Mary Alice and John Peter Piker at Bradford c1910.

The Piker Letters From Bradford, 1895-97

By EDDIE BEST, Editor White County Historical Society 2002

White County Heritage Letters from a Bradford farm family to Illinois relatives more than 100 years ago provide a revealing glimpse of life in White County at that time. The White County Historical Society recently acquired transcripts of the correspondence written by members of the John Peter Piker family of Bradford to Levy W. Tull of Illinois. Levy apparently saved the letters and they still exist, in the possession of a descendent. Most were written by John P. but some by his second wife Alice and others by his oldest son Eddie W. Piker. They offer an interesting perspective on the shaky budding relationship between a proud father and the young man who wants to marry his daughter. They also tell of the bounty and the challenges of White County long ago. John Peter Piker was born about 1846 in either New York or Germany, the son of German immigrants Peter and Elizabeth Piker. His youngest daughter Naomi now lives at Cross Roads, Arkansas, and at age 92 remembers that John Peter told her that he served in the Civil War as a replacement for his father. She provided a photo of him in uniform and recalled that wearing the Blue made it difficult for him to be accepted when he first settled among sons and daughters of the Gray in White County, Arkansas, some 30 years after the conflict had ended.

[See   "" “Memories of Yesterday” - “Her Father Served in the Civil War”.]

John P. Piker married 17-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Anderson on October 26, 1870 in Vigo County, IN. Although their time together was short, Sarah Elizabeth and John Peter became parents of five children: Edy J. (1872- ), Emma Katie (1876-1954), Charlie Peter (1879-1928), John Henry (1881-1956) and Gus G. (1883- ). Sarah died in 1885 in Terre Haute, IN. John then married Mary Alice Richards (1869-1951) on December 5, 1886, in Indiana. Shortly after, he and his family moved to Quigley in Shelby County, IL. The children by this marriage were an infant who died young, Frank (1887-1913), Linnie Bell (1889-1927), Newton Adley (1892-1964), William Duncan (1894-1977), Levy Brian (1898-1989), Effie Mary (1901-1918), Cordia Angeline (1904-1929), Alice Bertha (1907-1980) and Naomi Mae (1909- ). In the fall of 1895 he and his family relocated to Arkansas, as recorded in his family Bible: "came to Ark in covered wagon Oct 29 1895 Willie was 1 yr old on road down born Oct 29 1894" By this time the oldest child, Eddie W. Piker (sometimes spelled Edy), was married. He and his wife Molly had a daughter, Liddy/Lizzie, shortly after arriving in Arkansas. But Eddie moved his young family back to Terre Haute around 1900 where he put his "cucking" to use by opening a restaurant. The oldest daughter, Emma, had stayed in Illinois when the Pikers came south because she was planning to marry Levy W. Tull. Levy and his brother Sampson operated the local sawmill and sold and leased equipment for harvesting. Levy was also known in the area as a healer, treating both people and livestock. Emma and Levy were married on April 26, 1896. They relocated to Peoria, IL, around 1930 and had been married 55 years when Levy died in 1951. They had 9 children and 17 grandchildren. John Peter Piker died in 1927 at the hands of his own son, William D. According to Naomi, William shot two of his brothers and fatally wounded his father. John Peter had a total of 15 children, 78 grandchildren and over 130 known great-grandchildren. 

Bradford Ark Decembere 15 1895

Dear Firend yours came to hand on the 14 and was glad to her from you and her [Emma] that you air well and the rest of your falemy well Leive [Levy,] the preasent finds us all well it is raining here to day but not coald it has rained here every Sunday sence we came here well we hev plenty of whirk here wages air about the same as thair flouer is a litle hier here meat ham 8 cents per pound backan 7 and 6 1/2 sholder 5 hogs drest 4 cents a pound well when we got here things had changed so that it daid not lock natershel we had a prety good time on the road with a few exceptions Bradford is groind fast thair is lots of homested and state and railroad land here but i will not bother it yet i hav rented a plase for this year one mile from Bradford the reason is that it gives me a beter chanse to whirk well you spoke of the old plase i made a trade with Miller and i was to gaiv him 75 for this year i mean 1896 and it was to be turned in on what i owed him and he gave me a bond for a dead and i gave him a chatle moragege for to secure payment i realy owed him nothing for the year had not begun yet now I do not know what your object is but if you see eaney thing in it i will gladely giv you all information i can we hav the bond here and if you want it will send it to you Well i will close buy sending my bst wishes to you and Samp and Paw and maw and Emma from John P. Piker yours frend as ever Leive daid you get your pay out of that lumber if you daid not let me know Will you colect some thair for me if so let me know daid you get your straw it is bed time how is it with you ---- Well Levy as John was writing I thought I would write a few words to. we were real glad to hear from you, I like to hear all I can from my old home. I dont know yet how I will like it here I havent been here long enough yet to tell that, I was sorrow to hear that Mollie Eadon was dead. all though I was looking to hear of it Well Levy I dont know much to write so I will close Regards to you and Love to Emma Your Friend Alice [Mary Alice Piker, John P.’s second wife]


Bradford Ark January 3 1896

My frend Levi Tull yours came to hand afew days ago and was glad to her from you and your folks and her that you air all well and i hope duing well you spoke about rain we hav had some rain here too weaks ago it rained all weak white river has bin very high thair has bin lots of catle and hogs drounded here it came up so fast that pople could not get them out in time one man lost thirty head of catle it stoped me and Edy from our whirk the water is 12 feat deep in the woods whair we were whirking i liv too miles and a half from the botoms Edy is making ties now i am going to comense next weak making ties Leave you spoke about the plase if Miller sells it to eaney one the ded will be good we never intend to bother with it eaney more thair was one thing about it and that was this i knew the plase was not worth what it would hav cost me to paid it out and i tride harde to get it paid off but every year i got in whirse shape now i am here it will not hinder me from paing what i ow thair and expect to pay those that i ow thair i got a leter from Easery Shoock and he ask me if i had eaney one owing me thair if i would let him hav it and as you and i air frends i thought i would let Esery hav it to colect for some of them might act mean toward you and i dont want you to hav eaney trouble on my acount Well Leive you ask me some questions in regards to Emma as for my part i hav nothing to say i always thought well of you and injoyed your compeny you well know we had ameny a long talk together and if i would of had eaney objections to make then would hav bin my time so if you and Emma agres you hav my Best wishes and hope you will live a hapy life together i wish i could have bin present let me know when it will be may you both try to pleas each other and god bless you this is my objections John P. Piker rite soon ---- Friend Levy as John was writing I thought I would write a few lines to we were glad to hear from you and glad you were all well we are all tolerbly well, my pet tooth is bothering me now, well Levy as you asked to be excused, I excuse you. I was glad to hear that Emma had joined church and I hope she will do well in the church. Levy as you asked me to answer your question in regards to Emma I must say in reply that I thank you for your Genelemanly way you asked and If you and Emma are satisfied I certainly am. As I think you quite worthy of her and I hope you will both be happy My Love and best wishes to both you and Emma

Your Friend Alie

Bradford Ark. Jan. 24 1896

Mr Levy Tull kind friend we received your letter about a week ago and was glad to hear from you but sorrow to hear that you had such a bad cold but hope you are well and injoying life finely Well it has been raining here very near all week but it is turning some colder now. We havent had mutch cold weather here but a great deal of rain Well I was sorrow to hear you were having so much trouble with your corn shredder but hope you have got it fixed by now I expect it would scare some of the people down here to see some of their machinery up there they are about 20 years behind times down here John says if you have any of the Catalogues of them Engines to send him one he would like to see it. Well Levy this leaves us all well, my pet tooth has quit hurting, but I do wish you had been down here with your painless process and nock it out when it was aching so bad Well Levy you must excuse John for not riting this time he told me to write as he had to help a man butcher today ahd he has been shoe mending for the last four or five nights well I hope Emma is well has she got a place to work yet tell her helo for me John and Charlie like it down here very well there is lots of rabbits down here and they have all the fun they want Write soon and Often Your Friend as ever Alice Piker Good by

Bradford Ark Febuary 9 1896

Dear frend L. Tull yours came to hand some days ago and was glad to hear from you glad to hear that you and the rest of your foalks air well i daid not get to rite as soon as i would hav done i was haling lumber and swich timbers and i would start early of morengs and get back after dark and i would be tierd of nights we had good weather last weak but saturday it snowed all day and melted as fast as it fell today is a nise day the sun has bin shining all day joust such weather as you have thair the first of april people air geting thear spring whirk don we hav had lots of weat weather here this winter thay say more than coman well you ask me what kind of Engins they have here i can hardley tell you you to make the best of them thay air old traps if you had your Engin here and travel on the road you would skar some of these mans backs to death for thay never saw an engine on the road But thair are some good sawmills here thair is one at Bradford that saws all the way from 25 thousend 28 feat of inch stuf a day But it is a big mill the head sawer never tuches a loag neather does the man that whirks the leiver on the carage he has a platform to stand on and he dont get off the carage and thair air about thirty men at whirk you ought to see them the logs air handled by mashenery well the reason i ask you for a cataloge is i was talking to a man that has a coton gin and he said he would hav to get a new engine and I thought probley i could get him to take one from you and Samp i could whirk here fore you we air all well at preasent Edy is well but mashed two of his fingers one is prety bad Moley is well Charley and John and Frank said they wish you daid come and help them hunt we hav got the two dogs yet thair air two kinds of rabets here one kind like thair and one kind that are joust as large again thay call them hars here well Aley is nersing Wiley and unting anot in Franks shoe well it is nine oclock that means bed time so i will close buy sending my best regards to you and your paw and maw and the rest of the falemey hoping to here from you soon yours as ever John P. Piker tell Emma halo for me 

Bradford Ark Febuary 26, 1896

Dear frend Lev Tull yours came to hand severel days ago was glad to her from you and hear that you were all well the preasenet finds us all well the weather is nise here now and has bin for the last two weaks lots of people air done sowing oats some have got thair potatos planted i am going to plant tomorow if it dont rain lots of people hav got thair garden planted this winter seams like it had bin all spring and fal the coaldest weather i saw was on the road the peach tres will be in blome in a weak if the wather stays as it is now well i want to speak to you about what i hav hird i haf hird that you said i was coaxing Emma away i hav not she rote and told me that she was going to come out and that you would not leave home that you wanted her to liv with your folks and that she would not du and then she ask me to get her a plase i told her if she was going to come not to wait for a plase but to come one and she could get a plase after she got here that is all the persuading i done except i said this she had given up all for you and if you thought so much of home that it was profe that you thought more of your foalks than of her i daid not want her to giv up you but i thought this she had beter be here than thair without a home if i would hav knone that things were going to turn out this way i would hav got her to come with us you say your mother is geting oald and you want some one to du the whirk now if that is all you want a wife for it would be making a slave of her then you well know if Emma and you were maried and liv at home it would not be home for her and every thing that went rong she would hav to bare the blame and the rest would find falt with her then as for you making a living and not whirking i never said eaney thing about that i think it is time to setle the mater one way or the other but i beleafe your foalks hav bin coaxing you to stay at home sence you blame me with coaxing Emma i hope you wont get mad at this i felt it my duty to speak plane hope to remain your frend as ever John. P. Piker

Bradford Ark April 26 1896

Well i will take my pen in hand to rite a few lines and i will call you my frend as you was in dout weather to call me and Aley frend or not i will ashure you we air not your eaneyme will i got yours over a weak ago but keep puting off riting from one time to the next i am very buisey in my crop now i gav got corn ancle high and my oats is nearly a foot high our early potatos hav got small ones on them and we hav got a peach orch on this plase the trees air loded this year and air as large as quail eggs now strawberes air ripe thair air a good maney raised here and shiped north the weather here is warm so warm tha a man cant plow stedy with a team it seems to me as if we had all fall and spring and no winter thair is lots of gras in the woods now timber has bin green quite awhile well Leve you spoke about me bing mad that is a mistake i was not mad at you the reson I daid not rite was this i planey saw that thair was no use to rite regarding the way things wer going that we daid not fuley understand eacher and i thought the less said the easer mended that was my reason for not riting But i daid gait mad at Emma after i sent her money and daid not come i would have bin wilen to helped her back as soon as she would hav bin ready to go back But as it is i never expect to see her again she has cased me lots of trouble this winter and i know she is to blame for it all i daid not know what was going on thair you know Emma loude others to talk and lisend to them and got her disfide and then rote to me for help that is what i think about the mater we air all well But Aley she had the grip and is not well yet hope when those few lines reach you thay may find you well and the rest of your folks hoping to heair from you soon J.P. Piker I will rite to Emma soon 

Bradford Ark May 12 1896

Dear Emma and Levy I will take the pleasure of answering your letters we have received You must forgive us for not answering sooner but we have both been busy and would put of writing from time to time. After I got your letters I was sick 3 weeks, and John wrote to Levy and I was not feeling like writing then. But if you will forgive me this time for being so slow I will try to do better the next time Well we were glad to hear that you were married and we wish you much joy and happiness but John said he coud forgive you for not inviting him to your wedding but he said you might have send him a piece of the weding cake. Well to lay all foolishness aside I am glad you are married and I hope you will both always be as happy as you now are and may always be good and kind to each other. Levy you said you expected we hated it because you were married of course we hate to give Emma up as she is all the Daughter we have of any size but if it was her wishes as we suppose it was we are glad to have her happy and we are satisfied she is. Well you said you had a good prospect of frute I am glad to hear that I hope you may have good crops of every thing and that you may prosper in every thing Crops look very well here but we need rain pretty bad. Oats are heading out. I dont know about wheat as ther is none right around here what Corn and Cotton we have up look very nice our garden is tolerbly good Well Emma I want you and Levy both to write a great long letter right away write every thing you know I would love to see you both awfully well there isnt a day but what I think of you Levy invited me to come see you but that is a pleasure I never expect to have. You folkes come to see us if you can and want to we would be glad to have you come. Home is the same old place it allways was but a little farther away. We are all tolerbly well and Edy’s family also and I hope you folks are all well Edy said for you to write to him Levy. Well I guess I will close for this time I hope to hear from you soon You must excuse John for not writing this time as he is so busy in his crop and at night he is so tired he dont fell like writing he will write the next time. Love from all to Both of you Emma the Children sends you a kiss and say them would like to see you Good by for this time From Mamma to Emma & Levy Write soon


 Bradford Ark White co May 21 96

Dear sister and husband I received your kind and welcome letter but was sorry to here that you was sick well crops are fine here corn runs from ankle high to waist high Mollie has 2 hens and 1 rooster I had one hen setting and a hog broke her up I have got in 10 acres of corn and 6 of cotton 5 of oats 3 for hay we have got a nice potato patch and garden my potatoes are not big enough to eat but some people has had potatoes to eat nearly 3 weeks Paw has got taters big enough to eat oh yes I forgot to tell you oats are hooded out I have got a nise colt 2 or 3 months old it is a well built colt we named it Charley Emma I was glad to here we had a new Brother in law little Lizzie dont grow a bit it seems like I will close as I cant think of nothing more to write so Long Eddie W. Piker and Mollie Piker

White Co May 21 96

Mr Levy W Tull Dear Brother in law I recived your most welcome letter yes your are allowed to call me your friend I thought I would call you my friend and Brother in law both if you will allow me Well Levy how do you like married by this time corn is 50 cts a bushel here we have got a fine frospect for fruit out here strawberris are done over with there is acres and acres of strawberris here there will be skads of blackberris we havint had much rain this spring but we got sloshing good rain last night Well Levy hows Dad Binit getting along tell him and the rest to write to Levy you had better come down and go a fishing with us well this is all for this time so I will close Eddie Piker PS Emma I will send you of mine Lizzies dress so good by write soon Mollie Piker


Bradford Ark June 1 1896

Mr & Mrs Levy W. Tull Dear Levy & Emma we received you kind and most welcome letter and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you were both well, but have since herd that Emma was sick but we dident hear how bad sick she was I hope you was not bad sick This leaves us all tolerbly well Charlie and Willie have not been well. Charlie is better now but Willie is a little puny. Edy’s family is well, Our crops are doing very well now we are having good growing weather now We have had new potatoes to use for 3 weeks and beans. Our garden is doing very well Emma you asked how many young chickens I had I have about 95 I had over 100 I went to Edy’s yesterday and somthing caught 15 of my chickens it dont pay me very well to go visiting very much. Levy you asked if we were raising any Melons we are trying to the vines look real nice there are some little melons on the vines and if nothing hapens you must come and eat melons with us. Is there any one raising many melons up there this year. Emma Linnie was awfully glad to get them pieces of your dresses and she will send you a piece of her dress. have you got any of your quilts quilted yet well I guess I have writen all I know to write and it is about bet time it is very near 10 oclock and I will close for this time Write Soon and let us know how Emma is if she is sick or not Yours as ever John and Alice Piker Emma the children send you their love. They all talk of you a great deal. Good by for this time

Bradford Ark June 1896

Dear Sister and husbend as I ame busey and in the hurey to get redy for milk i will write to both of you tother this time well we had about to weks of dry wether but we are a get a plunty of rain now well I cut my otes three weks ago and i had the best otes on a Arden Jones place and the rest of the crops looks fine i have hade my corn by all but a day plowing i will have coten blumes in two weeks and it will be ready for lay by well Emma i have not got any chickens they eate so much of the beens that we kiled them and we can get sum beens now well Emma you had owt to see little Lizzie she is a case now yes i forget to tell you we are all well now but we have ben have the chilles but we are all wright now yes i forget to tell you i have got a fine tobaco patch it is about knew hy over the patch well i woushed you was heare to go a fishing with us i never sen such a fine fish in my live till came down heare and squrles untill you cant rest well when are you gont to come down heare and pay us a vusit will i no you cant come till threshing is over well come when you can and we will have a fine time well i will close are i wont get to the train from Edy W. Piker and Miley Piker to Leavey Tull and Emma Tull write soon dont wate so long and tell me all the nuse


Bradford Ark July 19 1896

Dear son in law and Daughter yours came to hand some time ago and was glad to he from you and her that you air both well well the preasent finds us all well but my self and that is ruamitasm it cam on last april and i hav not bin rid of it sence is causes me grate pain but i am well othar wise i havent lost a day sence we came here on acount of sicknes our helth here is about the same here as thair the wather is hot here now and things air wanting for rain but it locks like rain now and thair hav bin shours went around i hav got barn ready for feed and my late planting is in silk that is my mane crop my coton is duing well it is now in full blum i hav got 20 acres in coton our first melons air nearly gone i picked our first ripe melons July second and could hav had them sooner if i would have planted sooner we hav got a late pach Leave come and go down to the lake with us next satuarday and we will catch some fish it is onley a mile and a half from here will times air hard here and i supose thair too we hav bin whirking hard this sumer trying to get some thing to go on next winter well the boys hav bin plaing ball and some of our naber boys hav come home with them and they air having a water melon eating race Leavie you ask me one time how far we liv from Bradford 3/4 of amile du west Charley was ovar to Edys last night we liv joust 1 mile apart and i wish it was no farther to your house well i must close tell your paw and maw halow for me and tell him i hope he is a fre silver man and for Briant i am somewhat disapointed over the convension i was for Bland but i hope Briant will du as well all though i hav my douts i bleaf thair was some sham whirk about it still i hope he will be alected hoping these will find you well and injoying life so good by for this time John P. Piker

Bradford Ark July 19 1896

Mr. And Mrs. L. W. Tull Dear Emma and Levy. We received your kind letter some time ago and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you were well. Well I dont know much to write as John has written about all there is to write Emma I wish you would come down and help me dry apples and peaches we have got lots of peaches and a good many of apples we have 5 trees of peaches that are ripe now and lots that are later We have some grapes on the plase and there is the most blackberris here I ever seen they are very near all gone now. Ripened and fell of. I didint get to can many I dident have the cans Emma I was sorrow to hear you were having bad luck with your chickens. I hope you may raise what you have now I have had bad luck with all my late chickens to. Well Emma I hope you have a nice garden and truck paches. Well I dont know any more to write so I will close hope to hear from you soon Yours as ever Alice I would love to see Emma & Levy around again as this is Sunday Evening

Good by

August 1 1896

Dear sister and husband reseved your kind and most welken letter a cuple of weks ago and was glad to hear from this leves us all well at presant time but paw fokes John has been sick but he is beter now and Liney has ben sick and litte Wille has ben cuting teath and a runing auf at his bowls well we are have som mighty hot weather and very dry weather and the crops is buren up in places and the cotten wont make so very much heare on the cont of the druth but i think i ame slade for a hunder bushels of corn any how well i have ben working on the cucking for about three weks and if i can kep my helth i will stay with it this winter and if I get sick i will get a plas to the huspitle and docter bill pad and bord bill to so i will stay with it if i can and hire my crop cered well Levey there is one thing that i can brige on and that is a fine tobacto patch and some of it is redy to cut now well pet came yesterd a week ago well Emma Miley says she would like to see you when are you fokes a come out heare i would like for you to come out heare this fal are winter if you can well this all that i can think of for time excuse me for not writing sooner and i will try to do better next time write soon from Edy W. Piker and Miley Piker to Levy W. Tull and wife 

Bradford Ark September 6 1896

Dear Sun in Law and daughter i will tak my pen in hand after puting of riting for so long i hav bin very buisey and would be tired at night that is the reason why i hav not rote sooner was glad to hear from you and wish you would hav rote sence we air all well at preasent and our helth has bin about as good as thair i am geting beter of that rumitism i can get down to my rite foots again without pain i hav again comminsed taking Willims pink pils and thay air helping me again when i was taking them last year i think i quait taking to soon well we hav had a long dry spel Had no rain worth speaking of sence the midle of June till last Friday night meaney crops air intirely bruent up late corn made nothing maney filds skarsley made seed early corn is prety good it was made before the Drough coton is hardley a half crop it will push it for me to make three bales and i should hav had at modred estamate 7 bales that is the way it runs al through this part of the country Well Edy and Moley was over today and i wish you could hav come over to but i think you might send us your pichters i would like to hav both of yours pictures together will Edy is talking of trading for 160 acres of land thair is some cleared and a house and a god well and onley 4 miles from Bradford he can get it cheap i ges i will stay on the plase i am on another year i hav bought forry acers of timber and will whirk it off this winter in ties staves haiding and hubs i dont expect to make the ties my self i will hire them made thair will be abought 2000 ties the ties will cost me abought 3 cents apease and get 22 cents on the road and the distents to hal is 2 miles well Charley and John air trying to get ready for school they daid not get to go last winter well how is thrashing by this time i hope you air having a good run this season i havent seen a thrasher sence i came here well i hope thease few lines will find you both well and injoying life and the rest of your folks How is you paw and maw air they well tell Samp if he dont mind he will be an old made yet i wish i could see you all and hav a chat with you it is bed time so i will close by saing god by till next time rite soon John P. Piker Leav if you can get a Molean catalogue please sent it to me and oblige yours 

Bradford Ark September 17 1896

Well Leav and Emma i will take my pen in hand to rite you a few lines yours came to hand a few days ago and was glad to her from you and her that you air well the preasent finds us all well but maw she is on the gronting list with a bad cold Willey is a captain you bet he can talk a plane as Nute Emma you would know him now Nute and Liney puts in thair time a plaing John and Frank air buisey a picking coton Charley and myself hav bin diging a sistern will finesh in the moring we get ten dolars for the job and it daid not take us quite 4 days to finesh the job next weak we will tak our cain af it is nice cain groes beter here than thair my corn is redy for cribing you said some thing about liking it here i am well satisfide here and i belaif Aley is to this is a poor mans cuntery thair is no use in geting dischiraged on acounnt of dry season that will hapen eaneyers you know and a man that will whirk and manege here can make a living here easery than thair the milde climet here in the winter is a grate advantage in maney ways of corse it has bin prety tuff of us for we had nothing when we got here and we had to make a liming and had a prety good crop in and i had no plows and had them to get so you see it keps us a jumping Well John is gone a posam hunting tonight Charley was to tired to go thay hav caute 8 posoms and one coon inside of too weaks Trim and Spoart air good dogs i dont know what the boys would du if thay should run acrost a whild cat for thair air a good meaney here well corn is seling here for 50 cents a bushel coton is 8 cents a pound in the linte well i will close so god night my best regards to you all Hurraw for Brian and Snal and fre silver and the Chichago platform that is joust whair i stand Arkansas is solad John P. Piker rite soon air thair eaney bolting Democrats thair Do i know them

Bradford Ark Sept 18 1896

Dear Emma and Levy we received your kind and most welcome letter the other day, and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you were all well. You said every one were having the Chills up there. There is not much Chills here. We have had a few Chills but soon get them broken up. Ark has allways had the name of having lots of Chills but I dont think it is much more unhealthy then Ill. Edys folks are tolerbly well. They think that Lizzie has got the Whooping couch and Pete Scroggins has ben having the Chills he came down here just at the rong time of the year for his health. (from Alice Piker)

Bradford Ark November 8 1896

Dear Sun in law and Daughter i will take my pen in hand to rite you a few lines to let you know how we air we air all well at preasent and hope those few lines will find you the same well about three more dayes will finesh picking coton for this year i will hav about 100 and 10 Dolars worth and I hav got corne anouf to run us with all the hard times i think i am duing beter here than thair i hav sod ten acers in weat and it locks fine and is groing rite a long you can come and thrash for me next year if you say you will i will sow rite smart oats Well Levie i thought i would rent for another year and then eather homestead or donat i know some warant land as fine as some of the Black land up thair a percon can easey get a home here if thay want one i am well satisfide and so is Alie Edy is making ties for me now and i wish i had to or thre more hands i expect to be in the timber buisnes till spring we havent had eaney cold weather yet this morning was the coaldest we hav had the tobaco suchers wasent child till yesterday moring so you know how cold it has bin here the ground was frose a litle this moring the first time this fall well Leave you told me a while back that illinois was alrite for Brian what has gone rong with them in Shelby county gone to tell me in your next i dont like old Mckinley and his gold and tairf But we cant help it can we Liberty township the one i live in cast 97 votes and three of them for Mckinley and ninty four for Brian how is that dont you think them three had a heap of gal we havent a negro in our township the most of the people in thie township air from Ill. and Ind so you may hav some ide what kind of peple thair air here Well Leive i wish you would hav bin with us yestary we caught to Catamounts we had lots of fun we still hav the same dogs we had thair Trim and Spoart and they air god for varments i will send you and Emma one of thair paws and you can see how thay can scrach the body of this one which i send the paw was 3 feet and one inch long and about 16 inches high and fite from way back well i dont know much to rite so i will close Hoping to heair from you soon regards to all good by J. P. Piker

Bradford Ark

Dear Emma and Levy I will srite you a few lines to. John has written about all I know to write though, We are all well at present and hope this will find you all well Edys family are well. Emma Willie says he would kiss you if he would see you. he can say anything he wants to he is on my back now a shaking me till I cant hardly write Newt was out in the cotton field where the boys were picking cotton and they were all still not saying a sord and Newt said Charlie do you ever think anything about your sister Emma they all often talk about sister Emma Linnie is lots of help to me now she is getting to be a big girl. Frank can pick as much cotton as the other boys. Emma I have three doxen and a half of hens I had several fall chickens hached of but the hawks have taken the most of them. how many chickens have you got Well I guess I have written about all I know to write I will close for this time write soon and often dont wait as long as we have and we will try to do better the next time Good by Willie says by by Eny that is what he calls you. You must excuse this scribbling as he has been wooling me around all the time I have been writing From Alie

Bradford Ark Febuary 28 1897

Well Dear Sun in law and Daughter i supose you think i am a long time riting you must exkuse neglents i was glad to her from you and hear that you air well Leav i want you to take god cair of that girl of mine that you hav taken to raise i would like to see her but that is out of reach We air all well at preasent everyboder here has had the grip and we hav all had a seag of it it hirt Charley the worst he was taken betwen Chrismes and new years and was not much beter till two weaks ago it had nearly run into consumtion he is stil taking medson but think all danger is past well Edy had traded for 40 acers of land and had all paid $75 dolars and has three years to pay that in thair air 4 acers clear and new back house to roms double bourde and a good well every foot can be put to cultivaton one mile and a quarter from Bradford well i am nerly don sowing oats got potatos planted cabage plants up and some braking for corn want to plant in three weacks still the weather is chiley and raw bur thair is over a months diference betwen here and thair times air dull and I supose that is general hav you hird from Terre Haute lately i hav never rote to them still i would like to heair from Father and Mother and Gusey and the rest air blank with me Well i will close regards to all god by John P. Piker rit soon dont do as i du ---- Well Emma and Levy I will try to write a few lines to I am allmost ashamed to write after puting you off so long Well how is the little girl getting along by this time I would love to see it very much Emma kiss the baby for me what have you named it. Emma yow are you getting along with your chickens. I have 2 hens sitting. And we have made a little garden and planted potatoes Well I cant study up anything to write this evening. We are all well and hope you are all injoying health. Excuse this short letter maybe I can think of more the next time. I hope to get a letter from you soon a yard long Yours as Ever Alice Piker Linnie and Newt and Frank say kiss the baby for them. There is no explanation why this was the last letter . For a related story on John P. Piker, see Memories of Yesterday- Her Father Served in the Civil War.