|San Antonio in 1849 by William G M Samuel, Bexar County Courthouse|
My dear Robert
While in the neighborhood of El Paso I received a letter from you which I have been unable to answer till now. Altho' 'tis more than a fortnight since my return to this place, the settlement of my accounts with individuals & 3 departments in addition to my current duty has occupied me so closely that I have not attempted a letter till now.
I found my poor Lily heart-broken, & well she might be -- none but yourselves ever lost such a mother -- her absence from the death bed is an additional cause of grief. She is absolutely pining to see her mother's grave, & to contribute, with you, to give your father such comfort as he can feel, & would now be at Bohemia but that I fear the effect of such a change of climate -- she has derived perceptible benefit already from the change to this, & I have strong hope that the winter here will restore her health.
We are now grieving, my dear Bob, for your last misfortune, which we learned by the last mail. Lily had been enjoying in anticipation of finding a boy of yours to play with on her return, & is now afflicted next to yourself -- I fear now to see a mail -- every one brings something to revive almost in its fullest bitterness grief for your mother's loss. I find one comfort however. This climate of Texas agrees admirably with Lily so far. She looks better now than at any time in the last six or seven years.
All that I have seen in the newspapers to gratify me has been concerning you. Of course during my absence nothing of what was going on in the world ever came to my knowledge. Your letter came by the merest accident. I find however you were elected by a majority so large that you have acquired vert great influence over your district. I see you proposed in many of the papers, for speaker of the house. However the election may have resulted, this proves that you have succeeded rarely in public life. Indeed I believe that few if any have in so short a political life as yours has been, gained so high a position, & at this I proudly rejoice.
There are two members of your house that I want you to find out. One is Col: Caldwell of Kentucky late major of Voltigeurs, & my mess mate, a true gentleman & democrat. The other is the representative of western Texas, whom I have never seen. But I have had his brother, Rich'd A. Howard with me since last spring, & he is a jewel. One of the truest men I have ever met. So I think the representative must be something of the same kind.
I shall write again in a day or two. Lily joins me in love to Georgine & the little ones.
J. E. Johnston
[Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891)
Lily = Lydia Milligan Sims McLane Johnston (1822-1887)
Robert Milligan McLane (1815-1898)
Their mother = Catherine Mary Milligan McLane (1792-July 31, 1849)
Their father = Louis McLane (1784-1857)
Caldwell = George Alfred Caldwell (1814-1866)
Volney Erskine Howard (1809-1889), who later moved to California.
Richard Austin Howard (circa 1824-1866)
Georgine = Georgine Urquhart McLane (1813-1899)
Little ones = Mary Emma McLane (1843-1869) and Georgina Urquhart "Jennie" McLane (1846-1915). The latter lived in Paris from 1885 until her death in 1915.]
[Many thanks to Sue Davis, William Myers, Mary Davy and Sally Young for their ongoing research collaboration.]