Letter from Artemus J. Mathewson to Samuel B. Reed, July 22, 1865

In this letter from July 22, 1865, Artemus J. Mathewson writes to Samuel Reed discussing his work on the railroad "in cutting out the deep cut from Chi. to Lockport." He states that he has not yet received a reply from Thomas C. Durant, Vice President of the Union Pacific Railroad, regarding reimbursement for extra expenses he incurred after becoming sick while working on the railroad in Utah the previous season. Mathewson also reminisces about the time he and Reed spent together working on the railroad and describes the land they traveled over in great detail.

Good description of route
S.B. Reed. Div. Eng. U.P.R.R. Utah.

Dear Sir.

I have forgotten when I last wrote you, but I know you will be glad to get a letter from me, altho [sic] I have no news of any importance to write. I had expected long before this to have found time to go down and visit even for an hour Mrs. R. and family but the fact is, that every hour since the 1.st of June, and even before that time I have had no time even to visit my brother-in-law, whose family I have not seen for 3. or 4. years. So, you see how much time I have had to see any one. I like to keep busy, but this is pretty steep.

They tell me, after Sept. 1.st at which time our letting takes place they will not be as hurried as now, and then I will get away a day or so to rest.

I wrote you in my last that they had engaged me to go on and do this work for them in cutting out the deep cut from Chi. to Lockport. As I had decided to stay at home this season and recruit what I lost in flesh and fluids by my sickness last year, this will enable me to do so unless they shall work me to [sic] hard.

I am under many obligations for your kindness in sending me the specimens of shell agate from Gr. S. L. City. I had got a pin set made in N. York expressly for Pres. Young, and intended to send it by you to him for the kindness uniformly extended to us last season by him and his people but when Capt. Swift came west last spring, he admired the stone so much, I could not find it in my heart to withhold it from him, and made him a present of it. I had sent a stone to Mr. Bunker in the office in N. Y. at his own request, but I can get no word from him in return or from Mr. Durant whom I wrote to, about the extra expense while sick in Utah on their service nor from the bill of fare home from N. York, which I sent at the same time. This, to say the least, is extraordinary conduct and I am at a loss to account for it. I wrote Mr. Durant, and Mr. Bunker too, about a week since, but no ans. to my second note.

We recd a letter from Mrs. D.W. Welty of Austin Nevada in answer to one I wrote her some time since telling her you would be over that way in the course of the summer, and to go out and meet you, and take you home with them, and give you something good to eat. She said they would do so, but you must give them notice when you will be at some given place that they may know how where and when to find you. Write them if you can get a letter forwarded and they will come after you. I told Mr. Welty you were a Mason and I think he is one. Anyway, he is a good man and will do any thing [sic] he can for you. Mrs. W. said if we had gone by San Francisco last fall, she should have come home with us, and then returned in the spring.

My friend I could see you in my mind's eye, as you passed all the way up the platte up the Cache-la-Poudre through Virginia Dale up, and over the Bl. hills through Cherokee pass on, and over the Laramie plains past Rock Cr. & Coopers on to wagon house Cr. across the Medicine Bow where we took such a good breakfast with Russell who has been murdered by a ruffian this spring on to fort 'brains' (Halleck.) past Elk M.t. through Rattlesnake pass and down the Cr. to the Desert beyond, and way to N. Platte through Bridger pass & down Muddy & to Bitter Cr. & Green Riv to Bl. fork church Butte & Bridger the muddy quaking asp Bear Riv. where we got the good meal and on to the head & mouth of Echo where we got another good meal (and where they treated me so well while I was sick there) and up to the Weber to Silver Cr. Parley's Park the divide dow [sic] down down to Hardy's where you wrote me you had to turn off and go over the 'little M.t.' and out by Camp Douglas to the beautiful City of the Saints the kind face of our old friend Little as the stage drove up with you, and all that. Yes, I could imagine all these things and really wished to be by you, but I knew too well what would happen with me on the Desert out west of the Lake. God help you my friend I pray you may not be sick nor those with you. How many of last year's boys have you got? Have you got the kind face and honest hearted Deacon. Harry Time Ino. Lyon Fletcher any of these? And where is Snowball Ino. & Ralph. The kind hearted Ino. and finally, all of them would I like to see again and I shall. Tell them so and remember me kindly to all. Have you got 'old nig' the dog what catch the bar on the Timpanogos? Poor old nig! I felt sorry when Ralph sold him to such a contemptible scamp.

You must write to me as often as you can.

I know how writing in camp works, after a hard day or week's work but you must give me a passing thought now and then, and a letter I fear you will get sick where and how are you going to obtain any decent water to drink? That is the rub. I have the impression you have Schimonski and Bissell if so, they will stand by you in case of sickness, and you will by them. By the way have you got [Smith] along? Where is 'Billy Swift' 'Extra Billy' ? Tell [?] have along.

We have in the two parties on our [?] one Capt. two marines 7. or 8. soldiers & [?] We are having boats built to live upon while at [?] in the spring, summer & fall. Very comfortable [?] fault to find busy, and much rainy weather [?] All crops are good her [sic] in the states how are they out there?

I fancy there are not as many people unwell, visiting Col. Bannack & Baisi this season as we saw. It was wonderful to see how many people had suddenly lost their health and could not stand the bad rough [climate] of the states & were were [sic] seeking one, more congenial, to prolong their precious lives to the common age of man that their days might be long in the land. They have, no doubt, regained their health, and will be wending their way back, this and next season. Such a trip is far better than the too common practice of visiting the seashore, which, under their convictions would be common and vulgar. If they are bothered to breathe and have to puff going up hill as I did, I pity them. Their lungs will be increased in a wonderful degree.

I am as hungry as a shark, only thinking of the clear bracing air of the Mts. and as my family are all in bed and asleep, I will have to go to bed hungry. A piece of that camp Floyd bacon would not taste bad to night [sic] . Wish I had a little.

It is past 10. P.M. Sunday evening the August crickets are chanting a solemn dirge my head nods a little. Good night. God bless you.


A.J. Mathewson.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Artemus J. Mathewson to Samuel B. Reed
  • Extent: 3 pages
  • Citation: Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa, Papers of Levi O. Leonard, Box 26, Folder: "Samuel Benedict Reed Correspondence: 1860-1865"
  • Date: July 22, 1865