William Linton Lewis is a nephew of Captain John Linton (his sister Catherine Linton married Joseph Lewis). He came to Kentucky before his uncle, and perhaps it was his stories of this new land that encouraged Captain John to make the move! This (and several other letters to WLL) are contained at Duke University in a horsehair trunk. It was many years finding this information, and many more until Ritchey and I finally made it to Durham, NC. Our daughter went to Duke University one summer to Brightleaf Music Festival when she was fourteen. She was chosen as one of ten, out of four hundred, to perform at the talent show. While we were there I made it to the library and had a small amount of time to make copies. Eventually I would love to go back and spend more time there! Here is one of the letters:
Written to William Linton Lewis, Nelson County, Kentucky
Loudoun County, Virginia
8th August, 1818
On the 24th July I received your favour of the 16th June which found us all enjoying good health thanks be to god for his goodness and hope these lines may find you and all friends in that country enjoying the same. I have been in a very bad state of health some few weeks past, but have recovered my health again. Your Father is as healthy as he ever was in his life – your brother John talks of moving out this fall with your Uncle John Linton and family and expects to start to Kentucky some time next month. Mary Duncan is living at the same place by reason of the man disappointing her that bargained with her for her land. Charles Duncan is living on the place where William Moran moved from and is acting as Constable. Stephen is well pleased with his master but Joe do not like his. We had a very cool spring, but the hottest summer that I ever experienced. There has been a great deal of damage in small grane by the hale this summer, but has been as good crops made as commonly is. Your father had a rye shock burnt by the lightning close to the house; we have heard of several people being killed by lightning in this county, but none that you knew. Crops of corn is thought to be remarkably good generally through this county. We understood from your letters you did not like as well as you expected which appears to make your Father very uneasy on your account.
People has been very healthy in these parts this year, but we heard of a great many dying with the heat.
Polly Smith is highly pleased with your letter and is happy to think you are traveling on the road that leads to happiness. Also joins your Father and myself in love to you and Family.
All those you named in your letter was happy to year of your welfair and desires to be remembered to you and family.
To conclude, your Friend, and will wither til Death
NB Elisha Timms is living near your cousins in Wood County. He likes his removal tolerable well. He now is here. V. desires to be remembered to you and wife.
Captain John is mentioned as leaving ‘for Kentucky some time next month’. He arrived in Washington County November 5th, 1818. If he left in early September it took them about two months to travel from Virginia to Kentucky. I sometimes wonder if they were concerned about being on the road if winter came early. If you put Leesburg, VA, and Springfield, KY, into mapquest, you come up with a distance of 569 miles and a travel time almost 9 hours. It took approximately 60 days for the Linton family to make the same distance, traveling roughly ten miles a day – on horseback, in wagons, probably some walking. That makes a jaunt back to Virginia via interstate seem like a walk in the park!
Categories: Old Letters