Letter by William Scott Compton to his son Henry Maclin Compton
The following transcription with original spelling and punctuation is a letter written by William Scott Compton (1804 TN - 1883 TX) to his son Henry Maclin Compton. The "boy" mentioned being born is DeWitt Kimble Compton (1853 TX - 1929 TX). William Scott Compton, along with his wife Angelina Louisa Gunn and children, joined the Highs and Blaines in a migration from Morgan County, AL to Avant Prairie (now called Dew), Freestone County, Texas. They arrived about 1851; the Compton house still stands and is owned by their descendants. The letter was in the possession of Mrs. Lewis Blaine (Belle Smith Richardson) Compton of Teague, TX when copied in the 1960s by Michael Edd Bonner; it is assumed to be with descendants of their sons: Furney DeWitt Compton or Kimble Lewis Compton.
Body of Letter:
Prarie Avant Aug. 28, 1853
Dear Mac I have delayed writing to you owing to the health of your mother, but now can do so your mother has another boy and though in wretched health before his birth is much better now. I may say getting well, she has not named her boy yet and may not till you come home---I have rec. several of your letters and will answer such portions of each as seem to require it. In regard to the note, --allow any credit that your aunt says is right---she knows more about it than we do. As to our map and land whatever you do will be right with me---and so about the Edmiston difficulty and the Rail Road stock but I would rather you would sell that stock for whatever it will bring---it is too far from home for us to be troubled with that sort of property. I am now rushing ahead with my Ginhouse and there is upon me the greate [sic] necessity because no one else is building a Gin now and the reliance is our Gin for the whole crop of my neighborhood. I believe we will get more than we can do. The Ham tract will suit Nancy, but $1,000 is the least money that will bring it. Charles Kilgore will not sell, his wife died of Dropsey [sic] but he has got Mr & Mrs George to come & live with him and take charge of his children. George, you know, is a blacksmith and he and Charley will carry on the shop so Charley tells me---his language was "I want my little girls well raised. Mrs. George is a Lady and can raise them right and as for George and the shop, I will work for him & he can have the use of my shop and all, all I want is my girls properly raised." You know Charley & that he means just what he says. There are several other places around on which I have my eye for Nancy. But you know this neighborhood and that land is increasing in value more than 100 per cent per annum, and what we do, we must do quickly. Our Prarie is proving remarkably healthy. There is not a case of sickness with us yet. All black and white are well, so also at Highs but some of Blain's people have a brush now and then. Mr. Blain is such a go a head sort of a body that I think he rushes to much for this climate as the cause. Thomas is still with Whitt & from what Whitt says they just suit. Young John Huckaby died a few days after you left, suddenly with congestion. Mr. Grayson has been sick, but the rest of them over on Keechi seem to be healthy this year, however this year as last, there is chills & fever on the creeks. Davis is clerk, he & [perhaps Craile] tied and the race was run over when Davis beat 24 votes. Daniel elected to the Legislature. I suggest that a good investment for Nancy would be in young negro [sic] men & women, for any sort of a fellow is forth $1000 here. If you come by land, buy good second rate mules & not horses, for horses from other states does not do so well. Cattle can be had but good cows and calves cost from 12 1/2 to 15 dollars, hogs I can get but I cannot say at what price.
This has been a generally dry year in this neighborhood and all our crops are short. Corn & cotton, I shall make corn enough to do me, but there will not be a great quantity for sale in this neighborhood. I made a fine crop on the creek, it rained there & on Alligater every week and there the crops are splendid. I shall make at home full 1/2 crop corn & an average 1/2 crop of cotton. I began to pick cotton yesterday & I never saw cotton pick so easy in all my life. A hand can pick with ease as much again here as he could in Alabama. [paper torn] you have been to see my mother. I am very anxious to find out where my Brother Tom lives try to learn for me. The love of your mother to Nancy, and our respects & best wishes to all our friends.
You had better make your arrangements for your Aunt, except the land when you get here, & the sooner you come the better so far as buying the stock is concerned. The chickens your mother will save for her, and the land I out to buy now but will wait your answer to this. Tell Nancy she must not expect oceans of water here like she has it there. Mac I sunk our old well in the yard to 77 1/2 feet, and more & better water you never saw in a well. The water rises to 69 feet in a few hours after it is cleaned out & it is hard to clean out at all.
The following portion was written crosswise on the first page of the letter:
The Trinity River has not been navigable at Navarro since you left, and it will take floods of rain I think to place it in boating order by Jany. next. Come through by land if you can for you will have low water all the time & reports tell awful tales of the sicknes [sic] on the Mispie [sic] River light loads & rapid travelling [sic] is the thing, by land---at least this is my notion. Box up and send round by water all heavy articles---don't sell bedsteads Nancy, but through [sic] away the rails and bring the posts and backs---and bring your farming tools that are good.
Beds and bed clothing will bear transportation. They had better be carefully boxed up and sent round by water, and make your load as light as possible.
W S C