1841: William Morton Marshall to Claiborne Grief Barksdale

This letter was written by William Morton Marshall (1816-1895), the son of planter, John Henry Marshall (1783-1857) and Jane Morton (1787-1861) of Charlotte County, Virginia.

Dr. J. D. Spragins

Dr. J. D. Spragins

In 1845, William married Virginia Lafayette Spragins (1828-Aft1900), the daughter of Dr. John Digges Spragins [or Spraggins] (1794-1874) and Almira Baldwin (1800-1856). In 1850, William was employed as a school master. By 1860, he was a planter like his father.

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).

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Claiborne G. Barksdale, Esqr., Lynchburg, Virginia

Charlotte [Virginia]
April 29th 1841

Dear Claiborne,

I suppose by this time you begin to think that I am about to quit corresponding with you but there is no such letter in the book. However, you must excuse me for delaying so long an answer to your last. About the time that I ought to have answered it, there were several frolicks on hand & I thought I would put it off until they were over and give you an account of them.

I suppose you have seen Billy Henry since and you have heard from them. However, he was not at Billy Hannah’s wedding. I had a very agreeable time of it there. The Miss Robinson’s, Miss Morton’s, & Miss Richardson’s were there from the Court House. Three of them were the very same gals you saw at Glover’s the night after Christmas, if you recollect anything about that night. They are hard to beat yet. Don’t think you will ever forget Miss Nannie’s looks that night & am certain I never shall. I am accused very strongly of courting one of them. One fellow swears that I courted Miss Cordelia not long since because I rode out with her & had a good opportunity of so doing. But they now swear that I am courting Miss Nannie hard, so if you don’t come down this way shortly, you will get cut out. I went to the Court House not long since & went to see them only 5 times in 48 hours. I told them that I lived some distance from the Court House now, & when I did come down, I meant to go to see them as often as I whose and stay as long as I pleased.

What Marshall might have looked like in 1841

We had a great deal of fun with them going down from Bill Hannah’s wedding about the wet joke. Miss Nannie Robinson & Miss Lucy Morton were riding in a barouche & Miss Cordelia & Miss Betty Ann in a carriage before. There were five or six fellows along. Rufus Murrell’s horse (I suppose you know him, he teaches at Dr. Spragins’) stopped several times just before the barouche to urine & such whipping & spurring you never did see. And some how or other the whole company got into a titter & the ladies wanted to know what in the world we were laughing at (but they knew as well as we did, for they saw what happened — at least two of them did) & Farmer Watkins bawled out to them — “You all have dry jokes in there, but we have wet ones out here” & such a roaring of laughter you have not heard lately. I was in company with them for several days after that & we never did get done laughing about it.

What has become of Mr. Young? He has not been down this way very lately. Oh! I had like to have forgotten to tell you that Miss Nannie & miss Louisa Robinson & Miss Jannette Richardson are going to leave Charlotte shortly. They told me that they were going to start to Charlottesville to school after May Court.

When are you coming down to Charlotte again? I am afraid you won’t come shortly since I have told you that they are going to leave. I understand that Claiborne Barksdale was to have been married yesterday. Suppose you were at the wedding. Billy Henry told me that he was going up.

Old Farmer told me to give you his respects when I wrote. I expect he will be up there in the course of a few weeks to sell his tobacco. Answer this as soon as convenient.

Your sincere friend, — Wm. M. Marshall

Came very near burning this up when drying it, but you must excuse me as I was thinking about Aunt R____.


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