San Luis Obispo
December 17th, 1875

My dear Sister,

Your sadly sweet letter brought to us joy and bitterness combined. With eyes filled with tears and hearts bursting with grief, did we eagerly listen to your kind words which were read aloud by the eldest daughter of that noble father who is lost to us forever upon this earth. Not in the earthly home will we again be blessed by his sweet companionship and may we so live that we will be allowed to enjoy it in the Heavenly Home.

The loss which we have met is indeed irreparable. One which we must mourn until our days upon this earth are ended. - It is a very great comfort to us dear sister, to feel that we have your affection and kind sympathies, although the great distance which separates us renders it impossible for us ever to become personally acquainted. But since we cannot communicate in person it will ever be to us a great consolation to do so in writing, and to feel that you take an interest in the welfare of the unfortunate family of your deceased brother - who was so much beloved by you, as they were by him.

He was highly esteemed and respected by all who knew him and to me this is a very consoling thought. Although he has been taken from us, his memory will be with us forever.

I was indeed proud of my relation with one of God's own noblemen, and although he has been removed from our midst, I shall always pride myself in his name - a name which we shall honor and suffer to remain unsullied so long as we shall live.

At present I am much confused, and know not what I shall do. Everything appears as a black cloud to me. I trust that dear Jesus will cast a light in my path and with his kind helping hand guide and instruct me. This is certain - I must do something. The children must have schooling, and I must sacrifice anything for their education. It is indeed hard to be left along with a large family in your hands. It is true that he has left many friends, but there are none who offer us more than sympathy for our loss. You know what this world is - Each one for himself. I have not yet found one as ready to help and advise as was our dear Walter. He was ever willing to lend a helping hand to all. Now I must be dealt with as one of the world - with no pity - no compassion. Each one for himself - such is California.

So far, out of the numerous friends which my dear husband left behind, only one has proved worthy of the title. This is Charles Rutherford - father of a large family. He and dear Walter were boys together in Boston and were as dear to each other as brothers, until Walter's death. Now he is doing all he can to help us. His wife came down while our loved one was breathing his last, with my daughters Mercedes and Anita, who were at College in San Francisco. When all was over she insisted upon taking Josephine home with her that she might attend school there, as our schools in San Luis are in a bad condition. They had refused to take pay for Josephine's board and she is cared for as though she were their own child. Josephine will be 14 years old in April.

Walter, my only son is also with Mr. Rutherford and attending school in San Francisco. I pay all his expenses. It is the first time the dear boy has been away from home and it seems a little hard to him. He will be 12 years old in January. I have a great desire that Walter shall grow up to be as good, and as intelligent a man as his father was, and while I live he shall have every good opportunity that I can afford him.

Anita - her father's pet - is attending the State Normal School. This is a very superior institution of learning and I hope I can keep Anita there until she graduates. She has always expressed a desire to become a teacher and if she graduates from this school she will be qualified to teach anywhere and will obtain a State certificate. Her advancement for one so young is quite remarkable. She has her father's head and is more like him than any of the other children are. She is going to make a noble woman.

Mercedes left school at the time of her dear father's death. We thought to keep her at school a year longer, but since our sad misfortune she feels that she must give her place to one of the younger ones.

My daughter Eliza is still with me - her health is not good. Fannie, my youngest - now 9 years old - is getting to be a big girl. At present I dare not send her to school. She is a very delicate child, and I intend to keep her at home this winter. Mercedes hears her lessons. Fannie is a smart child - very quick to learn. I trust that God will help me in bringing up my dear children. They were deprived of a noble father's guiding hand just when they most needed his counsel.

In regard to what means my beloved husband left us, he left something beside the Homestead but I do not know how much will remain with us after everything is settled. I find that there is quite a sum to be paid out and I fear that there will be very little left us - if anything. There are a number of persons who were owing him but we will have a hard time in obtaining their pay. One of these owed Walter three thousand dollars and in the hour of his death he said to this man - in my presence "Be sure and let my family have what you owe me". Now the man denies the debt. It seems to have been an agreement made verbally as we can find no papers by which we could force the man to pay. And so it is - they all hand in their bills but refuse to pay theirs. Yes, my dear sister, such is my situation and I am utterly incapable of altering it. May the All Father help us in our trying hours.

We buried our loved one near dear Alexander. I have not yet had the grave arranged but we are daily expecting the money for his Life Insurance and with a part of this I mean to build a sort of vault for him and the dear children whose remains I will remove from where they now lie and place them with their dear father. When this is done I will have the dear grave photographed and will send you copies of it, that you may behold where our loved ones lie.

I send you as much of his hair as I can possibly spare. I will also send some to our dear old Mother from whom I received a precious letter last night. I will write to her very soon. I see that she is not living with you. Still independent as ever is she? The dear old lady is not long for this world. For her the blissful reunion is not far distant, God knows, but it is less distant for us. Our loved ones have gone only a little while before us, and Oh! to prepare ourselves for the meeting.

I also send you two more copies of the account of dear Walter's death. I tried to obtain more but could not. There was nothing said about him in any paper but the Tribune. Have you as many of his photographs as you want? I am having some copied from the best ones we have of him and if you wish I will send you one or two copies.

Mr. Thompson is dead. He committed suicide by shooting himself shortly after his arrival here. It is said that he committed this rash act because a young lady whom he greatly admired, refused to marry him. I do not know how true this is. All that reached us of the box which you sent us by Mr. Thompson was a piece of greyish cloth. The rest of the things were lost on the way out. We thank you for your kindness in sending them.

I shall hope to hear from you again, dear sister, and shall ever be happy to answer your dear missives. Mercedes says she will with pleasure write to her dear Aunt. She will also write to her Grandmama soon. I hope this letter will find you all well and may God watch and protect you ever. Your nieces would all be delighted to make their Aunt's acquaintance, but he who might some day have taken them to visit the dear relatives is gone to return no more, and the children must now be satisfied by making the relations' acquaintance through writing only. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blest be the name of the Lord. We poor short sighted mortals cannot understand these afflicting dispensations of Providence but He says that we shall know hereafter.

Present my respects to your kind husband, and to your family - much love from their unknown cousins. The girls all send love to their dear Aunt. Accept, dear sister, and present to your dear children my best love with the assurance that I am

Yours affectionately
Mercedes Murray