1863: F. F. Mayo to Joel McPherson

This letter appears to have written by a “F. F. Mayo” of Bonsacks Depot, Roanoke county, Virginia, but I have not been able to find anyone by that name. The letter was addressed to Col. Joel McPherson (1807-1888) of Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, Virginia. In 1835, Joel received a commission from Governor Tazewell as Colonel of the State militia.

The letter pertains to the sale or use of two Negroes, man and wife, who were the property of Mr. Cabell. The author of the letter appears to be making the arrangements for a Capt. Beard, possibly in the Confederate service.


Addressed to Col. Joel McPherson, Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, Va.

Bonsacks Depot [Roanoke county, Virginia]
January 24th 1863

Col. Joel McPherson, Lewisburg, Virginia
My dear valued friend,

As you seem the only real friend that I can ever get any satisfaction from in your country is my apology for troubling you again with a letter concerning my business.

In the first place I wrote to you, in that letter is contained an order from Mr. Cabell for his Black man Archy & his woman Any. It is important that I should have had an answer & it is now so as I am compelled to have an answer without any delay. If Mr. Beard intends to take them & deliver my little John over to some one that will bring him to me, he must do so without any further delay. He must say yes or no. My business matters are come now quickly. The man and his wife are valuable hands & will do Capt. Beard more service than a dozen little fellows like little John. The man is a fair cooper, good enough carpenter, can make ploughs and other farming instruments, besides he has worked at the Blacksmith trade. In fact, he is one of the most useful hands on a farm that can be had. The woman—a large strong woman, good cook, or field hand, either. But if he does not intend to let the boy after all these offers which is doubtless to his interest, as to value, it is my wish then forthwith of not sooner to get the two—Archy and his wife—brought over here as I must send a hand for them immediately.

You may think that I have gone into negro trading. Far from it. This is something that I never should engage in. These two negroes, I thought would be so much value & render so much service to Mr. Beard is the only reason why that I obtained an order for them, although they please and answer Mr. Beard’s purpose so well. In order to get my little John on friendly terms will cost me 5 times more than Mr. Beard should ever have the conscience to have exacted from me under the circumstances.

I wrote to my friend Charles W. Browning calling upon him to get these two negroes of Mr. Cabell’s sent to me about a month ago and just today at last he did conclude to answer, after writing a second letter. It would have always been my pride and pleasure to lend a hand & attend to his interest at all times, but when I call on a friend in the hour of need & as urgent as I did on him, & he knowing my liberality of soul where money is concerned, and then receive an answer after a month’s delay, and then get an answer from him, using his own words, “If I can make it a consideration to him, he would bring them himself.” What he means by a consideration to him, I do not understand. It might be the value of the two negroes, or more. If the two negroes are brought in to Lewisburg & there is any expenses, I will forward the amount, or my fried Jesper Bright will advance for me.

Now if my friend, Charles Browning had have drawn upon me for 100 or $500 even with giving me notice, I should have honored his draft, but on the other hand, I call upon him for a favor that would not cost him probably 20 dollars outlay and probably not one fourth of that. He answers when I told him it was important to me to know quickly, “If I can make it a consideration to him, &c.” You will please show him this letter. I also in my letter to him told him to call upon Mr. Jno. W. Dunn and in his answer he says nothing about it. I have always been very friendly with Mr. Browning & shall still remain so. I wish him well yet, but did not expect so severe and unkind a cut. You will please see him and ask of him what is Mr. Dunn’s determination about Jordan and write to me & if the two negroes can be bought by anyone, I will pay a fair price. Your friend, — F. F. Mayo

If Beard is to retain the two negroes Archy & his wife, & Let John come, he can come with Jordan. I will trust to Jordan bringing him safe & if money is needed, inform me & I will remit to you forthwith.

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