February 8, 1905
As I am crippled by a fall on the toe and confined to my room, I will try and write again from Marion.
Everything here is wrapped up in sleet and snow and no doubt this spell will go down as one of the worst for years.
Since my last latter to you we have had several deaths. Howard Steuart was picked up in a dying condition and died without speaking and next was the killing of Davis Everett by Dave Lewis and then was the killing of Mrs. Mack Stancil by her son. I suppose he shot her for a burglar. We also learned today that William Hollis fell and broke his leg on the (?). It looks like we have a killing (?).
Trade is very low here owing to the low prices of cotton and it looks like there will be very little surplus put up this year as the merchants are all ready crippled. I sometimes think this is all for our good and that it is a blessing in disguise. We have had hard time before but none as sudden as this and I do hope that the people will realize our condition early. I was expecting this but it came a little harder than I expected.
We get the most of our goods by rail, but we will have no agent at the depot. I see that they have laid off a good size town at the depot and I think that they will try to break up Marion. It seems like they have forgotten how the merchants helped get up all the options and gave rights of ways and promised them $1,000 the first train etc. while the railroad was to be built the 10th of last May and running trains through the town of Marion. We were not (?) where the depot should be and they could not have found a worse place to put it and so the land owners are all mad about having given options on their land. Notwithstanding all this I tell them to come up and pay this amount as I would rater pay my part than to have a law suit with them and win it. I did not want the road as I had an interest in Alabama Landing at that time but I did not want to be different from my neighbor so I kept silent on same. So, I tell them we have the railroad, which they wanted and I am willing to pay as much as anyone to keep on gold terms with everybody, while this looks hard for a man of my age who spent four years in the war for your freedom but lost our cause. There are but few left to tell about the horrors of the war and our places must soon be filled by the younger generation. I hope they will not come into contact with any war as I did. I was wounded 3 times, 2 slight wounds but the other was almost the death of me. Young man, do not think that you have a hard time but just think what we old men have done for you. Some boys and even young men will say that old men are things of the past. Look at the old darkey, when he comes in your house he pulls off his hat and seems glad to meet you.
Well, in conclusion must say we must change our way of living. Instead of living in Kansas and the north lets live at home in Louisiana. We have the best country in the world to live in if we would live at home and keep out of debt. All cotton and credit will not do and it means a slave all your life.
It looks like people can’t stand prosperity for look at that costly building that was forced upon us while times were a little prosperous and it will hang over you for many years to come. I mean the court house. It was built when labor was at its highest. All this I could see but kept my mouth shut as our police did not view this as the writer did.
My last advice to you all is to keep out of debt, let the blind tiger whiskey alone and let the women and children have this money to keep them from suffering. May the good Lord be with you all.
J. H. ROARK.