This letter was written by 27 year-old Rev. Valentine Harlan Iley (1824-1910). Family records indicate that Iley was converted at a prayer meeting in Fayette County, Tennessee, in 1840 and was soon afterwards licensed to exhort (1841) and join the Memphis Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1843). When his health declined, he relocated to Texas in 1850. After this letter was written, Iley married (1853) to Eleanor Ann Harrison (1834-1915).
Iley wrote the letter to Howell A. Taylor (1817-1877), the son of Edmond Taylor (1785-1871) and Elizabeth Pettus Venable (1790-1857).
[Note: The transcription is heavily edited due to very poor spelling by Rev. Iley]
Addressed to Mr. H. A. Taylor, Somerville, Tennessee
Pecan Grove Academy
24 October 1851
Brother Taylor, Dear Sir,
Through the mercy of kind Heaven, I have been spared to see the present day and gladly embrace the present opportunity of answering your kind letter which came to hand on the 12th of this inst., which afforded us great satisfaction to hear from you once more for I had almost dispaired of getting a letter from you. But when I did, I felt more than compensated for my patience in waiting … & then your apologies were well received for your delay in this matter & I have nothing of very great importance to write.
You stated that you had been very much afflicted with dyspepsia. I sympathize with any one who is afflicted with that disease for it deprives one of so many of the blessings of this life & will think it not strange, Brother Taylor, when I tell you that I have not seen the first individual in Texas afflicted with that disease. Those that come from other counties here that have it, they invariably get well of it. I think that it is the climate and water that affects those wonderful cures. I have never seen a case that had the big head or big paw or big shoulder in this country.
You stated there had been some sickness in your connections but they had got much better. There has been some little sickness in our country but nothing to compare to what I have seen in that country and then diseases do not assume so malignant a form as they do in that country. We have been very dry in this country the present year which has cut the corn crops quite short though I believe [missing text] will be able to yet. Corn is worth 15 cents per bushel and cotton $5 in Houston. Bacon is worth 15 cts. per lb., and is thought that Pork will be high on account of the failure of the drought. Lands vary in price very much from one to two and as high $10 per acre.
As it regards religion in this country, I consider it at quite a low ebb. There has been some revivals through the country but nothing like I have witnessed in other lands, though I do not see any particular reason why we can not have as good revivals in this country as any where for we have some very good preachers and some very devoted members and some very good churches & I don’t think it’s because the people love money better than other people.
There seems to be quite an interest in this country on the subject of education. I think there is the best common schools (to ____ there) on an ____ in this country of any country I ever saw. And then we have some high schools within a square of 50 miles. I think this speaks well for our country if it is a new country. But don’t understand me to be boasting. I only make this statement because they are so.
You stated that you wanted to assist me to get my papers if I [paper torn]… Brother Collins and he said he would have them sent on soon. Though if you see those Bretheren, you can say to them that I would like to have them at the earliest opportunity as I expect to attend the annual conference at its next session for the purpose of receiving Elders orders.
I must now come to a close. Excuse bad writing for my pen is very sorry and I am making no effort at penmanship. Brotther Taylor, write to me often for it always affords me great pleasure to hear from you and family. tell your father to write to me. Tell John I have been looking for a letter from him. Tell Bob to write and let me know how he is getting along for I would like if he would write often. This leaves us all well at present with the exception of my brother. He has been a little sick for a few days.
Direct your letters to Frelsburg. Colorado County, Texas
We all join in sending our love to you all. I will remain as ever your sincere friend and brother in Christ, — V. H. Iley