|In March 1864, 6.Benjamin Franklin
Massey wrote Dr.
Snyder, seeking a repair part for an inhaler his wife was using.
On 25 Jul.1864, his wife, Maria Hawkins Whithers Massey, died and was
buried. The family was scattered; his eldest daughter, 43.Nina
Massey Hough, became foster-mother to the little girls; the boys
continued to live on the farm with their father.
|Massey felt an urgent need to
move away from the Fayette farm. In January 1865, he travelled to
Illinois, spending over a month there in search of a new home site in a
large area near Dr. Snyder's Cass County, Illinois home. This
trip was unsuccessful.
|Still feeling the urgent need to
leave Fayette, in Feb.1865 he wrote Dr. Snyder:
|"I am worried, wearied,
bothered, distressed, pained & etc., beyond my power to
express. ... Getting away from my present abode involves, in my
opinion, the small matter of life and death."
|He was trying to find a farm of
at least 100 acres that he and his boys could operate.
|Failing to find a suitable
Illinois farm site, he continued to farm in the Fayette area and the
St. Louis area. In Jun.1868, about three years later, he wrote
his friend, Dr. Snyder, seeking help in disposing of 220 head of Texas
steers, the letter being notable for its unworried, businesslike
tone. This seemed to mark the end of his farming.
|In November 1868, he wrote to
Dr. Snyder from Newtonia, Missouri:
|"I am selling goods for an
old acquaintance - entirely penniless, but making my board and clothes.
... My youngest, now 10 years old, is here with me."
|Although B.F. Massey's fortunes
had hit rock bottom, he writes clearly and calmly about his
situation. He also delivered a quite complete report on how all
of his older children were faring. He was still a strong,
undefeated man. But, a year and a half later, there was a great
|A letter to Dr. Snyder, dated in
Jun.1870, was clear and forceful, but poignantly describes his state
|"What ever my wishes may
be ... it is not probable that I shall be a great while longer
here. And I think I can in sincerity say this a matter I am quite
reconciled about. I do ask, or would ask, if the asking would
amount to anything, to pass away without much pain or suffering. ...
Let the hereafter be what it may, I can not but look on it as a great
relief to the hopelessly disconsolate.
|"I have not a hope, and
consequently not an objective purpose in life, and if I had, no means
of any sort to accomplish either. Without a farthing of money
capital, with no trade or profession, I can of course do nothing.
|"You refer to
honesty. Within the last few years, I have tried in St. Louis
more that once, with old acquaintances, to get a lift up, in some kind
of occupation they know I was qualified for. My own unimpeachable
integrity was admitted, but when that was said, all was said.
|"In a couple of months I
shall leave my present location, and don't know where I may next cast
anchor. I have no house, no home, and I do not expect to have
any. Like a chip in the water, I may find an eddy somewhere and
when I do, will write you."
|In this same letter, and rather
surely referring to the disastrous Tingle & Massey ventures into
merchandising and real estate back in the 1840's he writes:
|"But for the efforts of my
older sons, several of my younger children must have relied on charity,
either public or private. For this state of affairs, I reflect on
myself most severely. I have been simply a fool, an idiot, in a
|Although this letter appears to
be an admission that he has completely given up all hope of any
financial security at all, he was still trying to keep his head above
water. In the 1870 Newtonia, Newton Co., Mo. census he is listed
as Benjamin Massey, age 59, store clerk; along with his son 90.Robert D.
Massey, age 11. They were in the household of Drury Tatum,
45, Dry Good Merchant.
|In October 1870, still trying,
he wrote from Pierce City, Lawrence Co., Mo. to Dr. Snyder, at
|"You will note that I am
trying to be an editor, in the interest of the so-called Rebel."
|He was particularly interested
in the possibility that he and his fellow Rebels would be allowed to
vote in the 1872 elections, that their disenfranchisement would be
rescinded. He was also keenly interested in the Convention
planned to amend both the Missouri and the Illinois
Constitutions. B.F. Massey's morale had obviously much improved.
|In 1870, he even attempted to
re-enter the political arena as a candidate for the nomination for the
Missouri office of Secretary of State; but it was considered too soon
to endorse an ex-Rebel, and this attempt came to nothing.
|In 1873, his newspaper, the
Pierce City Herald ceased publication, and he moved to Springfield,
Mo., to be with two of his sons. He seemed reasonably well
reconciled to his altered status when he wrote to Dr. Snyder in 1873:
|"I have two sons keeping
house here, and am staying with them. ... I am not making a living,
indeed not even trying. ... I have not been able to do anything in that
way for several years. ... I no longer have the least interest in life."
|In this same letter he disclaims
any further interest in political matters. His spirits have
improved; he twits Dr. Snyder about his interest in Geology:
of course I knew nothing, of anything about any book of such a
humbug character, as a Geological Report. But because you want to
know something of that matter, I say ... the report has only been as
yet in part published."
|Some time in 1874, he went to
live with his son, 42.Frank R.
Massey who, in partnership with a
brother-in-law, was operating a prosperous department store in Neosho,