This letter was written by William H. Barksdale (1816-1896) to his brother Claiborne Grief Barksdale (1820-1883). They were the sons of Grief Barksdale (1774-1850) and Mary Anne (Elliott) Barksdale of Charlotte County, Virginia. Grief Barksdale was a merchant, member of the county court, and sheriff of Charlotte County, Virginia. Grief and Mary Barksdale had at least eight other children besides William and Claiborne. They were: Charlotte Ella (Barksdale) Hannah (1813-1886), Sarah Ann (Barksdale) Bagwell (1811-1841), Mary Ellen Barksdale (1816-1849), Eliza Lavalette Barksdale (b. 1818), Arabella Barksdale (b. 1822), Lucy Jane Barksdale (b. 1825), Nancy Barksdale (b. 1829), and Susan Emmett Barksdale (b. 1832).
The impending marriage of Susan Watkins Hannah to Col. Quin LeGrand Morton, Jefferson Co., KY on 1 Aug 1838 in Charlotte Co., VA is mentioned in the letter. Quin was the son of William Morton and Elizabeth Venable.
Addressed to Mr. Claib G. Barksdale, Charleston [Charles Town], Kanawha Co, Virginia
Rough Creek Church [Charlotte County, Virginia]
June 22, 1838
Yours by Mr. Croke I received a few days ago and today, accidentally, met with a man by the name of Hughes from the neighborhood of Charleston who expects to return in a few days an promised to call for a letter on his return. I never saw him before but he says he is very well acquainted with Mr. [Samuel] Hannah and I reckon he may be trusted with a letter though he looks rather savage for this country. I am so little in the habit of writing that I am afraid I shall [shall not say anything] interesting, not know where to begin, or what to say. You must therefore not expect a very interesting letter.
I suppose in the first place you wish to know how we are all driving on and the neighborhood news generally. As to the first, I believe we are getting on pretty much after the old sort — sometimes up and then down. As for myself, I am still living at Old Rough Creek, doing little or nothing except now and then to break a colt. You ought to come in soon to see my fine Hedgeford colt. He is one of the finest horses you ever saw. Mr. Cardsville was up a few days ago to see him. He was very much pleased with him indeed. He says he is a much finer horse than his sire. Maj. Gaines brought one of his finest up to show against him last week but I don’t think he gained anything by it for mine was very decidedly the finest horse of the two. I haven’t see your Touson colt lately — he was very poor during the winter and spring, but since the grass has put out, he has improved very much. Papa says he is the finest colt he ever saw — much finer than mine but I can’t think so. He speaks of having the Hedgeford train next fall, but I think it very doubtful. The expenses of training would be so great that I don’t know how he would pay for it unless you would lend him the charges and I suppose that would be very inconvenient at this time as you have all of your money loaned out and there would be very great difficulty in getting it in these hard times.
Sister Mary & Lavalette are doing quite an extensive business in the way of the beaux. They have two or three every week to see them and have been kept very busy for several weeks past but I believe Lavalette is getting rather tired of the fun and is dismissing them very rapidly, and I expect rather roughly for she is a right new hand at the business and of course kicks rather roughly. Being so fresh, her shoes haven’t worn sleek yet. Sister Mary though has had more experience in the business and managed them very skilfully. She has had them pestering her in the country until she could stand it no longer and a few days ago said she would go to Lynchburg and get some not.
Cousin Lou came on in a few days on her way to town and had one of her _____ beaux with her and after a great deal of persuasion, she [Mary] concluded to go with them. So about eight o’clock the next morning, they set off for Lynchburg where she is at present. But I am afraid not enjoying that peace of mind and rest that she contemplated for I saw two or three of her beaux on their way up there this morning which I think is rather an evidence that she wished to make a great display in town than get rid of them. But I suppose I have gone far enough with their matters as I promised them I would say nothing about them. Therefore, I can’t give you their names.
Well, I reckon you think it is time for me to say something about your “Mules” letter (as you call it). Papa said he would advise you to go to Texas and buy up a drove of Mules and bring on as his mares were all so busy, he could not spare them for the plough. I think this a very good idea, particularly at this time as there is so great a demand for Northern funds to the South. I don’t think it advisable that you should carry more money than would be actually necessary to defray your travelling expenses as I have no doubt there are a great many persons in that country who would be glad to get drafts or checks on any of Northern or Eastern merchants and you know you could draw on Messrs Clay & Thornton or Smith & Baywick for any amount, and in that may not only relieve yourself from all the trouble and anxiety that you would be necessarily exposed to by having so large an amount with you but would be receiving interest (which I suppose would be very great — almost enough to pay for a large drove without troubling the principal at all). I wish you to inform me in your next if you think favorably of this plan. If so, you no doubt would wish to employ some two or three persons as drivers to bring on the drove for you as you would not like to be troubled and vexed with them but would come on as far as Charleston by water and then take your private carriage. What a glorious thing it is to be rich.
You will no doubt be very much surprised that I did not send this by Mr Hughes but there has been so much company here since he left and I have been a little under that I did not finish time enough for him and he would not wait a minute.
Susan Hannah & Quin Morton, it is said, are to be married the first of August. It is not expected to be a large party but they will have several large ones given them. I understand Mr. John Morton will give one and the young men at the court house will give a very large one. They are going on directly to Mississippi. It is said that Susan Morton & William Friend are to be married. I don’t know how it’s so.
Tell Mr. [Samuel] Hannah [that] George has not sold either of his horses and I don’t know that there is any prospect of his doing so soon. The last time I saw him he spoke of keeping Pedlar himself. Will Mr. [Samuel] Hannah and sister Charlotte be in this summer? We are expecting very long to hear that they are on the road. Tell sister Charlotte she must come anyhow and bring that little gal [Mary] of hers. We are all very anxious to see it. Tell Lucy Jane [Barksdale] she must make haste and learn her book. If she don’t, Foyette Spragins will outshine her. She is very smart. I believe I have run out [of paper]. We are all well. Yours sincerely, — Wm H. B.