I have not yet learned the identity of the author of this letter. His signature appears to read W. B. Dunlap (or Dunlop) but there is little in the letter to reveal the location of “Home” which is where the 1860 letter was datelined. The author suggests that his “brother” sell out his business in Nashville fearing that he stays, he might be the target of a armed mob that might question his loyalty to either the North or the South—it isn’t quite clear. There was a general store operated in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1860 by Thomas Coke Dunlap (1839-1903) but I have yet to find a brother named W. B. Dunlap.
Monday evening, December 17, 1860
We have just received your letter to James and myself. The two letters came together today. The Captain left this afternoon in the cars for Cincinnati without having received the one you wrote to him. You may believe that our folks were a good deal alarmed when the Captain arrived here on Friday and told us you had not yet arrived at Cincinnati when he left. He, however, assured us you would get there on Thursday evening. From this we anxiously looked for a letter on Saturday and when none came, the circumstances certainly did not tend to allay the apprehensions of the family. Your letters received today however relieved our anxiety.
We were all dumbfounded at the information received from the Captain that Wallace had come home. The Captain told us that you knew nothing of his coming and we very readily surmised that he had carried off all the money taken in during the trip. He told the Captain on the way up that he was going to get married. It is very hard that you should lose this amount of money by the scoundrel, but you will—you may as well make up your mind to this. Pa does not feel like saying anything to him about it. I think myself it would not amount to anything. Pa, however as well as all the family, strongly advise that you have nothing more to do with him. Let him go. You can never trust him even if he should go back after this trick he has played on you. It may be troublesome to get a person you can rely on to fill his place, but I would not worry about it Whenever you can get a good price, I would sell. The relief from care and anxiety of mind will compensate for what you might make by holding on to it. Consult your own judgment, however. You will know what is best. Fawcett is on the Minerva. Horner is not at home. I mention these names so that should you think of them in connection with this place, you will know that neither of them is unemployed.
We are getting along well at home. I am doing better. I was up at Uncle Thomas’s office today. He enquired particularly for you. Walter today drew twenty-five dollars for his first month’s wages. As it is but a short time until the mail will close, I will give you no further particulars now further than to say we are all well but will write again.
You say we know nothing about the excitement here. This may be, but we know far more than when you were here. We know that it is on the increase. Before you get back to Nashville, a collision mat have occurred between the South Carolinians and the garrison of Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor. If this should take place, there would be little safety for any Northern man in the South no matter what his political views may be. They have only your word that you are a democrat. What is to prevent one of your enemies from sending down a report that you are not what you represent yourself to be. You may offend some man in your business transactions [and] he has but to shout abolitionist to have you beset by a mob. Mobs don’t reason. How did they know at New Orleans than Ramson voted for Fremont? Why, his enemies have circulated the reports. These things are being done constantly.
I, this family, all of us advise you not to remain behind to collect should you go to Nashville. It may be very hazardous. Besides, you have done your share of this work. It is but fair that McConnell should alternate with you.
But I must close. Will write you again before you leave. Your brother, — W. B. Dunlap