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Alto, Cherokee County, Texas, 2d Sept. 1863
Mr Nelson, Read
this & forward if possible
Co. W. W. Pugh
My dear Sir,
I will write to you, tho' I fear that my letter will not be received. I shall direct it to Mr. Nelson to read and forward to you if an opportunity presents.
I reached this county 10 days ago (23 Aug). I am camped with the negroes near the Guion family. Arrived here, having left Enterprize Miss. on 24 July. All of my sons were there. Robt en route to Mobile for his wife. And Louis tells me that James had left for No. Ca. which astonishes me. All were well. Since arriving here I have seen Edwd. P. who is looking well, tho' he imagines himself not so. And Louis and myself went up 57 miles to Mr John Williams and pass'd 3 days. Mr. W. is to find land for me if possible. He cleared land in this vicinity is in small tracts of 20 to 60 to 100 acres. Rents are high, 3 to 5[$?] or 1/3 of Corn & 1/4 of cotton made. Corn and other articles of food dear. Pork not to be had. Beef about 8c, Corn [12/?] at 3$ per bushel & even 5[c?] in some localities. The county is safe from invasion. It is 150 miles from navigation. A [poor?] pine & scrub oak growth, but little water at this season: and in every thing too poor to feed [anything?]. I hardly know what to do. I may hire my negroes to someone who is making salt. There is no general demand for negro labor. Grissamour is working a salt spring some 75 miles off, and I have written to him to learn if I can hire negroes to him. May do so to a Mr. Brooks of Smith Co. to whom Mr. W. & Richard P. have hired theirs.
James ran off 3 nights ago causelessly: and I presume is trying to reach Mansfield.
I was 5 weeks reaching this place. Marched on foot 130 miles out of 150 from [Mississippi?] to Alexa. I had a light fever, two days afterwards a high fever, and was compelled to lie by 2 days on reaching Mansfield. I was yet sick and confined 2 days. The fever affected the sight of my left eye. It is now well, and I am in good health. Many of my negroes were sick on the way up. I had to purchase a 2 horse waggon & [illegible] & a yoke of oxen to reach Alexa. Then a fancy waggon & in Texas another waggon: and finding my carriage & mules at Mansfield I took them to haul the little negroes and myself. Expenses of traveling are [enormously?] high and the value of Negroes may be consumed in this way. Every body here is dissatisfied. All would if they could invest elsewhere. Texas is a poor country in all things but beef. The low value of our money makes even this high. Mr. Young & Mr. Williams have made nearly if not quite enough Corn for the coming year. All are anxious for peace and to return to our own land. The ladies will have much to tell of their adventures. Much sickness among the Guions. The day I reached here, all were abed. The 3 ladies and [Walter in?] and are not yet well. Diseases agues & fevers. Frank has been heard from. [Well?], cheerful, and spoke of crossing the river as soon as he can.
Dick P. has a substitute. He is also active in attending to his [illegible]. All have much sickness among negroes. The county is not a healthy one on the [streams?]. Mrs. Y. is near the Angelina 16 miles west of Nacogdoches.
I fear our people are much annoyed since I left home. I hope my negroes may find some one to care for them. I could not stay to do so, as you know. Present me affect^ly& to all of yr household---to all at Mary's and my regards to all of our friends in yr vicinity. Write to me at Alto, Cherokee Co., Texas. Yrs truly, R. C. M.