This letter was written in 1864 by Thomas Whitmire (1804-1866) to his two sons, Thomas Simpson Whitmire (1829-1891) and William Austin Whitmire (1836-1910) who had recently moved from California into Oregon.
Thomas Witmire was married twice: (1) Mary Evins (1806-1831) — the mother of Thomas Simpson Whitmire; and (2) Mary Martha Collins (1805-1849) — the mother of William Austin Whitmire and four other children, including Jacob F. “Jake” Whitmire who is mentioned a couple of times in the letter.
Crawford County, Missouri
June the 9th, 1864
I now take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still in feeble health but some better than I was sometime back. I was down about three weeks. I thought I should never be able to get up again but I am able now to ride about a little and work a little but I don’t think I will ever get well of it any more. I have very hard spells of coughing still & Agga has a severe cough for the last three or four weeks. Jake’s health is still very poor — the rest is in common health. I hope these lines will reach your hands and find both of you in good health and doing well. I received your letters dated the — you wrote before you intended to start which gave me much pleasure to hear that you were both well then. I should have written sooner but I was not able to write when I got yours. Then Ann wrote and Jake, so I thought I would wait a little before I wrote.
We’ve had a cold, backward spring and it is very dry. The prospects for a crop is very gloomy at the present. Corn is very small and a bad stand in general. Oats look bad and cannot do any good [even] if it set in to raining soon. Wheat is poor. Corn is selling at $1.50, wheat from 1.50 to 2.00 per bushel, flour from eight to ten dollars per barrel, bacon twenty cents per pound. Cows and calves 20.00 to twenty-five and thirty dollars per head. Horses and mules is quite high. Wages is high and hands is hard to get. Raw hands can get 40.00 dollars per month for mining and for hands that has mined, 50.00. T. Woodcock is getting fifty at the Hamilton Diggins. Pete Calvert is getting forty. You know what sort of a hand he is.
I must tell you Uncle Peter has another son-in-law. Bill McCollester come two or three weeks ago and married Mandy. Staid about a week and went back. Mat Skaggs married a Dutchman that lived with Sam Williams — the old fellow that lives by old Ben Harrison’s where you and Pat went at camp meeting. We can’t hear anything from Pat since he was taken prisoner the last time. We don’t hear anything of Joe & B. These times we don’t know where they are — if living at all. The nasty Rebels is playing hob in Arkansas. I understood they had all posts now but Helena. Grant and Lee is having hard times now at Richmond. They have fought 9 or ten days hard fighting with severe losses on both sides. They are rather still now except a little skirmishing trying to find out more of the position of the Rebs. It is said Grant is now about where McClellan used to be — six or seven miles from Richmond. They seem in good spirits, think they will soon take [the Capitol] while the Rebs seems to think they can’t do it. It is also rumored they have taken Corinth again. It is certain they took Fort Pillow and killed all the Negroes they found there, showing no quarters. The war is raging high. There seems to be a strong determination on both sides to conquer or die.
Simpson wrote to me he would send me some money if he [had] good luck in a short time. I would receive it thankfully as I am always needy but I do not want you to rob yourself to help me along. If we have rain to make breadstuff, we have a plenty planted to make enough to do us. We have twenty-six or seven acres in corn; some thirteen in oats, and putting in 4 of hungarian grass. I bought last winter 5 acres of wheat. That will help us out if it comes only as well as it now looks. Was__ is fooling around and is less account this summer than last. I have to hire whenever I can. He is now off somewhere. I hope he will never come back to stay. Jake has such poor health that he can do but very little. Simpson, I don’t want you to think that I am getting others to write to you for money. Mat and others has done it without my knowledge till after she had done it. Now don’t think I want to live off of you for I would rather see you than have all you have made in California. I long to see once more before my feeble frame lied cold in death to moulder to its mother dust but if we never meet again [in] life, I hope you Willy will try to meet me in Heaven above where parting is no more. Where gold hunting will never be necessary but all one in Christ Jesus our Lord, rich in holiness and everlasting peace.
Brother Moses — poor old man — is still in a bad condition, hardly able to get about with crutches. He had another backset a few weeks since. They all thought he would die but I understand he is some better again. I have not been able to go to see him. If I get no worse, I think I will try to go to see day after tomorrow. I have not been down in that neighborhood since the latter part of March. I want you to write soon and write often and let me know how you get along. Tell me something about the luck you had in your move over to Oregon, how far from Eureka to where you are stopping and how far it is from there to Idaho, all about the country and times. I must now close by subscribing myself your loving father, — T. Whitmire
Aunt Agga and all the children sends their love to you and says she would be very glad to see you both come home for it does seem that we are nearly left alone and broke up in our family. Excuse my bad writing for I can hardly see to write or follow the line & my hand is so unsteady.