I believe this letter was written by Hezekiah Dews (1807-1873), a native of Virginia. Hezekiah came to Arkansas about 1840 and farmed in Oauchita County, Arkansas. Hezekiah was married to Ann Smith in 1837; the “Mr. Smith” whose death is described in the first paragraph of the letter is presumably related to Hezekiah’s wife.
Though the heading of this letter says Oak Grove, I don’t believe this is the same Oak Grove that exists today in northern Arkansas. Oak Grove may have been the name of Hezekiah Dews’ plantation or farm? The letter is postmarked Camden which is in southern Arkansas and, in particular, Ouachita County.
Addressed to Col. John H. Dawson, New Orleans, Louisiana
Oak Grove, Arkansas
22nd March 1850
It is with a heavy heart I now sit down to write. It seems that one wound is scarcely healed til another is inflicted. Just one month today since Mr. Smith left us. O Col., I have had many sore trials in this world, but this I number among the severest, which made it more melancholy was that not one of his children saw him in his last moments. I reached Eldorado about 14 hours after his death. Although I have been anticipating it from many severe attacks he has had in the last few months, yet it came on me like a shock. But we have the consolation to believe he is at rest. He died resigned and calm, trusting in the merits of the Savior. With these reflections, we too should be resigned. I have often regretted that he ever left Warreak, and I now believe if he never had, he would be with us now.
Your friends in this neighborhood are well. I saw Lawrence a day or two ago. He was in fair health. Col, I have a small account on C. B. Moore which I herewith enclose. He has owed it for some time and I am in hopes he will now pay it as I learned by Mr. Pace that he was getting good wages. I think Pace told me he was doing business for Messrs. T. & G. Forbes. Please present the account and when you write, let me hear what he says to it. He has often told me he would pay it when he got able. If he should pay it, retain the amount til you come home. I want when you come to bring me two bottles of Farranto Apparent Seltzer Powder.
Before Mr. Pace left here for Alabama, he showed me a letter from you, to him, in which you seemed to apprehend some difficulty in your monied arrangements. I told him to tell you to retain and use the amount you and Lawrence were owing me, which he done as I have since learned from you and him too. I have not needed the amount nor I expect I shall not til May or perhaps June. But if it will not put you to inconvenience, I should like to have it by that time.
Now, my dear friend, I wish you to understand me clearly, and that is not to disturb your self about paying it then unless it is convenient. I have some money due me here, which I may probably collect by that time, but if I should not, I have always so far found some way to shift.
Pace, I believe, has written to you since he received your letter containing drafts on sundry persons up here. If not, this will inform you of the fact. I must close as it is getting late and all gone to bed except Mrs. D. who begs to be remembered to you, and says she wishes you would come home.
Your friends, — H. Dews