Category Archives: James George Van Emburgh

Born: January, 14, 1855 Monroe, Louisiana
Died: July 25, 1884 Alligator Bayou, 7 miles east of Shreveport, Louisiana

Son of Jacob Demarest Van Emburgh and Malinda Dull.

“Van Emburg was prone to run fast. That was a characteristic of him. He was singularly exemplary in his habits- did not drink spirituous liquors, was active, intelligent, knew his business well and attended to it punctually and methodically.” Van Emburgh vs. Railroad Company, Louisiana Supreme Court.

James George Van Emburgh became the man of the family when his father left and dutifully took on the responsibility of contributing financially as soon as he was old enough to do so. In youth, he worked various jobs such as running errands for downtown stores and laboring in one of Monroe’s mills. When a young man, James became an engineer for the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific RR, sending the money he earned back home to provide for his mother, sister Georgiana, aunt Lizzie and cousin Fannie. The lively letters that James mailed home with his paychecks were written by a young man with a lovable sense of humor who doted upon his mother and dear “Sis”.

On July 14th, 1884 James was killed in a terrible railroad accident that utterly devastated his mother. He was twenty nine years old when his engine struck a temporary bridge crossing Alligator Bayou, near Shreveport, at too high of a speed for the rails to hold causing the engine to fall into the bayou. James lept into the river in an attempt to swim ashore, but was crushed underneath the falling engine. When his body was found, his forehead was cut and if he survived the blow, death by drowning followed quickly.

His brother-in-law and good friend, William A. O’Kelly Sr. put James’ affairs in order, arranged the funeral, and notified his family members in New Jersey. James was laid to rest in the O’Kelly plot of St. Matthew’s Catholic Cemetery where his mother had the most ornate monument in the cemetery placed over her beloved sons’ grave.

1886 Letter from Grandma Caty

Tintype photograph of Catherine Van Emburgh Demarest.

Fair Lawn, New Jersey January  31 1886 to Monroe, Louisiana

Catherine Van Emburgh Demarest to her granddaughter Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

Dear Grandchild George Anna

I am today 74 years of age and it has pleased almighty God to let me live beyond the allotted time of Life. And I have no doubt but it will soon be turn to be called away to meet my Holy Maker. I am very well for one of my age. The rest of the family are all very well. I trust that you and your mother are also and if it lay in your power take the best care of your mother you can.

I wish you would write me a good long letter and tell me if you have ever heard anything of your father. I have not heard from him in I think it must be some were about twenty years or more. If you have any news concerning him please let me know. I presume it was a great loss for you and your mother to loose your brother. I always had a desire to meet him, but it was not to be, so I have to be contented.

Remember me kindly to your mother and your dear children and endeaver to bring them to learn and honor their parents. Sometimes children get led astray but if you indeaver to teach them correctly and then they go astray you cannot help it.

Enclosed you will find two pictures. One of myself and one of your father. Please write and let me know how you all are.

From your GrandMa
Mrs Caty Demarest


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1884 I am Anna Post your cousin

Anna D. Post to her cousin Georgiana Van Emburgh O’Kelly

Fair Lawn, New Jersey to Monroe, Louisiana September 1884

Dear cousin,

I suppose you will be very much suprised indeed at recieving a letter from me. I am Anna Post your cousin. I did not answer James Garret [George Van Emburgh] letter. I had intended  answer it but had put it off from time to time thinking I would have more news to write about. Grandma [Catherine Van Emburgh Demarest] recieved a letter from a gentleman from your place some where in July 31st saying [your brother] James Garret [George Van Emburgh] had been killed on the railroad. We were very sorry to hear of his death for he was just getting along so he could be of help to his mother [Malinda Dull Van Emburgh]. The man who wrote seems to be a stranger and to day when Grandma wanted me to write – I went upstairs and got your wedding card and I find the name is just the same as your married name is and if it was your husband who wrote why in the world did he not tell her he was his brother inlaw and Uncle Zelote`s [Demarest] wrote a letter to him but Grandma thinks perhaps he did not get the name correct. He directed to William O` Rilly and the wedding card says O`Kelly, so it may be it has never reached him. Grandma says she was very much disappointed at you or your mother did not write to her about all the particulars and she would like to have you write her. Was the man who wrote your husband or a man by the same name. Grandma is not very well and you know she is growing old she has been 72 years old and her stomach and bowels are the main trouble. Grandpa [Peter J. Demarest] has not been very well this summer the Dr says he has malaria. Aunt Maggie [Margaret Demarest] is well she is Grandpa oldest child she has never been married so she is here to see and take care of Grandpa and Grandma. Have you heard that cousin Garret [H. Demarest] lost his wife [Maranda Van Emburgh Demarest] she died 21st of June she left three small children one 13 years [Mary Demarest] one 8 years [Florence Demarest]  and the other 5 years [Jennie Demarest] . It seemed very strange providence in her death to me but we have not the ruling of such things in our hands. How are you getting along and how many children do you have and what does your husband do and where does mother [Malinda Dull Van Emburgh] live did not she and your Aunt [Elizabeth Dull] and James Garret [George Van Emburgh] live all together and he support them. Now Grandma would like and I would be glad to hear from you and know where your mother is now, I know it is very hard for your mother, where is he buried is it in the place where you live. Sister Emma [Post] and Family are well she has been married will be 8 years next April and has three children. Two boys [Walton and Percey Post]  and one girl [Kathryn Post] her baby [Percey Post] is 10 months old. Uncle Zelotes [Demarest] and [his wife] Aunt Elmira are quite well it is very hot here just now but we are in hope we will soon have cooler weather. I will now close this letter hoping to hear from you soon. Love to your mother and yourself.

I am your cousin , Anna D. Post Paterson New Jersey

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1869 Here is piece of my hair

Anna Post to her aunt Malinda Dull Van Emburgh and cousins Georgiana and James.

Paterson, New Jersey to Monroe, Louisiana May 4th 1869

Dear Aunt and Cousins

We are all well at present and hope these few lines will find you enjoying good health. We have moved to the city of Paterson now we did not like the country. It was so [page damaged] school for us. Uncle Henry [Demarest] wife [Martha Mills] had got a baby daughter [Kathryn Louise] it was born the 8 of April they think of calling it Caty after gramma. I am to gramma [page damaged] and all the folks are all well. I believe I thought I would write to you and your sister [Elizabeth Dull] but it was not my turn to write to [page damaged].  I thought perhaps you had not received my letter that I wrote to you the week after New Years. I have not had my cards taken yet but soon as I get them taken you shall have one of them.

Pa [Halmagh Post] Ma [Kezia Demarest] Emma [Post] and myself and all of gramma [Catherine Demarest Van Emburgh] folks send there love to you. Gramma went down to New York yesterday and saw uncle Zelotes [Demarest] they where all well.  She came home Monday evening and I came on the same train with her. Here is a peace of my hair. I do not want to go to school now but I am going to a very large school with about 24 teachers in it.  I will start a week from yesterday. Gramma has our little trip [page damaged] When we moved to Paterson we did not [page damaged].

Grampa [Peter J. Demarest] has a little calf his name is Tom [page damaged] gramma folks has been washing this morning. James is a ploughing and the boy is cleaning the strawberries

as I said that – I was going to send you a peice of my hair it will not curl so I am going to curl it on the poker and send it to you and your sister I must close so goodbye

write as soon as you get this letter and tell all the folks the news

From your neice Anna D Post to her Aunt

Direct your letters to

Miss Anna D Post Willis st. No 71 Paterson post office

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1872 Live as you would die

Monroe, Louisiana Sept. 17th 1872

Malinda Dull Van Emburgh to her son James George Van Emburgh

Dear Son
I am happy to hear from you and to hear that you are pleased with your work I so much hope that you will keep well while you are a far a way from Home take good care of yourself and be as careful in your work as possibly not to get hurt or snake bit in the swamp so far a way from any help

Mr. Daniel Herron died Sunday morning and is buried in the [St. Matthew’s] catholic graveyard.*

Times are very dull in [?] and we have not had any rain in town, but it has rained in the country nearby. Nearly every cistern is dry in this part and the people are suffering for the want of rain.

I have not received any letters from [your relatives in] the north yet. but hoping to hear soon on your account. James be very careful with yourself live as you would die just to think what an evening life some people lead and how soon they are called away. I hope you will live a long and useful  life and try not to have any serious accounts against you when you leave this world. hoping to see you soon

I draw this to a close goodbye

from your Affectionate Mother

Malinda Van Emburgh

[ letter is continued Sept. 22nd 1872]

I did not send my letter owing to your not sending your address. I had to wait for [my brother] Jim [James Dull Jr.] to come home to know how to send it, it looks like a long time since you went off but I hope to see you soon. We got a letter from your Aunt [Martha Dull Harrison] Harrison with the news of [her husband] Mr. Harrisons [Thomas D. Harrison] death he died the last day of August with congestion of the stomach he was sick a week, and Mr. Edwards** died this morning about 2 o`clock yesterday his horse was rubbing against his wagon it fell over him and he died from the injuries received. Your cousin Pheba [Malinda Pheobe Howard] has been very low but was some better when we heard from her

Hoping to see you soon I won`t write much I know  that you are in want of more clothes by this time and I am sorry that I can`t send you some, it is now sixty thrice days since it has rained and the dust is terrible.

Try to come home as soon as you can with much love to you

I close goodbye

From your affectionate Mother

*Daniel B. Herron Born 1829 Lowndes, Mississippi Died September 15, 1872 Monroe, Louisiana.

** Moses Thomas Edwards Born 1823 Alabama Died September 22, 1872 Monroe, Louisiana.

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1876 We are all pretty well here

Paterson, New Jersey December 5th 1876 to Monroe, Louisiana

Garret Hopper Demarest to his nephew James and niece Georgiana

Mr. James Garret Van Emburgh and Sister

I send you under this date a Post Office order from your Grandma Demarest [Catherine Van Emburgh Demarest] for fifteen dollars. Which she hopes will be made good use of. She says she will have no more money coming in before Spring so you may hardly expect more from her before that time. We are all pretty well here, and hope you are also.


Garret H. Demarest

[continued on back]

When you receive the money order please write me immediately so that I may know.

Please sign the receipt which I enclose and return to me. The one for the first and also for this one. so that I may have something to show that you have received the money

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1868 It would give us great pleasure to see your faces

Small Lots, New Jersey June 18 1868 to Monroe, Louisiana

Garret H. Demarest to his sister-in-law Malinda Dull Van Emburgh

Dear Malinda
Your letter dated May 22 is received. We are glad to hear that you and the children were well, and that they were going to school. We are all well here. Zelotes [Zelotes Demarest] and Wife [Elmira DeVoe Demarest], and Kezia [Kezia Demarest Post] and family were also well at last account.

The weather this spring has been very wet, and we have had so much rain that Farmers have scarcely been able to get their potatoes and corn planted and some have been obliged to plow up their potatoe patches because they rotted in the ground. It is feared there will be a scarcity in the potato crop this year.

Strawberries are now ripening and commencing to come in market. They sell for about 5 or 6 cents in a basket of which 4 will make about a quart. So you see they are from 20 to 25 cents a quart.

We would be glad to receive a letter from James Garret if he sees fit to write to his friends out here, and also from Georgianna if she can write, and if she cannot write and has anything to say to us, you may write it for her.

It would give us great pleasure to see your faces for it seems quite strange to have relations so long, and be writing to them from time to time and yet never have seen them. It is very kind of that school teacher [Father Louis Gergaud] to do as you state in your letter, it shows that he has a benevolent spirit and a desire to do good.

I hope the children seeing what it costs to attend school will endeavor to improve as fast as they can, for with a moderate education a person can get very well along in this country if he writes with his education proper and steady habits.

Hope you will find one Dollar from a friend, which amount, though small, he hopes you will give it to the schooling of James Garret. He wishes he could send a larger amount but does not at this time, feel able to do so, but hopes that by the time you receive another letter, he may be able to send some more. He feels exceedingly desirous to see the children get along and make something in this world  but oh, Malinda if they don`t rise up to distinction in this world, but their, and your lot is humble. Strive so to live, that when this life and its cares, and trials and disapointments are over, you may all go to that better world, where they neither marry, nor are given in marriage but are as the Angels of God.

Mother [Catherine Van Emburgh Demarest] sends you five dollars. Hoping to hear from you and the children.

I remain yours, Garret H. Demarest

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1868 Have you heard anything from Jacob yet

New York City, New York January 21 1868 to Monroe, Louisiana

Zelotes Demarest to his sister-in-law Malinda Dull Van Emburgh

Dear Sister

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you and the children . We are all well and I hope that you are the same. Mother [Catherine Van Emburgh Demarest] is here visiting with us just now. She is quite well now.

It has been very cold weather here with for two or three weeks, It has been snowing and raining since yesterday morning and it is storming yet. It has been very cold and we have had a great many snow storm this winter  and the times are very hard here now. There are a great many people out of employment now. there are thousands of people walking the streets of New York looking for work. I think the spring will be a little brisker than it is now.

Malinda, you asked about brother Henry. He is in Virginia Cass Co Illinois. He is not very well He has a falen on his hand and has been quite sick with it for some time. His address is Henry V. E. Demarest Virginia Cass Co, Illinois

Mother will send in this letter twenty five dollars  $25 to you and that is all that she can spare just now.

As Henry has been sick and not able to do anything She has had to assist him. Some this winter Mother would like to know how much schooling is a quarter there. She thinks it is very needful for the children to have an education and she would like them to have it –

Have you heard anything from Jacob yet. and how is the health of your mother.

And Mother would like to know if James Garret cannot write a letter to his Grand Ma. She would be much pleased to hear from him and you also. You can direct them to me and then I will send them to her. Or else you can direct them to Peter J. Demarest Paterson Passaic Co, New Jersey

Now write soon and let me know if you receive this money and letter. Our Mother, Elmira, and myself send our love to you and James Garret and Georgianna.

So we will bid you goodnight.

Zeolotes G. Demarest  27 Barrow st New York City

Sister Kezia and Husband would like to hear from you. There directions are Helmagh R. Post Ridgewood Bergen Co, New Jersey

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