William W. Vest letter to Mary Garrett Vest Watkins, 1887 February 15
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Williamsburg Feb. 15th. 1887
Dr. Mary, I have in the last few days
had a conversation with a gentleman
who has three members of his family
in RRoad Service & of course ought to
know much about the matter.
He says that ther are many departments
in the service independent of each other
& wholy distinct. For instance he says
that the place of fireman & engineer,
such as you say your brother holds, leads
to nothing in the way of knowledge
or advancement. The position being
one of the most common & dangerous.
My friend says there are many
departments in RR service that give
employment to competent persons.
They require fair education and
I have no knowledge myself as
to RR. affairs. But I have
Tell Geo: my letter to you is intended in part
a very poor idea of its being
a fit palce for any one who can
get his bread in any other way.
You ask what I thing of your son Geo's
RR plans I have told in plain terms.
In my opinion the best thing for
Geo. to do is to qualify himself for
being a farmer. I know of no
calling more respectable or more sure
of success or more happy. Geo - if I
am not mistaken has a first rate
teacher in Mr. Watkins. Be in no
hurry about him making a living - he
is very young - the longer you keep him
near yourself & Mr. Watkins so
much the better for him.
Farming may not always be profit=
=able. What vocation is!
[?] life in the country
or in Villages are places of idleness
with many bad consequences
Look at other plans of life. The
lawyer & the Dr. are they as desirable
as the farmers life! How many get
I would recommend both of your
boys train themselves for farmers.
They will be freer from temptation -
and better men than many who
try other vocations.
You should not forget that years will have
to pass before your boys will be old enough
to take charge of mens affiars - and
very few are qualified under 25 -
It has been my intention & my will
is to that effect - to give Geo & Waller
the farm on James River - which prop=
=erly managed would be a comfortable
thing for two young men. They would
need besides money enough to equip
the place with stock &c &c. This would
require $6000 to $8000. I hope when
I shall have passed away to have
You speak of doing yr best for Geo - which is a
matter of course - But in the future what is
it that you propose or could do!
done this much for them. If I could
sell the farm I should do so without
delay. It wants rest & improvement.
I am thus frank with you in the
hope that your boys may take the
hint & become good farmers -
under the care and protection
of your good husband.
Geo. writes something about business
college at Staunton. Very poor
things in general - really
of no account. Can learn a great deal
more at home. Home is a great
blessing & the best place for boys
under 21 is under their mother's
eye. My love to the boys
& kind regards to Mr Watkins
Love for yourself & your