Monday, October 01, 2007

Letters To Doctor John S. Barret is in Aylett Virginia

2 Handwritten Stampless Letters Aylett Virginia Barret
1835 Wagon Trip w Slaves/Indian Springs/Alabama/DETAILS Item number: 180163133110

“Monday Nov. 9th, 1835 Pitsylvania Woods

Dear Father,

By this time I presume you are forming conjectures as to how we are proceeding, where being, how faring &c. In few words, I’ll give a history of our journey. We left Ampthill (Virginia I’m assuming) on Tuesday the 3rd and traveled about 18 miles that day. I was soon aware of the extravagant estimate I had found of that rate at which we would proceed. Instead of thirty, I will gladly compromise with 20 miles average per day. We sometimes go over and sometimes under 20. I suppose on average thus far is a little over the 20 miles as we are now encamped about 9 miles from Danville being 7 days from Ampthill. But we have had no interruption. The weather pleasant and the roads fine. Until last night we have passed the sights pleasantly, all things considered. The first rain we have encountered commenced last night just as we had pitched our tent and continued through the night. Most of the time in torrents. Our tent resisted tolerably and the little wagon better than I expected. We got a sprinkling but are doing well. Just preparing to devour our boiled middling and bread……(He goes on talking about hunting squirrels to eat, what food they do have and how they prepare it, then….) By the by, you have no idea what a cook I have in the mess. William astonishes me by his dexterity in the art. From souping killdeers down to baking bread. He is perfectly at home. I shall take him to Orleans and hire him to some Frenchman as one deeper in the mysteries. The boys all stand the journey well and continue cheerful. Indeed their only thought seems to be a belly full of vitals. Mason and William send their love to mother and father and all say they are healthy and want to see all but wouldn’t turn back. Corbin and Robert send the same message to their parents and friends. Peter sends his love to mammy and daddy, master and mistress and says good bye! I had no idea of the futility and improved state of this section of the country until I reached Charlotte, the ridge on which I traveled presumed but a barren spectacle. But thence southward, the lands seem better and better. The tobacco lots large, the wheat fields green. I passed some today which entirely covered the ground. Tobacco is the principal, wheat the second staple of the country……..Perhaps you’d like to trace me as I go. If so I’ll give you the route. By Amelia, C.H. Jennings, Barks, Moore, Keysville, Moseley’s Ferry, Danville Va, Salisbury, Charlotte, N. Carolina, Yorkville, Pinckneyville, Union C.H., Lawrence C.H. Abberville C.H., S. Carolina, Washington, Greensborough, Monticello, Indian Springs, Columbus Ga., Montgomery,_______, Claiborne Ala…..Tell my mother that my next shall be to her but till I write she may take half of this to herself. I am writing by firelight, seated on a knapsack, the paper upon my knee. Therefore you must make allowances……Farewell! B.T. Barret.”

“Indian Springs Geo. Nov. 30th, 1835

Dear Father,

I again make an effort to convey to you tidings of our progress. Another week has elapsed since communicating with my friends. That communication was directed to Edward Mosby with a request that he would inform you of its receipt and report progress. I take for granted he has done so. But for a rule laid down at starting via to write at least once a week. I think it now than probable that I should suffer at last a couple to pass without taking pen in hand and pen upon knee. I think during the day of many things of which I wish to write and determine to do so at night but when night comes so weary am I that writing then becomes a task indeed……..My last letter I think was dated from a place some forty miles back in S. Carolina. Since then we have measured upwards of 120 of Georgia miles. My letter was dated Tuesday, but you will perceive from my journal (a continuation of which I shall sojourn) that we did not get fairly under way till Wednesday, so that in six days we have accomplished the above named distances. We have had however, no interruption from bad weather or other causes. Nothing keeps pace with us except such as are lightly equipped and furnished for riding altogether. We have left behind several traders with their gangs and moving families westward bound. An old gentleman and his wife living in a light carryall, accompanied by a gentleman on horseback, have kept pace with us now three days and without accident. We shall arrive at Montgomery about the same time. I am happy to say that all hands of us (with one honorable acceptance) keep perfectly well. Mr. Meyo has burnt his foot or perhaps worn it out and in consequence makes but a lame hand at traveling. He refused positive to ride though a seat in the coach has been offered him. I fear father Hersey has been giving him a lecture and the sole of his foot is to be the price of his soul’s salvation. I shall have him tied in tomorrow; the sin be upon my head!!!..... (He then goes on to talk about the villages they pass and how expensive the price of provisions are. He said they are “Perfect buzzard’s roosts” )…..Besides the necessary and usual expenses of a journey, I find a pretty smart sum occurring on the score of ferriages and tolls. Every little rocky stream forty feet wide has its catch penny continuance and that on the dearest scale. These things are very fatiguing to a weak purse that opens every time with more and more reluctance. But it is to be hoped that this will not last always. Though three hundred and more long miles lie before us, yet, the weather favoring and no accident, we shall accomplish it in fifteen days more. We have progressed into the cotton region and I begin to have a better opinion of the crops than the one formed in North and South Carolina…..(more on the cotton and sugar cane crops)…..I should have had another surprise last evening on visiting the Indian Springs to find so pitiful a fountain, just in the back of two small rocky creeks. Much resembling that at Bakers ford in Louisa. At the foot of a large rock and through a small cleft, issues with almost imperceptible flow, this little spring. The cavity or reservoir into which it is received is triangular and well contained at most, 3 pints. I found handsome buildings for the temporary accommodation of visitors in the summer months which of course are now shut up. Upon enquiry I learnt that the latest proprietor who broke and had deserted the place, or rather absconded, whether in consequence of bad management or not receiving sufficient patronage to support the expense of the establishment, my informant could not say. I was tempted to put my bill into the clear little basin and take a suck but soon drew it out again. The water departed an oily feeling to the mouth and smelt much like the washing of a dirty gown. I cold only swallow it as medicine…….My love to mother, to Mavey, Colby, Jack, June and my little Morey. To all friends black and white. The boys continue well and in good spirits and are much cheered by the Negroes telling them how much they make from their own cotton. They are more impatient to be employed than I ever have seen them so. They send a heap of love to mammies and daddies and to the white family…..Farewell, Yours affectionately B.T. Barret. The pedestrian Methodist preacher.”

On the outside of this last letter he also writes “The tin rubs off and causes the dirty appearance of my letter.”

Doctor John S. Barret is in Aylett Virginia

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