denomination, and I attend an English independent chapel here.
I suppose your sister Maggie will have gone back to school again before you receive this letter. Where is she at school? Kindly give her my love & also to our other sisters. I should be extremely glad to have your photographs, and when you have them taken I hope you will not forget me.
I am sure you must be tired by now with reading these scribbles, but when I once begin to write I seem as if I could not stop, and I always seem to have a lot to say. So you must excuse me, it's in my nature, I suppose.
I suppose you have heard of the bother between England & Russia with regard to Aghanistan. Things at present look very bad. The Russians have attacked the Aghans who are our allies, and war between us & Russia seems inevitable. If it breaks out, it will not end till oceans of blood will have been shed, & millions of money squandered, for nothing at all. When will the nations of the earth learn wisdom? It wd be better for Russia to denote her attention to her own country, and extend more liberty to her people, & for England to spend her money on education, and the improvement of the dwellings of the poor.
I must now bid you good bye for the present. Give my kind regards to your mother and your sisters, from some of whom I should like to hear. I should like to have a good Welsh letter from the best Welsh scholar among you. Don't forget.
Again I say I must come to a close & this time I will do so.
Don't be long in writing back. I shall always be glad to hear from you.
Miss Catherine Rees,
With love and regard,
Your sincere and
P.S. I heard from my sister Anne sometime ago, she was saying she intended writing you soon which I suppose she has done by this. CR