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HomepageTranscript of a Letter
by Eugenie M. Bell
The James Family History


(D?)owners Grove, Illinois April 15, 1934.

My Dear Mrs. Cherry:
        I was so joyously surprised with your letter and I am deeply grateful to you for the thought that prompted you to make a copy of the James record for me. I want to tell you what my Grandfather Nathan James told me about them if you care for it.
        The mother of Nathan Howell James was a Conn. woman, though we were never able to get the records to present to the D.A.R. Grandfather James said he was youngest and always free from duties as his sisters did all the work, even milking.
        I have a tintype picture of Abigail Taylor [jc: actually Davis or Hitchcock] James and a quilt she made before the Civil War. Also a piece of counterpane she made before her marriage in 1830. She is said to have spun the yarn from wool from her father's sheep and gathered herbs and leaved and dried the thread, then wove the counterpane. Also, she is said to have smoked a clay pipe.
        Grandfather James said his father Thomas James left Scotland as a young boy, went to Wexford County, Ireland and took up rich land. When he had gotten a good start he returned to Scotland and married the girl he had left behind, and together they returned to Ireland.
        They became wealthy and when Henry James was a very small boy the family moved to America. They brought their money in a grain sack. The property in Ireland was not sold, but according to law it reverted to the state after a number of years.
        In Ohio Thomas James took up a township of land. Henry James told Nathan he clearly remembered the grain sack about half full of money that stood against the foot of the bed. Thomas James built a grain distillery and sent to Ireland for the stones to grind the grain.
        Before the stones arrived the Indians went on the war path, burned all the buildings, so the distillery was never rebuilt, and the stones never used for that. Before the family fled southward, they buried the bag of money. But when they returned they could not find the place, and though they dug repeatedly the treasure was never found.
        When Libby Prison was such a shameful disgrace to the country, a friend and neighbor of the Perkins family was suffering there. He began to lose his eyesight and had his ears pierced, according to superstitious belief that that would mend the blindness, and sent home for ear-rings. His family sent him tiny gold rings, almost like wires. He wore them, but they were no cure, so he sent them to Frances Perkins of whom he was very fond. She must have been about 12 years old then.
        Fifteen years ago she pierced my ears and I now wear the ear-rings. My mother removed them from Grandmother's ears after she passed away. My Father removed them from my Mother's ears, for me. But I do not know the name of the men who died of Starvation in Libby Prison.
        Thus far I have been unable to get records of the Morrill's. My grandfather Thomas Morrill was born in (B?)arre Vermont, and I have the name of his parents and the story of his departure for the west in 1849. He was believed to be the cousin of Senator Justin Morrill, but the recorder of (B?)arre County, Vermont writes me there is no record.
        Ever since my son was very small (he's eight years now) I've planned a book for him, the name to be "To My Little Lad" with the best obtainable information about all his ancestors. I think it would be a treasure. To me such things are a sweet romance. I should have liked nothing better then to have been able to know all my ancestors personally. Wouldn't that be lovely?

          Again I wish to thank you for your letter.
          Very Sincerely,
          Grace Eugenie M. Bell



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