Letters between Jonestown residents and relatives


Letter to Ray & Viola Godshalk from daughter, October 1978

x-3-f-4a & b, photocopy of envelope




Viola and Ray Godshalk – letter from daughter, Elizabeth, saying she got a letter from someone saying if she wanted to come and visit, that it would [be] “put through channels”, says, what does that mean. How long does that take? How long would I stay if I were just to visit? If I would visit but not feel obligated to remain (unless I chose) would it cost me any money, and how much? I’m still not working and have no money and no income. I am supposed to start a new job in Nov. But it’s vague on when. Is moving again.

** Shall Viola get this, and how should the questions be answered about just visiting, and the money etc.???



Hello –

How are you getting along? I’m sure curious about your whole new lifestyle and residence. Is there any way to write to you directly? I got a letter saying if I wanted to visit you, it would be “put through channels.” What does that mean? How long does that take? And how long what I say if I were just to visit? If I could visit, but not feel obligated to remain, (unless I so chose) would it cost me any money, and how much? I’m still not working and have no money, and no income. I’m supposed to start her new job in November, but it’s they all went.

Everything is still the same with me, only the fact that I have to move again next week because our rent was doubled. I’ll let you know my new address as soon as possible. Hope you are both well. Miss you a lot!

Love, Elizabeth



This is a letter given me K.L. [likely Karen Layton] by Valerie Jones to mail here in Georgetown. I opened it to check it, & think you should ask her to write it over.

Nelma L. Jones
3211 School St.
Oakland, California


x-3-f-23b – 23c

Hi, Mama,

How’s things going your way. Well we finally reached Guyana after 3 planes. Everyone was so tired. The city looks just like Texas so far as the buildings & houses go. The smell reminds me of when I was a little girl living with Granny. Believe me, it’s hot but cool at nights. There’s poverty but there’s poverty in the US. They had some fine specimens (young men). Andrea says hi and everyone is doing fine. I really haven’t tasted the food yet. But I’ll tell you when I eat some. Here’s a list of what I need.

5 long sleeved cotton shirts – 7/S
1 Timex watch (silver band)
athletic socks
1 large beach towel, 2 [words illegible]
decoration red & yellow

1 pair of closed in leather shoes. Heavy-duty Duracell batteries 8 of them. Earrings if you can. That’s my list. Well I hope this letter finds you in good health. We are going into Jonestown tomorrow. So I’ll be writing you from there. Be cool and stay sweet.

Your daughter,
Valerie Jones

The address is PO Box 893, Georgetown, Guyana, S.A.


x-3-f-24a – 24d

[Letter to Jim Jones at Peoples Temple in San Francisco from Robert Paul, November 1977]

To Father Jim Jones

Father I miss you, and the people who are there with you. And there is no other place, I know best, then being with you, Father Jim, because this hell out here is something else (Blacks killing each other). They’re not even together, just talk. No one wants to face the truth about what’s really about to come down. They’re only for self. Man has done everything, except conquering nature,, which comes from you. I’m willing to come home and do whatever is necessary, to gain your body back around mine. I’m sorry for letting materials & sex interfere with your work. Please forgive me too, because I let myself come first and you have taught me not to serve myself, but the cause. My people have let me down, they only [live] for materials and money, I have been treated like a stepson because I didn’t have money in the bank and wore suits and own a home and a brand-new car. But I still let them know what is coming down. I know you have protected me many times and thanks for what would I do without you, I know I would be dead. You have been sending literature to my people here in New Iberia, and I know that is your way of work and love through them to me. I have seen Cajuns who mean KKK have meetings here out in the country. You can see in their eyes the hate. Once I get you in jail the racket smells. Some act okay, but that’s as far as they go. Thank you for my son who will also be in your army. I haven’t forgotten, Father. It’s that at first I was so confused, I had to get a hold of myself. Or may I say you opened up my eyes to come to an understanding. I was in the park the other day and I seen a real Indiana and I never seen any here, and I was having a bad ear ache and he came up to me and told me to roll a bag into a shape cone and to let the other end to draw all the oxygen out. I haven’t been in no one’s church, people all around dying every day, I’m tired of being around people who drink and kill one another, I want to be there, where I know there’s hope. Just give me a chance, until I can get there with you anyway possible. I know this is a test, and I feel me knowing better I have a stronger test, my luck has been so bad out here, all I want is a way out to you and to be free. I only hurt myself by not listening to you. I guess like the others, they’re suffering also. I’m out here all alone and I feel I’m ready to start the revolution, but I live only for the cause. I know that I’ve been a fool and I’m still learning and hoping to be with you, because you are the answers to all my troubles. Everybody has turned their back on me, but you. I thank you for saving my son when he was sick, and I thank you for saving my brothers and family. I won’t lie, I’m lost out here and don’t know where to run. Maybe you can use me for something. I’m willing to do anything you command. Just call me and I’ll answer. There’s no place like your home, Jim. I owe my life to you, Jim, and I’ll wait for you, because I only live for the cause. One day they’ll be able to rest and be free in peace.

To my Father (Jim)

Your Lost Son,
Robert Paul


x-3-f-25a – 25d

[Letter to stateside relative from Jonestown resident Lucy Crenshaw]

Aug. 27, 1978

Dear Earman;

I hope you will get this letter in time for your birthday.

We are all fine & hope you are also.

Jonestown is beautiful – pretty much like you thought it would be. Small but nice. In fact, it reminds me of the community that Jeannie lives in. It’s hard to believe that we’re in the middle of the jungle. We have everything that we need right here. We have lots of entertainment – TV, shows, movies, excellent medical care & a very good library where I spent a lot of time. Everyone is so friendly here. Everyone knows everyone and you’re never alone. Everything is within walking distance, too. That makes it real nice.

Mother & the children are very happy. I spent a lot of time with Joyce. We seem so much alike. She has really grown. In fact, she’s taller than I am.

I saw Jr. before I left in March & gave him a dictionary for his birthday. I heard he has joined a gang. I wish he would get out of it if he hasn’t already. It isn’t worth it. You can’t change things by joining a gang. It’s too dangerous.

Be sure to let Cooney, Bill & Jr. read my letter. I’ll write everyone else later.

Mother said hello. She has already gone to bed. She said she’ll write later.

Take care – hurry & write. Write Joyce, too.

Say hello to everyone else.

Love, Lucy