Murder in Juarez, Trouble in El Paso

page of 1890 letter from El Paso, Texas

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In this blog entry is a letter written in 1890.  It was written from John Cavitt to his sister-in-law, Tillie Cavitt.   Tillie had been married to John’s brother, Andrew.  Andrew died young when his and Tillie’s son was 18 months old, in the mid-1870’s.

1886 photo of John Belvedere Cavitt

John Belvedere Cavitt in about 1886

Now, many years later, John was in El Paso for the investigation and trial of another brother’s murderer. This brother, Sheridan Cavitt, was my great-grandfather.  He was shot on the street in Juarez, Mexico, where he had traveled to sell some cattle.

1885 photo of Sheridan Cavitt

Sheridan Cavitt in about 1885

Here is the transcribed letter.  See what you can guess about John from his style and sentiments.  You may leave me comments and questions below this post!

El Paso Texas

Aug 20- 1890

My Dear Tillie-

Your letter from Home came today and tonight I shall prove to you that I both enjoyed & appreciated it by writing to you.  I am glad you are all up at Home tho’ sorry to hear that you improve so slowly- for it seems that you have had more than your share of trouble to contend with.  This leaves us all well now, except Tom has a very bad cold that has hung on to him for several days.  Tonight he has placed himself under the care of Mrs. HcHatton and a handsome young widow who is mourning here at the Pierson, & I suppose of course he will soon be himself again unless the bitter is all taken from his tonics. & his nurses are too tender with him, under which circumstances it is likely to grow into a chronic stage until dismissed as hopeless.

I am tonight just getting over a right tight spell of headache that has been with me for three days, not bad enough to keep me in bed much but sufficient to remind me very strongly that I had a head & that it was extremely susceptible to pain.  Our business here moves very slowly indeed, but surely I feel safe in saying, I wish it were so you all could know the surroundings & know the ground that I base my faith on, for it is not faith in the decree of fate or the [war?] kings of Providence, but faith in the linking & connection of facts & circumstances & proof, & in Law that I could not otherwise continue.   For the circumstances and evidence is too plain for us to have any doubt as to the motive, or to the actual facts of the murder of Sheridan by these men who ought to have been men who would protect his life instead of take it.  & surely nothing can be shown to lead one to believe that Sheridan would or could suspect that these men intended him any evil.  I feel confident of what the final outcome of the case will be, & therefore I am willing to wait.  It is as you say that a time of waiting will be a hard time but it is all hard.  Within another week the testimony in the case I think will be closed, & will only be opened after the case is made public to the recalling of a few witnesses which cannot consume much time & so I feel sure that by or before the 1st Oct. the case here will be finally settled.  Or course you understand that it is not in my power to hurry matters up, so for a delay you must not be impatient- for often hurry loses ground even if it could be managed, but matters in Mexican Courts are such that we do not understand them.  So I’ve made up my mind to wait until Oct 1st for the finish & until the 15th too if it be necessary.

I’m sorry that I can’t finish up and be Home before you leave for Abilene, but I know that will be impossible, but will try to stop by and see you as I go Home even if it be but for one day & night, & maybe by that time you will be ready to go back with me anyway, In regard to Norman, it was not necessary for you to ask my pardon for anything of that sort, because of course I understand that he occupied the place nearest to your heart, and I know that you are always anxious to do everything that is best for him, & in regard to the matter you wrote me of, as to him going off to school I too think it probably would be best for him [not?] to go away this Fall, for I will need him more or less for the next year, and I think the experience perhaps would be as good schooling as any that he would get if away, and too I think he is a little young to send to College, tho this is a mere opinion, tho I assure you it is an unselfish one, for I would not suggest anything outside of the impossible that I did not feel was good and best for him & good & best for us all.

Well Tillie I cant of course give you many details of our daily life out here but I can say that it is not what I want to lead, for as the natural atmosphere here differs from that at Home so does the moral atmosphere differ from that to which we are accustomed- Still I try to learn & know what is just, right & best and to do that, – Henry Lewis came out yesterday and I guess he will be here now until the final wind up of the case, Tho’ of course I cannot tell how this may be or how it will be.  I send with this letter many tokens of love to all the Dear ones, fondly silent petitions of my heart to God that He may see fit to keep you & us & soon restore us to each other in health & strength.

Your aff Bro

Jno B. Cavitt

The closing line is short for “Your affectionate brother”.  “Jno” was short for ‘John’.



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