Shaws Letters


GIVENS LETTERS (1882 - 1884)

Written by Tom Shaw

The following letter was written May 13, 1882 from Pt. Pleasant, New Madrid County, Missouri by Tom Shaw (born Feb. 23, 1845, and was a son of Sarah Jane Givens Shaw and Albert Shaw) to Tom's uncle, William Thomas Givens Sr. (5 Feb 1806 - 20 April 1879) in Waverly, Morgan County, Illinois. Sarah Jane Givens Shaw and William Thomas Givens Sr. were children of John Givens (3 Sept 1779 - 17 June 1843). Notations in italic were made by James E. Skelton when he copied the letter in 1998. The original letter was given to Grace Hollis Puryear (wife of Elmo Puryear who was a great-grandson of James Wilson Givens and great-great-grandson of John Givens) by Harriet Givens Chilton (granddaughter of William Thomas Givens Sr. and great-granddaughter of John Givens) in 1935. Grace Puryear gave this letter to James Edward Skelton (great-grandson of James Wilson Givens and great-great-grandson of John Givens) in 1963. The original of this letter can be found in Archival Pictures and Information - Vol. 1 - Skelton/Kasling Section.

Pt. Pleasant, Mo.
May 13, 1882

Dear Uncle and family,

At last have decided to write you after a lapse of many years without any information of you or your whereabouts. Thought best to address you at your old home. Perhaps I may be fortunate enough to secure the address of all. I have been living in this state since June 21 1880. In this New Madrid, Scott and Pemiscot counties, I am now engaged in teaching. But anticipate going to N W Ark in the fall and if not pleased thence to N E Texas. My only brother Orville Shaw is living in Texas. Has been there several years. My only sister sister - Mrs. Laura Woods lives with her little family near Spring Creek, West Tennessee - fourteen miles out of Jackson. My Pa died in May 1869. My only Aunt sister of Pa lives near Jackson . Aunt Winnie Johnson and husband (Winifred Hassell Givens Johnson and Harrison Johnson) live in Jackson. I correspond with Mr. H. V. Sentell of Jefferson, Texas (17 miles south of Linden, Texas) . He married a daughter of Uncle Jack Johnson (Jackson Johnson was married to Asia Malinda Givens - daughter of John and Lois Stubbs Givens). Uncle Jack died last year in Texas having moved there since the war. I would be pleased to correspond with one or more members of your family. Is cousin Jennie living if so where and if married? State how many members are living, whether married or single and give Post Office addresses plainly.

News - Weather unusually cold. Has been raining for two weeks - heavy storms of wind, rain and hail. Farmers have the blues. Corn and cotton coming up. Some corn has been worked. More would have been, had not the heavy rains have fallen. This country suffered severely from the late overflow and another failure of crops as we had last year would beggar this entire section. Some families are still being supplied with rations and seed corn.

Those who should receive this write me per return mail all the information that you are able to give me.

Trusting that I may receive an early reply, I remain your nephew.

Tom Wm. Shaw

New Madrid County,
Address
c/o Box 17
Pt. Pleasant, Mo.

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The following letter was written March 7, 1884 from Howe, Grayson County, Texas by Tom Shaw (born Feb. 23, 1845, and was a son of Sarah Jane Givens Shaw and Albert Shaw) to Tomıs first cousin, Amanda Jane (Jennie) Givens (1836 - ?) in Waverly, Morgan County, Illinois. Jennie Givens never married and was a school teacher in Waverly, Illinois. Tom Shaw and Jennie Givens were first cousins of Wilson Dudley Givens (grandfather of Elmo Puryear) and Nancy Caroline (Jeffie) Givens Kasling (grandmother of James E. Skelton). Tomıs mother Sarah Jane Givens Shaw and Jennieıs father William Thomas Givens Sr. were children of John Givens (3 Sept 1779 - 17 June 1843). Notations in italic were made by James E. Skelton when he copied this letter in 1998. The original letter was given to Grace Hollis Puryear (wife of Elmo Puryear who was a great-grandson of James Wilson Givens and great-great-grandson of John Givens) by Harriet Givens Chilton (who was a niece of Jennie Givens, grand-daughter of William Thomas Givens Sr. and great-grand-daughter of John Givens) in 1935. Grace Puryear gave a copy of this letter to James Edward Skelton (great-grandson of James Wilson Givens and great-great-grandson of John Givens) in 1963. The copy of the original of this letter can be found in Archival Pictures and Information - Vol. 1 - Skelton/Kasling Section.

Howe, Texas
March 7, 1884

Miss Jennie Givens
Waverly, Illinois

Dear Cousin,

For several days I have been thinking of you, and will write you tonight. I don't think I have heard from you since I left Missouri. I became unhealthy there and came to Arkansas in December 1882. I spent only a few weeks there with a friend, then came to Texas, January 18, 1883. Stopped in Harrison County with one of our cousins, until September. Then spent several weeks visiting relations in Cass, Wood and Hopkins Counties. October 8 ____(illegible) - I left Hopkins County for Ellis County an a visit to my only Brother. Met him at Dallas - after a separation of nearly fourteen years. We have been living together since. He and I are anxious to hear fro you. Please favor us with an early reply. Give us all the information you can in regard to your Papaıs family. Buddie (Tom's brother - Orville) is not well - yet able to attend to business. I have been very sick - was confined to both bedrooms - for several days.

We have been stopping in this county since October 21 ____ (illegible). Expect to go to Austin in a few weeks. I anticipate spending July and August in East Texas with relations. Not pleased with this section. The weather too cold and subject to sudden changes.

Our love and best wishes to all of our relatives. Please accept a large share for your own dear self.

As ever

Your loving cousin
Thomas W. Shaw

Grayson County

__(illegible) Am expecting a letter from Aunt Winnie Johnson of West Tennessee. In my next - will tell you of our Texas relatives. Bye Bye

³Please give your age - also ages of your Brother and Sisters living. State when Uncle William died - at what age. Is Auntie living - if so her age.²

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The following letter was written May 21, 1884 from Dallas, Dallas County, Texas by Tom Shaw (born Feb. 23, 1845 and was a son of Sarah Jane Givens Shaw and Albert Shaw) to Tomıs first cousin, Amanda Jane (Jennie) Givens (1836 - ?) in Waverly, Morgan County, Illinois. Jennie never married and was a school teacher in Waverly, Illinois. Tom Shaw and Jennie Givens were first cousins of Wilson Dudley Givens (grandfather of Elmo Puryear) and Nancy Caroline (Jeffie) Givens Kasling (grandmother of James E. Skelton). Tomıs mother Sarah Jane Givens Shaw and Jennieıs father William Thomas Givens Sr. were children of John Givens (3 Sept 1779 - 17 June 1843). The original letter was loaned to Grace Hollis Puryear (wife of Elmo Puryear who was a great-grandson of James Wilson Givens and great-great-grandson of John Givens) by Harriet Givens Chilton (who was a niece of Jennie Givens, grand-daughter of William Thomas Givens Sr. and great-granddaughter of John Givens) in 1935. This letter was copied from the original by Grace Puryear June 24, 1935 and the original was returned to Harriet Givens Chilton. Grace Puryear shared her copy of this letter with James Edward Skelton (great-grandson of James Wilson Givens and great-great-grandson of John Givens) in 1963. Notations in italic were made by Grace Puryear when she copied this letter in 1935 and by James Edward Skelton when he recopied this letter in 1998. See Genealogy Chart preceding these letters as to how Harriet Givens Chilton, Elmo Puryear and James Edward Skelton are related to John Givens. See Grace Puryears observations about Tom Shaw at the conclusion of this letter.

Address me at Dallas, Dallas County, Texas
c/o Sergt. A. O. Shaw, H. & T. C. R. R. (Houston & Texas Central Rail Road) C.V.T. #2

May 21, 1884

Miss Jennie Givens,

My Dear Cousin,

You can't imagine just how glad I was to read another letter from you. I feared something seriously had occurred to you, perhaps had launched your barge on the sea of matrimony and had forgotten Cousin Tom. Therefore being the more anxious to hear from you and family, I wrote to Cousin Tom Givens. I will excuse you for failing to reply. Know you had many cares of mind. But thank you for writing when you did. Cousin Jennie, how old are you? When we used to correspond, you wrote me very interesting letters, and I was more anxious to receive letters from you than from other relatives, since I had met none of Uncle Williamıs family but you and him. I regret very much that our lot has been cast so far away. I should be so very glad to visit all of you. No one loves dear relatives more than I, and the name of Givens is very dear to me because my mother was a Givens.

I do not correspond with any of our Givens relatives beside Aunt Winnie (Winefred Hassel Givens Johnson - wife of Harrison Johnson). She is now indebted to me a letter. Several weeks since I heard from her. I will here give you all the information I am in possession of in regard to the relatives. When I heard from them last, Aunt Winnie and Uncle Harry were still living on the same old farm, though one mile west of where they were living when you visited them. They afterwards built a nice farm house. Uncle Harry is getting gray and quite old, never goes anywhere, smokes as much as ever, walks about the farm. Johnnie married a Miss Jennie Neil - a very homely girl. They have one little boy. They live with Uncle and Auntie. Uncle Robert (Robert Givens of Medon, Tenn. who was a brother of John Givens) has been dead several years. His widow, and third wife I believe, still lives near Medon. Cousin Sallie Smith (Robertıs daughter) and family live near Little Rock, Ark. John Givens (son of Robert Givens) lost his second wife and is keeping house with his two elder children. His mother-in-law, Mrs. Murchison, has his baby, a little girl. Cousin Jimmie Givens (son of Robert Givens) married a Miss Pope. He lives at Brownsville, Tennessee. He is in ill health. I know nothing of Cousin Callie Eddings (daughter of Robert Givens).

Charlie G. (son of Robert Givens) is a bachelor and is engaged in the mercantile business at Medon. Cousin Nannie (daughter of Robert Givens) married John Harrison, he died. She is the mother of eight children, four are dead. She is a dashing widow with good property left her.

George G. (son of Robert Givens) married a Miss McGlow. Poor George is a bad manager and is very poor, rents land. His wife knew nothing of work. they have two children. Cousin Sallie Manley (daughter of John Givens) married Pleas Davis and resides at Ft. Smith, Ark. I learn that Davis is sick. Sallie and her grown daughter who is said to be a beauty, visited Tennessee relatives. Aunt Winnie (Winefred Hassel Givens Johnson) said Sallie was the finest looking lady she ever met.

I came to Texas January 18 of 1883 from S. E. Missouri after visiting with a friend a few weeks in Craighead County, Arkansas. I had been in ill health for several months. I stopped in Hardman County, Tenn. with H. V. Sentell, who married Cousin Mary Davison Johnson (daughter of Aunt Asia Malvina Givens and Jackson Johnson). You recollect she was staying with Aunt Winnie (Winefred Hassel Givens Johnson) when you was there. They (the Sentells) had no children and adopted a boy and girl, the girl Lily is now 15 years old and Willie 10 years old. Cousin Mary is foolish about them. She and Lily correspond with me.

Last September, I visited Cass County relatives. Aunt Nancy Stewart died at an advanced age (1803-1883 - her husband was John Stewart - 1798-1883) where ____(illegible) I had an opportunity of meeting her. She has two or more children living near Linden. Cousin Amanda Nelson, sister of Cousin Mary Sentell (daughters of Asia Malvina Givens and Jackson Johnson) resides in Linden. She is a widow, four boys at home with her, her only daughter, Mollie, married a Lawyer, H. A. OıNeal. He resides in Linden, is a prominent lawyer. They have three children.

Aunt Polly Givens (Mary Mayo Givens) and Cousin Jeffie, wife (widow) and daughter of Uncle Wilson Givens (James Wilson Givens), were visiting in Tennessee, and I failed to see them. Uncle Wilson and Aunt Polly had six children, four girls, Alice (Mary Alice Givens), Jennie (Ann Virginia Givens), Fannie (Frances) and Jeffie (Nancy Caroline Givens Kasling). Alice married a Mr. Logwood (William T. Logwood) and died (in child birth) without children. Jennie married a brother (Thomas Edward Logwood) and has two beautiful children, the baby, a boy is named James Orville. Fannie married William Latham, they have one child. Two boys (sons of ³Uncle Wilson and Aunt Polly²) Willie and Jimmie. Willie (Wilson Dudley Givens - great-grandfather of Elmo Puryear) married a Miss Smith (Elizabeth Cassandra Smith ), he died leaving six children. Jimmie (James M. Givens), having been a consumptive for several years, married a Miss. Latham. He died in December last, they had two children. Jeffie (Nancy Caroline Givens) is a fifteen year old Miss - very pretty I learned. Cousin Jennie is very much like her Papa. Aunt Polly intends visiting Tennessee again. I think she wants to marry again. (Jeffie Givens told her grandson, James E. Skelton that her mother was looking for a rich husband but never found one.)

Cousin Lizzie Woodson (sister of Cousin Mary Sentell) resides in Hopkins County. She has only one daughter, married a little more than a year, Mrs. Asia Mays. With your letter I received one from Cousin Ruth Robertson, of Kilgore, Gregg County, Texas. She is a daughter of Aunt Polly Wright (Mary Jones Givens Wright - wife of Wm. A. Wright and daughter of John and Lois Stubbs Givens) . She wrote that Aunt Polly died May 8, 1884 - of paralysis of the heart, having been confined to her bed for two weeks. She was 73 years old. I hoped to obtain from her some valuable information concerning Grandpa Givens (John Givens) and family. But all possible chance has fled. None of the family are living now but Aunt Winnie (Winefred Hassell Givens Johnson).

Sissy (no doubt ³Sissy² was Tom Shawıs sister) married Mr. Wood and resides in Madison County, Tennessee, near Spring Creek, 14 miles N. E. of Jackson. Mr. Wood is a farmer, owns a good farm. They have three pretty, sweet children living, one in Heaven. The eldest, a boy now ll years old, took the premium at the Jackson Fair, a girl nearly 10 years named Lois for Grandmother Givens, the third a boy died at the age of 15 months, the fourth a girl - and a chatter box - named Mary Kit, 2 1/2 or 3 years old. Mrs. Wood, a very old lady, lives with Sissy. Sissy is a strict member of the Missionary Baptist Church and believes in much water.

Buddie is named Orville. He had been in this state a number of years and has resided in Arkansas and Indian Territory, also. For more than ten years, he has been engaged in the convict business. Col. O. M. Short, formerly from Illinois who came to this state at an early day, is one of the Inspectors of the Texas State Penitentiary. Says that Buddie is the best convict man in the state. The best ³Disciplinarian². After visiting relatives in Cass, Red and Hopkins Counties last September and October, I came west to meet Buddie after a separation of nearly 14 years. Oct. 9, 1883, we met in Dallas. We then went to Waxahachie in Ellis County. Oct. 21, 1883, our train moved to Grayson County near Sherman and with the exception of a few days spent in Collin County, we remained in Grayson until last Sunday when the train came to this place. Canıt say how long we will remain here. I am not too pleased with this business and will retire June 30 ultimo. Buddie has never married, though he is regarded as one of the finest looking men in the state, and one of the best business men. He is a splendid scribe, 31 years old; Sissy, 33 years; myself 39 Feb. 23, 1845.

No, no, Cousin Jennie, I have not decided to settle myself and marry. Thank you for the good advice. But me-thinks I am too old to marry now. Am not desirous of marrying now, and it is very fortunate for me, as I could not if I desired to do so. I wish very often that I had been married in 76 or 77 when I had an opportunity. I tonight might have had an interesting family - might have been a happy man, but I failed to take advantage of the proffered opportunity - and tonight I am a miserable old Bach. My advice to all men and women is to marry. If I could live this life over again, how different would it be spent.

What is Auntieıs (your Mamaıs) name? What was her maiden name, what year did she and Uncle William marry? How many children were born to them? Was not one of the girls named Hattie? I regret very much to hear of Auntieıs afflictions. Hope she may be spared many years yet.

Now Cousin Jennie, please tell me why you failed to marry. And donıt you intend yet to captivate some old Bach? Donıt marry an ³old warmed over fellow², a ³widower², as did Cousin Mollie (Mollie Nelson who married H. A. O Neal). Visit Texas. There are a number of old Bachelors here. I donıt like Texas as well as Missouri, although I enjoy better health here than I did there. The severe changes of weather, the northers, render this country very disagreeable. Though the lands are very productive, and any man can make more than a living by farming here, if he will only use a little industry. There is no necessity for anyone in good health to suffer here, as there is a great demand for labor all over the state.

Will you please give me the ages of all the children living, and ask Cousin Lizzie (Jennieıs sister - Elizabeth) if she will correspond with her old and homely Cousin Tom. As you say you are growing old and neglectful, I wish to have at least one member of the family to correspond with, as I do not want to lose sight of any member. Tell Cousin Lizzie I will endeavor to interest her though I am a dull old Bachelor. No, Cousin Jennie, I do not think you do not love your relatives, if you did not, you would not inherit any of the disposition of the Givens. I love all of my relatives, though some of my Madison County, Tenn. relatives would not agree. (Perhaps those Madison County, Tenn., relatives grew tired of Tom when he would come to visit.) Yet, I entertained a kind of regard for them. I donıt suppose that anyone would love their near relatives more than myself. I love to receive and read letters from relatives.

But I fear this will prove a burden to you. Really, I did not intend writing so much when I began. But I was desirous of giving you all the information concerning your relatives that I could, and supposed that you would prefer that I do so in this letter. I rather expect you will be forced to use your ³Specs², in order to read this scribbling. I am a poor scribe, since I had a severe attack of measles, which affected my nerves, besides I do not exercise as much care in writing as I should. (Tom was probably a real hypochondriac.)

As I wish to reply to cousin Tomıs letter tonight, I will proceed to close. My love to all of the relatives. Accept a large share for your self.

I still have the photo you gave me of yourself. It has begun to fade some. Hoping you will not consign this to your wastebasket, but favor me with an early reply.

I remain your Cousin,

Thomas W. Shaw

Despite his remarks , to the contrary, Thomas W. Shaw was an excellent scribe and his letters were not consigned to Jennieıs wastebasket. Tom Shaw was a son of Sarah Jane Givens (daughter of John and Lois Givens) and Albert Shaw. Thomas W. Shaw was born Feb. 23, 1845 in Tennessee.

³Tom Shaw had a club-foot² so said Ozzie Belle DeMonbreun (a granddaughter of Winefred Hassell Givens Johnson and a great-granddaughter of John Givens) ³and he was given a good education, but was pampered, spoiled and lazy. Tom was a school teacher but didnıt work at it very much. He mostly visited around among the kin.² Tom was living with Ozzie Belleıs fatherıs family, John Henderson Johnson (who was a son of Winifred Hassell Givens and Harrison Johnson) when Tom decided to get married. When he broke the news to Ozzie Belleıs parents, her mother told him he couldnıt bring his bride there to live; he called the wedding off.

I think he had the searching instincts of a family historian, but didnıt follow thru. Mother Puryear (Mollie Givens Puryear, a daughter of Wilson Dudley Givens) remembered Cousin Tom Shaw visiting their home twice. Of course, Mollie was one of the six children that Cousin Tom mentioned, when he said that William or ³Willie² (Wilson Dudley Givens) married a Miss Smith, and that he died and left six children. She says that during those visits, she and her brothers and sisters were convinced that Cousin Tom was quite wealthy, because he brought them a half-dollarıs worth of candy, and in those days that was a lot of candy. Then, when he was preparing to leave, he bought each of them a present, or perhaps he brought presents with him.

Cousin Tom Shaw and his brother, Orville, seem to have been using convict labor in helping to build the Houston & Texas Central Rail Road.

I certainly wish that Cousin Tom could have gotten that valuable information concerning his Grandpa Givens and family that he had hoped to obtain from his Aunt Polly (Mary Jones Givens) Wright. No doubt, it was about their ancestry the was inquiring, and if he had learned it, he would have passed the information on to Cousin Jennie Givens, and we would now have it.

Grace Puryear
June 24, 1935


Not having that information did not stop Grace Hollis Puryear from finding out about the Givens ancestors. Grace was persistent; she searched and searched and was meticulous with her research and eventually by 1963, she had traced the Givens lineage back to Robert Givens (circa 1640) in County Antrim, Ireland.

James Edward Skelton
July 23, 1998

Submitted by: James Skelton



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