Sneedville, Tennessee, 21 October, 1858
Last night I received a letter from you dated 5th inst. which this is intended for an answer. We are all well except my second son, Jesse B., who is teaching a free school on Big Creek in sight of where old Peter Legere lived at $24.00 per month and his board [illegible]. I understand he had something like the aque and I have sent for him to come home.
You wrote to me that I had omited naming John & MaryAnn Davis in my last letter which I perceived after it was too late but I will now inform you they are still alive. MaryAnn is about 83 years of age has lost all her flesh weight about 80 pounds (but strong). She is remarkably smart of that age. John Davis is 73 years old in this month is some what afflicted with the gravel as he calls it but enlargement of the prostrate glands. He cut his foot about half in two in the summer and is just getting about. There was a terrible storm blew down eleven of his apple trees and stopped up his spring load and he went out to cut them up and hit his foot on the side just before the ankle bone and made a dreadful mash.
He has not broke a great deal but keeps his usual cherfulness if I am called on to give my opinion of him I would say he is one of the purest men on earth. I have known him long and known him well and have a right to judge. His house has always been a house for the wayfaring and an asylum for the needy and if it should turn out [illegible]. Judgement day there is rewards and virtue, honesty, philanthropy, and charity is its recipients he certainly will come for a share.
We have had a quite sickly season. Typhoid fever has raged mortally in our country though of your acquaintees I know of none who has died except old George Bomard and Samuel Bomard but a great many you was not acquainted with. The aque is on the scene more this fall than I have known in sixteen years. I will here mention the death of our old esteemed friend, James Willis.
He was driving a wagon coming down Johns lane from home his horses were going verry fast and he caught the nibbler and was bearing back when he slipped and fell in before the wheel and it rolled over mashing his leg then passing in side his knees and passed through his crotch mashing his pubis or bason bone. He lived about a week and took the lock jaw and died leaving his worldly conserns in an awful fix. Leaving but little property and great many debts. Old Larkin is yet alive and quiet pert. I will now say something about the crops in this section. We made no oats all spoiled with rust which was a gruesome thing from Maine to Missouri. Made tolerable wheat through nothing like an averidge crop. No cabbage verry sorry, inst, potatoes, corn crops will fall below an averidge considerable [illegible] had a wet spring but the drought sot in too soon for corn and it never wet the ground till [illegible] people seeded their corn ground and in plowing all day would not turn up one moist clot. The seed lay in the ground till lately and is now sprooting we have a tolerable whiteoke mast in places low ground and [illegible] verry full which will bring things nearer on an averidge.
There was a terrible circumstances hapened in our country. A few weeks ago a man from Lee County came over in this county to visit a man from Lee for something he had done there the man had some friends here who stood up for him and they got into a fight a man by the name of Mahaffy stabbed the man from Lee who was by the name of Hamblin and killed him on the ground and stabbed two others dangerously and got his nose completely cut off with a knife the man that was killed after he received the mortal stab struck his adversay over the head with a gun and had near killed him breaking the gun into fragments. They brought Mahaffy and put him in jail but is bailed out and will have his trial in January next. It is supposed he will come clear as he acted in self defence. Berry’s son, Grew, has been in this country for several months but has now returned to Houston Texas He is quite an interesting man comes on the carpenters trade in Houston has bought him two likely negro fellows and learned them the trade. Says he is worth six thousand dollars. He came by steam. To within ten miles of Rogersville but hearing of the yellow fever being in his steam route he bought the best guilding ever saw. Giving $2.50 for him a coal black seventeen hands high and as nice made as a [illegible] I have [illegible] him in the great rise he has made in the world all the barance lives in a steep hollow in the river nobs not worth fifty dollars.
I have better health for a few months than usual having had a rather loosness in my bowels [illegible] that is the case. I feel as well as a ten year old boy. There is a great noyse in town about a discussion that is to take place. The subject is wheater a man should have water poured on him or stick him under head and [illegible] when he joins the church. I shant go to hear it as I caint feel anymore interest in it then I could to see two hottentots quarreling about smearing the arm with cow dung wheather they should begin the devotional act at the elbo or the ends of the fingers. I always look on immersion as a vulgar black gardish thing though as it is used in place of circumcision there is certainly modification in the vulgarity of the thing and of the two I certainly should be for the baptism in place of circumcision. It would require more credulity than I ever expect to believe the Lord takes my hand in such things. Moral philosphy I like to here preached the morralist will get his reward. We have a [illegible] visible here for some weeks which has attracted a great deal of nottice and gossip. I will quit writing for I in no fix for writing a letter. I can see dozens of words I have spelled wrong. I wont you to write often anything about your [illegible]. Name your children I never hear from your oldest son, Robert, till you wrote he had commited suicide in California where he moved to what he followed for living whether he was married or not.
I will close by suscribing myself your brother
Submitted by Sam D. Lawson. Note from submitter: James Willis mentioned above was James Larkin Willis, son of old Larkin Willis. James was born 20 May, 1800, in Tennessee, and died 6 October, 1858. He was married first to Mary WILSON and second to Sarah “Sally” Stapleton. He was the father of Iredell Campbell Willis.