July 25th, 1813
When I look back at the date of your last, and reflect on the length of time it has remained unanswered, I feel some of those sensations of shame and regrets which are the constant attendants of negligence. I must throw myself on your kindness to excuse the omission and must entreat you not to consider me as deficient in that brotherly love and regard which ought, and ever has had a place in my affections for you.
I have had for some time past a great desire to hear from you and should have written ere this, had an opportunity offered. I have not been able for some time to catch the smallest account of you, though I inquired of many from your state. Brother Chiles is about to pay you a visit, and will be the bearer of this, which will render it needless to be tedious, as from him you may gather the information which you may desire. I expect Brother Henry, and indeed all our brothers will write. I must beg you to write as often as opportunity affords, and especially by Brother Chiles. I wish to hear whether you have had or are likely to have a share personally in the conflict with the Indians and British in the Northwest, and who of our old acquaintances if any suffered.
Nothing of moments has happened with us since my last, we are all still in the land of the living, enjoying the blessings of health and as much prosperity as we deserve, and perhaps as much as is good for us. We still progress in populating the earth; I do not recollect the number of children we had when I wrote you last, - we now have eight, and a prospect of another; the last two are girls, Frances and Agnes. Charles and his two eldest sisters are nearly grown. John has followed the plough this summer, and the whole is as hearty as any one family of the same size. Five of the oldest are able to read and write, and I promise to make them write you a letter each before it be long, should the opportunity offer.
I have little hope of ever shaking hands with you again in this world, and could I have a well-grounded hope that I would meet you in that which is to come, happy in the Redeemer, it would abundantly compensate for the privation of fraternal society in this world.
I must close by praying to be had in remembrance by you and your wife, also your children, tho all except yourself are strangers to me, yet they may remember that there is such a being as myself, and that I pray that they may enjoy good days in this life, and be eternally happy in the life to come. My wife and children join me in love to you and yours.
You must excuse blots, scratches, and interlinations, for haste and ideas which have presented themselves have almost rendered me incapable of writing. Brother Chiles will start, I expect, in a few hours. With every sentiment of love and affection, I am
Mr. John Burruss, Jefferson County, Kentucky Cr. F. W. Hackett (Letter sent by Mr. Hackett - correction)
Jany 25, 1819
I have delayed writing to you for a long time in consequence of the rupture that ensued between my mother-in-law and all her children, immediately on my return from the state of Kentucky. This has been brewing - nay - actually taken place, but smothered for eight or nine months before, when I objected to a donation of between five and 6000 dollars contrived by the old lady in favor of Baldy. In this object I have succeeded in calling him, when this question came to be tried after the death of the Old Gentleman.
Your predictions were very true; while at your house, conversing on this subject, you stated that it was your opinion that I would derive no benefit from the estate. As far as their efforts would go, they tried to keep me out of it by adducing before the referees who decided the dispute between us. The dregs - nay - the very refuse, of testimony which went to make their wrong intention appear the more conspicuous, was dragged in. They claimed that a dividend of the money belonging to the estate took place on May 1st last, together with the price of one of the Negroes which I had sold on the 28th of Dec. last, the amount of which, together with the money before referred to amounted to more than $3100. No division of the stock or crop on hand when W. Duke died has as yet taken place. It is refused to divide any part of it with me, and I have this yet to scuffle for. My trouble and expense transacting the land business for Dick and James Duke were also a source of disquiet on their part, although I deviated from their written instruction only in reducing the rates, thereby saving two thirds of the tax due upon it. They say that in reducing the rates, on the land office books they cannot sell as well; land on the books rating as three will not sell as well as land rating a two. How far the rates on land as they stand on the books, will influence the said in Kentucky, I know not, but can say in Virginia it has no influence, for it may be asserted that not one sale in a thousand is affected from the purchaser first examining the books in the land office for the quality of the land.
From these circumstances, the dispute ran so high, and became so generally known in the neighborhood that my friends, whose opinion was entitled to respect, advised me not to remove to the state of Kentucky and leave my interest in the estate so unsettled. W. Duke, being then alive, nothing could be done.
A tract of land in this county, at that time being on the market, I became the purchaser not 20 days before the death of W. Duke. Since his death, I have enlarged the purchase to 608 acres which cost $9 the acre. These funds no doubt might have been used more advantageously in the state of Kentucky. The land at present is not calculated to make money upon, it being old settled and the cleared part, about 200 acres, being much exhausted by bad tillage. The timbered part exhibits a lively, thrifty growth, and by clearing rapidly, I hope to make out upon it. The situation is desirable as regards facility of conveying produce to market -being about 50 miles to Richmond and four of James River, where there is constant and cheap navigation to Richmond. This purchase brought on other expenses usually incurred in commencing farming again. Having valued this business, together with the year I went to Kentucky leaves me $2000 in debt. This, with the burden of my children, makes times very hard with me. $1200 of this, however, is loaned me by our cousin, James Terrill, whom I hope and expect will eventually prove a merit to the family.
All our friends in this quarter are all well and driving on in the usual way. We had a daughter born on the 28th July last, whose birth had liked to have proved the death of the mother; but, contrary to the prognostications of the physician who attended her, she has recovered after a long spell. My two oldest sons are out at trade. John is a saddler. Cleaveas is apprenticed to a tanner.
I desire to be remembered with affection to my sister, and all
Your brother and his family.
Nelson Burruss N.B. Columbia is the nearest post-office to me.
Addressed to Mr. John Burruss, Jefferson, Middleton, Kentucky
Notation: "Came to hand 19th of March 1819 and answered the 23rd of June. Wrote to Caroline June1820.
June 3, 1821
I rec'd yours by Mr. Geo. Gwathmey some very short time after it was written but have neglected until now to answer; - and now must content myself by writing the occurrences in the neighborhood without answering, for want of your letter which I have lost. When I rec'd yours, I was in the act of going to work at Bowling Green, from whence I had intended to write to you. But, from a series of bad luck of one kind or another, I was kept there four months to complete a job of work that I calculated to have done in two months. This kept my mind so disagreeably occupied that for the greater part of the time I was unfit to communicate information to any person. And the worst part of the story was that before I had finished I was taken sick - which had well nigh brought me to the Grave before I could get relief.
I was taken the first day of Nov. with a distressing pain in the small of back and hips attended with fever and loss of appetite, succeeded by the Jaundice. Although afflicted, I could go about my business and felt nearly as well in one situation as another for I had little or not relaxation from pain. My business requiring it I kept on foot until Christmas for, although I finished my work, I left the Bowling Green the 25th of Nov., my plantation affairs had gotten so deranged I was obliged to exert myself to restore order at home. By doing which I reduced my frame so that I was obliged to take my bed, which I did New Years day, 1821, which has been a distressing time with myself and family until four or five weeks past. New Years day was the first time I called in a physician. After two visits he advised the calling of assistance.
While the first doctor said I had a hectic fever, Anderson, the next called in was of a different opinion, and as White was about to quit practice, a third was called in. Dr. Meaux, who has lately moved in the neighborhood. He and Anderson undertook the cure which they affected in a shorter time than was expected by my most sanguine friends, for I was reduced so low that it was thought impossible I could ever recover. By the time I had gone on foot, and before I was completely recovered, I lost a very valuable Negro man - the most valuable one I ever owned or expect to own, in the 33rd year.
Some short time after a fever made its appearance in my family of a very distressing nature. Meaux being the nearest physician was called in, pronounced it typhus fever, and undertook to cure it by Bleeding, Blistering, and Quick Purgatives. But he was unable to check the disease and at his request I sent for Dr. White who changed his practice, particularly Blood Letting. By good nursing etc. all have gotten well. White did not think it was the Typhus, and I have no doubt he understood the complaint, for we have had since the first, several new cases in which I have had no other aid than White's, given at the Court House and all have done well and the fever subsided. My family is in better health now than it has been for nearly two years. Amongst the sufferers was my youngest daughter by my first wife, and my only daughter; and my two eldest sons by my last, the overseer in the white family, and one the black, that I employed medical aid for, besides four or five cases that we managed ourselves. I calculate that we have had in or about thirty visits from doctors this year.
My family, as in respect to numbers in the white family, is the same as when I wrote you last. I have a large family to maintain for no profit, indeed, at a considerable expense. My son John has been truly unfortunate. The asthma, croup, or whatever it may be has followed him through life and I think until the last illness mentioned above, that his attacks have, for the last ten or twelve months, been more frequent than before. Notwithstanding all, he has a healthy appearance and is of pretty good size. His frequent attacks on the one hand, and the want of good schools on the other, have been the cause of his having but slight education - a thing which I greatly deplore. I believe this is the third year we have been entirely without a school. For the want of which we have undertaken to instruct the children in the family. Our attempts have been crowned with more success than I had any right to expect. Three or four of my first daughters read and write pretty well - much better than the generality of females.
We have at present, gloomy times. The people of Caroline especially those who have been rich, are very much in debt, in some instances every branch of a family. One with whom you were acquainted, I will mention. Old Mr. Harrison, of the Bowling Green Harrisons you know - when we were there he was thought to be very rich and indeed was so. He left four sons and one daughter, all of which, but his eldest son he left a valuable tract of land and about forty Negroes apiece. His eldest son, he left nearly half his estate - and I am told that every Negro he has in the world is sold. One of the other sons died two years ago sixteen or seventeen thousand dollars in debt and nothing left to pay them; the other three are in very little better circumstances. At the smallest calculation the eldest son must have spent at least from eight to ten thousand dollars per year since he took his estate in hand. His tavern rents for $1200 a year, and his mill, when produce was a good price, was worth nearly as much. How he managed appears a mystery to all, for he owes many thousands dollars - about $10700 to one man that I know of, and thousands that I know less about. Many other cases are nearly as bad. A Mr. Apperson, living in the house where Parish Coleman once lived bought a Negro man and gave his bond for the purchase. The amount I do not know, but the bond was sued, judgment obtained, and the execution I am told, was levied on the same Negro and his wife - a young and likely woman with two children - all four of which sold for two hundred less than was given for the man. This is one of many instances of the same class. Indeed, property has changed masters rapidly in the two years last past, and although none of mine have been disposed of, I feel in common the distress of the times.
One and not the least of my difficulties is the tract of land belonging to the Chesterfield Tavern. The tavern, with a lot of a few acres, has been previously rented out, and the balance offered for rent, and, it being convenient to me, I rented it for $175 the year for four years - which would have been cheap rent, a very dear one. The only advantage I reap is the grassing. I have kept a large amount of stock since I rented it and pastured them therein summer and brought them home in winter, and this has much improved my poor land.
Tobacco is worth in Richmond for four to twelve dollars; wheat 75 cents, seven to ten cents per pound and $1.75 per barrel - a poor way says I, to clear a debt contracted when the articles were three times the price.
My brother Thomas and family are as when I wrote you last, except for the birth of a daughter and a prospect of another son or daughter in a very short time. That, and all the gloom beside, makes no difference with him that is perceivable. They are all seemingly happy and are in good health at present.
Brother Nelson, I seldom hear from. Personally, I have never received one scrip from him since his removal, although I desired him when we parted last, to write me as soon as he got settled, that I might know how to communicate with him when I felt like it.
Garrett and family are well. He has five fine boys and one daughter. He has good trade, lives comfortably and keeps clear of the course of debt.
Chiles of late, manages very well. Sometime back he became security for one of his acquaintances and has about $200 to pay which will disarrange his small concerns pretty smartly. Both he and his wife appear to have sane notions of living, and will no doubt live comfortably always. They have no child.
I hear from Pleasant seldomer than you do, I expect. I saw (him) early last year and have not heard a word from him since.
Old Uncle William and Aunt Susan were well some few days ago. He is in his 75th year and as pushing for work as ever, and has a most terrible thirst for money of which he possesses thousands. All our friends and relations here are well as far as I know.
Old Round Head died some weeks past, as little lamented as any man that ever did die. He was at our election, made a great deal of noise, drank freely, and died that week. Our old friend and acquaintance, John Thompson, died a few days ago aged 88 years four months and 21 days - an old and respected man.
I believed I mentioned in my last the circumstances of young Thomas Hackett having killed his mother. The unhappy youth is still is jail utterly deranged, where he will no doubt in a few months end his days
Did I mention that my daughter, Nancy, was more composed now than she has been for years past, and I believe will eventually be entirely relieved of her nervous trouble? She was strong enough to give much attention to the family when we were in the distress of the fever of which I wrote at the beginning of this letter.
You have discovered, very readily, my inability to write from the disjointed manner which this is done, but you will no doubt excuse me, I must now conclude by presenting my own and family's respects to you and your family.
Yr Brother Till Death
Henry Burruss P.S. Write as soon as possible
Above addressed as follows: Golansville, Virginia &th June H. B.
(25) Via Washington City Mr. John Burruss, Middleton, Jefferson County, Kentucky
(Correction: Please rite me as soon as possible)
Caroline County, Virginia
27th May 1823
Dr. Thomas Meaux, my next door neighbor, being about to start to Kentucky, I have taken the opportunity of writing you this letter, and as he expects to visit Mr. Thos. Elliott, I expect he will deliver it with his own hands. The contents will inform you that my family is all in good health and the same in number as when I wrote you last.
My son John, I am in hopes is recovering from the asmatic complaint under which he has so long suffered, and my daughter Nancy is till much better of her nervous complaint of which I wrote you last. Our relations and friends are pretty much as they were the last time I wrote you, except Uncle William Burruss's youngest and favorite daughter died in child-bed, some few months past. Her death has made a very serious impression on the mind of her mother, who has since been on the decline. Indeed, the remainder of our mother's brothers is also much on the decline - Christopher and Jonathan both are literally confined - Christopher with the palsy and Jonathan with a bladder complaint.
My brother Thomas and family are in tolerable health. He has two children by his last marriage, and one on the way, when born, will complete his dozen. And truly, I think upon fair calculation he may expect a half dozen more. His situation has cost me many a groan, when it did not, I expect, cost him a sigh. But that is the only difference in our thinking.
We had a very bad crop year with us the last year and the prospects are at present gloomy. We had no rain with us to do any kind of good to our crops from the 1st of July until the last of August. Notwithstanding, those persons who tended their corn forward made good crops. I made a very good crop. Mr. Timothy Chandler made more than he ever made - upwards of 400 barrels, although it has been $5 per barrel but has fallen lately. (Correction:
Our brothers, Thomas and Garrett, made short crops, both are buying. Chiles made enough for to serve him. I am selling at $4 per barrel at present alto it has been $6.00 per barrel but has fallen lately) It sold Whitsunday Monday in Richmond for $3 the barrel. Indeed there are a number of people in this county, and some north of me who furnish themselves from Richmond. They have it brought as a return load and cost them less than to buy it in the neighborhood. In the upper end of Caroline and lower end of Spotsylvania there was generally very scarce crops. Hundreds of cattle, I am told died for the want of food, and south of James River was worse than here.
Old Mr. Edward Almand, from Charlotte County left this neighborhood the day before yesterday and he informs me that out there it is worse than it is with us - Hundreds of hogs perished the last winter for the want of something to eat, and that very few of the inhabitants could furnish a traveling friend with as much corn as would feed his horse.
I have not seen Brother Pleasant for nearly two years, nor have I seen Brother Nelson since last August. He came to see me but I was so low that I had no opportunity of saying much to him about his domestic affairs. However, from what I could gather from him he is as disagreeably situated as others. He has purchased 600 acres of land in Goochland while things were selling high - 300 at the earnest request of James Terrell who loaned him a part or all of the money which he is unable to pay. Indeed, he says he was taken in the purchase of the land as he has never succeeded in making a crop on it since he had it, and it was a land of good appearance and was highly recommended to him. I think he told me that he had paid all but $1200 for his land, but that, added to doctors fees and other unavoidable debts bore him down pretty much in his mind. He is offering his land for sale and says he is willing to lose two dollars per acre, but whether he is likely to succeed or not I was unable to say. Added to all this, I am afraid that he is unequally yoked. When he was to see me, I was and had been confined for a long time with what Dr. Anderson called a lumber rising. Dr. Meaux thought otherwise however. I suffered much on account of it from early in the year until late in August when it broke out on the inner side of my thigh and ran for six weeks and three days. But thank God I am again restored and enjoy good health and am freer from pain of every kind than I have been for years past, and that added to a number of circumstances has almost determined me to remove to some fresh country. I certainly live here under many disadvantages having a large family and poor land to support them on, and it's certain from my age that my best exertions have been made, and all my exertions have never accomplished more than to live comfortable and raise my family. Some reverses of fortune I have met this last year have thrown me off my trail pretty much - have been obliged to meet both fire and water. I lost at least four thousand dollars and am obliged to hire out my Negroes for want of land to work them on.
Besides, I have had since the first of this month a Dr. Wm. Shelby (Addition: Dr. John Shelby) from Nashville with me and, he strongly advises me to move to that country, with many proffers of his friendly aid in the event I should move there. He is a captivating man and has made a stronger impression on my mind and kept the probability of success in view more than any other person has done, by the most extravagant accounts. He says good land at 14 or 15 dollars of Nashville may be bought for from eight to 10 dollars the acre and that all the necessary articles that we are to buy, to a very few exceptions, are not more than from ten to 12 percent higher there than here and that labor of all kinds is much higher there than here. Notwithstanding all I am unable to say what the event may be. If Doct Meaux should call on you, I can with confidence recommend him to your notice as a gentleman of high standing in civil society, and also in the profession of medicine, and he can inform you of many of the neighborhood occurrences.
Write me by the first opportunity with your notions freely on the subject of my moving. My wife and children join me in presenting their kind respects and best wishes to you, your wife and children.
Per favor of Doct. Thos. Meaus
Address: Mr. John Burruss, Middleton, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Caroline County, July 20, 1823
I received yours of the 20th of June and the 12th of July and am pleased at the idea of having your company in part of my intended journey. I expect, if nothing happens to prevent it, to set out for the western country about the middle of next month in company with the Capt. Sam'l Chiles, Fleming Chiles, and George H. Burruss, son of our cousin David Burruss, who is about to visit his relatives in western Tennessee, and will, I expect, accompany me through my whole journey. The two Mr. Chiles will stop about Lexington for a while, and then Capt. Saml will visit the lower part of Kentucky to sell lands for the Mr. Hoome's for whom he is agent.
We had a very severe drought from the 20th of April to the 20th of June. Corn crops very low for the season, at least two weeks later than they were last year. Tobacco was mostly planted on the 20th of June, and hence the plants are of course small. The Chinch bug has very much injured the corn crops in many places, my own as bad as any, although their ravages have stopped in a great measure. We had a wet harvest and the crop of wheat was not very abundant - worth in Richmond from $1.25 to $1.40 pr bushel. Corn may be bought in Richmond for $2.75 and for $3.50 in the neighborhood in which I live, but that is more owing to the scarcity of money than the abundance of corn.
We have had one death in our family since I wrote you, a boy of three from an unfortunate scald. My wife is of bad health at present, and indeed for years past, with a cholic and sour belching, though she seldom ejects her food. The balance are in tolerable health. You may add to your list of relations two nieces and a nephew since I wrote you last. Bro. Thomas has another daughter, the seventh girl, Chiles' wife her 2nd born on the 17th inst., and Garrett's wife her 6th son about 10 days past; all in a fair way of recovery.
I should not have written had it not been for your offer to ride with me, which I thought you would be better prepared to do by having notice of me of the time I intend to start. I cannot afford myself more than two months, and I want to see a great deal in that time. Doct. Meaux arrived in good health and very much pleased at the treatment he received from yourself and family, as also with the many parts of the county through which he passed, and he delivered samples of flax and small presents, to the no small satisfaction of the children. I shall add no more, as I fully expect to see you before long face to face.
Bowling Green, July 21st. Before I had closed this letter, I received a message from Capt. Chiles purporting that he should start within six days, but, since I came to this place he has agreed to stay until the first of August, but if he cannot stay longer I shall not be company. And, George H. Burruss has gotten a letter informing him of the death of his mother, which will make very uncertain whether he goes at all or not. At any rate, you may expect me somewhere about the First of September.
Yr. affectionate Brother
Address Bow Green, Virginia H.B.
Mr. John Burruss, Middleton, Jefferson County, Kentucky
October 10, 1823
Being about to commence my journey homeward, I thought it a convenient time to inform you that I failed to get my intelligence from Capt. Samuel Chiles since I saw you. And also that I rec'd a letter from my family which has produced a considerable anxiety in me to be on my way, and to go the best and nearest route. The letter informs me of the ill health of one of my Negroes, and that my wife has recovered her health since I left her. Also, my brother Thos. says that his son John Still intends to come out to your house this fall. And the whole desire to be affectionately remembered to you and your family.
Since I left you, I have enjoyed a degree of good health, and have been received and treated genteelly by all old acquaintances and to such as I have been introduced. Throughout, my route has been one continued scene of hospitality in almost every family since I left you, and in this place the same is true. After I left you, I kept right on to Hopkinsville through a rough, uninviting tract of country until I came to Hopkinsville. A little below which I fell in with fine, rich barrons, very fertile indeed, but in some places badly watered and as yet badly improved. The largest tobacco I ever saw anywhere, I saw there.
I was with Mr. H. Meriweather twice, and would fain have spent more time with him had circumstances permitted. I will write you fully by my nephew when I get home, and should be glad to hear from you and your family as soon as possible, as I have been anxious to hear from Nelson.
Yr. Bro. In haste
Addressed; Mr. John Burruss, Middleton, Kentucky 18/1/2
Caroline County, Virginia
Feb 15, 1824
The solicitude of a parent for an absent child urges me to take up my pen to address a few lines to you by way of inquiring after my son John. He left us on Friday the 21st of Nov. last and joined a Mr. Thompson at Orange Court House the next day, on his way to you. Since which I have had no account of him. I have seen several of my acquaintances who came the same road which I suspected he intended to travel, and none of them saw him. And, as he must have arrived at your house a sufficient time to have sent on a letter before this, and none has come to hand, I cannot help fearing that some misfortune has come to him. And it is distressing to me, on account of the manner which he undertook to perform the journey.
He had by letter informed you as appears from yours to brother Henry, which came to hand since he started, that I had the misfortune to lose the horse which I had intended he should ride on. As this left me short of horses, or at least as I did not want him to take a certain horse which would leave me with a riding horse of little value, he determined to undertake to walk out, with this Mr. Thompson's outfit, upon his agreeing to carry John's bundle of clothing.
If he has had the good fortune to get out to you, I shall be as much at ease as the nature of things would admit. But, if he has not, I shall give him up for lost. If the latter be the case, be so indulgent of the feelings of a fond parent as to see this Mr. Thompson and know what he says became of him, and write me as soon thereafter as possible. Mr. Thompson, I think told me he lived in Scott County, Kentucky. He is a man of middle stature, of light complexion, and I think Red hair. He is about 30 years of age.
Nothing else worth mentioning, only that we are in health as well as our friends generally. Write me, my dear brother, as soon as you can if I can hear that John has got out safely, I will write you and him more fully, shortly thereafter.
Yr affectionate Brother
Address: Golansville 15th Feb 1824, Thos. B.
Mr. John Burruss, Jefferson County, Kentucky Middleton Post Office
Caroline County, March 6th, 1824
I have undertaken the painful task to inform you of the death of our dear Brother Thomas, which event took place little before two o'clock this morning. A short detail of the circumstances that led him to his end, I will give.
On Thursday last, there was an arbitration of some carpenters work which took place in the neighborhood in which he assisted, and, by some means, of which I am not acquainted, he made it some time within the night before he returned home. On his return, between his own gate and the house, in the darkness, he blundered and fell, for he was walking, which brought on a rupture in his groin, to which he was before subject, and also a stricture; and before a passage be procured, it was thought by his physicians that a mortification had taken place, which put an end to his days in about fifty-three or fifty-four hours. He was strongly of the opinion from the first, that it would kill him, and so was I, from the first time that I saw him after the fall.
I sent after Garrett and Chiles and others, so that we had an abundance of assistance on our severe trials. He bore his afflictions with wonderful patience, and retained his senses until his last breath, I do believe. I had been backward and forward from my house to his seven or eight times in the course of yesterday, and the first fair opportunity I had, I asked him if he had made a Will. He said he had not, but if he could get a little composed, or some abatement of his pain, he would get me to write one. But, the thing was not stirred by him, and I did not like to disturb his mind. A little after night, I proposed that as there were a number of persons present and Garrett with the rest, that Chiles and myself would go over to my house and get a little sleep, that we might be refreshed in case we should be wanted. He said, "Well, all right," but that he should not need our assistance long. In about three or four hours, between nine and ten o'clock, his man Tom knocked at my door and said his master wanted me; and I rightly concluded it was to make his Will.
I hastened over, and had but seated myself, before he told me that he wished me to write his Will, and that he did not think he could live long. I sat down directly, and he as deliberately cited every item in his Will, as he could have done at any time of his life. After that was done, Chiles and myself returned to my house again to get some rest if possible. A little after one, or about that time, I entered his chamber again, and asked him how he was. He said in a mild voice that he was very poorly that he was going very fast; in a little while after, he said: "See how a gasping mortal lies and pants away his breath." Some short time after, he proposed to Garrett, who was standing over him, to assist him to turn over. Garrett took, or attempted to take him by the shoulders, but he said no, let him help himself. Garrett held his head down, our brother put his arms around his neck, and raised himself entirely up, and turned himself on his right side, without letting Garrett handle him. But he was taken with a mighty choking immediately, that lasted perhaps five minutes, which was the last struggle he had with the King of Terrors; so by ten minutes time after he turned himself, he was a lifeless lump of clay.
The sadness of it all was a sore trial - with but one single circumstance that could in the least unburden our minds, and that was his entire resignation to the Will of his Maker. He has charged me with the management of his affairs, which will be a considerable burden, but, as it was a death bed request of a beloved Brother, I will do the best I can.
We had all the medical aid that we could wish. There was a consultation in a case of one of the neighbors, so that we were enabled twice yesterday to get Docts. Anderson and Meaux there together. But they both of the opinion from the first, that it was a desperate case. However, they thought if a passage could be procured there might be some chance to save him, but their hopes were vain.
Please inform Nephew John of all this sad news. Tell him also that two of his sisters have married since he left here. Mary married John Boulware, on Christmas day; and Lucy married George Robertson a week ago last Thursday. Tell him also that Betsy Bibb has married Reuben Pemberton and Betsy Childs a man from Petersburg by the name of Everett. Tell him that his dear father received his letter of the 29th of December on the 28th of last month, which gave him singular satisfaction, as he had been very uneasy at not hearing from him.
Mary lives within a small distance from her sister Rachel, and Lucy lives where Coleman Ross formerly lived, about three miles from the other two. His brother Thomas is in a serious way, yet, but is taking medicine now that I hope, and believe, will restore him shortly. Just as soon as he is able he is to commence going to school, where he is to be kept until he is well educated, after which, it is hoped he will find something that is not severe for his frail constitution.
I expect, from what my Brother told me a few hours before he died to meet considerable difficulty in the settlement of his affairs; but, I shall set right to work and make as short work of his outstanding affairs as possible. The claims he had on the neighbors for disinterested services, you know our Brothers' thoughtfulness, always, when a neighbor needed help, will, I am certain, dispose them to aid me in all their power. In fact, several have shown a hearty disposition to do so already.
Except our Thomas already mentioned, I believe there is no other case of sickness amongst our relatives in the neighborhood. When I have a better understanding of how matters stand with our Brother's estate, and get myself a little more composed, I will write you more fully. You must excuse this incoherent narrative and accept my love, together with the love and best wishes of my family to you and yours and include the doctor in the number. Write as soon as convenient.
Henry Burruss via Washington City
Address: Bow Green, Virginia, March 8, 1824
Mr. John Burruss, Middleton Kentucky, Jefferson County - on other side of letter appeared the following; Ten dollar notes payable at Lexington Kentucky to W. T. Scott Letter dated 4th August 1829
From: Henry Burruss, Caroline County, Virginia
To: John Burruss, Middletown, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Date: September 30th, 1824
Yours of the 22nd of June came duly to hand and I have undertaken to answer after a lapse of upward of three months - not through neglect, but from unavoidable causes. I wrote to Col. William Jett respecting your horse, the 17th of July and received his answer dated August the 6th in these words, "Northumberland County, Dear Sir, Yours of the 17th Ulto. Came safe to hand and would have been answered immediately but for my wishing to make some inquiries from the adjoining counties - In answer I have only to say I have never known or can I get any information of any such man as you describe Samuel Davis to be; but should I get any information which will lead to his detection, I will lose no time in communicating it to you. I am Sir very respectively your obedient servant. William Jett" (This must answer for the horse) We have had much sickness in our family this year not one single day could it be said that my family was well though they are as nearly so now as they have been. On the evening of Friday the 6th of August, my daughter Nancy was taken I thought with strong bilious symptoms; but in a day or two it was discovered to be the effects of the disorder state of her mind. She quickly discovered strong hysterical symptoms which seemed to grow on her very fast so that before Monday night, she was quite raving and entirely out of her right mind; and so she has been ever since though I think she is much more tranquilized than she was at first. Yet, nothing has appeared like a permanent amendment, her appetite has returned and she rests better. At first she lived upward of three weeks and never eats three ounces of bread or anything solid. Many a day has she passed and taken so much as a half pint of milk or water. We felt very well satisfied if we could get her to take two half pint tumblers of milk in the course of 24 hours. It was very distressing at first but less so now. Great part of her time she is in perfect good humor, indeed there are some circumstances at the mention of which she will uniformly laugh; for instance, if she should mention Cousin David Cobbs or any of his family in conversation to herself, you may be sure to find her laughing; we keep her confined in a room adjoining my chamber, and I believe she has named every name that she ever remembered to have heard and talks of you and your family and Kentucky and Tennessee as familiarly as if she had been acquainted all of her life.
"You wished to know how the three youngest children of Bro. Thomas by his first wife were disposed of" The four youngest are still with their mother-in-law. Thomas has been going to school ever since he has recovered his health, Frances and Agnes are opposed to leaving the neighborhood and Samuel would have been at Pleasant Hacketts before now had it not been for Nancy's situation. I received a letter from Pleasant requesting me to state the particulars of my Brother's death in which he says "I am informed that his youngest child by his first wife is a son. It is my wish to take him with me. I will endeavor to do as good a part by him as my limited means will allow" And as it seemed to be the wish of the children, I chose to embrace that opportunity to get Sam in a good place and if I cannot carry him myself, shall send him in some short time. I also received one from Nelson on the same subject in which he says "I expect that his affairs were not in a prosperous condition and that his loss will increase the difficulties of his family. Should any of his children consent to live with me it shall be welcome and I shall do what I can to render it comfortable. In speaking to my wife on this subject, she seems to prefer one of the daughters that is, or nearly grown, as affording more company for her. We will not however, insist on this, but will take any that may choose to come." But neither would accept the offer. You may be sure that these letters were very consoling to my mind at the time I received them or I should not have mentioned them. The girls seem to be generally in good spirits but were I to judge for them, (which by the by, I am not allowed to do) I should prefer leaving every acquaintance behind and accepting yours and Nelson's offer as affording more permanent satisfaction, but they must judge for themselves. As respects by Brother's affairs, I can say nothing certain. He owed more than I expected but if I could get pay for a piece of land sold John Sutton, agreeable to the contract, it would be sufficient to pay all his debts, added to what is otherwise due; but how that will terminate, I am as yet unable to say. All that I certainly can say is that Sutton is not a man of his word, or the matter would long since been settled. All the creditors seem willing to indulge, but that will not pay the debt, and if I fail with Sutton (which shall be known in a few days) the family will be left very poor indeed. His negro man Tom is as valuable as any man of his age, but he is getting advanced in years and would sell for but little these dreary times, and there is but little else to sell. But enough of this, I will do the best I can and abide the consequences.
In answer to your letter as respects, Coapster (?) land, I can only say that it has been my wish to move to the westward ever since I returned from thence, and more particularly since the death of my brother, at the moment of his decease, I could only upbraid myself with the want of a more tender feeling than I felt on the occasion, but I have sufficiently suffered in that respect since, and that, added to other causes makes me quite anxious. But my arrangements have been so thwarted that I feel as if I ought to be very thankful that I have my reason, much more that I have my health and the exercise of my reason also. I gave the preference to Coapsters for two reasons, one was that I might be near a brother (which reason is much augmented since my brother's death) the other was because all things considered, I think there and from there toward Lewisville, the lands will increase in value and a better market may be had constantly for any surplus produce than anywhere I met with in the state. The situation of Louisville stands unrivaled. But I can say nothing certain about the matter unless I knew what the price would be, and how the payments would be. At any rate, I should be obliged to call on you for assistance and perhaps, if might not be in my power to remunerate you when you stood in need. I could not have it in my power to pay cash, nothing like the amount of his land. I think you told me there were 600 acres and what the prospect of making money there, is you know better than I do. The chiefest of my property is negroes. Eight of which I hired out this year and expected $300 clear at the end of the year, but what from sickness and other causes, I shall fall short of that sum. I could not move in less than 11 months, and in that time if I were in possession of such information as you could give, I could make my calculations and determine time enough to move next fall. I should first wish to know the price and payments for the land; next what I could get here for my negroes that I should not wish to keep on the plantation; and lastly, what is the crops you make that will command money to assist me to pay for the land. I could have sold my land very readily I believe, since I returned from the westward, for the price I asked for it, but do not know whether I could or not now as Captain Samuel Wortham, the person that I could have sold to as I thought, died the 10th instant of a consumption. Myself and wife have both lost a brother this year and she has another threatened with the same complaint and is now on the Island of St. Croix for his health, Broaddus Wortham, her youngest brother. When I returned from the west last year I found my sons, John and Pinckney at a grammar school that was talked of before I left home; and from the rapid progress that Pinckney made, I have been induced to send him to a Latin school. He boards with his uncle, Chiles Hackett, in Hanover and goes to a Mr. Harwood Anderson, just by within six or 700 yards or there about. I think him a studious boy with plenty of industry to make a good scholar if he can get a fair chance. Besides his grammar, he has read in Latin Corderu, Aesop Fables, Cornelius Napus and pretty well advanced in Cicero, which I am told by good judges, is getting along very well. As respects, John he gets along very heavily. He was so much afflicted until lately that he could not attend to his studies and by that means, measuredly lost that relish for books that is absolutely necessary to the obtaining a knowledge of their contents. I intend sending him one more year and then put him to some business that will enable him to get his support. I mentioned having much sickness without naming any but Nancy. John, Elliott, and my daughter Elizabeth all have had the bilious fever, but the two boys have gotten well and are going to school. Betsy is still unwell though not of a bilious. She has a bad cough, and some uneasiness about the chest, so much so, as to make it necessary to change her mode of living and dress also - I hope by timely caution she will be well again - amongst my blacks, we have had six hard cases and that exclusively amongst boys, not very dissimilar in age, but all are up and at business. My wife's health is bad almost continually. She is thin breasted and the Doctor says her stomach is too cold to digest her food. We have had the advice of several on the subject but none have succeeded as yet. Chiles has had a bad cough but is somewhat amended. Garrett's wife is indisposed but not seriously I hope. She had the measles some short time back and has not fairly recovered since; my Brother's family are all in good health and you may tell the doctor that Charles and Rachel have each a daughter lately, in addition to what they had when he left here. There has been much sickness and several deaths in the neighborhood. Beside the one already mentioned, Woodson Campbell, and Shelby Woolfolk's wife have lately died but the greatest public loss was in the death of Col. John Taylor, our senator in Congress, one of my first favorites, although I must say he had far more enemies than I think he was entitled to. I have had considerable dealings with him and have always found him as good as his word and I believe, it was on that very account he was disliked by many. He always performed his contracts himself, and generally made others do the same, which was not pleasing. His estate (which was in lands or navigable waters and negroes) was estimated at $600,000 - $1000,000 the year while he was making it, for 60 years ago he was very poor. Our old Uncle Christopher Terrell was very low a little back, but has rallied of late. Uncle William Burruss has abated somewhat in pursuits after wealth, and begins to acknowledge himself old (if he lives till February, he will be 78 years old). Aunt Susan is much complaining but is quite fleshy. The rest of our relations and acquaintances (except those already mentioned) are well as far as I know. My family wishes to be remembered to you and the family, the doctor included, my respects to your family also, in which is included Miss Rebecca Henderson and accept the same from your
3rd November 1828
Your letter of the 23rd Sept. handed me by my nephew John Henry on the 12th. He arrived here that day in good health and spirits. They had called on the way at Peter Merewther's, my fellow traveler to the west, and who stayed some days with me at your house, also at my brother Pleasant's in this country.
John Henry, on getting here was so impatient to get on to Caroline County, that he could not be prevailed to stay with us longer than the next day, Monday, after dinner. That being Court day, they went there and were introduced to Mr. Tyler, of Bear Castle, who would conduct them that far and give them suitable directions for their getting the day after, to Caroline. We look for their return here in eight or ten days, by promise.
John Henry tells us that it is his purpose to abide with us till spring, of which we are very glad and will endeavor as much as we can to render his stay with us agreeable, and we facilitate you most cordially on having such a son. We all look upon him as boy of much promise and doubt not, but that he will amply reward you for your trouble and care in rearing him, by being useful to himself and to the community to which be belongs.
Tell my sister we thank her for the nice present handed by nephew John Henry - that they come very seasonable, it not being quite feathering time with us. My knees had begun to grin through my old ones - we soon had them finished and I wore them last Sunday to church.
I returned from a visit to brother Pleasant's on Monday last. They are not all in good health with him. His wife is in a very low state - the change usually taking place with her sex at 45, added to a hysterical affection which appears to be constitutional with her, has much reduced her. Brother Pleasant is naturally of a despondent temperament, I have always thought. He lost his oldest child, Agnes, and his only daughter sometime in the month of June last, which bears very heavily, indeed, upon him at this time. He tells me he does not think he shall ever bear his bereavements; he lost his oldest son about three years ago and before that, a daughter, so that he bereaved of his three most promising children. On the last two, he had bestowed much care and attention in their education and they appeared to repay this care and attention with gratitude. Indeed, it may be said of Agnes, that she copied Ruth in filial duties by striving to anticipate the wishes of her parents. She was betrothed and would have been married before this to a Mr. Dickerson.
I was in Richmond about the 6th and also the 18th of September. Neither of which times could I see my brother Chiles widow, as she with her children were on a visit to Caroline. The poor woman grieves immoderately for her loss. She never speaks of him, and that is frequent when I am with her, but her sorrow overflows, and I daresay it may be said that every night she wets her pillow with bitter tears at the remembrance of her loss. She has three children, one lives in Richmond with her uncle, Rich'd Wortham, the others she keeps with her. I have not seen brother Henry for six years, nor have I received a line from him, only a passing letter as he returned from Kentucky.
The crops of corn in the larger portion of Virginia is short this year, rendered so from drought. From ten to twelve miles below me, they had sufficiently seasonable weather throughout, and from thence to the bay shore, quite across the state, the crop of corn is unusually abundant, but from thence, quite across westward, they are quite the reverse, and I am told that the farther you proceed westward, the worse the crops are. It is pretty generally agreed that Virginia will not produce one third of her usual crop of corn owing to the scarcity of plant and dry weather. The wheat crop was short in quantity and inferior in quality, owing to too much wet in the spring and early summer. Our winter was warmer and more moist than was ever known by any one now living. Crops of wheat won a more promising prospect than usual during the winter and spring, and would have been abundant but for the rust. This article is worth more in market than it has been for several years past, commanding 112 ½ to 115 cents in Richmond.
I accept your proposal regarding keeping up a correspondence the remainder of our days. Why it has been so long omitted, neither you nor myself can give any good reason. My brotherly affections await you and sister and all your family.
Nelson Burruss Address: Louisa Court House 5 Nov. D. N. B.-
Mr. John Burruss, near Middleton, Jefferson County,Kty