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Transcript: Stangroomletter18651013

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San Francisco 13th October 1865 My Dearest Mother I don't know how long it
has been since I wrote to you and only know that it was since I last heard
from you. San Franciscans are only settling down from the excitement of a
lively Earthquake which we had last Sunday, by far the worst experienced
since the settlement of the coast by Americans. It shook down several brick
houses and cracked almost all, more or less. We live in a wooden house and
feel quite safe, though the ceiling plaster of my office was transferred
almost bodily to the tables and carpet. No one was killed and only a few
hurt by falling materials. A few weeks ago, we also had a convulsion in the
RailRoad Company which resulted in Mr. Lewis being deposed and my being
appointed in his place "Chief Engineer of the Western Pacific RailRoad
Company," rather an imposing title, especially to untraveled ears, but not
of very much importance here. I think

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I have done pretty well so far, considering that I had to fight the whole
crowd at the beginning. The President and Chief Engr. have both had to
leave, and the Contractor has to take his orders from me, and although he
hates me as bitterly as any man can hate one whom he has tried to injure
and suffered himself from the recoil, I try to get along as pleasantly as
possible. The English Company's representatives are expected out here in a
few weeks, and if they come I have no idea of what position I shall obtain
– if any. If they do not come, I suppose I shall remain in my present
position for a while at least. My salary is raised from 300 to 400 per
month but my expenses are proportionately increased, [illegible scratched
out lines] but it is a comfort to think I have no one to blame for it but
myself, and I don't do that much since I have left off "worrying." Charly
is well and growing in manliness more than in size. He is naturally
delicate though he has the buoyancy and spirits which seldom

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accompany weakness or ill health. He is beginning to take great interest in
his lessons and makes good progress. He is as good a little fellow as I
want him to be and I am very happy at being with him so much. I am now able
to be in San Francisco two or three times a week. I am and have been well,
though I am physically very weak and thin compared to what I was some years
ago. I am beginning to get old. I have no doubt it sounds laughable to you
to hear me talk so at a little over 33, but that in California is equal to
43 in staid old England at least. I suppose you have paid your visit to
Charlotte, seen and gloated over all your grandchildren (but one), and
returned home. Although we are not working very fast on the RR, I am kept
riding about out the country from one end of the Line to the other, 175
miles, and from both to here so as to have very little time on my hands,
which suits me exactly, but it is a good excuse for being an infrequent
correspondent. I don’t remember when I wrote (or didn't write) last to
Charlotte. Send her my love when you write and also give it to Mat and
Lucy. I suppose

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you are not in any alarm about the Fenians, though I suppose you have some
apprehensions about the Cholera; those are about the two only topics of
European news now the talk of the Atlantic Cable has died away. There is a
prophecy of several years' standing by an old Spaniard that San Francisco
is to be "wiped out" tomorrow by an Earthquake, but I do not think it
certain to take place on that account. How does Mat like his business so
far? I hope it is one that will ensure him steady employment and that he
will have sense to see that that in time cannot fail to be profitable. My
strong wish to that effect is based on the knowledge that I have not
realized it myself at any time until now. I am in a hurry, so goodbye, my
Dearest Mother, with best love to Papa. Believe me Your very affectionate
son M. L. Stangroom [illegible scratched out portion] God bless you all