Union Mills Letters
February 4, 1858

To H. Wirt Shriver
From John [no last name given]

Names mentioned:
Mr. Davison; Jim.; Rowliss[?]; Helen; Kemp;
Jeannie; Lizzie; Salle; mother

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Feb. 4 / 58
Nashville Tenn
Sunday Eve

Dear Wirt,

I have done a good deal of writing to day and not having much practice this last week or ten days, my hands have got quite stiff with my chirographical exercises, since I wrote you last from Saint Louis. 

I have been knocking over a pretty fair piece of territory.  I left St. Louis Wednesday before last in the good [doodle] Steamer “Illinois” bound for Memphis.  I had waited a day or two for a boat.  I took the first one offering though was warned against it by some friends who said it was a slow boat which she most emphatically was.  It is only 450 miles and we did not get to Memphis until Saturday night 12 O’clock.  There was about 20 pretty good fellows aboard and as the boat stopped at the different landings to take on corn, which was her principal cargo, and of which she had about 10,000 bags on board, we all went on shore and practiced pistol shooting of which marked amusement the native population far exceeded our easterners nature two or three of which were loud in their boastings of their science and close shots but a Kentucky fellow shot the closest and said the least.

On board for amusement we played Euchre.  Spouted and sung all the songs and told all the funny things we knew.  I staid in Memphis until Wednesday morning last 3AM when I got up out of my warm bed looked out and seen it had snowed during the night and was pretty cold and disagreeable, something like the morning we all started for Balto. only a good deal more so, and with this difference we did not have anything to eat or drink.  I had to ride 40 miles to Breakfast when we got there I did not feel well, though went in and looked at the table which didn’t please me exactly so I turned and went out.  The proprietor at the door said to me when I came out, “Stranger you through already”  “Yes I am through already he says do you know a fellow got himself in a hell of a scrape going to my table and coming out again just as you  did.  I told him if he considered [that] I was in a hell of a scrape it was more than I did and asked him if I haven’t the right of eating where it choosed to.  We liked to get into a fight.  I was not in a good humor and felt kind of like a muss would have been an agreeable episode however he said nothing more and I left.  That’s a hell of an incident ain’t it.  We got to Huntsville that night, about 10 PM.

When I say we I must not forget to tell who we is.  I fell in with an old gray headed whiskered gentleman from Pittsburg, named Davison on the Boat from Saint Louis, and we have been rooming and traveling to-gether ever since.  He is strange companion for me, he is elder Deacon in a Presbyterian church in Pittsburgh and is very good but I like him first rate and we get along to-gether finely.  He is selling goods for his firm a “Hardware Manft. Co” in Pittsburg.  

Huntsville Ala. is one of the prettiest small towns south.  not much business done, but lots of wealthy planters live here and have their plantations in the neighborhood.  There are some very handsome comfortable looking places there and it has the advantage of the prettiest situation  I think I must ever saw.  It is enclosed on all sides with the exception of the northwest entirely with mountains, or rather by hills which rise as abruptly from the valley as those hills do along Pipe Creek, only they are about 3 times as high and covered with woods on any side of the town except the North West.  the hills are not a ½ mile away, and in the middle of the town on the highest point in the public square stands a very fine Courthouse with nice grounds around it making altogether a better show than a good many more pretentious buildings do.  

We left Huntsville however without much regret got aboard the Cars at 6 in the eveng, rode all night and got here Friday morning.  Since then I have been as busy as I could be, and will be so until I leave.  You may thank Sunday for this letter.  I rec’d a letter from Jim. ordering me to go from Louisville to Saint Louis again.  I would have much preferred coming home – from there – but the “ipse dixit” of the firm you get your Bread & Butter.  I ain’t, nor never can be, disposed without putting said Bread & Butter in jeopardy.  

How are you getting along in Fayette [?] Street with the female persuasion.  I suppose by this time Rowliss [?] has dressed up and paid you a visit, and Helen has again played the Piano” while you sat ravished by the melody and exclaimed “if music be the food of some play on, give me a surfeit of it, and how is Kemp, immortal Kemp, whose Parent on her Fathers side is in the Horse business.  How is she “du tate[?]”  Present my regards when you see the maiden.  Give my love to all at home, Jeannie & Children[?] & Lizzie & Salle &c.  Not forgetting the little girl & her Mother, so I expect to hear from you at Louisville,     yours aff.   John

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