This letter was written by Rev. Phillip Wood (1801-1856), the son of Dea. Phillip Wood (1781-1858) and Dorothy Davis (1778-1862) of Hollis, New Hampshire. From his tombstone, we learn that Rev. Wood first came to East Tennessee in 1827 and was ordained to the ministry by Union Presbytery in 1833. He supplied the pulpit of the New Bethel Presbyterian Church in Blountville, Tennessee, from 1840-1842, and again from 1844-1845. The first church, built of logs, was constructed during his pastorate, and doubled as the schoolhouse where he taught.
Rev. Wood was married to Elizabeth Lynn (1805-1885) in May 1835 in Marysville, Blount County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of John Lynn (1769-1839) and Martha Fleming (1775-1824). In 1845, we learn that four of Elizabeth’s brothers were living near Kingsport. These were: William Lynn (1796-1856) John Lynn, Jr. (17898-1875), Joseph Lynn (1813-1895), and Charles Lynn (1815-1871). Another brother, Alexander Lynn (1807-1872) moved to Carrolton, Greene County, Illinois prior to 1835 because he refused to live in a slave state.
Rev. Wood wrote the letter to his brother, Timothy Davis Wood (1803-1868). Timothy married Mary Washer (18xx-1868) in 1824. Two other brother are mentioned in the letter — William and Leonard. William Webster Wood (1817-1905), married Caroline Kirk in Piqua, Ohio, in 1839. We learn that William was a cooper like his father and that in 1845 was considering a move to Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Leonard Wood (1805-1854) married Jane Erwin and resided in Marysville, Blount County, Tennessee.
On-line genealogical records do not reveal the names of Rev. Wood’s children but his letter states that by 1845, the couple had six children:
- Clotilda Ann Woods (b. ~ 1836)
- John Phillips Woods (b. ~ 1838)
- Martha Dorothy Woods (b. ~ 1840) — a teacher in Brownsville, TN in 1860
- Charles Davis Woods (b. ~ 1841)
- Leonard Hamilton Woods (b. ~ 1842)
- Robert Ambrose Woods (b. 1844)
Addressed to Timothy D. Wood, Piqua, Miami County, Ohio
Kingsport, Sullivan County, Tennessee
November 27th 1845
Dear Brother & Sister,
It is a long time since there has been any direct correspondence between us, altho’ I have received two Nos. of a Piqua paper which gave me the sad intelligence of the death of your two daughters. I have also just received (from Leonard by a private conveyance) a letter which brother William wrote to Leonard just at the time of the death of your youngest daughter. What can I say to you in your afflictions? I can point you to the consolations of our holy religion — to the precious promises of your heavenly Father — to the tender sympathy of your dear Redeemer — and to the Holy Spirit who is abundantly able & willing, if you will surrender your bereavements to you spiritual & everlasting well being. I can also say I greatly sympathize with you; but still I am persuaded that I cannot fully enter into that deep-toned anguish which pervades the parent’s hearts when they part wit their loved ones.
We are in a world of trials & afflictions; but in the end, these “work out for us a far more exceeding & eternal weight of glory” — then happy shall we be. Sister Mary, I should be exceedingly glad if you would write me some of the particulars of the death of your children — especially of Mrs. Hardy. What was her disease &c.
I had never had my mind fully reconciled to the very singular circumstance of your leaving Hollis [New Hampshire] just a week before Leonard & myself arrived there in the spring of 1843. I had anticipated great pleasure in seeing you. Last fall I was almost on the eve of starting to Ohio, but did not get off, and at present I do not see how I can go.
I left Blountville in this county last spring & moved on to a farm one half of which we own. It is the place where Mrs. Wood was raised & where her father & mother died. The farm is pretty good, laying on the Holston River just in sight of Kingsport, containing 400 acres. In the division of the real estate of father-in-law, this farm was laid off into 4 shares. Eliza, of course, had one & we got it in the old homestead & I bought another share. The other half of the farm is owned by a brother-in-law living in Kingsport. Eliza has 4 brothers living within 1 ½ miles from us.
I could not support my increasing family on the little salary I received without teaching school also, but my health was not sufficient to discharge both the duties of pastor & school teacher, so I have gone to farming. I still retain the charge of the little country church called New Bethel, & preach there ½ my time. It is 15 miles from here. I ride upon Saturday & back on Monday. But I am looking to the farm for my support. I have done a good deal of work this summer past & we have a great plenty of meat & bread stuff to do us another year & plenty of provender for the cows & horses.
We are repairing the fences & fixing up the old farm a little & I am in hopes we will sell it by and by for something like what it is worth. Then you will see me & mine in a free state. Eliza has a brother in Carrolton, Green County, Illinois who is doing very well & is anxious for us to go there but if I should sell, I shall be apt to give you a call as I look over that part of the land. I don’t think I shall ever be really satisfied till I have my family settled in a state of Freedom & equal rights.
Tell brother William that I know nothing about Nashville, but I doubt whether he can carry on the coopering business to profit there or anywhere else in the slave states. I hope if he goes to look at the place, he will return home through East Tennessee. It would be almost as near to come this way as to go by the River, but it would take a little longer & I suppose cost a little more. But it would be exceedingly satisfying to see him.
I suppose you know that we have six children — four sons & two daughters. Clotilda Ann is in her 10th year & quite large of her age. John Phillips is just recovering from a pretty severe spell of the fever. He is a fine boy but not quite as robust as the other children. Martha Dorothy would learn quite fast if she was not quite so rude & funny. Charles Davis has just commenced going to school. He is small of his age. His eye a seal black — as nimble as a dear & as cunning as a fox. Leonard Hamilton is heavier than his brothers. Charles is a very fine, white headed boy. Calls himself Pap’s “big boy.” Robert Ambrose, the youngest, is not yet weaned altho’ almost a year and a half old. His eyes are black & he is said to be the handsomest boy about. His smartness consists in crying vehemently whenever he sees a horse unless he can get a ride. But enough of this.
I design this hasty written epistle to be read by all the brethren in that place. We all send our best love to all the brothers and sisters, nieces, cousins, & all. We pray that the richest blessings of heaven may cast upon you all. We have not heard from Hollis for a long time. I heard from Leonard a few days ago [and] all were well. Do some of you write immediately. Tell me how you like Ohio. How you are all getting along in the world & also in the spiritual warfare. I hope we shall yet see each other in the flesh & sympathize & rejoice together, but if not, let us try to live so as to meet in heaven.
Adieu. — P. Wood