1844: John Ward Paup to Edward Brodnax Hicks

This letter was written by John Ward Paup (1796-1851), the son of John Paup and Sarah Walker. Major John W. Paup and family came to Hempstead Co. from Brunswick Co., VA in early 1830s. He was married to Charlotte Prichett Maclin (1811-1890) in 1831.

Major Paup wrote the letter to Edward Brodnax Hicks, son of Daniel Hicks and Francis Delony, who was a planter and lawyer in Brunswick County, Virginia. Edward Hicks was married to Elizabeth Stone, the daughter of a former North Carolina governor, in 1822.


Addressed to Mr. Edward B. Hicks, Lawrenceville, Brunswick County, Virginia

Spring Hill [Hempstead County, Arkansas]
6 January 1844

Dear Sir,

Page 1

Yours of 6th of last month has come to hand, you speak of buying 15 more hands on your own account & sending them out. Unless I can purchase a few this winter or spring, I shall not be able to put in that number. It would be much better if you could ship them so as to have them here by the 1st of March to assist in making the crop. My hands are now on my plantation this side of the [Red] River and will raise another crop unless I could be certain of your being here early in the spring.

Page 2

I have shipped no cotton yet owing to the quantity of rain. Our crop, I think, will go a little over 350 bales of $500 each. There is some 75 or 80 bales in the field yet to pick.

Since my last, we have had more sickness than for the same time in several years. Old Dick died some four weeks since of influenza or Tyler Grip. Three of the little children have also died – one of worm’s & two of [w]hooping cough, & a number more of them quite sick. Rainy has returned to the plantation. She has a disease of the womb which I very much fear she will never entirely recover from. Hasty has been here at my house more than two months being visited by two physicians who say they can do but little for her. The disease is an enlargement of the glands in the throat & the least cold or exposure to a damp atmosphere causes them to swell so as nearly to suffocate her. She is now under the care of Doctor I. N. [Isaac Newton] Jones who is said to be the best in the country.

Several of the negroes at the plantation are quite sick & I fear we shall lose more before we get rid of the influenza & [w]hooping cough. I have never seen the like of rain & damp, drizzly weather, which makes those diseases much worse.

Our river has been very high, overflowing nearly all the cane lands & bringing down considerable drift, which has made an addition of a mile of raft. I sent you a paper a few days since which shows we are taking steps to try and improve our navigation. I do not think there will be more than ½ crops above the raft. Some crops are entirely destroyed.

Page 4

I am much pleased at your putting Blossom in Richmond to school, and your favorable opinion of her talent & disposition to learn. And if you think it best, I may leave her at school another year. But she must be under your particular care & charge. If I can manage in [New] Orleans to raise some 3 or 4 thousand dollars this winter, I will take it on to Virginia with me & buy a few negroes so as to equal your number & still keep up my place on the hills with some of the old family negroes we have. I shall make about 60 bales of cotton nearly all picked & baled but not hauled to the [Red] River – a distance of 10 miles – in consequence of the road being amost impassible. I shall write Brander to forward your money by the 1st March to pay your note. I am paying off our little accounts of last year and when the present crop is sold we will have settlement up to that period. I think it will probably be 1st of May before I shall get to Virginia. I wish to see the crop pitched &c. before I leave. I can bring your negroes out with mine if I purchase any.

White family all well. Your friend, — John W. Paup

One response to “1844: John Ward Paup to Edward Brodnax Hicks

  • Griff

    I received the following e-mail from Larry Head, Jr. in December 2012 concerning this letter. Larry’s e-mail is: lhhead2@gmail.com if you want to contact him regarding the letter and/or his comments.

    “I was absolutely stunned to Google to Paup’s letter earlier today. Thank you so much for posting it.

    Long story short, I’ve been poking around the survey plats of the old General (i.e., Federal) Land Office–the GLO, trying to see who was located in the vicinity of Lake Comfort . In 1826, Benjamin Rush Milam settled near the lake . The Texas boundary north from the Sabine River was not surveyed till 1840-41, so Milam mistakenly thought he was in Mexico/Texas, as did two other heroes of the Texas Revolution: Collin McKinney and Samuel P. Carson.

    Back to Paup: I believe the doctor “I. M. Jones” mentioned in the transcriptmay actually be I. N. Jones–Isaac Newton Jones. He had a plantation on Lost Prairie, which is on the right descending bank of Red River. At the time, this was very convenient to Paup’s location in Spring Hill, owing to Dooley Ferry. As explained just below, Jones also had Texas connections.

    If you will go to Google Books and query “lost prairie” together with “crockett” you will be led to an image of Niles’ Weekly Register of Aug. 27, 1836 .

    It includes the text of a letter from Isaac N. Jones to the widow of David “Davey” Crockett. Because of Jones’ letter, I believe Crockett and his men must have crossed Red River via Dooley Ferry; although it is claimed by many that he crossed at several other locations. Absent the Jones letter, Fulton, Arkansas might seem more logical; but I am informed by Carl G. Carlson-Drexler that depending on the stage of the river, the crossing at Fulton was more treacherous than at Dooley Ferry. And, had Crockett crossed elsewhere, I think he would necessarily have backtracked to reach Lost Prairie. (Drexler is attached to the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s station at Southern Arkansas University, in Magnolia. Recently he has been doing field work at the site of the ferry landing on the Hempstead County shore.)

    Dr. Jones’ son, Daniel Webster Jones, served as Governor of Arkansas, 1897-1901 .

    From Gov. Jones comes the story that his father treated and sheltered James Black, the alleged creator of the original Bowie knife.

    Milam, again: Santa Anna’s attack on the Alamo was actually a counter-attack; Milam was killed by a head shot in 1835, as his men were concluding the so-called “Siege of Bexár.” (Under their ranking officer, the Anglos had basically camped on the outskirts of San Antonio until their supplies were exhausted. It was Milam who took decisive action.)”

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