1849: William Moore Buckner to Henry Overton Middleton

This letter was written by William Moore Buckner (1799-1856), a land agent assisting clients, and heirs of clients, attempting to obtain title to Land Warrants, specializing in Kentucky and Ohio lands. William Buckner was the son of Roy Buckner (1770-18xx) and Nancy Ann Moore (1772-1837). He married Jane Elizabeth Morrison (1813-1894) in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, in 1839 and relocated to Ohio in the early 1840s.

William wrote this letter to Henry Overton Middleton (1792-1867), the son of Capt. Theodore Middleton (1758-1845) and Julianna Hoxton (1767-1812).  Henry married Mildred Crutchfield (1792-1838). Henry was a lawyer who, like William Buckner, worked as a land agent of western lands. In 1831, Middleton kept an office in Fredericksburg, Virginia, eight months of the year and in Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, Virginia, the other four months. Later he resided in Buckhannon, Upshur County, Virginia (later West Virginia).

Stampless Cover


Addressed to Henry O. Middleton, Esqr., now at White Sulpher Springs, Greenbrier County, VA

Washington [Court House], Fayette County, Ohio
14th August 1849

[John W. Horner] Dear Sir,

Page 1

In the summer of 1846, Mr. H. O. Middleton — my old acquaintance — was in this place and acquainted me with an agency he had from Mr. & Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Lansdale: and employed me to prosecute the claims these persons had as the Heirs of John Moylan, deceased. Mr. Middleton then went on to Lexington, Kentucky to see Mr. Wickliffe, the former agent: and remained there 5 or 6 days: and came from thence to Frankfort, Ky. at which place I was waiting to meet him. Mr. Middleton acquainted me with the fact that he had procured from Mr. Wickliffe all the information he could  of the condition of the interest that was entrusted to his management and him and myself then commenced and spent more than a week in ferreting out all the interest the Moylan Family ever was entitled to as far as all the Clerl’s Offices of the Courts and the Register’s Office Books and papers could put us in possession of. Mr. Middleton spared no labour, no pains, and no expense to benefit those who had placed their interest in his hands. He had several voluminous and expensive copies of records made out by the clerk of the General Court all of which he paid for at the time hoping these copies might develop some new lights upon some large interest yet unexplored which was not in the State of Kentucky.

Page 2

Mr. Middleton has been a true & faithful agent, not an eye service one, and has spent a great deal of money in this business. For many years past I have been doing business for Mr. Middleton in this State as well as in Kentucky and I leave it to him to say whether I have been faithful, competent, and prompt or otherwise. This interest is very complicated and difficult to manage. I have been constant and indefatigable in the prosecution of this business and on two occasions in Carter County, Ky. amongst a set of murderous ruffians at the hazard of my life, these ruffians are in possession of the land. Mr. Middleton may have informed you how I have been treated. Upon one occasion, I was detained by rains and high waters a week after I had done all I could do in the business. Ever since I made my first visit among some of these people, my life has been threatened. On one occasion, I was there in the bitterest part of the winter to have lines run around one of the large tracts to be ready for the trial of the suit against the occupants at the Spring term of the Court and the second night after my arrival the horses of old Mr. Knapp, the Tavern Keeper, and the Surveyor’s horse throats were cut and my horse’s main and tail cut off and so disfigured I hardly knew her. I will forbear any farther details of these matters. I wil merely remark the services I have rendered have been arduous and attended with a great deal of hardship, suffering, and my life in danger a large portion of the time, and a heavy expenditure of money.

Page 3

Now Sir, the services Mr. Middleton and myself have rendered and the expense we have been subjected to was all done on the faith we had in the contracts Mr. Middleton made with Mr. & Mrs. Fox and Mrs. Lansdale and the faith and confidence we had in them individually as also yourself. Neither him nor myself are even yet apprised of any cause of complaint against us and we were both much surprised in receiving a notification of a revocation of his power of attorney. When Mr. DeLainey was appointed by the Walsh family, Mr. DeLainey, Mr. Walsh, and yourself wrote Mr. Middleton very courteous and friendly letters, all of which I have now before me. Yours is dated 15th September 1848. All of these letters breath confiding, friendly, gentlemanly sentiments. Now I am satisfied you are friendly and kind to all parties concerned and you would that justice be done to every individual concerned in this business, and I submit this question to you to say after all that has been done by Mr. Middleton and myself is an unceremonious revocation of these powers of attorney a just requital to us: are utterly ignorant of any cause for this extraordinary course of conduct, and an humble silent and patient acquiescence on our part would surely be what I think has not been heard of before among men. If Mr. DeL had have written to me and proposed our mutual cooperation in the management and completion of this business, it might have been best for all parties.

Page 4

I have had a long and hard experience in this branch of business — for nearly 12 years. Mr. Middleton’s original design and his wish now is that I be principally benefitted by anything that may be made by the contracts he made with Mr. Fox & Lady, & Mrs. L, and it surely is only just that I fulfill the covenants engaged to be performed by Mr. M and Mr. & Mrs. Fox & Mrs. L. perform the covenants on their part and both of us and the other party adhere to the contracts. I shall be much pleased to hear from you as I know you know all parties and cognizant of the whole subject.

I am respectfully, your humble servant, — Wm M. Buckner

Near Washington [Court House], Fayette County, Ohio
18th August 1849

My Dear Friend,

Page 5

The letter which encloses this is the original of one sent Mr. Horner. You expressed the opinion I had better write him and Mr. Fox. I wrote Mr. Fox as also Mrs. Lansdale. Those letters are respectful and polite, but plain, and I hope embody the truth. I have just received a short letter from Young Woolley written for his Grandfather and apologizes for the long delay in answering my two letters. This far a mere subterfuge. I do not calculate upon any open and candid answer to my letters. I do not think, between you and myself and the gate, I have been at all mistaken in the character of Mr. Wyckcliffe, When we meet, we can talk all this subject over. I wrote Mr. Brown a few days ago I hoped to be at Buckhannon between 15th and 18th September, but I find it will be impossible for me to be there as soon. Our Court comes on here 28th of this month and lasts 5 days, and I have 2 very important suits I hope will be tried. As soon as court is over, I have to go up into some of the back Counties where I shall be gone 12 or 14 days. On my return, I must remain at home some few days and then I will start for Buckhannon. And I may say I calculate if nothing unforeseen prevents it, I will be with you between 2nd and 6th of October. I will try my best to do so.

Page 6

My nephew, Robert [M.] Briggs, will accompany me. He is a very promising youth [and] a professor of religion. He has a great wish to be farming, but nevertheless him and his mother has concluded if he can buy a piece of land, he will endeavor to get a portion of it cleared out and keep it till he may be settled in life. In the meantime, while this is going on, he will read Law. He has a good classical education and a good capacity which affords a good foundation for the study of that Branch of business. I shall be anxious wherever I settle to get some land as I have a growing family. My land I sold for $2100, received $600 down and am to receive $1150 1st March next at which time the purchaser is to receive possession. I shall be glad to make my arrangements this fall wherever I can settle myself so as to move in the Spring. I wrote to Mr. Brown enquiring about schools, churches, &c. If it should so happen we all can live close together, I shall be happy for such good luck. I wrote to you about Bowyen heirs if you can get them, I shall be very glad. If you cannot, of course we can’t help it. I shall be glad to hear from you as soon as convenient for you to write. We are all well and all send you their kindest wishes.

I am truly & sincerely, your friend, Wm M. Buckner


3 responses to “1849: William Moore Buckner to Henry Overton Middleton

  • Tracy Briggs

    Thanks for posting this. I’m researching my family history and this was great! Robert Briggs (the nephew in the letter) is my Gr, Gr Grandfather. If you have any more info on William Buckner or Robert Briggs I’d love to see it!

    • Griff


      Glad you found this letter. I have posted all I was able to learn about the correspondents. If you have more information, feel free to post it here. — Griff

  • Tracy Briggs

    Thanks so much! I was trying to find a picture of Robert Briggs and thought since he was a judge, that I’d find it. But no luck. Thanks again for this. So interesting!!!

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