Letters of Walter Howchin, of Adelaide, to Rev. John Watson DD

Goodwood East

May 14 1901

My dear Watson,

The receipt of the memorial notice of the death of your dear wife (which has just arrived), was a great surprise to us and filled us with sadness. We had indeed heard from your daughter Mrs. Eccles, through Stella, that the health of Mrs Watson was not good and that she had lost weight, but we had not anticipated so early the close of her useful life. We know how much she was to you in wise counsels and taking her share in the responsibilities and burdens of your office in the Ministry, and, we doubt not equally so in the important position which together you have filled in the Training College at Manchester. We are confident that so useful and consistent a life would end in a calm confidence of the "good hope we have through grace". At your time of life you must miss the companionship of one who has been so faithful a helpmeet through years of toil. I pray that God may supply the special consolations you need under the shadow of this irreparable loss.

We are in our usual health and in my case, at least, the sphere of my duties seem ever in the increase. I am thankful that my health keeps good and that notwithstanding hard work I weigh heavier now than I ever did in my life. Amongst other things I do a good deal of preaching. The Union of Methodism in S. Aus. is working well so far, but the Superannuation Funds of the minor bodies will be the greatest difficulty I fear. We are now (that is Mrs H & myself) members at Unley Wes. Church. Stella keeps up her connection with Parkside and Edith is, we regret, a renegade as she has been confirmed and is a member at St. Pauls in the City.

We hope that Mrs Eccles and Annie are well. Please convey our kind regards to both and receive the same with much sympathy yourself.

Yours very sincerely
W. Howchin

Rev. Dr. Watson

[letterhead "The University of Adelaide."]

April 22. 1903

My dear Dr Watson,

It is a very long time since any letter passed between us, but as Stella intends to make your home the first place of call in her visit to the old land, you and yours seem to be brought so much nearer to us that I feel impelled to write you a few lines. We have been from time to time deeply sorry as we have heard of your attacks of illness which we suppose has well nigh if not completely imposed on you retirement from public duties. We sincerely hope that there may still be in reserve for you some years of rest in comparative freedom from pain.

I dont know what to tell you about ourselves as the story would be a long one, but Stella will be able to give you full particulars. With respect to myself I may say that after 16 years at the Childrens Hospital, on the death of Prof. Tate about 18 mos. ago, I was asked by the Council of the University to undertake the duties of Lecturer on Geology & Palaeontology which I have done under a Five Year Agreement. I find the work very congenial and as I am doing a great deal of original work in the Field, was never busier in my life. To aid me in my geological observations the Government has given me a Ticket (First Class) to cover "All Lines". I am using this to the best of my ability and have made some rather striking discoveries. One of these will be a World wonder - a great glacial formation of Cambrian age - right down at the base of the fossiliferous rocks, and it goes in a North & South direction for 500 miles. I am doing a good deal of roughing it. I carry a light sleeping bag with me and have slept outside eight nights during the summer. The rest of family matters I leave for Stella to tell.

A short time ago I got a letter from Mr Parker and a copy of a small work he has published on "The Coming Bible" - written in a liberal spirit, pleading that the older spirit and teaching (O. T.) are obsolete and do not represent the spirit & teaching suited for these days.

You know all about our Methodist Union here. It is a good thing on the whole - but many old Wesleyan preachers & some laymen do not blend with that heartiness and broader sympathies that are desirable. Way College ( a late B. C. Boys College) is to be utilised as a Methodist Ladies College. Rev. O. Lake is at Wellington Square (N. Ad). It is very much reduced in numbers and they have appealed to be united to Archer St Circuit (late Wes.) but the latter does not want them, so there is a block. Stella will tell you all about Parkside. We worship at Unley (late Wes). Gratton has been 3 years super with us. He has just left & Rev. Martin (late B. C.) has taken his place. We have had seven years of drought - the outlying country is in a terrible condition, either a sandy Sahara or a rocky desert. Within Goyden[?] rainfall however the past year has been a good one - good crops & good prices. Many farmers have made big money. This year has opened with much better prospects - good early rains. With kind regards from Mrs H and myself to all

Yours very sincerely
W. Howchin