Jackson County, Illinois
Robert Walker Letters
Contributed by Curt & Lee Eakin
Name and relationship derived from letter written by Martha Wood Walker (Eakin) (B-21) to Dr. Henry Walker, her brother, on 27 June 1852. Robert L. Walker wrote Dr. Henry F. Walker, on 11 December 1853. At that time Robert was in Marshall County, Mississippi. Copies of these letters are in the Eakin Archives in Martha Wood Walker (B-21) file.
Wife's name derived from 27 June 1852 letter from Martha Wood Walker listed above. "I received a letter from brother Bob, lately, the first from him since his marriage. He and Sarah were as well as usual."
Transcription of letter to Dr. Henry Walker from his brother Robert.
Marshall County, Miss.
Dear Brother Henry,
I received your letter of last April, too late to reply before the time you proposed to start for the mountains of Virginia, and as you didnt think to name any points you expected to touch at, I had no means of keeping up a correspondence with you through the summer, which mite have been very interesting and profitable to us both; I am sorry to learn through a letter from sister Martha that your health had not been much improved by the summers travel; I do not know the character of your disease, but from what I know your natural constitution I think a more Southern latitude would suit you much better; If you had any ---- and I can be of any ----- this part of the ----. I am at times -----. There is a good buy of some 7 or 800 acres 1 1/2 miles from us that could be bought on good terms now; the owner(an old backhiller) has within a few days determined to move the hands from this place to Arkansas, where he has a large farm operation, and sell or rent this place, I think it can be had for about $10 per acre, 1/3 cash, valance 1 or 2 years with interest at 6 per cent, it may be that better terms could be had, I have not seen him yet but if you feel any interest in the matter I will obtain all the information needed at once, the place is healthy, well watered and timbered, with a good gin house and screen, tho no good dwelling as it has only been used as a quarter; there are several comfortable cabins however that would do til you could build.
(Page 2) These lands grow wheat finely and are now trying different kinds of grasses, such as clover, Timothy, Moschito, Randal, Heards and Evergreen. We have nearly completed at this place a good mill for making the finest flour. Hogs, mules, and cattle may be raised to advantage as well as cotton; all kinds of vegetables do well, especially yams, field peas and O (oats?). The climate is exempt from those extremes of heat and cold known in Mo., Illis., Ky., Va., and O (Ohio). The summers are long, but seldom find the weather oppressive as we almost always have a refreshing breeze in summer, the winters are mild, tho we sometimes have ice an inch or more thick, tho this kind of weather never lasts long at a time, and we frequently have fine fall weather til Christmas, at present, the leaves are still green on young apple trees---- very necessary about the table of d---- water and a plenty of it ------ just ----- just c---- and Railroad to run from Tennessee line to Jackson, Miss., thence to New Orleans, it passes through Holly Springs and will connect (or cross) the Memphis & Charleston road some 15 or 18 miles from here and give us a R.R. communication with Memphis, Charleston, Nashville, and New Orleans. I know of no more desirable country to live in, any where than this, tho there are places where money may be made faster, yet enough can be made here to answer all purposes. The greatest difficulty I apprehend in your leaving Kentucky would arise from the connections of Negro families. This probably mite be managed by buying some and selling others or effecting(Page 3) such exchanges as would prevent parting families.
I have dwelt this long on this subject because I think it well worthy of your consideration, the place I speak if will not likely be sold before next fall and if it should another could be had, tho lands are steadily advancing in price; think about it and let me know your views. If you should want to hire out your men, the price here is from $125 to $160. I pay the latter price for one I hired for next year for the mill.
I have heard but once from Sister M, this fall, soon after the death of Aunt Sally Moore. The family were all well at the time she wrote; Wm. is at Memphis and will probably make his future home at Holly Springs as he and myself have some business plans in ----- quite a promising ----- has ---- mind and good h----
-------- accounts -------- failing fast, when he left here last | Spring he required constant attention, I wish I were situated so as to have | him with me, but Sarah spends most of her time in Holly Springs and I am | always at the Mills, and there would be no one to look after him and keep him| from straying off in the woods, which he done several times last Spring before | he left. I dont think Kate is pleasantly situated (or very pleasantly disposed) well; we all have our troubles and crosses in this world and she must submit to hers - as long as I have anything I will try to aid in keeping her from want, but really I am afraid she has too little inclination to help herself-
(Last page) As I can give you no news of local character that would interest you, I will close this communication, with the promise on my part of more regularity in future than has characterized our correspondence for some years past.
Sarah joins me in much love to yourself, Sister Frances and the children.
Your very affectionate Brother,
A handwritten note follows the end of the typed transcription.
I dont know who Kate could be .- Moore might have been the maiden name of Dr. Henry Walkers mother. I would guess that Aunt Sally Moore, whose death was mentioned in this letter, was Dr. Walkers mothers sister. Other mention is made of Aunt Sally Moore in Marthas letter to Dr. Walker dated June 27, 1852. Also, the Uncle Sam Moore mentioned in Roberts letter of 12 January 1855 must have been Aunt Sally Moores brother. ( See Martha Walker Eakin letters)
Transcription of letter from R. L. Walker to Brother Henry (Walker) dated 12 January 1855.
Dear Brother Henry,
A long silence has again ensued between us. I am free to own my share of the fault. When we last communicated, there were 4 of us, of the original family; now there are but 2. Which of us will be called next, or how soon both, God only knows; I am by no means stout tho I have not been unable to attend to business for more than a year, for which I fear I am not sufficiently thankful. I think severe and constant exercise is the only thing that keeps me up. I have heard nothing definite respecting you health since you last wrote, and have felt much anxiety on the subject.
In regard to the death of our beloved Father, I confess I felt rather relieved than otherwise, as his mind and body were so sadly diseased as to make life a burden to him, and as to his preparation for the change, there are no reasonable grounds for doubt; during his stay with me two winters ago, when his memory was gone and his mind wandered on all other subjects, it seemed perfectly clear and active on the subject of religion, and this feature seemed to have continued to the last. I have as little doubt of the full preparation of our beloved sister but her case is a very different one, as regards those left behind; she has left a numerous family who will miss much, the watchful care of one of the best Mothers with which any family is often blessed. But David said, "I have been young and now am old yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread." On this experience of one of his extensive observations of the dealings of God with his people, we may implicitly rely for a rule and a guide of our hopes. Kate, I suppose, has gone to Kentucky before this time as she was expecting to go soon when we last heard from Ill. William Eakin is here; he and myself are engaged running a steam saw mill in the pine hills some 8 miles from this; he is a promising young man and I think will make money and character both if he lives, tho he is like us, not very robust; he is up at the mill at this time tho I am looking for him home every moment as he wrote that he would be here some time tonight.
In the month of December we had a smart spell of winter, but since Christmas, it has been like Spring, tho the wind is coming fresh from the North at present and it is growing cold. The opening of the Winter has been very favorable to the planters; as provision for stock is scarce and high; corn $3.50 to $4.00, per bushel; fodder $1.00 per 100 lbs. Pork opened at 6 cents but has gone down to about 4 cents tho the quality is not good. Hogs were plenty in the country but from the scarcity of corn they were not made fat. There has been an unusual breadth of wheat sown this season and thus far the promise is fine, tho the most dangerous time with that crop is the last 2 weeks before harvest, from rust from which the last crop was almost totally lost, tho that is by no means common. This country never failed before, to make at least a tolerable crop of wheat. This is a subject of a good deal of interest with me as I have spent a good deal of labor and money to fix for making flour, and am anxious to be realizing something from it. The plantation I wrote to you about in now in market. It contains about 2 sections or 1280 acres, tho the owner would divide it into 2 or 3 lots, and the price would be $3 to #5 per acre, depending on the proportion of good land in the division. If you have any idea of trying a Southern climate now would be a good time to buy land. Money is scarce and property below its value. On that account if you have any such idea advise me at once and I will look more particularly into the matter. This is very healthy location, by society not desirable. If it is your policy to hire out your men and make your fortune raising young Negroes, here is the place. Men hire this year for $175, women $125 to $150 - and I never knew of but 2 or 3 little Negroes dying since I have been in the country; the only 2 deaths that have occurred with me since I have been keeping house was by mothers overlaying their children.
there is nothing of a local character here with which I could interest you except that manual work on a railroad from the state line some 24 miles north of this running through the center of the state - intended to connect South with a road from New Orleans and North with one from the mouth of the Ohio River. This road passes through Holly Springs and as it will be one of the most important routes in the Southwest, and as Holly Springs has many local advantages over any town in North Mississippi we may fairly expect it to be of considerable advantage to the town as well as to our country generally. I wish I could get a few of your fine Kentucky cattle. I have a splendid place to raise stock, but there are none but scrub to be had in the cattle way. could you ship me a pair in the Spring? The only difficulty would be getting a boat at Maysville bound for New Orleans; if you think you could send them, I will give you my consignee at Memphis. I want them of the finest stock.
Sarah is spending a while in town at present and may spend the winter there as she has no society here. I am thinking of engaging in business in town on that account; if I do you will be advised of it.
What has become of Uncle Sam Moore? The last I heard of him he was about moving to Illinois. Where is his P.O.? Do not do as I have done but write soon. Give much love from us both to Sister Fanny and the children (of whom you will have to give me a new catalogue of names as I have lost count) and believe me ever to remain
Your affectionate brother
R. L. Walker
(Note:These two letters are to and from brothers of Martha Walker Eakin of Jackson Co., IL)
A codicil is printed at the bottom of the transcription of a copy this letter in the Walker file in the Jackson County Historical Society, Murphysboro, Illinois. It says:
This is a copy of a letter from Robert L. Walker to his brother, Dr. Henry Findley Walker in Bath County, Kentucky. Their sister, whose death was mentioned, was named Martha Walker Eakin; she was married to Stephen Eakin and they lived in Jackson County, Illinois, having moved there in 1833. It is not known where they lived before moving to Illinois, but the trip took 3 weeks and they went by boat from a town named Guyandotte (Va.?) to Louisville, Kentucky. There they changed to another boat which took them to Illinois. William Eakin, mentioned in this letter, is Martha's son. The name of the father of Robert, Henry and Martha is not known by me, nor the location of his residence. another brother was named Joseph. At the time of the 1860 census, Robert L. Walker was listed as still living in Marshall County, Mississippi. His occupation was listed as a miller, no children were listed then, and his age was 46 years at that time. He was listed as having been born in Kentucky. I would guess that the Kate mentioned in this letter was either an aunt or a half-sister of Dr. Henry Walker.
A copy of this letter is in the Nathan Eakin Family Archives in Robert (Bob) Walker (B-104) file.
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