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Letter to Wesley Watson

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Arthur Marion Noakes was a friend of John Wesley Watson; both lived in North Leverett, Massachusetts, around 1900. Noakes was a talented artist and fancied himself as something of a ladies' man. This decorated letter from around 1900 stands out from the usual run of correspondence for the nicely colored illustration of "the maid all forlorn" (a verse taken from the rhyme "The House that Jack Built"). John Wesley Watson was called by his middle name; here, Noakes has humorously changed the spelling to "Westley," and apparently signed the letter "Noakey," both typical ways of kidding around among young men in that era. Noakes had recently come to New York from North Leverett when he wrote this; self-aware of his country ways (he "could not comb the hayseed out of my hair" and "had to have it cut.) In New York he met up with Wesley's brother Hillman Oscar Watson, an art and furniture dealer, who Noakes apparently already knew. Noakes stayed in New York for a short time before setting off for Europe where he lived in Florence to study art. Nothing else is known of Noakes. On the other hand, Wesley Watson, lived in Leverett for the rest of his life. He owned and operated a general store that grew into a substantial business before it burned sometime around 1909.


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