Thomas Shedden was born October 6, 1829 in Scotland, the son of Robert and Margaret (Young) Shedden. He came to America in 1842 with the rest of the Shedden clan, settling in Kane County, Illinois. He was about 13 years old at the time.
In 1859 he decided to expand his life and find out what the west offered for him. He left Illinois and traveled west to Nevada / California. He was about 30 years old at the time. The only information regarding Thomas Shedden appears in these two letters from and to John Boyd Shedden. The whereabouts of Thomas Shedden since then is unknown.
In a letter to John Boyd Shedden, his brother, Thomas Shedden wrote the following from Kingwell (near Hangtown), California on May 23, 1863:
I now take my pen to write a few lines to you. I am well at present. I hope that these lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. I hope your family are all well when these lines reach you.
I was sorry to hear of the death of so many of my friends, but death is here too. Cholera and smallpox are here now, carrying off lots of people. And, if we do not have war a good many die violent deaths. You would not believe me if I told you how many I have seen killed since I left Illinois.
Since I wrote to you, I have traveled a good many hundreds of miles. I have been in the Klamath Lake Indian Country, Modoc, Pitt River, and Root Digger Countries. I am at present fifty miles east of Sacramento City, heading for to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and in ten days I will be in Virginia City, Nevada.
I cannot write you much news at present. There was a good deal of excitement here some time ago on account of the report that Richmond and Charleston had both been taken. But the report now is that Hooker had been compelled to retreat in a disorganized condition, with two-thirds of his army killed, wounded and missing.
Since I have been on this coast, I have run the gauntlet of Indians about four times, with but one small wound. I am now a dead shot at Indians. We have plenty of game here. Deer are abundant in the mountains. I like to be in the mountains. It is healthful there in them. Most of the gold and silver is found in them. We have snow in the winter, and once in a while some frost, though it is not so cold here as in the States.
I must now conclude. Give my love to your wife and family. Accept the same for yourself. I remain your brother.
P.S. My address will be for some time - "Thos. Shedden, Virginia City, Nevada Territory." There is a report that our army under General Banks has been defeated with a loss of nine thousand killed. Others say that Banks is victorious. I do not know which is right. Next mail will tell, when it reaches me. Write if you have time. In this (picture which he draws) you will find a likeness of two "Pahutes" - "Old Elk", the chief and his squaw. I had no time to put this in the Post Office until now. (June 6th, 1863).
John Boyd Shedden wrote the following letter to his brother, Thomas Shedden, on October 6, 1864. In this letter it is noted that James Shedden returned from the Civil War the week before this letter was written, providing the almost exact date of his return.
I received your letter of July 22nd (1864) on the 14 of August, and was sorry to learn that your health was not good. I hope that you will soon recover it again, under the blessing of your heavenly Father, and I hope that he is blessing you with Spiritual health, which is even of more eminent concern than the body.
I have seen Judge Morgan, late of Virginia City, and one of the Pecks, of North Plato, just from the same place, but neither of them had seen you.
We have had very good crops this season, but the chinch bug was very plenty, and destroyed some fields of wheat and corn entirely. Everything was very high in price this summer, but prices have fallen greatly. Workmen are very scarce and wages high. Farm hands got from 40 to 43 dollars per month in harvest. I sold my pork this week for $11.25 per hundred weight.
James (his brother) got home from the Army last week. He is well. He was in Atlanta nearly a month. We hope soon to hear of the taking of Richmond.
I had a letter two weeks ago from Aunt Janet (Janet Young, of Scotland, sister of their mother, Margaret Shedden). Our friends in Fenwick were then in good health. Cousin Agnes had a daughter, abort since.
Mary (his sister, Mary Rosborough) and Eliza ( I believe this is his sister, Margaret Elizabeth Shedden) both say that they have written to you of late. We are all in good health at present. Although father and mother were not so strong as usual this summer.
I hope that you will not forget to write me. Margaret (John Sheddenís wife) joins me in sending our respects to you, and Sarah (their daughter) is very anxious to see you. I remain your brother.
P.S. I have just been around by Jamesís (his brother, James Shedden) and fatherís. They are well. Andrew has just received a letter from you. I saw the chip from the big tree. I should like to see these giant trees. I am glad that your health is somewhat recovered. I hope that you are still mending.