1835: Wilson Tilmon Farrow to William Davies Sohier

This letter was written by seaman Wilson Tilmon Farrow (1799-1870), the son of Joseph and Rhoda Farrow. He married first Ann Credle and second, Dorcas Credle. He passed away in 1870 on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. During the Civil War, Farrow was the 1st Lieutenant of Co. H, 33rd NC Regiment, but quickly resigned when federal troops took New Bern in March 1862 and most of his men deserted.

William Howard (1776-1851)

Tilmon wrote the letter to attorney William Davies Sohier (1787-1868), the son of Edward and May (Davies) Sohier. He attended Harvard University where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and graduated with his B.A. in 1805. In 1808, he graduated from Yale University with a master’s degree. Once he had finished college, he joined the same profession as his father and became a lawyer. It is unclear if he had any legal partners at his firm, however there are many documents where he is listed with other lawyers, most notably Edward Tuckerman. He also had direct dealings with Andrew Brimmer and his family. William Davies Sohier passed away on June 11, 1868, and his business affairs were resumed by his sons William and Edward D. Sohier. [Source: The Massachusetts Historical Society]

Stampless Letter

[heavily edited for spelling errors]

Addressed to Mr. William D. Sohier, Boston, Massachusetts

Page 1

Swanquarter [North Carolina]
March the 16, 1835

Mr. W. D. Sohier
Dear Sir,

I received a commission from you some time ago but have not received any notes from the opposite party. I have some doubt they mean to keep it back as long as they can to prevent our procuring such evidence as we may need. I therefore wish you to proceed to get the evidence from New York as I before instructed you. The deposition of New York are strong against Howard Pike & Gaskins. We must be sure to have them. I wish another commission sent to me to examine David Balance of Mattamuskeet in Hyde County, N.C., David Tolson of Carteret County.

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Sir, the following question I wish put to Balance: “Was you ever employed as clerk in the store of the firm of Howard & Chase? ¹ Do you know anything of the dissolution of the firm and of their having a division of their stock of goods & of what such stock consisted? Which one of the firm done the business of the store? Did William Howard have but little or nothing to do with selling the dry goods in store? Do you think that he was in the least acquainted with the different kinds of names & qualities of dry goods? How much money did you ever see taken in the course of one week in the store of Howard & Chase? What proportion of the amount was specie? Was you employed as a clerk in the store of Willis Williams soon after H & Chase divided their stock? Did Mr. Chase send his part of the stock to Willis Williams store to sell? What kind of goods were they? Were they different kinds of goods? Was there any flannel? Did you ever sell any red flannel? If you was to see a piece of white or red goods in the hands of any person that you sold while acting as clerk in said store, would you know it to be the same? Was not Mr. Chase’s goods sold uncommon cheep? What was the cause of this being sold so cheap? How much money did you receive in the course of one week in Williams’ store? What proportion of the money was specie?”

Page 2

Question to be asked David Tolson of Ocracoke Pilot [town]:  “Is Jacob Gaskins a Justice of the Peace? Do you know of any person in particular that has brought an action before him to be tried and what it was brought for? Did you ever carry a similar case before him to be tried? Who was the said action brought against?”

N.B. The question proposed to be asked David Tolson is merely to show that one William Gaskins brought a warrant against one Capt. Weeks for an uncurrent bank bill which Gaskins said the Capt. has passed to him. The Capt. was _____ to trial before Jacob Gaskill & dared one of his men to prove that he had not given Gaskins any such money. But Gaskill would not hear Capt. Weeks’ evidence and entered a judgment against the Capt.

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David Tolsen immediately had an action against John Pike for precisely the same thing and had him noticed to trial before Jacob Gaskill and appeared with his evidence to prove that Pike had passed him the money but it all did not do. Pike got the case. We have the two precepts and judgements.

Pike & Gaskill are very friendly. Henry R. Morgan has in his possession two letters from Elisha Chase — one of late form of H. & Chase that he received only a few days before the trial in New York, but too late to have his evidence taken before the trial which if they can be heard in court as evidence will settle the question as to the provability of St. John’s having the money. Mr. Chase left this state some time last spring for the west country and not yet been heard of as we can find out. We have wrote to the place where he started for 3 different times but have not as yet received any intelligence of him. You will inform me whether or not his letters can be heard in evidence if he cannot be found. He started from here for Boonville, Missouri, and was to be in New York last September, but I was informed that his former correspondent who has in their hands a considerable amount of money has not heard from him. I talked with Capt. Williams. He will come if I want him to do so but it will cost me very considerable. I would prefer taking his deposition for fear of accident. You will please to send this commission as soon as possible as it may not be convenient to find some of the witnesses I wish. This commission is unlimited as possible as I wish to prove the former conduct of some of my opponents ____.

Page 3

I think I shall be able to show you that the rascality so much spoken of has not ben carried on our part. I have been informed that the company might to try to make it appear that some of the owners had a hand in robbing the vessel. In fact, Mr. Simpson insinuated something of that kind to me after I left you. As to that, I presume there is neither of the owners but what would scorn to do an action of that kind as much so as Mr. Simpson or any of that company or stands as fair in their section of country. If they have any doubt of the owners, they are welcome to send a commission & examine all of the owners in any way they may please and use it if they like or lay it aside. We therefore otherwise you to admit the same. You will please forward me a few lines as soon as possible. I would like to know when your court sits and what time my suit will come on. I would like to have Caleb Stowe added to the Commission if I can have the privilege of asking him the questions here. If you want any funds, you will please inform me.

Yours respectfully, — Tilmon Farrow

N.B. I would also add to the case Willis Williams in case I may not have him at the trial.


¹ Elisha Chase (1790-1844) was a New England sea captain, the son of Royal Chase (1760-1826) and Patience Luther (1766-1802). Elisha married Thurza Howard (1803-1835), the daughter of William and Agnes (Mason) Howard. William’s grandfather, also named William, was the owner of Ocracoke Island and quite possibly also the same William Howard who served as quartermaster to Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard, the pirate) who was killed in a naval battle at Ocracoke Inlet in 1718. Family records indicate that Elisha Chase and his wife Thurza joined a wagon train to Boonville, Missouri, but that Thurza became sick with typhoid fever and died en route. She was buried along the Cumberland Trail.

The firm of Chase and Howard mentioned in the letter was probably a partnership between Elisha Chase and William Howard (1776-1851), Thyrza’s father, of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.


One response to “1835: Wilson Tilmon Farrow to William Davies Sohier

  • Philip

    This is very interesting! Do you think there is any chance of discovering more details about this “case?” Two years later, in 1837, Jacob Gaskill shot and killed Willis Williams (they were cousins). Also, I believe Wilson Tilmon Farrow married Willis Williams’ widow after his own wife died.

    By the way, this Wilson Tilmon Farrow did not serve in the Civil War. His son, W.T. Farrow, Jr. (Captain Wilson, as he was called) did serve as 1st Lieutenant of Co. H, 33rd NC Regiment.

    Capt. Farrow was married to Susan Ann Howard, my great-grandfather’s 3rd cousin.

    I have quite a bit of information about Jacob Gaskill, and a number of family trees. Almost all of these people were connected by blood and/or business. If you are interested, you can contact me through my web site http://www.villagecraftsmen.com.

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