This letter was written to Claiborne Grief Barksdale (1820-1883), the son of Grief Barksdale (1774-1850) and Mary Anne (Elliott) Barksdale of Charlotte County, Virginia. Grief Barksdale was a merchant, member of the county court, and sheriff of Charlotte County, Virginia. Grief and Mary Barksdale had at least eight other children besides William and Claiborne. They were: Charlotte Ella (Barksdale) Hannah (1813-1886), Sarah Ann (Barksdale) Bagwell (1811-1841), Mary Ellen Barksdale (1816-1849), Eliza Lavalette Barksdale (b. 1818), Arabella Barksdale (b. 1822), Lucy Jane Barksdale (b. 1825), Nancy Barksdale (b. 1829), and Susan Emmett Barksdale (b. 1832).
Claiborn wrote the letter to Samuel Hannah (1792-1859), the son of Andrew Hannah (1766-1826) and Ann Cunningham Hannah (b. 1761). Andrew Hannah had been a revolutionary soldier and ran an ordinary in Charlotte County, Virginia. The family owned much land, including the plantations of “Gravel Hill” and “Cliffside” in Charlotte County, Virginia. Samuel Hannah married Charlotte Ella Barksdale (1813-1886) on 1 February 1837. They lived in Charlotte County and Lynchburg, Virginia; and Kanawha County, West Virginia, where he worked as a cashier for the Bank of Virginia and traded in cotton, salt, and tobacco. Charlotte Ella Barksdale was the daughter of Grief Barksdale (1774-1850) and Mary Allen Elliott Barksdale of Charlotte County, Virginia. Grief Barksdale was a merchant, member of the county court, and sheriff of Charlotte County, Virginia. Grief and Mary Barksdale had ten children: Charlotte Ella Barksdale (1813-1886), Claiborne Grief Barksdale (1820-1883), Sarah Ann (Barksdale) Bagwell (1811-1841), Mary Ellen Barksdale (b. 1816), William Barksdale (b. 1816), Eliza Barksdale (b. 1818), Arabella Barksdale (b. 1822), Lucy Jane Barksdale (b. 1825), Nancy Barksdale (b. 1829), and Susan Emmett Barksdale (b. 1832).
Addressed to Mr. Samuel Hannah, Charleston, Kenawha, Virginia
September 27th 1854
Dear Mr. Hannah,
I have been looking for you at least for a month past and any day during that time your arrival would not have surprised me but as no Mr. Hannah will come, I have concluded to write to you and let you know what we are all doing and for fear you may come before his reaches you, I will direct it to you & Lady. We are in a considerable hubbub over this way in the way of changes that are soon to take place. Bros. land will be sold next Wednesday which is a week from today. The tract will be divided into two parts by a line running pretty much east & west starting from a corner near Perryman’s old field and running to John Thomas’ line giving the Mill and five hundred and twenty-two acres to the lower tract with no settlement on it, and between seven and eight hundred acres and the settlement to the upper tract. Several are spoken as being likely to become the purchasers but I can’t tell who will get it. Several advise me to get it but it is so large I am fearful I will not be able to come in for it. They have not advertised what day the negroes and crop will be sold but I expect they will be sold one day of the same week of November Court. I don’t know what will become of the negroes as yet. The Legatees don’t speak much of buying them. Towns will take off his hands this fall and that will weaken us so much in the way of housekeeping that Nannie and myself has come to the conclusion to break up housekeeping as we got in debt with all three places to help us. I concluded we would only get the deeper in to keep on so I have advertised this place for rent together with Nannie’s lands. We have just done so and as yet have not had any offers. Nannie will have to depend on her sisters for a home. Towns & Emmet are very anxious for her to live with them but I expect she will divide her time with her & Lucy Jane. She would prefer continuing here but is willing to sacrifice some pleasure for interest. I told her I could not advise her to continue on cropping — that I thought she would lose too much by it, but that I was willing to continue on though it is costing me more to live here than I think I am able to spare but that I could not advise her to keep on and that I thought she had better rent & hire out for awhile as she was in debt and I was the same. So I expect this fall we will have a break up and I will have to go to bachelor life at my place.
29th. Nannie received a letter from Mary today from Staunton at which we were surprised as we expected certainly to see you either on your way to Staunton or else on your return from there. She did not say how she got to Staunton — whether you carried her or not — but seemed to be in fine spirits and spoke of having had a most delightful time of it at home during her vacation. Nannie just returned from a visit to Mecklenburg about a week since. She was there some five or six weeks and Emmet came up with her as far as Mr. Edwards. Stopped there to make Lucy Jane a visit. I with with Nannie to Mecklenburg and also went after her when they came up. Emmet is not well yet. She has been most dreadfully afflicted with her breasts rising. They have rose several times and she has suffered a great deal and they are still badly off. We were very doubtful about her being able to bear the trip up but all the old people seemed to think she could do so as she was very anxious to make a visit to Charlotte and I thought she improved from it with the exception of her breast. She is pretty well. Her little baby, they say, has been remarkably healthy though it is then. Nannie was down the one day since she came up and says she thinks the baby is improving very fast. I think it is likely she will come up here next week.
Lucy Jane’s little twins are doing very well — both fat and lively — and Lucy Jane herself is remarkably well, going about as though nothing had happened. She will come up with Emmet when she comes up. Henry is making pretty good progress with his house but I doubt whether they can get it ready for them to go in this winter though they are expecting they can. Our crops are pretty fair, I think, considering the excessive dry summer we have had and it is yet very dry with us though it has been a terrible year with us about tobacco worms. It looked like they would eat the crop up and crops generally are smartly injured by them.
As Nannie and myself came up from Henry’s on our way from Mecklenburg, we spent a night with your Bro. George’s. They were all well there. George has a very fine crop of tobacco this year and corn also for the year though they were more seasonable at his house than we were in this neighborhood. The chintz bug with him was not as bad as they were with us though they injured his corn some. Wm. H. & his lady happened there the same night and W. said the bug was a great deal worse with him than they were with George and it seems to be a complaint everywhere — their great numbers.
Andrew’s school is out. Was out the first of this week and he left here last Saturday for Lucy Jane’s as he was very anxious to see the twins & Emmet’s baby. He is very well and like myself, has been looking for you about a month past. Give my best love to sister Charlotte and all the children.
Yours most truly, — Claiborne G. Barksdale
2nd Oct. A boy came up from Henry’s Saturday evening and said Andrew went down with Mr. Townes to Mecklenburg. Emmet is still at Lucy Jane’s. — C. G. B.