1851: Dr. John Greenway Parham to William Henry Embry Merritt

Labeled “Dr. John Greenway Parham” (may have been Jr.)

This letter was written by Dr. John Greenway Parham (1800-1862), the son of James Parham (1759-18xx) and Elizabeth Greenway (17xx-1820) of Virginia. Dr. Parham was married (1825) to Rebecca Frances Maria Merritt (1804-1844) in Vicksburg, Warren County, Mississippi. Rebecca was the daughter of Henry Merritt (1765-1830) and Elizabeth Walker (1766-1819) Of their children, three — I believe — are referenced in this letter: John Greenway Parham, Jr. (1826-1888), Virginius Parham (1832-1851), and Victoria Maria Parham (1837-1914). After his first wife’s death, Dr. Parham married Eliza Huldah Morse (1827-1889) in Vicksburg.

Dr. Parham wrote the letter to his brother-in-law, William Henry Embry Merritt. William was married (1827) to Elizabeth Willis Goode in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. William was a lawyer, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and an editor of the Richmond Whig newspaper.

The property that Dr. Parham had a partial interest in near Vicksburg may have been the Open Woods Plantation about seven miles northeast of Vicksburg in Warren County, Mississippi.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to W. H. E. Merritt, Esq., Vicksburg, Warren County, Mississippi

New Orleans [Louisiana]
February 14th 1851

Dear Sir,

I this morning received yours of the 3rd and also one by Mr. Boll with the book from Victoria. I am very much gratified to hear that she and Virginia are both well and doing well. We have lately received letters from both of them. I was disappointed  in getting land in Teas, which I regret as I am doing nothing here, and could I do any better I would return to Warren County, but my land is so much worn that I fear I should not better myself by so doing. Do the best you can with the old mill and gin. Perhaps someone might purchase them for lumber. With regard to the old quarters, do what you think proper. You are on the spot and can judge what had better be done — rent them out or sell them, or whatever you please.

Reading has not yet paid but says he will do so shortly. With regard to the land and claim due us jointly, you know that for several years past I have been anxious for you to take them and make what you could out of them. When you come down, I will place them all in your hand with all necessary explanation. With regard to what you say about the interest on your note to me, I have no recollection of any agreement contrary to what is expressed on the face of the note. Colonel Veit was paying me eight percent interest, and when you assumed the debt and gave me your note in place of his, I think it was expressed on its face that it was to carry the same rate of interest until paid. I have not the note before me now, nor have I examined it lately, but I think the above was our agreement. I have no recollection of any conversation on the subject since. Between Dr. Merritt and myself, I am quite sure there was nothing said about it and I do not think that you and myself have ever conversed about it. If we have, it has entirely escaped my mind.

You wrote me last spring after you left my house about the rent of my land on thinking that you ought not to pay rent on account of bad fences. When I cultivated our joint land, I paid you two hundred dollars a year for your portion and had just as much trouble with the fences as you have now. In addition to this, I paid nearly two hundred dollars for repairs to the gin and press — not one cent of which did I ever charge to you. Upon reflection, I think you will come to a different conclusion and think you ought to pay me rent.

Bowie has not paid that note which you let me have last winter. It is at Brown and Johnston. I wish you would see him and urge him to pay it. If not, I shall institute suit on it. I am really in want of the money and say to him that I think he has treatly me badly.

With regard to the negroes, when you come down, we will see what can be done for their accommodation. In the meantime, I will attend to Old Isaac and whatever he makes shall be paid over to you. While he worked for me, I required two dollars a week. Sometimes he paid it, and sometimes he did not. He has now failed for three weeks and says he is too unwell to work. I apprise you of this so that you may direct me what to do. I told Ben when he went up to tell you that Isaac was behind ____, but he says he will pay up. My rule was when he was sick I did not require him to pay.

My family and John are all well. I hope to see you in Orleans before long. The city is now very healthy and croded with strangers. When you get here, come to my house. I am at the same place.

Sincerely yours, — John G. Parham


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