Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)




Lt 1, 1888

Walling, Fred

Reno, Nevada

May 28, 1888

Previously unpublished.

Dear Nephew Fred Walling:

I received your letter remailed from Oakland the last of last week, and I have about decided to go no further in urging the matter in Addie [Walling]’s case. I am quite sure that Addie could come to me if she desired, and we will let the matter rest until future developments. I have troubled my mind over this matter until I have decided that unless I can throw it off, I am unfitted for my labor in speaking and writing. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 1

I wrote you in my last letter that I would attend the Reno camp meeting and hoped to meet Addie here, but I have but little hope or expectation of this now. I have written to Sister [Jennie] Ings, who has recently returned from Europe and who will soon be on her way to California, to call at Denver and to go where Addie is and take her with her to California. Whether this can be done remains to be seen. Here I shall let the matter rest. I do not know as anything that I could do would be of the least benefit in this case of Addie’s. As you say, she must decide and do herself. Until she shall take this position, all that any of us can do will be useless. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 2

In regard to your father’s expectations that I shall come to Colorado, I have only to say I do not wish to meet your father either in Colorado or California. I have a sense of the injustice that has been done me in business transactions with your uncle which has resulted in great loss to us, and then the expense that was forced upon me that I have had to bear for his children in board, for education, and the moving them from place to place to be under my care in my itinerant life, has cost me three thousand dollars. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 3

Then for him to take Addie as he has done and she to consent to go with him against my express counsel, his taking her in my absence—I have not the heart to look in his face without telling him plainly what I think of his wicked course. You know that that would make him my deadly enemy. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 4

May is in continual fear that in some way, through some course her father may pursue, he will compel her to go home. But May is of age now and if she cannot fight this battle through alone, then I cannot help her. It is impossible for her father to compel her to go with him, for she is of age to choose for herself, and it is for her to say whether she will go or not. If any compulsion should be used, she could call a police officer and state the facts. The only thing that she seems to fear is that there will be a net laid for her in inviting her to ride or [that] in some way that she will be deceived. But I must leave these children to manage this matter through. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 5

It was not my choice in the beginning to take these two. I insisted on not doing this. Once we carried them to Mrs. Lasslie’s while we went over in Middle Park, never expecting to have charge of them again, as he had told me they were only there on a visit for their health. It was a fearful tempest the night we returned to Walling’s Mills, but we had not been in the house but a few hours when your father came with both of the children bundled up and put them again in my charge. I could not see that it was possible for me to take charge of them and told him so, but he insisted that this should be done until he could provide some other way. So this matter has gone on, I writing to him repeatedly that he must take these two, that I could not be to the trouble, anxiety, and expense of caring for them. Your uncle was sick; it was a very heavy burden to me. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 6

I told him, after the settlement between himself and your uncle White, the last time we were in Colorado, that I should utterly refuse to be at any more expense or trouble with his children unless he gave me a writing that they should be mine until they were of age. This he refused to do. He was in my debt then sixteen hundred dollars, and I told him that if he would give me this writing, I would make no charges against him. When I found that he would not give me the children, I wrote to him that Sister McDearmon was coming to Boulder and I should send the children with her. He wrote a letter begging me not to send the children; he had no place for them, and if I would board them, he would pay their expenses henceforth. I sent him a bill of their expenses for clothing that I had to get for them for that very winter, and lest he should say that the letter was never received, I enclosed it in an envelope to one of my brethren to put into his hands; but no response came. I have not heard one word from him since that time until I returned from Europe, [when] he made inquiries in regard to May Walling. During the first year the children were with me, I have a recollection of his sending from twenty to thirty dollars; that is all I ever received from him. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 7

He sent a telegram before May was of age that she was not to be permitted to make any contract in regard to her labor without his consent. Now all these things have left such an impression upon my mind that I have no desire to come in contact with the man Walling as long as I shall live. He is your father and I will not say more. Addie could come to me if she chose to do so. If you can get an opportunity to get this letter into her hand, you can do so. She has done me great injustice and can have but little appreciation of what I have done for her and the claims that I have upon her. I have suffered more from this matter than I can express to you, and now I am done. I wish I could write something that would be of a different character, but I cannot possibly do it now. My heart and soul have been oppressed day and night with a sense of the treatment I have received from your father in return for all the expense and trouble I have been to for his children’s sake. Whenever I have told him that I could not have the charge of the children, with tears in his eyes he has said, “I have confidence that you will bring up my children right. Their mother shall never have them unless it is over my dead body. And if you refuse to take care of my children, then I must put them somewhere where their mother will never see them again.” I fully expected when I left Colorado to return in the spring with the children and give them into their mother’s care, but he utterly forbade my doing this, accompanied with assertions of what he would do if I did do it. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 8

For some time your grandmother Clough and all her children were my enemies, and I do not think that they ever felt just right toward me in consequence of my keeping the children and not sending them back to their mother. I have done the very best in my power with your sisters. I fear I have done far more than I ought to have done; the future will determine this. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 9

It is such a mortification to me to have the people in Oakland ask me where Addie is, and it seems so marvelously strange to them, the silly flattery and the caresses from your father to her like a lover, that it is just a marvel of wonder all the time to the people. Could it be possible that this flattery was palatable to Addie? Her father pretends that it was for her health that she was taken away, but [in] Addie’s letters to me in response to my inquiries, she always said that she was doing well. And then I was told by Sister Loughborough, who had the guardianship of Addie in my absence, that he kept her up late nights talking with him. If her health was so poor, where was his consideration of his child? She was just worn out and unfitted for her work by the course her father pursued in taxing her night after night to sit up with him to a late hour in conversation. You can in these few words have some idea of the disagreeable position I am placed in. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 10

All our friends in Oakland know that I have spared no pains in regard to these children that they should obtain knowledge of how to work and knowledge which was greater than everything else, how to behave and how to give their hearts to God, a knowledge of the will and ways of God. Then for Addie to go right away from our people and place herself where she has. The course her father has taken has proved I have had no unjust estimate of his character. I get no letters from Addie and have no reason to think that she gets any from me, and this course is pursued toward one who has been a mother to your father’s children since May was three years old and Addie five. I never meant to say as much as I have, but I think you ought to know this much, and I hope no wrong will come of what I have written. But Addie could not have done me a greater harm than she has done in the course she has pursued in this matter. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 11

Can you give me any knowledge of where Mary Clough Wanless is? If you can ascertain her whereabouts and where I could find her, you will much oblige your Aunt Ellen. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 12

Please to get this letter to Addie if you can. 5LtMs, Lt 1, 1888, par. 13