[This letter appears to have been written in Spanish and translated by some unknown person. This transcription from that person's handwriting was done by Sukie Hunter, who has retained the original spelling. Only some spacing has been changed.]
San Luis Obispo, Calif.a
Feb. 19th 1876
Mrs. A. Evans
My very dear Sister, my only consolation
Your favour of the 15th ultimo, which is at hand, shows me that You and yours are all well, for which I thank God, and hope that he will preserve your precious life, for the consolation of your dear family and our own too, in this our terrible affliction and solitude, which every day we feel more and more keenly in our hearts.
One reason why I did not answer your very esteemable letter above mentioned immediately, has been the visit of Mr. Charles Rutherford, the most dear Friend of my beloved husband, who has been with us four days, and as he loved so truly my dear Walter, he has been with us to his grave, where he has shed his tears with us weeping most bitterly like a child for his dear Friend. We felt some consolation with his visit, as he resembles my dear Walter, in many respects, his ideas, manners and even his features or so it appears to me, and also his departure has caused us considerable sorry at the end of his visit. He is a very good gentleman and a true friend of my lost Walter. He has lost two wives and now is married to a very good lady and lives with his family in Oakland, California - where two of my children are taken care of at his house while they are being educated and now, he took Mercedes with him to go to stay two or three weeks with his family and at the same time to see her brother and sister. He has promised me to write to You a long letter and I am sure he will do it soon. He is in charge of the purchase of the sepulchrum and ornament of my beloved's grave and when all will be complete I will send you a Photo of all of it, as well of all your poor neices and nephew, and I will also send the same to your dear mother, who is now the most sacred person that I keep in my sorrowful heart. As soon as will have all the photos readdy I will write to her, dear Mamma I pray to God to preserve her life and health for a long, very long time.
In regard to your dear brother's business, they are not as yet concluded or ended. I hope that after paying all our debts there will be a small rent left for the support of the family and their education. I economize as much as I possibly can but I see that it will be necessary that I do some work besides or some Kind of business to make ends meet, as the saying is; the difficulty is that I see nothing that I can do, as during my beloved's life time, I never did any thing in the least, except the care of the house and family, and now I am the most afflicted creature on earth, not knowing what to do, to help supporting such a large family, seven children, all girls but one, and this so young in a country so difficult for lone women to do any thing. I tell You my dear Sister when I reflect and think in my terrible situation my forhead burns and almost get crazy with afliction. Our Friends are mostly poor and although they encourage us with words they cannot do anything further towards helping us, as they too have their own cares and families to support.
When I began to raise my family, I took with my husband's consent two orphan little girls, we brought them up, and they have helped us very well in all the sickness that we have had in the family, and in raising our own children too, one is 23 years old and the other 15, they are very virtuous, and in the last illness of my beloved, they have heroically helped me in everything, with constancy & good will, they have no father or mother and we were all they had in the world and Walter loved them as his own daughters, they are still with me, and I feel as my duty to take care of them until they shall be established as God will direct and provide, and I will starve before exposing them, in this corrupt world, to its dangers.
Therefore my very dear Sister, You will see that all my family contains ten persons with myself: six children of my beloved Walter, one daughter I had of my first husband, which daughter was so very young when we married, that Walter was, so to speak, her second father and he loved her, and she him, just the same as the best father and daughter, the two above mentioned girls and myself; therefore I beseech You to pray for us all, my very dear Sister, that our Lord may guide my thoughts in performing my great and holy duties, as my very dear Walter told me, when near his last moments, with a great effort and pain from the bottom of his heart.
Oh! My very dear Sister, the more I cry and weep the more I feel my misfortune and solitude and the more my eyes desire to shade tears so bitter and my agony increases almost every day, so great has been my loss, and having no consolation, but that from God I hope I will obtain it.
Dear Sister, I pray You not to forget us with your consoling letters, which bring such soothing to my heart for my lost treasure. You say that Walter did not speak much of his family, please excuse him, he had so many business that took all his time almost, to comply with his engagements, and he intended to remedy all those faults, when he would go to make a visit to You and all of yours which he desired from the bottom of his heart, which desire he kept in his heart for so many years, and now when it seemed so near its cumpliment [Sp. cumplimiento = fulfilment, realization], our Lord took him to his Kingdom - His will be done. Although in my humble judgement his death was premature and his sickness was not properly treated by the Doctor, which circumstance augments more and more my grieff, every time I think about it, without I having been able to help it in any wise or manner.
My very dear Sister, although I am overcome with grieff and pain, I am going to give You an explanation of all his sickness, as You desire me to do: Walter was a gentleman who knowing his merits he always made himself obeyed by his family, as well as by all other persons having business with him, without admiting any contrariety by any one, his character was always firm and decided. He enjoyed generally good health and he had too much confidence in this, not caring, as he ought to, in regard to his stomach. In all the time of our married life he had only been sick three times: first the small pox of which he suffered very severely, second a very bad cold he took once which nearly cost him his life: he used to get up every morning from his bed and go out immediately without covering himself enough as I though, and told him many, many times not to do, but without any heed to my advise and one day we brought him in the house from the garden, almost stiff and trembling so terribly, that we thought that he was going to die; but fortunately he got well; but still continued with his habit of going out in the cold air and strong wind, as soon as he got up form bed and without covering himself, in spite of my continous remonstrances. This is a place where the wind is almost permanent and requires considerable care even with very healthy people; but he had none at all, specially now with his employment of District Judge, as he had to travel from one place to another in rain or wind to attend to the oppening of his court in different places, and he was so punctual, and exact in his business and appointed hours, that many times or rather most of the time he had not his meals at their proper hours, in spite of all that I could say to him for the sake of his health. When he was at home he used to go out without taking any thing except a cup of coffee in the morning and eat nothing until night his supper soon after which, he used to go to bed without much or any exercise. I told him that sooner or latter his stomach was bound to resent that method of life, but he always did the same. After some time he began to feel some indisposition in his stomach, but still he did not alter his way or method with his meals.
Our house where we reside is about one mile distant from town, and I used to go with him every day to town in the buggy, and leave him at his office, and in the evening I also brought him home, this was not long before his last illness, one morning when I went to take him to town, he saw some nice large apples and wanted to buy one boxful, and as it was fruit long put in boxes, and brought from distant places, I told him not to buy, that might hurt some of our children and him too perhaps, as his stomach was not in very good condition, nevertheless he ordered a box to the house, and at night he bought some very fat pork which he liked very much, and although I refused to cook it that night for him, he ordered peremptorily and he ate that same night of that meet and also he asked for pickled pigg's feet, which ate also, and after that he ate one of the apples above named. I was almost sure that such a heavy supper was going to hurt his already delicate stomach, and told him so several times, but perhaps he felt hungry and thought as he often told me before that nature would help him out, not long after his supper he went to bed. He slept very little that night, he felt a severe pain in his stomach, I done all I could without calling a Doctor and the following day he felt better, and the next day the pain came again and he refuse to take my home medicines and went to town, and saw a new Doctor there by the name of Barger who was unknown in town, and right away he began to take his medicines, in this way he passed some time always discharging the duties of his Office very punctually, in spite of my remonstrances and advise to appoint a deputy, or stop such hard work for some time any how until he would recover his health, but to no purpose, and the reason was that as his election was approaching, he did not like to give any occasion to talk against him.
He began to lose weight very rapidly and without being able to eat well on account of his continous pain in the stomach and as he refused to take any medicine from me, I ask him and implored of him to go both to San Francisco City, where there are so many good Doctors, and that there under my own care he could get well quicker than here; but he refused even to see another Doctor in town, he still continued with the same one. It is true he was very careful about his eleccion, although his friend assured him that there was not the least danger about it, that he ought to take more care of his health. All to no purpose, he continued in the discharge of his duties just the same as if he was not sick; in the last trip he made to the counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura, he suffered very much, and when he came back he was very much desfigured and terribly poor in flesh, and still taking the medicines of this unknown Doctor.
I again insisted and prayed to him to leave or quit taking those medicines, which I could see that he received no good from them, and to change Doctors, but all in vain. With very much difficulty I detained him about three days within the house, and made him take a little castor oil and as soon as it began to operate as a light purgative, he felt himself better, so much so, that he was very well contented arranging and fixing his papers until eleven o'clock at night, singing in french, because whenever he was contented and felt gay-like he used to sing often in french. You can imagine how contented and satisfied I felt at seeing him so elated and much better of his pain in the stomack, I am well convinced that if there had been no Doctor at all, but myself I could have cured him, and this circumstance of course doubles my terrible affliction.
He went to town the next day and as the day was so very hot I went to bring him his diet ordered by the Doctor, which consisted in very little or next to nothing, and afterwards he insisted in going to look for a certain person to work him some bricks to fix a certain place at our house, in spite of my remonstrances on account of such a hot sun, and he being so feeble, he took that sun over two hours, we came to the house and as soon as it began to refresh the afternoon he went to town again, without allowing me to accompany him and promising to me that he was going to come back early that night, so as to rest well. I was left with very much care for my heart almost told me that something was going to happen very bad, on account of so much disorder in such a feeble health.
About two hours afterwards, one of my daughters came to call me, saying that her Papa was in a hotel very sick, I went in a moment and found him in bed in a hotel. They told me that they found him insensible laying on the floor of his Office, and they carried him to the next hotel. He told me that he was a little better compared to the previous attack, he also told me that he thought better, that we should pass in that hotel that night and would go home next day, but it was impossible to ever return home with him, other fits came with very strong hard tremblings, and the Doctor said, that it was better that he should be in town where there was every thing handy. The only way that we made those tremblings to leave him was, by surrounding all his body with bottles full of hot water, and as soon as the tremblings were gone, there came a very strong fever.
This same Doctor began now to give him a certain medicine that as soon as he took it, he used to act as if he had drank fire or as if he had fire in the stomach, he used to ask for snow to chow, in this way he was about two weeks. When I saw that that firy medicine did not do him any good, I asked the Doctor to change that medicine and try some thing else, as we could see no good came from it, but he disregarded my suplication and never changed it till he died, my poor dear companion. Some days before his death when I saw that there was some hopes of his recovery yet I told Walter that I thought that we ought to change Doctor, as he was every day worse; then he told me never to speak to him again about changing Doctor, and that if that Doctor should give him poison to drink that he would take it without the least doubt.
Seeing the great danger in which he was, and not being able to persuade him to change Doctor, I went with those of his most intimate friends to se what they could do for him, as we could see very clear that if we would only let him any longer with that Doctor, and under that treatment, he could not live. They all went but they let the Doctor persuade them, that Walter was going to get well with that medicine in spite of what they saw, every day worse and worse. When death was very near he, the dearest of my heart, began to lose confidence in said Doctor, but it was too late, he asked the Doctor for his diploma but he, the Doctor never produced, there were two particular friends, who were overconfident that the Doctor was going to cure Walter, and to whom I told what I thought it would happen; these same friends do not look to me straight in the face now.
This is the way that my poor dear husband died at the hands of this rascal (Doctor). I could do nothing neither with my dear Walter himself, not with the said Doctor, or the friends of my sick husband, and all my disgrace consisted in the circumstance that I could never take or remove my dear husband to my own house after he was taken to the hotel, because at my house I could have done what I wanted with my dearest, and send away the Doctor when I saw his incapacity; but there at the hotel I could do nothing at all.
He died with great suffering, his moaning will always be in my heart, as well as in my ears, his complaint, and agony was terrifying.
All this I tell you, my dear Sister, is only a very small part of what has ocurred to me, I do not think that I could be able to state to You all the terrible circumstances that transformed my dear husband from a healthy and almost young person into a corpse, making us all orphans in this house. Yes, my heart and my mind, are so penetrated with this profound affliction that although I do all in my power not to let my bodily health be affected, for the sake of my dear children, I fear very much that some bad consequence may result of so much trouble of my mind. It seems as if my heart would burst. I can tell You no more, but just think of a poor and sorrowful mother of so large a family in a country where there is so little morality, and where the only god there is, for the most of its inhabitants is money and money and very little else. Please, dear Sister, I beseech You, not forget in your prayers, this poor family, specially, your nieces and nefew in whose veins there runs your own precious blood. I tell You a nobler man than your brother, my very dear husband, I do not believe there exists.
I am going to try and see if I can find those presents which You had the kindness to send, and for which we all are very grateful to You.
My daughter Mercedes received a very kind letter from You, for which she is very particularly thankful to You, and which as soon as we find out some thing about the above presents she will have the pleasure to answer.
Dear Sister, please present my highest respects and consideration to Mr. Evans, your dear husband and also my most heartfelt expressions of love and respect to your dear mother, whose health God may preserve for a long time, and all the rest of your family, and You, dear Sister, accept the very best wishes of all this family, and the afflicted heart of your most obedient Servant and Sister
Merced. ['Murray' has been added by somebody else, in a different hand.]