1831: William Ellis to Col. Roger Quarles

This letter was written by William Ellis (1794-1850), the son of Thomas Ellis (1758-1816) and Elizabeth Hurt (1769-1840). He was married (1817) to Frances Louisa Duke (1798-1831), the daughter of Joseph Duke and Mary Ann Quarles. but she passed away on 23 April 1831 — several months before this letter was written. This letter was written to his in-law relative, Col. Roger Quarles (1773-1857), the son of William Quarles (17xx-1794) and Mary Mills (1740-1780) of Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Col. Quarles was married to Jane Rodes Thomson. He was a gentleman farmer in Fayette County, Kentucky, where the tax list in 1826 shows him owing 1,563 acres (633 ha), 30 slaves, 33 horses and 1 pleasure carriage.

In the letter, William Ellis mentions having visited Col. Quarles’ residence in Fayette County, Kentucky during the summer of 1830. This residence was later named Hurricane Hall and contained French scenic wallpaper in the parlor and hallway to commemorate the wedding of the Quarles’ daughter, Sarah Anna Eliza Quarles to William Z. Thomson in 1817. Quarles’ grandson, Patrick Henry Thomson, inherited the house in 1856. P. H. Thomson maintained a private school on the estate. The Thomsons had 12 children, and it is said the children ran through the house like a hurricane. Hence, the name Hurricane Hall. The home remained in the Quarles-Thomson family until 1962. Today, it is a thoroughbred breeding operation.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Col. Roger Quarles, Doneraile P.O., Fayette County, Kentucky

Louisa, Virginia
December 25, 1831

My dear friend and brother,

Perhaps you may think a long time has elapsed since I promised to write to you. The only apology is my straitened condition owing principally to the peculiar situation of my family, which you witnessed a part of when at my house. The fever went very nearly through the family before it ceased, and with great luck all escaped death except a negroe girl, which Louisa in her life had taken great pains to raise to house business. My sudden confinement of about two months after a long ride, anxiety of mind, and bereaved situation all crowding upon me at once caused my locks to show the signs of frost more than five years of declining age. But believing the dispensations of Providence to be just and all tending to some good end, I cannot & will not murmur against His decrees.

We have had an intensely cold spell of weather for the last six weeks, but it seems not to have put a stop to the revivals of religion. I am told the cause is progressing rapidly in many parts of Virginia. A preacher who has recently been traveling through the counties of Frederick, Shenandoah, &c. was at my house last week. He informs me that a considerable work is going on in that region and that the people, regardless of the season, almost forget the cold weather and follow their Lord and Master into the liquid grave. God forbid that those professors after having passed through this spiritual heat, should be hereafter seized with such coldness as by their continual freezing they should swell to the enormous and unwieldy size of A. Campbell.

I have just returned from our gold mine monthly meeting and it is Christmas night. You may perhaps have some feint idea of my situation when I inform you that my children are from home and all the company I have is three kittens frisking about around my feet & climbing on my knees which in some measure diverts me from the subject before me. My situation is but a miserable one as to the matter of this world, having no person in my family of sufficient maturity to adapt edifying conversation. Consequently, my mind is continually revolving. Amidst all those revolutions my thoughts are often retracing my trip through the western country the last summer and as often my imaginations steal in at your house to enjoy those warm gratulations which my person met with when there and which time itself will never obliterate. I sometimes think that if I could find a woman that would suit me, it would be better to marry, but perhaps you may think some period hence would be time enough to talk of that matter — say when I get to Kentucky.

I have disposed of one tract of land since you were at my house, and am making preparations to sell the balance which may probably be expected in the course of the ensuing spring. Should I do so, I will inform you of the fact. I cannot let this opportunity slip of requesting you to present to the members of the Church at Cane Run my sentiment of unfeigned regard for them for the kind and brotherly treatment I received from them. I expect they have forgotten me, but I have not forgotten them. Your relations and friends in this section are well as usual so far as information has reached me. My family may be said to be well at this time and I humbly hope this scattering epistle may find you and all yours well.

Please [give] to your dear companion my esteem and affectionate veneration. Also to your daughter &c. and accept yourself sentiments of pure regard from, — William Ellis

P. S. Please write to me as soon as convenient.


One response to “1831: William Ellis to Col. Roger Quarles

  • Thomas J Ellis

    This William Ellis is my 3rd great grandfather. What a wonderful piece of history for my family! Thank you.

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