Letter Tells of Post-War Troubles 100 Years Ago
Mrs. Charles Moore, Huntsville, has in her possession a 100-year-old letter that was written to her great-grandparents, James and Martha Gunn Matlock by the Matlocks' son-in-law and daughter Ansel and Elizabeth Ware, who were living in Caswell County, North Carolina. Mr. and Mrs. Matlock came to Missouri in 1838 and settled in what is now the Ft. Henry community, northwest of Huntsville. The letter, dated March 15, 1866, is as follows:
Dear Father and Mother, I received your very kind letter by Mr. Winsor, which gave us great satisfaction to hear that you was all alive, for the time has been so gloomy that I thought it doubtful we should ever be permitted to correspond again, things have become a little more quiet for the present and I hope we can correspond if we can't see each other. I do not suppose it is necessary to dwell much upon the disturbing time all have seen in the last four years, for you yourselves can well imagine how it was with us; it took all we could spare and more to keep up the army and now we have lost all except our land and I do not know how long we will be permitted to keep that.
All my negroes left but two, a man and a woman; three has come back since and all appear to be well satisfied at present. Some are working for part of the crop and some for their support. I have heard four more wishes to come back but I will not permit them to come.
We are all well at present. Elizabeth has been sick more or less all the time for the last three years, the excitement was more than she could stand. I have my regular spells of asthma spring and fall, not so bad as it was. I weighed when you left Caswell 123 pounds. I now weigh 240 pounds, my flesh is burdensome to me.
My children are all living and well at present. Harriet lives in Danville and had the misfortune to lose three of her children in about four weeks with diphtheria, three yea alive. I think they are the most interesting children I have seen. We had fixed up their likeness to send to you four years ago but the mail stopped. I now send them by Mr. Winsor. It would be a great pleasure to me to see you all. it is entirely out of my power to come the distance.
It seems tobacco is much in demand, great preparation making for the next crop. I am working five fellows and a boy this year. They seem to work very well so far. Provisions are very high with us. corn $7.50 per barrel, wheat $3 bushel, bacon 28-30 cts., tobacco from 50 to 75 dollars pr cwt., oats one dollar a bushel.
We have but few hogs in the country, the negroes and deserters distroyed them during the war. Our cattle and horse principally was taken for government purposes but we have not agreed to give up yet. We will try and live yet if providence will permit. I have worked hard to make a living for my family and I had a plenty but it is gone. I lost ten thousand dollars in good money and that was all I had but I feel much resigned to my fate now than I did a few months ago.
I will close my letter. I wish for us to keep up a correspondence. Write soon, give my respects to all the children.
Your affectionate son and daughter,
A. & E. Ware
Source: Moberly Monitor-Index & Evening Democrat (Moberly, Missouri), March 15, 1966, Page 7.