From France To Panola County, Mississippi
Louis and Frances Benal Dorr
Letters copied and translated by Mildred Dorr Goodman
Entered into word processor by Betty Felsher
My great-grandfather, Louis A. Dorr, who came to this country from his native France in the first half of the 1800's, kept copies of the letters he wrote. The ones in my possession were copied into the blank spaces in an old store ledger. Sometimes he wrote right over the ledger entries, and that, along with the ink over 100 years old and more than half written in French, made my task of copying and translating these letters a monumental one.
The letters in this old ledger were written in the years 1868-1879. There must have been several earlier records which were at some time thrown out with the trash by some ancestor who could not read French.
All the letters that are addressed to Brother Victor, Madame Heric, or Victorine were in French. With the aid of 2 years of college French [many years ago] and 3 French dictionaries, I managed to put them into English. He wrote a very scholarly French, which made it easier for me. If he had used dialect or slang or idiomatic expressions, it would have been impossible for me.
His letters written in English [to his son, old neighbors, friends, and business firms] I have copied just as he wrote them. His grammatical errors in tense, plurals, and pronouns serve to remind one that English was his second language. However, anyone reading these letters would recognize that this is a brilliant educated man. [It is said that he could speak 5 or 6 languages and was college educated.]
There are many pages and parts of pages missing. Some were deliberately cut out, and as this book was used as a repository for family bills and a scratch pad on up into this century, some pages were just worn out.
Louis Dorr lived from 1816 until 1883. His wife lived until 1901. She too was from France, the former Frances Benal--- he calls her Francoise in these letters.
The discrepancies---figures, amounts paid for land or received for cotton, for instance--- are his, not mine. He was bad about changing facts, depending on the person he was writing to. Some of the French words, such as "notaire", have no English translation, as they exist only in France. I have tried to underline these words.
Recently I spent many hours in the records room of the New Orleans Public Library, wading through old records, obituaries, death certificates, immigrant lists, and other material on microfilm, trying to find out just who the Madame Heric was that received so much of this correspondence. I found that she was Mrs. Louis Heric , nee [means born] Mary Benal. She came over from Lorraine 1847 when she was 18 years old. I found no record of any other Benal. She lived on Dauphine Street, near Canal, at the time of these letters. She died in 1887. I believe that she was a younger sister of Frances Benal Dorr, in spite of the formal way Louis addresses her. She may have been a niece, but since there were only 8 years difference in their ages, I believe they were sisters.
The Victorine who visited was Victorine Lambert, also from France, who later married Pierre Rachou and was known and visited by many of the older Dorrs. She was evidently Mrs. Heric's niece, and seemed to be part of the Heric household. Louise, the younger visitor mentioned in the 1877 letters, was Mrs. Heric's daughter.
Letters and Notes of Louis A. Dorr [1816-1883]
Dates of these letters 1868-1879
I have received your letter of February 8, containing a billet of 60 dollars. I thank you for your trouble. The sums sent at different times amount to 1860 dollars.
In 1866 1200
I am concerned with the rising of all those billets in price. The national banks of the United States are so uncertain that the value of the species varies from day to day. Gold is today 152. It is said that 100 dollars in species is equilivent to 158 dollars in bank notes. It is possible that in a month's time gold will be at a high of $175 or perhaps lowered to $125. Because of this, I have preferred to cash these values in gold. There is less risk. There is a fear that American bank notes are without value.
You surprise me very much when you inform me that our stepmother has become so avaricious that she refuses to live comfortably. It seems that with 100,000 francs she need have no fear that the earth will collapse under her feet. She has, however, been generous to the children of Fanfan. It is a folly which I think explains much to those who hoped to be her heirs.
I do not have anything that would be of interest to you. We have a good harvest and are enjoying good health. I sincerely hope that this letter finds you the same.
My compliments to Elisabeth and all the family.
Miss. A. Briggs
I send you by Henry the Ledger of the 13th.
I am again a subscriber for the Ledger, but I have send too late to have a continuation of the stories. If you can procure me the last numbers in December, I will be thankful and will send them back as soon as I have read them.
Louis A. Dorr
[ no date ]
You have promised me before leaving for Florida that you would write to me, after you would be fairly settled in your new home. I have waited, but waited in vain for a letter from you. As I feel greatly interested in your welfare, I wished to know if you was well. I did not see how I could hear from you except by writing. I have got the name of your post office by letters that Norman has received from your son Sam. You have certainly become very selfish, but must now redeem your good name by writing to me and let me know if you are pleased with Florida and its prospects. Give me a sketch of the country.
In a letter that Sam wrote to Norman some time ago, it would seem that the portion of Florida where you are now living is not very prolific for corn raising, but perhaps it has other advantages.
I have nothing of interest to write, except that Mrs. Carter, the relative of Mrs. Evans died some time ago of consumption.
The times are unusually hard here, money very scarce. For once in my life I had a streak of good luck and sold our five bales of cotton about 2 weeks ago at 20 cents per pound at Lauderdale.Station, but most farmers about here have sold previous to the rise at from 9 cents to 11 cents. Prices are down again.
Old man Seal, his son Wesley, Welby, and others have decided to sell out to go to Texas next fall.
Our family is very healthy for the present. I sincerely hope my letter will find you the same.
Louis A. Dorr
June 10, 1868
I have not received a letter from you this year since that of February 2, with the $750 payable through New York, for which I sent a receipt immediately.
I have no news to give you since I wrote. We are in fair health at present, but this summer has been very dry and there is a good chance of sickness in the autumn.
Since close to two months we have not had rain and with the excessive heat in the summer, the crops have suffered very much.
If the drouth continues 2 more weeks, the cotton crop will be ruined.
Three years ago the Negro population was freed by the proclamation of President Lincoln. The South depended on them every day. Instead of 6 million bales of cotton exported every year, that is reduced this year by one fifth, and that means the production of other crops of the southern states follow, such as sugar, rice, molasses.
The Negro people are by nature lazy and indolent, and there is danger of mistakes when they do work. The free Negro prefers to lie around, and when hunger presses him, he gets up and with his gun goes around the plantations to kill and steal all that which suits him. It is almost impossible at present for a framer to keep anything of value.The intention of the Negroes is to live off the labor of the whites.
The country is torn apart. The South is ruined, just as the emancipation of the Negroes ruined St. Dominique. The whites are leaving and selling their land for less than its worth and emigrating to the west or Brazil or Memphis. Like St. Dominique, the fertile valleys of the South have been changed to a colony of Negroes.
Also, I am forced to do as the masses and change my program. For the time being, I am not going to use my funds to buy property. I am planning to change my location. I do not have enough land, and even if I had [ number is missing ] possibly 3 times the property, I do not believe I would be able to stay here long. Also I beg you, if the liquidation is over, to send me whatever revenue I have in the estate. I very much wish to be present, but I fear it is impossible. I am almost certain that because of the part of the United States where I live, I would perhaps not be well received, or I might be obliged to lose. In any case, I believe that it would be a measure of precaution to receive the money before my departure.
Send me also, if it is possible, the papers drawn on the ----- bank of New York. That bank will allow me to cash the papers dollar for dollar without much lose on exchange.
Tell me also in your letter anything concerning your family, news I have not heard previously, also of our brothers and all the relations.
The years are heaping up on my head, which has begun to go gray, but although my appearance is worse, my health is good. I have so little opportunity to speak or write French that I think I have inserted English words intermittently, but too little to change the sense of the letter.
My regards to Elizabeth and all the family.
P.S. Of the flower seed which you have sent me, one kind, I have forgotten the name, is blooming I have 5 or 6 altogether. I can't remember what they were called in France. Of the rest, I have saved 2or 3 plants, but when they bloom, I will be content with just a few. I wish you would send me some of the double violets.
Dear Madame Heric,
I wish to answer your letter and thank you very much for the journal which you sent me. It was the one and only letter which I have received from you in about a month. I have always been diligent in answering.
I am sorry to learn that your boy has been ill a long time. We have also had a sickness in this part of Mississippi, but our family up to now has escaped the fevers and chills; but I fear that later we will have very much sickness, as the summer was very dry and then has rained nearly incessantly for 6 weeks. Also our crop is very thin this year. The long drought almost ruined our corn, and the abundance of rain which still continues has made all the cotton blooms fall, and without a doubt the caterpillars will bring about will bring about complete finish.
I have given up for always a return trip to France. Long ago, when I had not been in America long, I before my parents died and when my family was not so large, it would have pleased me. I believed two years ago even that I was obliged to go for the liquidation of the estate of my father, but I sent my proxy to my brother who represented me. The settlement is today nearly complete, though I have not yet received all the funds from Europe.
[ Rest of letter faded out]
Mr. M. Houston
For 160 acres of woodland lying in Kemper County, 6 in Section 28, Township of S18 [I think that's a S. This part is hard to read] N. 1/4 S.W.1/4 N. 1/3 S. E.1/4
I desire to know the lowest figure at what you would sell me the land, payable on the first day of April next. The remaining of this large tract of land is worthless and would not pay taxes on it. The bearer of this note is my son which I authorize to trade for the land.
Dear Mr. Evans,
I have neglected to write to you for several reasons and very good ones too. First, I had no news of interest. 2. I was always waiting for a letter that I never have received. I expected too that by this time I could tell you something decisive, whether I would remove to Florida or remain in this God forsaken country, and today finds me in the same perplexing dilemma that I was in 10 months ago. I have received a portion of the money from the estate of my father, but owing to some delay, I have not received the whole , as the litigation is not ended yet.
We have made nearly a complete failure in all kinds of crops.
Dry weather for 10 consecutive weeks cut up the corn 2. And then the rain set in, it completely ruined the cotton. Too, the worms have eaten it up, and there will not be more than one bale for every 8 or 10 acres as average. The peas and potato crops are fine.
I had made up my mind last year that if nothing would stand in my way, I would come to Florida, In as much as you seem to be pleased there. But I would have to make a sacrifice, as money is very scarce.
I would like the name of the principal towns on the route. Give me also the best road, should I come by railroad. I would be thankful for this information, for if I can get shortly the balance of the funds from Europe, and I reckon I will, the worst obstacles will be removed .
Sickness is rampant here. Many have died in the last 2 or 3 weeks. Old Ben Harrington, Bill Harrington, James Gerner, and Eli Robertson, besides 4 or 5 children. Our family is well. I suppose that you have heard of the death of James Campbell's son Willie. A man by the name of Hugh working at Campbell's had an altercation while in the farm about some watermelons. Hugh shot Willie in the side, and at the same time Leroy fired at Hugh, cut a part of his left ear but doing no other harm. The trial came off ten days ago, but has been laid on for the next term of the Circuit Court.
Having nothing of importance to write, I will close. My compliments to Mrs. Evans.
Louis A. Dorr
I have received your letter dated February 3, which gives me much pleasure to learn that you are healthy; also that the rest of the family have good health for the present. We have much sickness this autumn , but we are accustomed to that, since Autumn is the time of year for more sickness.
I acknowledge negligence in not writing you more often., but I hate to write so that I put it off from one day to another.
I have thanked you a thousand times for the flower seeds you sent to me , but unfortunately your letter in the summer broke open because of the strange custom of the postal department, which rolls letters. The rolling of that letter meant that they withdrew part of the seed, except for perhaps a dozen grains which I planted carefully without delay. You tell me to send you American flower seeds. I tell you, my dear Victor, that although I have always been passionately crazy about flowers, I have had very little chance to gratify my taste. Garden flowers are something rare here, and the few flowers which I have do not produce seed. The heat of the summer, with the dryness, is not suitable for flowers.
I told you about my plan for changing my location. It is always the same. I plan to go to live in the state of Arkansas this fall it I can sell my place. The land here is not productive and there are many Negroes. The climate of Arkansas is not so hot and is more healthy. Many of our neighbors are going this autumn and encourage the rest. The Negroes here have given us very much trouble, very indisposed to work. They want all that suits them and are protected by the Yankee governor. I predict that in 3 years this part of the state of Mississippi will be a colony of Negroes.
One of our sons Narcissus [ the 3rd ] has been married about a month.
A little reminder, without fear of boldness, the funds which you have cashed for me, as all others you have cashed, will be due next October 15. If it is possible, send a bank note on New York, as previously. I will be able to cash that paper without lose, dollar for dollar.
To Elisabeth and the rest of the family, my sincere regards.
Louis A. Dorr
Dear Madame Heric,
I have not received news of you for over 6 months, which gives me a fear that you are sick or that you have left New Orleans. I have been very negligent that I have not written, but I did not have anything of importance to tell.
We are once more in that period of spring to cultivate our fields for summer. It is wet, and also we are behind with our work. I hope that you have your health and that it is not illness that prevents you from writing. I think that it is with you as with me. I have difficulty in writing in French, which I regret, and postpone from one day to another and finally forget altogether. That is my only excuse, an excellent excuse. I have nothing to tell you which would interest you except that Narcissus , our 3 rd, has been married about 2 months to the daughter of a neighbor. He lives two miles from our place.
Write me a long letter and tell Mr. Heric not to be so negligent and to write me also. I had hoped to see you in New Orleans, but so far it has been impossible. My compliments to the family.
Louis A. Dorr
April 21, 1869
I received your letter containing a bank note on New York for $300 in gold. I have been busy, without stopping, with the exchange. I had not expected to receive your letter before the first of May. As for the difference in the cities, I have not suffered the annual difficulties. They accepted it without question.
You surprised me very much when you told about the heirs of our stepmother. They proposed to draw out all the advantages possible from the inheritance. They should be satisfied to receive the control of the estate and not try to seize all. It is truly bad for us that our stepmother did not live until the liquidation was finished.
The arrangement between Father Dorr and his 6 children was verbal. I did not have any title, nothing in writing to prove, and I fear the rascals will have their way.
I have nothing to add which would interest you.
We are enjoying good health at the present, and I hope that my letter finds you the same. We are very pressed with work at present putting in the crops. The spring was so rainy that we are behind with the plowing. I have sent you some flower seed, which I don't know the name of. I would have sent you more, but feared it was to late.
Send me the news of France and particularly news of our family. I believe I have told you that our son married in the winter and it looks as if 2 others will follow next summer.
As I told you, I have nothing to write that is not boring.
Give Elizabeth and all the family my sincere regards.
Louis A. Dorr
October 28, 18
At the time I wrote you on the 21stof last April, I told you that I was planning to change my location and go to Arkansas; but I was not able to sell my place except at a loss. I have decided otherwise. Our cotton crop we sold for 10cents per pound. I have made up mind that I will spend the rest of my days in Mississippi. Every year presents obstacles in one way or another. I am still in the same place and will be through 1870.
I have been very fortunate this year in every way. Our health has been excellent throughout all the summer, and the crops have been the best we have had in this part of Mississippi. Butalthough the cotton crop is triple that we have had the last 5 or 6 years, the price is not so much more because less than half is planted than was before the emancipation of the blacks.
So when you decide to write me, you can have little fear that your letter or contents will go astray, addressed always to the same address.
I have tried at difference times to write you, but since I have had nothing to say, I have delayed. Write me a long letter and give me the news.
December 28, 1869
Dear Madam Heric,
I wrote you a long letter in October, but I have had no news from you. As I know from experience that you and I have a common horror of writing, and that you do not answer my letters for two or three months after you receive my letter, I hope always that though it is late, I will receive a letter from you; but my patience is exhausted, and if I don't receive a letter from you before long, I will be persuaded that you and Mr. Heric are no longer of this world or that you have left New Orleans. Even if you have left New Orleans, that does not keep you from writing.
In my other letter I told you all the news of healthy family. I will not trouble you by repeating that which you know. Our health is very good. We have made an excellent crop and live always at the same place. I have done every thing possible to go to Texas or Arkansas, but I have not sold because I would suffer a great lose, and I am forced to stay here this year. But it will be the last, as almost all the whites have left the country for the west.
As I have nothing to add that would possibly interest you, I will close until you honor me with a n answer.
My sincere regards to Mr. Heric.
Louis A. Dorr
January 14, 1870
I would have answered you before today, but having nothing worth writing, I have put it off from day to day. I have nothing to write that would interest you, for Norman, Sylvia, and Narcissus have all written and I reckon have told you the news of this neighborhood. We are all in good health. Narcisse has given up going to Arkansas this year. He is going to work with us for a part of the crop. I sold our crop of cotton day before yesterday to Mr. Lyle at Lauderdale for 28 cents, 11 bales. I did not want to be cheated again by sending it to Mobile. Norman has left for Texas to-day is a week ago. I shall probably get a letter from them in a few days.
Mr. Roberts was married yesterday to Miss Calvert. I understand that there is to be a party there tonight.
Tell Mr. Johnson I will take a trip to Arkansas as soon as winter is over.
Your affectionate father,
Louis A. Dorr
March 1, 1870
I have just received your letter in the date of 6 February, and I am glad to learn that you are in good health and also that you have found a good home and a good man in Mr. Stockley. From the reports which have reached us it seems that the Burton family are not very pleased with Arkansas. Frank Davenport told me yesterday that Dr. Kemble and Moore expected to make a crop only and move next fall in some portion of Texas---that they had been all sick and that it was a disagreeable country to live and that everything they had to buy was double the price of here except corn and pork, and that they wished they had not sold out here. But I give it to you as I got it. Davenport don't like Arkansas, and will not say no good of it even if there is some good in it. You are pleased there , and that is the main point.
For the last two or three weeks we have had very bad weather, very cold, very wet, and of course very muddy and very little ploughing has been done. As we could do nothing else, we have cut 8 or 10 acres of land to have fire wood. I suppose you know that Narcisse lives with us and works for a fifth of the crop. I furnish him with everything. He has bought Mrs. Harrington's horse for $150. We are running 3 ploughs, but the weather has been so unfavorable that but about 20 acres is ploughed yet.
Norman, Albert, and the widow are in Texas. Sylvia had a letter from Norman 2 weeks ago. They could not go up the Trinity River as they expected, but took the railroad as far up as Grimes County. They bought a wagon and a couple of mules, expecting to go in Navarre County, but the roads were so cut up that they could go no farther. [ Rest of letter torn out]
March 25, 1870
I have not received an answer to a letter which I wrote you in October. I have decided to write another, being persuaded that you did not receive my letter or that I haven't received yours. I have nothing of importance to tell you. Our health is good, and I hope that letter finds you the same, Our health is good, and I hope my letter finds you the same. We made an excellent crop last year, which we sold at a good price.
I have decided to change my location this autumn if I can sell my place. This land is poor, and most of the farmers have left this country for the states of the west. Martin, who is 21 years old, is in the state of Arkansas. Albert and Norman are in Texas. I think that is the state where I propose to go.
I want you to write me an answer to my letter and give me all the news of our family of Markange. As the liquidation is complete, send me the rest that is due me in the estate.
Louis A. Dorr
June 7, 1870
I have received your letter yesterday that has surprised me to hear that you was sick yet, for Narcisse has received several letters from Norman stating that your health had greatly improved since you was in Texas. I am sorry to hear it, for I am determined to go either to Arkansas or Texas. I never will be satisfied here.
I have done my best last winter to get Narcisse to move to Arkansas, but I have failed. I would then have a home to go to. Sometimes I am sorry that I did not go with you to Texas. Seems that you and Norman are not much pleased there, but I think you had better remain there if Texas is preferable to Mississippi, and I will come buy or rent some land there. It is the only way I ever will get away, for your Mother has no disposition to leave here nor I don't want her to go unless she is willing. If you was to send me a way bill I may probably come as soon as the crop is laid by. Tell what station to stop and how far it is to the place you live.
Everything looks very flourishing now, for we had plentifully of rain lately, and if it don't stop raining I am afraid that the grass will take the crop.
As you and Norman have received letters constantly from home, I will not trouble you with the news of the neighborhood. Times are very dull as you may imagine, and I have not received no news from Martin lately. The only news I have received from Arkansas is that Mr. Johnson's family were all sick with the Pneumonia.
Dear Mrs. Heric,
I have not received a letter from you in the last 18 months, in spite of the fact that I have written you at different times, all of which remain without an answer. I am very worried for you, have never neglected to give me the news. I want very much to receive news before long and give me your address in New Orleans.
I have decided to go to Texas in a short time, and I very much want to see you in passing through New Orleans. Write at once, and if this time I do not receive your letter, I will not stop for I will be convinced that you are no longer of this world or that you have left New Orleans.
As I have told you often I hate to write, and I was a little hopeful that when you received my letter, you would visit the family this year.
I believe that I wrote that Narcissa was married, Albert and Norman are in Texas, and Martin in Arkansas. I plan to go for a visit, and if the country suits me, I will stay.
Relieve my anxiety and write me a long letter, and I will be troubling with my visit soon.
I have read the letter that you have sent to Narcisse, and I am surprised to hear that you are disgusted of Texas while at the same time you acknowledge that you have never seen better crops growing. What is the cause that makes you so disheartened? If it is homesickness, I can tell you that if you was here only a month you soon wished you had never left Texas. But perhaps it is better as it is. I am ten times more tired of Kemper County than you are of Texas.
There is all probability if the drought continues that we will make a very short crop. The corn is fired up to the ear and the cotton begins to shed the forms.
I have written not long ago to Albert that I would come to Texas, but it is a rather long trip in the sickly season , and as much as you and Albert are not pleased there, you had better come back as soon as you can dispose of your crop. Then I will see what can be done. Narcisse don't want to go to Texas, and as long as you are scattered about, it is not worthwhile for me to look for land. I think that in western Mississippi or Arkansas the country is as healthy and the land as cheap as Texas. Save your money for you will need it, and the sooner you come back the better.
I have no news of interest to write. Everything is quiet and all the family is well.
August 17, 1870
Dear Madam Heric,
I received yesterday your letter and I learn with pleasure that you are all doing well. I have also received a letter from you 3 weeks ago, which I meant to answer immediately, but one thing then another interfered and I ended up forgetting. In spite of that, I am not very late.
The war in France has made me think several times that if you will have the kindness to send me the French newspapers, I accept your offer. It will be a pleasure that I read the news of that war which has passed 10 or 15 miles from the place where I was born. Vissembourg. Bavbruck, Burrallse, and Bitche are places that I know as well as my native village. I have been until now unaware of what has happened, for I have to depend on the American newspapers which are all in favor of Pussia. It seems that one part of the French Army is under the command of McMahan in the Battle of Vissembourg and that the army retreated. I see also that the Prussians propose to attack Nancy.
You tell me in your letter that you have written to France and your letter did not arrive at its destination because of the blockade. I have hesitated to write for the same reason. I have not received a portion of the funds from the estate of my father, and I am forced to wait until the Prussian Messieurs have cleared out.
I told you in my last letter that perhaps I would be coming to see you soon, but I am very sorry to tell you that my plsn has fallen through. I have received a letter from Texas recently in which Norman tells me that he has enough of Texas and he plans to return this winter. It seems it is my destiny to disappoint you.
I have nothing to write that could possibly interest you except that the health of the family is good and that the crops this year are not good----- as a result of the drought.
I will look for your letter, also the French newspapers with impatience.
Francoise asks me to give you her regards and begs you to send your photograph.
Dear Friend Strait,
My intention is to go west during this fall for the purpose of hunting for land. I wish you would have the kindness to give me your opinion of that part of Mississippi where you are living. I desire also that you would give me a description of the country, at what price land could be bought or leased, whether the country is healthy, and if you think I would do better there than in Kemper county. Two of my boys, Albert and Norman went to Texas last winter, and Martin went to Arkansas. It seems by their letters that they are dissatisfied, and they are coming back this winter. I have come to the determination to move if I could find a place on this side of the Mississippi where I could have better land and for moderate price. Many of our neighbors are moving on the Mississippi River where the land is rich, but I am fearful of the health in those river bottoms. I would prefer to have land less rich and a healthier location.
Mr. Tuggles and myself have resolved to take a tramp in several counties and see for ourselves. I have heard from several that you are well pleased in Panola county. Please have the kindness to write to me and let me know what land is selling at in Panola, to but or to lease with houses sufficient and at a reasonable price.
I would prefer buying a small piece of land at once, about 120 or 180 acres. Maybe it would be better renting for the first year; Then I would have time to look around and suit myself better.
I have nothing of interest to write. Kemper is nearly deserted by the Whites and it is very lonely. The crops here are very sorry, particularly the corn.
Louis A. Dorr
August 26, 1870
I have just received your letter dated August 16, which gives me much satisfaction to hear that you are well. As you ask me for an answer I will comply, but I cannot give you satisfaction as to the time that I expect to start. As Mr. Tuggle is going with me we will have to hire a light wagon, for I could not stand such a long trip on horseback. I will see old man Tuggle in a few days and we will decide.
For my part I would prefer to go by rail as to be so long on the road, but then it will be cheaper with the wagon, for we will take feed and provisions and will camp out when the weather is good. I expect that we will start in the later part of September or the first of October.
Your letter finds us all well except our little girl, but it is nothing strange with her. We have begun picking cotton, have about a bale picked out, and it is fully as sorry as I expected. We have planted nearly all of our land in cotton, and I doubt very much if we make more than 10 or 11 bales.
There is nothing of interest in the neighborhood except dull and hard times.
Tell Leroy that Narcisse has been so busy is what have prevented him from answering his letters. We will write in a few days.
L. A. Dorr
September 18, 1870
Dear Madam Heric,
I have neglected to acknowledge receipt of the French newspapers which arrived safely a few days after I sent your letter.
I hoped to receive with the papers a letter from you, but I think like me you hate to write, and I was not greatly hurt. I have waited to long to thank you for the story which you sent me in the French news, which has given me so much pleasure, especially since the papers are so interesting.
I received a few days ago the latest news from France, and it was that France was defeated at Couturne, and a part of the army has surrendered---McMahan killed and Napoleon imprisoned, in the hands of the Prussians. It is a terrible thing for France to be defeated by little Prussia, which one can hardly believe. Not ever having been conquered, they will continue the fight a long time, and I truly fear that the poor people of our country will see greater carnage than in the past.
The health of the family is, as usual, good, and I hope that my letter finds you the same.
I have no news to tell you. I received last week news of Norman from Texas. It is that he will return as soon as he has disposed of his crop.
I fear that I will not, although the war in France is over, receive anything from the country. I have around 1000 or 1500 dollars in France which with my unlucky star, I have lost all. If you get anything, will you please give me what you know?
Compliments to the family. Adieu
Louis A. Dorr
At your request I drop you a few lines to inform you that I have come to the conclusion of renting your land. I mean the 100 acres which Narcisse had conditionally rented from you for 11 bales of cotton. The is rather more land than I wanted, as I do not know for certain if any of my boys in Texas and Arkansas will come back. The price is very high considering the low price of cotton.
After I move on the place, if the land should suit me, I may perhaps buy instead of renting if you was to reduce a little on the price.
We are nearly done with the picking of cotton. We had a light frost this morning which will make late bolls open. I am going to dispose of my place, stock, and other stuff as fast as possible.
I want to be ready to move by the first of December, or before if possible. Keep for me the corn that you can spare, and if you can engage corn near the place, I wish you would do so. I shall want about 250 bushels I want also about 1500 pounds of pork.
Louis A. Dorr
On the 29th of November next I will sell at my place 3 miles
northwest of Tamola [ maybe spelled Taoola] Station all of my
household and kitchen furniture. Also 150 bushels of corn, 2000
pounds fodder, 16 heads of pork hogs, 10 heads of cattle, 1 yoke of
oxen, farming tools, ect. TERMS CASH.
Dear Madame Heric,
I received your letter about 8 days ago, and also the French newspapers, which have given me much pleasure. I very much wish to come to see you, but as I am on the point of moving, I tell you that is impossible. I have rented a place 180 miles from here for 11 bales of cotton a year. The place is for sale for $3200, and I think I will buy when I know more about the place. It is 40 miles from Memphis, in the county of Panola, and a little more than 30 miles from the river [ Mississippi ]. I think we will move in one month.
I received a few days ago a letter from Norman that he is coming back from Texas. As he will return through New Orleans I have written him not to miss seeing you. He will be returning next month.
We have made a good crop of cotton this year. We have 12 bales wrapped up, and I think that we will make 2 others. But the bad part is that the price of cotton is at present nothing.
I have nothing to write you. Our health is good, and I hope my letter finds you the same.
Louis A. Dorr
Dear Mr. Strait,
We are progressing slow and will not be ready to move as soon as I expected. I have written you a letter 2 or 3 weeks ago in which I informed you that I would take the land for 11 bales as Narcisse and Yourself had made the agreement.
As I am doubtful whether you have received my first letter, please write a few words in acknowledgment.
L. A. Dorr
No date, but during the spring of 1871
Dear Friend Johnson, [in Ark.]
I expected to write to you before now, but we have been so busy since we moved in Panola county that it has been impossible for me to do it. We have a good large new ground started, the woodlot, and the house and it will need repairing, and it took us until the first of March , and since that time the weather has been so wet that we have not been able to do scarcely any plowing.
I expect that you have heard from Martin that I had bought land in Panola county. I bought a portion of Mr. Strait's place, 120 acres, for $2200, with 2 sets of houses on it. The land lies on top of the bluff near the Mississippi swamp. There are 100 acres in cultivation, and it is said by the neighbors to be one of the best up-land places in the neighborhood. It was only half cultivated this past year and it made 2 bales of cotton to every 3 acres all over the farm. Land is very high here. There is a good deal of land offered for sale and the price ranges from $15 to $40 per acre, according to improvements and location. I expected when I moved here that I wound rent land, but the price was so high that I could not make rent and support. Strait asked 8 bales of cotton for rent and I thought it cheaper to buy, if I had to sell at the end of the year.
Norman has got back from Texas. He is married and works with me for a part of the crop. Martin and Narcisse have rented 30 acres of bottom land 2 miles from here. They paid 50 pounds lint cotton per acre, but it is creek bottom and never fails making less than a bale to an acre. They have been badly tried this far---- this is the second time that the fence has been washed away by the flood.
I had always wished to move where you live, but I did not think that I would like your low wet country so far from town and from market. Martin seems to be well pleased with the land here. He says that the land is not so rich than where you live, but the country is more pleasant and healthy here. As to the health, I have my doubt, for it is not more than a hundred yards from the house to the swamp. Since we are here, all except myself have been sick more or less.
During the progress of the war, I have had a chance from time to time to receive French Newspapers from New Orleans, and I suppose that Lorraine, which was invaded at the beginning of the conflict, suffered very much. I don't doubt that in that terrible war, some of our family died. Write me right away and give me in detail the news of the family.
We succeeded in moving last year, since the price of cotton was very much higher ---- the war in Europe was the reason. Two of our sons are married rather advantageously, and all is going better. God willing , you have been spared.
My regards to Elisabeth and all the family. I will await your letter with impatience.
February 1, 1871
I learned today that the war between France and Prussia is ended and that Paris was obliged to surrender after a siege of 2 months. I have read constantly the last 6 months of the progress of the war. Our American newspapers were in favor of Prussia up until the fall of Napoleon. The Americans are in favor of a republican government. Thank God all is over, though I am grieved that France, the leader of Europe, is no more than a province.
I wrote you one or 2 letters at the beginning of the conflict, and I suppose that in France, as in America, the postal service was suspended during the war. I have changed my residence. I have bought 120 acres of land in Panola county in the state of Mississippi for 2200 piastres, a little over 200 miles from the place we were living previously. The land is very fertile. As I suppose your intention is to write me as soon as possible, I thought I should give you my new address.
The land is very dear here, the price is 20 piastres an acre, but I disposed of my poor farm for a profit. I await your news with impatience. Give me all the news of every thing that has happened. I will write my new address.
L. A. Dorr
Star Place, Panola County
March 27, 1871
Dear Madame Heric,
How we have changed! I believe I wrote you in my last letter that we were on the point of moving. I have now sold my little farm at Lauderdale Station and have rented 120 acres of land near Sardis, Mississippi, 40 miles from Memphis. I have paid very dearly for this place, but this land is rich and there are 2 houses on the place. There are 80 acres of land with the main house, with a fence enclosing all.
Norman returned from Texas and is married. Martin also has returned from Arkansas and is with Narcisse on my little farm.
I planned to write you as soon as we arrived, but we were pressed with work and were always rushed. We have had much illness since we have been here, the change of air and water. I am afraid it is unhealthy here since the place is near the Mississippi swamp, but our neighbors think that when we are acclimated, our health will be better.
Dear sister, do not fail to give me your news. I hope that you and your family have had health. I have lost hope of seeing you. Our family is so far from New Orleans.
We have an excellent place-----but the only thing that is lacking is that we have no way of communicating. There are 15 to 16 miles of road from the farm to Sardis, and we do not hear a word of the war in France. I know that the Prussians have taken Paris and that the peace was made. One of my neighbors told me yesterday that the French had sent people into battle in the meantime. I went to Sardis yesterday, but I was too late for a paper, and I have not had any newspapers. You would make me very happy if you would send me some.
I wrote to France 2 weeks ago, and I hope to receive a response in a few days. I have 5 or 600 piastres in cash in Nancy. I very much fear that the war has swallowed it all.
Adieu, dear Madame Heric---write me a long letter. Also, if you receive a letter from France, I would like to know. My complements to Mr. Heric and your children.
August 27, 1871
Dear Madame Heric,
I am very late answering your letter which you sent me about 2 months ago. The reason is in part negligence and also the illness we have had on our part this year because of the change of climate, the water, and also the rainy spring. The place we are now is rich but unhealthy. Our farm is on the bluff of the Mississippi swamp, about 50 miles from Memphis and a little more than 30 miles from the river. Although we have had much illness, it has been mild mostly. Narcisse lost his little son with the flux.
I thank you very much for the French newspapers which you sent me. I have also received one letter from my brother of Nancy who confirmed the horrible situation of France at this time, but I think that all is peaceful today, and our part of La Belle France is today Prussian.
Our crop this year is excellent. We have made sufficient corn for our use and I think that our cotton crop will be 20 or 25 bales. It is the biggest crop which we have ever made. The land is so rich, the planters call this crop poor. The former owner of our place made a bale for each acre.
I received a few days ago a letter from Lauderdale. They write me that they have made nothing this year, neither cotton or corn. It is a good thing for me that I have left that poor country, despite the grief of our son and all the sickness. For my part, I do not believe that there is any more sickness than we had formerly.
I do not have any news to add which would interest you. Write me a long letter and let me know how you are and if you are able to send me the journals, or if it is too expensive to send papers. I would send you postage stamps, but I fear that you would be insulted. My compliments to Mr. Heric and the children.
Louis A. Dorr
Auguest 27, 1871
I have waited a long time to answer your letter which I received in March, and the only cause is my negligence. I have always responded promptly to your letters, which give me so much pleasure. I will make honorable amends, although I have nothing to tell you but the same story-----our family has been sick since we came here; but this sickness is mild and was caused by the changing of climate and the water.
We have made an excellent crop this year. Our crop of corn is abundant and we have 50 acres planted in cotton, which I think will make from 20 to25 bales, besides an excellent garden and potatoes.
I am distressed to learn that our part of France is today Prussian territory. Although I do not hope to ever return there myself, as long as you live----[ rest of letter illegible]
Oct. 4 1871
I wrote you around the first of February. It was in the period of the armistice, and as I thought the war was ended, I expected you to receive my letter. But to make it more sure, I am writing again so that you will not address any more to my old address; for I have sold my place where I lived previously and have bought 120 acres of land about 200 miles from there for 18 piastres an acre. I an anxious to receive your news as soon as your letter could possible reach me for I believe that the war caused much damage in your neighborhood . I have read the French newspapers obtained in New Orleans during the time of the war, and I think that the vicinity of Metz and Nancy suffered much.
As I had written you a longer letter earlier, I will cut my letter short, having nothing important to tell you.
We have made a good crop which we have sold for a good price because of the war in Europe.
I will write my new address----L. A. Dorr
Star Place Panola County
Dear Mr. Delk,
To comply with your request , I will drop you a line to inform you that for the last 3 months we have had a good deal of sickness.
Even now, Edward is sick with the mumps and billious fever, and Narcissus is down with some disease. We have been very unfortunate this year. Narcissus lost his little boy about 2 months ago, and Norman lost his wife after only 5 days of sickness. She died of childbed fever.
I have bought 120 acres of land for 2200 dollars. I did not expect to buy when I first moved here, but they were asking such ridiculous rent [50 pounds of lint cotton per acre] that I thought that I could not make anything by renting. The land here is very rich and will make half a bale of cotton to the acre on upland and from 1500 to 2000 pounds in creek bottom. The crop this year is rather sorry, the cotton especially. I have planted 45 or 50 acres in cotton and have gathered 10 bales, and I expect that we will make 10 or 11 more. The corn crop is tolerably good and will have a little to sell. It is selling at 75 cents a bushel.
Norman has been working with me for a fifth of the crop, but the death of his wife and his bad health have disgusted him with the country. I think that he will go backer to Kemper shortly to regain his health and move back to Texas next spring.
And now I will come to the point. As I do not like the plan of working for the doctor and to fill the graveyards of Panola county, I would like to know if you would be willing to let me have my old place back as you told me before I left. I could sell my land for the same that I give. The only difference is that I could not get more than half cash, the balance in 12 months with a Deed of Trust on the land for the remaining half. It is not decided yet whether I shall move there myself, but Narcisse's mind is fully made up to go back. He has to rent land here, and it is a sorry business in Panola.
You will do me a favor to let me know as soon as possible.
Please give me also the news of the neighborhood.
My compliments to Mrs. Delk and family.
L. A. Dorr
October 20, 1871
I have received your letter about 2 weeks ago, and to my surprise your letter do not mention a word about your wife, nor if you are satisfied in Texas. In one of your letters during the summer, You say that the neighbors estimate your corn crop at 40 bushels to the acre and now you come down at about 5 or 10 bushels to the acre. There is a good deal of discrepancy in that.
We have had a good deal of sickness in our new location.
Ed and Narcisse are now sick with the mumps and billous fever together. Norman lost his wife about 6 weeks ago with childbed fever, and Narcisse's boy died of the flux sometime in July. All except myself and Lilly have had chills and fever, but they are all getting better now and may be that we will be able to gather the cotton in by spring. We have 45 acres planted and have gathered now about 10 bales. I expect that we are about half through and that we will make about 20 or 21 bales. We have gathered our corn and will have a little to spare.
Norman has had bed health since Fanny died. He talks of going back to Kemper to recruit his health and to go back to Texas or Florida next winter. Narcisse too is disgusted with Panola and wants to go back to Kemper. At his request I wrote to Mr. Delk to have the old place back again. As for Martin, with the exception of a few chills, went through the process of acclimation very well. So, having nothing more to say, I will close. When it is convenient, let me know how Wes Beale is getting on. My compliments to him and to Anne.
Louis A. Dorr
February 22, 1872
Busby, Johnson, and C0.
I am in receipt of your last price quotation of the 16th instant. I did expect that cotton would be at it's best about the last of March, but as there is but little improvement in prices with but little prospect for better, please sell those 12 bales remaining as best you can, and make return to Sardis.
Louis A. Dorr
March 4, 1872
Busby, Johnson, and C0.
I have received several days ago your letter of the 24th of February with the account sales of the 12 bales of cotton in your hands. The sales are quite satisfactory and in the right time, as the market has been dull ever since.
Please send the proceeds by express to Sardis.
March 18, 1872
Dear Madam Heric,
I think you have accused me of negligence for not having written you more, but to tell the truth, I was always awaiting a letter from you, and if you did not write, the French newspapers which you had been sending me last summer. I was inclined to think that you were no longer in this part of the world.
My letter will be of little interest to you, for I have nothing of which could possibly interest to you. We have moved again and are living at present 8 miles from the place where we were. I was forced to change because of the illness which we risked if we stayed there a another year. I have leased the place for 8 bales of cotton to one of our neighbors, and have rented a place 8 miles from there. We have been here for three months. I hope that here we will have better health. We made an excellent crop, but the doctors consumed half the profit. We are all in good enough health at present, and are all living together, with the exception of Narcisse and Martin who stayed there. Our Albert is still in Texas. He is married.
I have received a letter from France a month ago from my brother of Nancy. There are, I believe, still some funds which are due me from the estate, but he told me that after the end of the war in France, it was almost impossible to collect, but when things quiet down, there will be a little, and later I may get the rest. He seems well satisfied and says that the affairs have gone very well since the end of the war.
I am not able to tell you where we will be a year from now. It is possible that if I decide to sell my place this year , we will move to Texas next winter.
Write me without fail as soon as you receive this letter and give me news, whether you are happy and of all the French parties you attend and how many children you have, their names and ages.
Tell Mr. Heric to write me if possible.
March 25, 1872
To the editor of the Clarion
I have send by a registered letter by mail containing two dollars, being the price of the weekly Clarion for one year.
As I have not received any copy of the Ledger yet, I would beg of you to send me the paper and I will send the price of subscription at the expiration of the year.
L. A. Dorr
Mr. Burton: [in Kemper Co.]
I hope that a few words of me every now and then will be welcome. I begin my epistle to inform you that we are in the Land of the Living, With the hope that these few words will find you the same. There is , however, a great deal of sickness. Among others, there is a disease that the doctors call meningitis and which is very fatal, as the doctors don't save one in five. They are dying in the little town of Sardis at the rate of 3 and 4 a week, and I heard yesterday that the disease was on the increase.
I suppose that you heard from Norman that we had removed to a more healthy location. I have been forced to do it in order to have health. I have rented land for 8 bales of cotton or 50 pounds of lint cotton per acre. I have rented a place about 8 miles east and about 5 miles of Sardis, the county seat of Panola County. There is 80 acres of cleared land with good dwelling and outhouses. It is higher ridge four or five miles from creek or river, and is suppose to be one of the healthiest situation in the county. The land is not altogether as productive as the place we have left, but will make a with good cultivation from 600 pounds to a half bale of cotton an acre.
Norman is with me again. Narcisse and Martin have rented a good little place near here at 3 dollars per acre.
And now we are settled for this year at least, and it this country proves as sickly as it was last summer, I think I will sell out and move elsewhere.
I have not received any letters from Mrs. Johnson since last spring. They seem to be very satisfied in Arkansas.
Let me hear from you as often as it is convenient. I wish if your intention is to move, to visit this county. Land is high, but it is rich. I think you could buy land where we are living now for about 12 or 14 dollars per acre, and it is, I think, as healthy as Kemper County.
Jarvie Campbell made between 60 and 70 bales of cotton last year. He lives near my old place, about 8 miles from here.
Having nothing to write that would interest you, I will close. My compliments to Mrs. Burton and the family and to all inquiring friends.
Louis A. Louis
May 10, 1872
Dear Madam Heric,
I received your letter some time ago, and I am not eager to respond so quickly, as much as I wrote you several days ago that I had received the journals, for which I thank you.
I think I have told you that we moved . There was much sickness all the time, but we escaped except for colds and some malaria and chills. The only thing that troubles us at this time is that it is impossible to plant our crops---- [rest of letter torn out]
May 10, 1872
I have not been very diligent in responding to your letter which you wrote in the spring for the reason that I have not had anything of interest to write. Our health is very good at present, but the season of illness has not yet arrived. I hope, however, that this year will be better than last, as our location is very much less unhealthy.
We have planted 60 acres in cotton up to now, promising to make a good crop. If accidents don't befall, we are hoping to make 25 bales of cotton, for, because of the price this year, we are relying on cotton only. Exactly $2200 is the price which I have paid for the farm.
I learned with pleasure from your letter that your health is good and that the ravages of war are all over, but I am very much afraid that will not last. France is ruined for more than 20 years, and I very much fear that your French republic will be of short duration.
I am not certain that we will live here after this year.
If it is possible, send the rest of my inheritance and write me a long letter. Give me all the news of France and that of our family and all the people I knew.
Give My regards to Elisabeth and the family.
Louis A. Dorr
July 25, 1872
I have failed to answer your letter that you wrote to me last spring, as I had nothing of importance to say. I have nothing to write today but will drop you a few lines for the benefit of killing time in this wet and nasty weather. Ed has received a letter from you a few days ago. I am sorry to hear that your health is bad. We are all in mediocre health here only. We have had few cases of chills and fever, but thank God, this is nothing to compare with last year.
We have planted a large crop of cotton this year which I thought a few days ago would make 30 or 35 bales of cotton, but it has been raining here for the last 2 weeks without scarcely any interruption, and I think that it will shed half the squares if it don't stop raining. The corn crop about here is one of the best that ever have grown in this part of Mississippi.
I have not heard any news from Kemper except that Miss Pink Briggs was married some time ago to a Mr. I forgot his name from Meridian.
As I may take a notion to come on a visit to Texas during the fall, I wish you would give me or send me a way bill from Memphis, the shortest or best route. Write it plain or tell Wesley Seale to do it, and how far you live from the nearest station and how far from Denton and in which direction.
December 1, 1872
Dear Madam Heric,
Having nothing of importance to write has made me late writing you. I always look forward to your news, and though I can't return it, I have a duty to send you a few lines--- as I have told you, I have nothing of consequence to tell you save that we have spent this summer without having much illness. Our cotton crop is all gathered and ready for the market. We have made a little over 30 bales.
I believe I told you that I have sold my farm and have bought another in a more healthy location. I think I told you I am not certain I shall stay here another year.
Give me your news. I have not received any more news from France since last winter, which I told you about. Let me know if you hear anything. Tell me how many children you have and if your business is good. Finally, write me often and bring me up to date, all of which is interesting to us.
L. A. Dorr Panola County
December 18, 1872
Busby & Co.
I send you by today's train 5 bales of cotton marked L. D.
If you please, hold this lot until further orders, as I will probably send you the balance of the same lot [12 bales] in a short time.
We are obliged to stop the ginning of the cotton of account of of the disease of our horses but will resume again in a few days.
February 1, 1873
Messrs. Busby, Johnson & C0.
As I am in need of a few hundred dollars, I wish you would sell the five bales of cotton that I shipped one or two months ago. My intention was to hold it until the balance of the crop was ready for shipment, but the roads are so bad that it is next to impossible to haul it to the railroad. Please send proceeds per express.
February 26, 1873
Since I have not received any news from France for more than a year, I believe it is my duty to write to refresh your memory. I wrote you last July, but I did not receive a response. Our health at present is good enough after we changed locations. Although our farm is not as productive as the other, in spite of that we made an excellent crop. Last fall I sold my place for the same price I paid for it, $2200, and I have bought the one where we are living for $3000.
My dear Victor, we are getting old, and God knows whether in 6 months or 1, 2, 3 years we will again have the chance to correspond. You are the only one of the family who has not failed to notify me of the things of interest to us. I have renounced them for the way they have treated me, and my only feeling for the others is pity.
Our family of 12 children are all living and four are married and live with or near us, except for our Albert, who has been in Texas 5 years.
I see by the New Orleans papers that there is a large number of emigrants leaving Lorraine and Alsace . The papers predict that If the emigration continues for a few years, your beautiful Lorraine will be almost without population. I suppose that the majority are young men who will come to America in preference to bring forced into the service of the old Emperor Frederick William.
Do not fail to write me as soon as you receive my letter, and as I think the liquidation is finally finished, send what is still due me. If I have received it all, let me know.
Give me the news of your family and of Elisabeth and also the rest of the family.
With my sincere love,
April 3, 1873
Busby, Johnson & Co.
I have sent you during the last ten days 14 bales of cotton which I hope will reach you. All the bales, with the exception of four, is a very good lot and I presume will sell for a very fair price.
As the cotton market for some cause is still dull, please do not sell before 2 or 3 weeks or until a reaction takes place.
Busby, Johnson & Co.
As it is almost impossible to hold on the lot of cotton [14 bales] in your hands much longer, I wish you would inform me if it would be admirable to sell now, or is it any probability prices will improve in the next 30 days. I have 10 or 12 bales in hand yet and will wait for you information before I dispose of it.
May 27, 1873
There is a least 5 weeks since I have received your letter who was so blotted and so badly scribbled that I don't know how in the world it has reached me, but sure enough I got it at last, and after trying for 3 or 4 hours to decipher it, I think I made out at least half of it. The reason why I have not answered sooner, I rather expected that some of your dear brothers and sisters would write and save me the trouble, as I don't fancy the job much, but they did not seem to have no inclination to write to their dear brother Albert.
Some time ago , or I may say about a year ago, I have asked you to give me directions how I could come to you in Texas, but by your directions I think it would take at least 2 months to find you. I did think I would go and stay there a while. I have not give it up yet. Perhaps if you move off, you can then give me better directions.
I have nothing of interest of interest to write, We have made last year a very good crop, 32 bales of cotton, which with the rent of my bluff place made it 40 bales, but I have made a mistake in not selling as soon as we got it ready; but I have 25 bales in Memphis yet and can get 18 cents for the best and about 12 cents for the dirty cotton.
I don't know if I have written to you before about selling of my place. I sold the Strait place to Leroy Campbell for the same that I give $2200 and I bought another in a healthy location 5 miles west of Sardis for $3000. The land is not so rich but it is a more pleasant location and more healthy and was a little cheaper $15 an acre.
We are all together. Narcisse and Norman rent land in the neighborhood and work together. Martin stays with me and rented 20 acres of my land. Ed works with me. I give him $20 dollars a month.
I have not received any news from Kemper County in twelve months, but I have heard of a good many deaths . Two of the Beale family have died lately. His youngest daughter is a widow and Bill Seale and Betty have died in Arkansas. Mr. Strait is also dead. He died about 12 months ago of consumption.
Busby, Johnson & Co.
As it is impossible for me to hold on the cotton in your hands longer, please sell those 14 bales as soon as possible.
With the exception of 3 or 4 bales, it is a very bright, nice lot of cotton, and I hope will sell for a very fair price. Send the proceeds by express to Sardis, Mississippi.
Louis A. Dorr
Send me by return of train:
1 keg of whiskey [fair, Robertson County preferred]
1bbl good family flour
July 17, 1873
Busby, Johnson & Co.
I have received by express $732.90, forming the total amount for 9 bales of cotton. I have also received bill of sale of the remaining 4 bales, which with one sold previously, make the 14 bales. I am very much pleased with the sale.
Please send me 1/2bbl. MacKevil No. 2.
Yours very truly,
The barrel of flour which you have send me is not the sound family flour as sold, for it is dark---almost black---and full of bugs. As undoubtedly it has been sent by mistake, I hope you will send me a better article and all will be right.
Please open and examine yourself.
October 28, 1873
It has been a long time since I have received any news from you. I received a letter from you last February. I want very much to get the news of you, our family, and friends, and France. It is with so much difficulty that I write in French that I think every time that this will be the last. I think that my letters are of little interest for you, for I do not know what to tell you that would be of interest. We are all in good health at this time.
We have made an excellent crop. Our cotton crop brought $4000 and we are doing very well, but I am getting old and I do not think I will last very long. Let me know if the liquidation is finished and if there is anything which is coming to me from the estate. It is time to finish it.
Write me a long letter and give me the news of your family and of all the people that I know. I don't have anything of interest to tell you. Remember me to the family.
Busby, Johnson, & Co.
I have received your letter, also the account of the sales of the cotton. I have not yet received the proceeds of the sale, but I hope it is not at the express office where I shall send today. Please send me as soon as possible this bill of lumber:
Pine flooring---- dressed on one side, tongue and grooved 750 feet, 1 inch in thickness by 6 inches wide,10 feet long.
Please send me bill of lumber and price and I will send the money if you think it is necessary.
I am rather behind time about shipping you my crop of cotton but I hope that I will have it, or part of it, ready for market by the last of this month. Please fill this bill of lumber as soon as possible, and I will make it all right.
Yours very truly,
January 27, 1874
Busby, Johnson, Co.
You will receive during the next 8 to10 days 15 bales of cotton marked L. D. You will find this last lot a very nice lot of cotton. Please send:
400 lbs. Bulk pork, clear sides 100 lbs. good brown sugar
300 lbs. Shoulders 75 lbs. coffee---Rio
1 bbl. MolassesSugar House 1box of cheese
3 bbls. Good family flour 1 spinning wheel
30 lbs. rice
Busby, Jonhson & Co.
I have received for several days the lot of groceries that you have sent me, all in very good condition with the exception of the 3 barrels of flour which was a very dark, common, and musty lot. The whiskey is a very good article, but $1.50 a gallon would answer the same purpose.
You have received , I hope, the 15 bales of cotton marked L.D. that I shipped about 2 weeks ago and which I spoke in a former letter. You will find it a very fair sample. As I will need 5 or 6 hundred dollars on the first day of March, please sell 10 or 12 bales at the first good opportunity and forward me the proceeds by express.
Very respectfully yours,
March 5, 1874
I am ready to pay to your mother the balance due on the land, but it is impossible for me to go to Panola to settle, on account of the bridges on Tallahatchie being all torn up. I wish you would be so kind as to go to Panola when Mr. Hatchard is at home and have the Deed of Trust and note received and signed by Mrs. Hatchard and her husband. Fetch them to me and I will pay you the amount.
Regretting to give you that much of trouble, I am
March 20, 1874
I have not received any response to a letter I wrote you in October. I am making a second effort in order to know if you are still of the number of the living. The object of my letter was not only interest in the remainder of the division of the estate, for I think there is very little coming to me, but I very much desire to receive news of all of you, particularly of you. It is not so much trouble to write--- the only thing necessary is a good will power.
I do not have much of anything to say since my last letter. My children are settled and all are doing well. I am getting too old for the work of the farm, and I have rented it to two of my sons for $500 a year. That is sufficient for our up keep.
Give me news of your family and let me know if there is anything more to hope for. The liquidation is certainly finished. and I want to know.
April 29, 1874
Dear Mde. Heric,
I wrote to you 3 or 4 months ago and did not receive a response. I decided to again assume the task, in order to satisfy myself that you are still of this world, or , as sometimes happens, you did not receive my letter, I am writing you again. I always hope to get you news. We are all in very good health and have been since we were in that part of the county that first year.
I see by the Memphis papers that New Orleans and a large part of Louisiana are in great danger from flooding. As for New Orleans, I do not believe that is possible for that city which has been built for more than a century to be in danger. I have often heard that the Mississippi River insures that New Orleans can not possibly be overflowed, although this year has been without precedent. I think that there is also much distress, but I hope that the downpour will let up a little and that the danger will pass without causing any more damage, in spite of the fact that here the rain is still continuing to fall to the point that it will be impossible to make any crop, either corn or cotton. This promises to be a year of great famine.
I have nothing new to tell you. I have not received any news from France, though I have expected for more than a year the liquidation which I think is finished, but I have not received up to now that part which is coming to me, and I am very anxious for it to be finished and to receive the little that remains for me. Write me a long letter as you can, for I will be worried until I receive one. Francoise and the family send their regards.
Dear Mr. Burton,
I do not believe that I have yet answered a letter that I have received from you about 6 months ago. I had so little to write that would be of interest to you that I kept putting it off and finally forgot it. Today I take my pen but do not know what to write except to tell you what you know to wellthat we had for the last 6 weeks more rain than commonly falls in 3 years. It is nearly the first of May and we have not planted any cotton yet. Our corn is up but is a yellow looking stuff and very missing. The roads are in such wretched plight that it is next to impossible to get to town. The Mississippi River is a large lake from Memphis to New Orleans, which will create a good deal of sickness in our country, swarms of Buffalo gnats and mosquitoes to make a fellow feel lively. And still it rains every day. And I do not know what will become of us.
We made a very fair crop of cotton last year---54 bales---but prices are very low. My own squad made 24 bales. I have 10 bales yet not sold. Hope to have better price for it than for the rest which was sold for from 11cents to 16 cents.
Mr. Hutchins Burton passed here about 2 months ago with Mrs.Wilkins, who is going to stay with Narcisse until next spring.
Mr. Burton spoke of coming back on his return from Kemper, but I expect he is in Arkansas long since. Narcisse bought 80 acres of land adjoining my place for $900. He has built a very good house on it. Part of it is creek bottom which made last year a bale to the acre.
I don't hear a word from Mr. Johnson in Arkansas, except that his two oldest sons, Joe and James, are dead. I heard too that Mrs. Johnson was in very bad health ever since they are in Arkansas. Mr. Johnson must be very selfish. I would not sacrifice my health for the best farm in Mississippi.
And now I have told you all I know, good, bad, and indifferent. As I anxious to hear from you and from all the good folks of Kemper and Lauderdale, write me a long letter. You can not say that you are too busy on the farm, for I think that you get plenty of showery[rainy] days when you can do nothing else.
My regards to your family and all inquiring friends.
June 28, 1874
Dear Madame Heric,
I have received during the last 2 or 3 weeks several packages of French newspapers which have given me very much pleasure, for although I am subscribing to a Memphis paper, it does not give me any news of what is happening in France, or very little. I also received several days ago a letter from my brother Victor of Nancy in which he told me strange news. He told me that every body in that part of Lorraine which today is connected to Prussia has sold what they have and are moving to Nancy. He bought about 30 acres of the old battlefield for 10,000 francs, and he assures me that he sold the last acre remaining of the old barracks for 62,000 francs. I say that in 10 years Nancy will be one of the biggest cities in France. He told me also that the crops are excellent except for the vineyards which have been partially frozen.
As for me, my dear Madam Heric, I am about the same as when you saw me 12to 15 years ago except that I am old and my head is gray; but my health is good enough. My eye sight is becoming very bad and it is very difficult for me to distinguish between a Negro and a White at 50 yards. Francoise is in good health, since she had the wisdom to quit having babies. She is as fat as a little pig.
We have had an abundance of rain this spring, but at present it is the other side of the coin and we have hot and dry weather. In spite of that, our crops are excellent. We made 50 bales of cotton last year and will make that again this year if future weather does not prevent.
I thank you a thousand times for the newspapers, but why haven't I received any letter? I want news from you. If you hate so much to write, you have sisters who could write for you.
Compliments to your husband. Adieu
July 11, 1874
I received your letter several days ago and was surprised that the proxy that I had sent you some years ago was not valid today. I got busy at once, but I was disappointed. The Judge of the court has gone to Arkansas and will not return for 2 months. It is impossible for me to send you a proxy without his action. In fact, the clerks have refused to act on it and say that they can not attend to it. I then went to see our sheriff, Mr. Ozanne, who is French and knows very well the French laws. He has told me that the only thing I can do is have my proxy made at the French Consulate--- but understand that the nearest consulate to us is in St. Louis, a distance of 400 miles, which would cost 60 piastres[an expensive proxy]. I therefore think that it would be better for me to send you a general proxy made by a notary public or lawyer. Mr. Contral, our Advocate, is sending me one soon. He told me to sign and that will suffice, but as I have already sent you a power of attorney, I am not certain. If that proxy was good at the time, it seems to me that it would be good today. I very much wish to send you some power of attorney , but as I thought that one was of no use, I have not kept it. I am very sorry about the delay which this power of attorney has caused, but this is a thing which I could not prevent. Furthermore, we do not have a notierre in America, except in New Orleans which is a French City.
I was pleased to learn from your letter that you are all in good health. Like you, our health is food. I will not bore you with news or the progress we are making on the farm. It is an old routtine which always come to the same end.
July 25, 1874
I response to your letter, I have the honor of telling you that it is always a pleasure to receive a letter in French, although it is with difficulty that I try to speak the language.
Professor Black is in error when he says we are Catholics. My family are all Methodists. In spite of that, if you wish someone to talk with, I would be pleased to see a fellow countryman.
Louis A. Dorr
September 5, 1874
Since receiving your letter several days ago urging me to send you the proxy which you have requested, there have been many forms to fill out and it was necessary to send to Jackson, the capital of the State of Mississippi, in order to get the state seal and signature of the governor, which took a whole week. This proxy is general, and if it will not suffice, it is impossible for me to obtain one more encompassing at any price.
This scrap of paper drawn up by the lawyer cost me the equivalent of 60 francs. As I told you, this proxy is general, but is not made in the manner it would be made out in France. As to the legality of my signature, it was signed in the presents of the judge of the court of our county, certified by him, and then certified by the governor of the state of Mississippi at Jackson.
I was as diligent as possible in order to cause as little delay as possible, for I am as anxious as you to see the completion.
Our health is fairly good, but the crops are ruined by the great drought. We have made only a half crop.
I am writing you this while I am still in Sardis and don't have time to tell anything more. The mail is leaving.
December 2, 1874
In sending you my proxy around 2 months ago, I wrote you a few words about how the proxy was drawn up, that it was necessary to send it to the state capital to be processed by the state and to have the seal of the state. It was time for the post office to close, but I managed to take time to write you. As I have not received any letter since, I am inquiring if you have received that proxy, and if it was in order. It does not stipulate in detail, but gives the power to make decisions as well as if I myself were there. It will be impossible to send you a more satisfactory one.
We are all in good health at present except for me for the last 2 or 3 weeks. I am not very well, our crops this year are very mediocre, and the price of cotton has declined very much because of the stagnation of trade in Europe and America.
I have rented the farm to 3 of my sons for 300 piastres. I have reserved 3 acres of land and the garden in order to have something to keep me occupied. Our children are all grown. The youngest is 14. Three are married.
I have nothing of interest to write. I beg you to give me some news of the country. Tell me if your health is still good, also of Elisabeth. And how goes the task of finishing the management of the little remaining of the estate, as you tell me in one of your letters. If there is very much more delay, it will not be much of a surprise.
January 1, 1875
I received about a week ago your letter containing a model proxy in which you request me to have one made conforming to the model. It appears the Messieurs, the miserly notaries of your country, very difficult to contend with. The proxy which I sent complies satisfactorily, as much as it was impossible for me to send one written in French. I have been busy ever since I received your letter to see what I could possibly do. Fortunately, Mr. Ozanne, the sheriff of our county, is French. He has changed the wording , or rather copied the model, of the proxy and has affixed the signatures necessary with the seal of the state of Mississippi and certified by the French consulate in New Orleans. This formality necessarily rather delayed sending you the papers, but as Messieurs, Your miserly notaries, are so particular about the form, I thought I would not neglect to do anything that was a rule.
I hope that this time you will not have and difficulty in satisfying anyone and that I have been able to give you generally all that is necessary to arrive at the end of the liquidation of the estate.
As to the sums you have sent me at different times, I have received:
1866 March 1 $200
1867 March 26 $300
1867 October20 $600
1868 January 30 $760
1869 March 21 $800
This tallies with the amount given in your letter.
The liquidation of this unfortunate estate having been so long delayed has caused you very much bother, but I hope that before long we will come to the end.
I am not able to thank you enough for the list of the children and their ages, As that letter was already bulky enough and that list made one entire page. I wish before long you would send their photographs. As for my family, the less that I say will be for the best. I fear I would tell only the good and not mention the bad.
If sometime you send me money, I remind you to send it in a wrapper, especially as our post offices are not very safe.
Remember me to Elisabeth and all the family.
January 8, 1875
Miss Dulcie Whitlock:
It is impossible for me to attend to the school meeting today, but would suggest either Mr. Greer, Tramell, or Mr. Baker to fill the vacancy.
Louis A. Dorr
March 16, 1875
Dear Mde. Heric,
I have neglected to write you for a long time. I meant to write you, but laziness or negligence have prevented it. I have received from you at different times the French newspapers, and I thank you many times. I always hope to receive a letter from you, but I have been disappointed and have not received any.
I do not have any news to write you. I receive from time to time letters from my bother Victory of Nancy. He requested from me a proxy for the purpose of bringing to a close the liquidation of the estate of my father, which at present has still not been terminated. There still remains for me 800 or 1000 piastres in cash, and it seems to me that as they have waited many years, they should not keep the heirs waiting any longer.
As for us, we are all well and business is good enough. We have a good farm and have been able to save, I think, about 3000 piastres since we came here.
Francoise has instructed that I write you to tell me about yourself and to send photographs of your children, but I always forgot.
Write me a long letter and let us know if you continue to be successful. The papers you give me provide a description of Louisiana and around New Orleans. I have the hope that some time Kellogg's reign will end, but he is determined to give you all the trouble possible.
Don't fail to write me, I thank you very much for the French papers which you have the kindness to send me from time to time. My compliments to Mr. Heric and the chrildren.
March 29, 1875
Old Friend Davis,
I have neglected a long time to write to you, but don't think hard of me. I am always so busy that I could not find time to do it. I am very anxious to get news from old Kemper. I have not heard from there for upwards of 2 long years. I would like to know what you are doing , also Uncle Ely Seals and all his family, and generally all the news in the neighborhood. Tell me how my old place looks since Mr. Delk bought it and put darkeys on it to work it. I got one letter from Mr. Delk some time ago, in which he told me that he sold the place for 16 bales of cotton. He made a good speculation, for the place don't cost his more that $300.
As for ourselves, we are in moderate good health. When I first moved here I bought 120 acres of land from Mr. Strait for $2200, but the land was located of the bluff of the big bottom. We had a good deal of sickness. I sold the land to Leroy Campbell for the same price and bought 200 acres on the ridge between there and Sardis. Here I have been living ever since. It is a very healthy location. There is 100 acres open land on it, and since we live there we never failed to make plenty of corn and one-half bale of cotton to the acre. Narcisse bought 80 acres adjoining it, and him and Norman made 18 bales of cotton last year besides plenty of corn and potatoes. The year before they made 24 bales.
Panola County is a good farming country, but there is many drawbacks. In the first place, there is too many Negroes to suit me, and as for range for cattle or hogs, it would be useless to attempt such a thing, for the Negroes will kill them as soon as they are fat enough.
Land can be bought here very cheap. Now I believe that land could be bought for 8 or 10 dollars for cash, for taxes are very high and the framers are pushed for money. On time , the price ranges from 15 dollars for upland to 40 dollars for creek bottom, according to location.
Norman has rented land from Naricisse this year and is working on his own house. Martin rented land from me, and Ed is working with me for a part of the crop. Henry stays with Narcisse.
James Campbell died about a month ago from disease of the heart--- what his doctor called it. Campbell had been drinking very hard lately, and I believe is the cause of his death. Mrs. Campbell and Leroy will run the farm, about 250 acres.
Mr. Strait too is dead a few years ago from consumption, but he had the good luck to insure his life for 5000 dollars, so that his wife don't take it so hard.
Dear Madame Heric,
I received a few days ago your letter with the photograph of one of your children. The photograph is excellent. It seems to me that it resembles you very much. I also received the French papers.
I am sending you the portrait of our youngest daughter, Susan Lilla but it was made a year or 2 ago, and she has changed very much since then.
I was very distressed to learn that things are going bad in New Orleans, but I am not surprised. I hope that before long, there will be a change. It is the same in Mississippi. Cash money is very scarce, although I have always believed that would not affect the farmers.
As Francoise has proposed to write you some lines in regard to your illness, there is nothing more to say except that when she was younger, I can not recall that she was ever ill. But as you say, to be 40 or45 years old is a critical age for women but I do not think that the doctor stops giving one medicine. Have patience. I don't think you will suffer more than 2 or 3 months.
Dear Madame Heric,
I have written once that I received the French papers, but no letter from you. Surely you can stop long enough to write a few lines. In my last letter I sent you a photograph of our youngest girl, and I believe that Francoise also sent you one of Norman, but I am not sure, not having had a letter from you, that you received it. It gives me so much pleasure to receive your letters. For the papers, I thank you 1000 times.
I suppose that Francoise has told you what to take for your malady, which is nothing but the medicine called "Retour d' Age".
There are women who suffer very much, and I hope that at present you are getting better. All married women who have stopped having babies are subject to that malady, and each one is able to tell you what to do in this respect.
We are doing well at the moment. Our crops this year are excellent, better than I have seen in 15 or 20 years, but in spite of that, the times are hard and the money is very scarce, but I hope for a better government and that the good times will return.
I have not received any letter from France in 5 or 6 months. I expect one soon.
Francoise tells me to tell you that if you are not able to write to tell your niece to write. She is very anxious to receive some letters.
July 16, 1875
Dear Mr. Evans,
In reading a letter of your son James to Rufus, I learn that you have wrote one or several letters to me, I am sorry to tell you that I have not received any. I expect that probably you did not direct it here, else it would certainly come to hand.
I have entirely forgotten if I ever have written to you since I have moved from Kemper County to Panola. When I first moved here I bought 120 acres of land from Mr. Strait for $2200, but after having stayed one year on it, I was satisfied that the place was very sickly. The land was very rich but was located on the bluff of the Mississippi bottom. So that I was obliged to sell again, which I did for the same price that I did give and bought 200 acres in a more healthy location. We have been living here since1870 and had very good health. The land is not so productive but I have never failed to make less than one half bale of cotton per acre. I am very well satisfied here. My boys are all grown and work for themselves except Eugene and Rufus. The rest rent my land. Narcisse bought 80 acres of land for 10 dollars per acre and made 18 bales of cotton the first year.
Time is very hard here and money very scarce. We are ground down with taxes. I believe that the same land who sell for 18 and 20 per acre could be bought now for cash for 6 or 8 dollar per acre.
I live 5 miles west of the town of Sardis. A very good neighborhood, inclined to be aristocratic with good society, plenty of Negroes, and plenty of radicals.
Dear old friend, I really do not know what to write that would interest to you. I seldom get any news from Kemper so that I don't know what is going on there. The last letter was from Elies Delk 2 years ago. It is very probable that many of the settlers there have starved out, for they have made sorry crops ever since I left there.
Albert still lives in Texas. I hear from him but very seldom.
I suppose that you have heard that Mr. Strait died from consumption 2 years ago. Mrs. Strait still lives there. Mr. James Campbell also died last winter after one of his hard drinking spells. Mrs. Strait still makes cotton. Leroy is married again.
So, having no news to which would be of interest to you , I shall close. Make my compliments to Mrs. Evans and family and don't fail after having received this , to write me a long letter and tell me how you are getting along.
Louis A. Dorr
July 25, 1875
Dear Mr. Burton,
I think that there is near about a year since I wrote you last.
So long that I forgot whether you have answered it. There is a picnic, a Grangers dinner, in the neighborhood, and I am alone and lonesome and thought that I could do not better than to write to you to pass away the time. There is little transpiring here of interest except radical meetings, drum beating, etc.
Crops here are splendid. The wheat and oats have been gathered and turn out well. The corn and prospect of the cotton in Panola County is the best that have been made in 20 years and it is showery and favorable for the cotton to bear well. A large crop of cotton is now certain to be made, but it is doubtful whether the price will remunerate the farmer. Sometimes I think a short crop is the more profitable.
Poor James Campbell died last winter in one of his drunken frolics. The doctors say that he died of disease of the heart, but whiskey , I think, caused his death. Leroy, his son , married again. Mrs. Campbell will run the farm.
The health this far is very good, We had a few cases of sickness but very light.
Mrs. Wilkins, who has been staying here for over a year, has returned to Arkansas 2 weeks ago.
It seems that you have decided of never leaving Kemper County so I won't say a word about it. If a man is satisfied where he is, he ought to stay, but I think that you would have done a good deal better here or anywhere else. Times for the last 2 years have been very hard, and with cash in hand you could buy land at your own price, but I think and hope that soon the will be a change.
The farmers here have promised I will get out of debt if they get a fair price for their cotton.
My boys, with the exception of Eugene, are all free so that I am making but a small crop myself, but they rent my land at what is considered here very cheap---5 dollars per acre.
And now I will close for want of news. Write as soon as you receive my letter and give me news of old Kemper and Lauderdale. My compliments to you family and friends.
July 28, 1875
Chere Mde. Heric,
I have received the French papers and also the photograph of your nephew which gave much pleasure to Francoise. Though she has never seen him, she seems to see in the photograph a resemblance to her sister Marguerite.
I expect one day soon news from France and also from Albert who is in Texas. He should be coming to see us in November. I have promised him that if he will come, I will return with him. As his farm is in the northwest of Texas, it will be a great detour to go by New Orleans, but on my return trip I will do all possible to come by New Orleans.
We have been having an abundance of rain the last 5 or 6 weeks but so far the crops have not been damaged. The Mississippi at Memphis was overflowing a week ago, and they were very much afraid of a general flood, but it seems that the danger is past.
I see by your letter that you health is better. As for us, we are all on our feet. I promised to send you another photograph, but since I don't have a new one, I will send one later.
Business here is very bad, money is very scarce, but I hope that some time business will come alive and that all will be well.
I have no news to tell you. I beg you to write from time to time, and if you don't like to, tell your nieces to write for you. I am sure Francoise wants very much to receive their letters.
I am looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you.
Louis A. Dorr
Miss M. Keboe,
In answer to your letter concerning the schools in this neighborhood, I will inform you that I can see no chance for you to have the situation either at Davis Chapel, or at Bishop School. At this last, Mr. Blann, who had the school last term, will remain and is a favorite. And at the Chapel, Miss Dulcie Whitlock will also remain. Besides there has been several applications for the schools.
I am no longer a trustee for the school at Bishop, but I will see the trustees, and if the situation can be had, I will inform you forthwith.
Yours very respectfully,
Louis A. Dorr
December 23, 1875
Mr. Busby & Co.
Please send me as soon as possible 30 pounds of feathers.
My crop of cotton is not yet ready for shipment, but hope that I will send it during next January.
Louis A. Dorr
January 18, 1876
Dear Madame Heric,
For a long time I have promised myself to write to you, but laziness, or negligence, is a great fault with me. I have waited also so that I would have one or two photographs to send. The younger one is the big boy Eugene Emille, who was not born when you visited us 16 or 17 years ago. The other is Martin, 26 years old. I hope that these portraits will make you forget my negligence.
I have received one letter from France after a long time, but it did not give me any satisfaction. There are still several hundred piastres owed me, but it seems that my brother is obliged to have a notaire to make it legal, which takes time.
Francoise tells me to ask you if you will tell her if you have received and news from Pere Benal, and also to tell us if your health is recovered and if things are better in New Orleans.
As for us, we are doing well and have made good crops. Two of my boys married. There are only 2 with us. Narcisse is living a few miles from here.
Don't forget to write and give me all the news. I don't have anything interesting to write. Our compliments to Mr. Heric, and above all, don't forget to write.
February 4, 1876
I received a few days ago the news of the death of Elisabeth which causes me much distress and a little surprise, as your last two letters gave me hope that she was regaining her strength. For cancer there is no remedy, but it is with sorrow that I learn the terrible news. Elisabeth always showed me much interest, but that is something every one of us felt for her. Poor Elisabeth, she was still young when I left France around 30 years ago, and I can hardly realize that she is no longer. Still, a few years and we also will pass on to make way for others coming into the world.
I do not believe I have answered your last letter, which I received a month ago. I think that the proxy I sent you has finally been accepted, but I so not see that you are making much progress, as that rascal of a notaire, after having received the amount of the Swartz purchase, refuses to take count, and without any pretense refuses to settle with me. After all, you know best in that business. He is very probably building up a substantial fee.
Two of my boys married a few months ago and live 2 miles from here. We continue to have good health and things are going well. I rent out the farm, except for the garden and a few acres to keep me busy.
Business in America for the last year or two has been very bad. This has caused the prices of cotton to go so low that it is impossible to produce at that low price. I have at this moment around 30 bales----but it is useless to wait to sell. The news from Europe is not very favorable.
I have received your letter for about a week and am glad to learn that you are well. You mention in your letter that you have moved in the timber country. Surely you have not moved far, for the postmark of your letter is still the same as before.
I have no news of interest to write. The family is all well. I suppose you have heard of the marriage of Ed and Norman. Ed has moved his chattels to his mother-in-law and Norman bought him a good plantation about 3 miles from here for $1800.
We are pitching for another crop but my crowd has become so small that nearly half of my land will lie out. We were so busy in picking cotton time that I have not taken time to sow wheat and now cotton is scarcely worth anything, but so it is. Rufus has rented land from me so that there is only Martin and Eugene, with what little I can do, to make a crop. I could rent the land to Negroes, but I don't have a house for renters.
I have changed my mind about coming to see you. I am getting rather old to be traveling a country that I don't know nothing about, for I am ignorant if Denton is north, south, east, or west but if you come next fall, I may perhaps go back with you and stay there a while.
When you see Wesley Seale, tell him that I wrote him a letter 2 years ago, but that I have received no answer. I have not heard from Kemper in 2 years.
Narcisse and Shug [?] are well and are making money like Jews. He has paid for his place and has besides no less than 1000 dollars on interests. Henry is still working with him. All three made nearly 30 bales of cotton last year.
I have seen Leroy Campbell this morning. He was on his way to Memphis. He bought another plantation lately for 6 or 7 thousand dollars.
J. J. Busby & Co.
I regret to have to sell my cotton at a time when the market is dull and tending downward. I expected that perhaps in the spring the scarcity of good cotton would improve the prices. The overflow of the river lands too have failed to have any effect on the market. I have concluded that it is useless to delay longer. Have my cotton in the market [ 18 bales]. also my son, M. C. Dorr, 10 bales. Sell at the first good opportunity.
March 24, 1876
Dear Mr. Burton,
I have not wrote to you for a good while, and as much as I am blockaded in the house on account of the snow, I thought I would drop you a dew lines to inform you that we are all alive and kicking. As for news, I have plenty but no good one. Neither do I know anything that would interest you. I have not heard any news from Kemper or Lauderdale since you wrote last. Mrs. Campbell expected to go there to visit to her relatives and friends, but I suppose that she has give it up as she says that it cost a good deal of money to go there just for pleasure. But I like to hear from the old country, and I know that you will answer my letter some time.
We have made a large crop of everything last year but it is as expectedit is worth less than it cost to raise it. I have not sold my cotton. It is in Memphis and I intend to hold it until it is worth something. Cotton sells here from 4 to 11 cents. Corn about 50 cents, but a good deal has been sold before Christmas from 30 to 40 cents for bushel.
My boys are all free now but one, Eugene, so that my time to make a good big crop is gone, but I rent what I don't cultivate at $4.50 an acre and manage to live. Norman and Ed were married last fall. Ed lives with his Mother-in-law, and Norman bought a very good place about 3 miles from here for 1800 dollars.
Narcissa and his wife are all well. They have 4 children living and have a very good place. He has made the last payment on it and is making money. As for Mrs. Campbell , I have not seen her but few times since old James died, but she keeps making cotton as for life. He had Deed of Trust on land and his creditors could not paid the debts, so that she took the land for 8 or 10 thousand dollars.
As I told you before, we are snowbound here. The snow began falling yesterday, Sunday, about dark and this morning it is from 14 to 18 inches deep. It is the biggest snow storm that I have yet seen and it is yet snowing slow.
I have begun planting corn, have about 10 acres planted, some planted 2 weeks ago, but I expect that I will have to plant again.
I hear every now and then from Arkansas through Narciss's wife. Mr. Burton family was all well few days ago, but I never hear a word from M. L. Johnson.
I shall be glad to hear from you. Tell me all the news from Kemper and Lauderdale.
March 25, 1876
Dear Madame Heric,
I have neglected to write after receiving you letter containing the photograph of your little boy. Francoise was very happy, and said that the little boy resembles your mother like too drops of water. You ask me to send you a photograph of Albert, but I do not have one. I will send you one later.
I do not have any interesting news to tell you. Our health is good. Last Sunday we had a snow such as I have never seen. It was 15 inches deep. Yesterday morning the rain began and the snow is melted, which is going to fill the rivers and cause much damage.
The last letter I received from France informed me of the death of my brother's wife in Nancy of cancer of the breast. I have not received the newspaper which you said in your last letter you were sending. It seems that they have gone astray.
I have not sold my cotton. I ship it to Memphis to a commission house. The price up until now has been very low, which has caused very much inconvenience with the planters, but I think that the price will advance a little.
I am sorry that I am not able to send you the portraits at present, but I will send them later.
Do not fail to write me when you can and give me your news. There is nothing of interest in this part of the country.
With my sincere regards,
July 13, 1876
Dear Mdm. Heric,
What a long time since I have written you, and what a still longer time since I have received news from you, but I am writing you only to prove that you are not forgotten.
Albert, who is in Texas, says that he is coming to see us this fall. I have written him not to fail to go see you, if he passes through New Orleans.
A few days ago we had a fine rain which guarantees a good crop of corn and cotton.
I received recently a letter from my brother, Victor of Nancy which informed me that Mr. Genet, the notairs at Morhange, committed suicide, as a result of bad business affairs. He was discovered hanging in his bedroom. He told me that my remaining share of the estate may be just 100 piastres, which I think I have lost. It is very fortunate for me that I have cashed as much as I have of my inheritance. My brother Victor lost 4000 francs, and my other brother: of Chateau-Solius [This word is hardly visible in my copy. It could be Chateau-Bolius] also lost something. As for me, It did not cost me as much.
Our health is good for the most part. Martin has been ill for two months.
The thing that kept me from writing you was that I hoped to be able to send you the photographs, but unfortunately I do not have a new one.
Write me a long letter and give me news of you. There is very little that happens out in the country for me to write you. Give Mr. Heric my sincere regards.
Louis A. Dorr
August 14, 1876
I have not received a word from you since last winter, so long indeed that I have forgotten the contents of your letter.
There is but little news here since, except the prospects of a good crop of corn and cotton who bids fair to be badly damaged by the incessant rains----for it has been raining for the last 3 or 4 weeks without cessation. The crops in the bottom lands is, I understood, already badly damaged, and it will still rains everyday.
I expect that you have heard before now of Martin's sickness. There is no improvement with him yet and I fear that there is no cure for him. His brain is badly affected and unless there is a change for the better soon, I am afraid he will lose his mind.
As you have had a notion for some time to come to Mississippi, make up your mind and come this fall, and I think that I shall go back with you, providing you would stay with us until November, for I want to help to gather the crop, and I could not raise any money, before that time unless I should sell my notes at a loss. I don't suppose that you have much of a crop of cotton so that nothing stands in you way.
I have not heard from Kemper for over a year. Old man Seale has been dead for a year or so, died of old age.
Norman and Narcisse are well and have good crops. Ed too was here today to sit with Martin.
I shall look for a letter from you. I forgot to tell you that I have received a letter from my brother who tells me that Genot was found hanging in his bedroom, so the last hope of getting more money from him is gone. He was bankrupt and put an end to his troubles by suicide.
So good bye. Write soon.
Louis A. Dorr
February 8, 1877
I am writing you a few lines in haste to inform you that my son Henry is determined to go to see you in New Orleans. He previously had planned to see Mardi Gras in Memphis, but I have dissuaded him and I advised him to go to see you and to see the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I hope that some of your family will return with him when he comes home, and stay some months with us.
Henry will arrive in New Orleans by the Jackson and New Orleans Railroad Monday. I want Mr. Heric or some of the family to go to the station to meet him. I am sending you his photograph. I will send you a long letter by Henry.
February 11, 1877
I wrote you a few days ago to inform you that Henry was coming to see you in time to see the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He plans to stay in New Orleans some time and to go into one of the business schools of the city, but I believe that he will soon be tired of New Orleans and that in 8 or 10 days he will be content to return. Get him to stay if possible, and when he returns, take advantage of the occasion and come to see us. If is impossible for you to come, let one of your children or one of your nieces come with him and stay with us some time. We will be very happy to see them, and they could go to school with our 2 youngest.
It is useless to write you as I think that Henry will be able to make you understand and will be able to tell you more than I can write. What I can tell you is that Henry is of a good disposition and that youyou understand perfectly.
We all send our best wishes.
March 11, 1877
Dear Mr. Burton,
Having one hour of leisure, I will drop you a few lines to inform you that we are still in the world of the living and hope that this few lines will find you well. There has been so little news of interest since I wrote you last time it seems almost useless to make the attempt. The presidential election has turned out just as I expected it would. Still, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina will have a state government of their own choice, for I don't think the new administration will interfere in the election of Hampton, Nichols, and Green. Still it is very humiliating to see Hayes inaugurated by fraud and corruption, for it seems to tell me that it is useless hereafter for a man to vote, because I think the result will be the same every year, no matter how much majority our party got over the others. [The rest of this letter is missing.]
A page is missing, and this is the last part of a letter to Mde. Heric.
I have received news from France after a long time. The liquidation of my father's estate is finished after so long a time, but that villain of a notaire, who hanged himself afterwards, stole 5 or 6 thousand dollars.
I have nothing interesting to write you. In the country it is always the same routine. Write soon for I love to receive your letters. My compliments to Mr. Heric.
Louis A. Dorr
April 28, 1877
I have neglected a long time to answer your letter, for it is near 3 months since I received your last. It seems by your letter that there is something that goes wrong with you in Texas and that you don't like the country. In that case, I would not live in a country that I do not like. But I suppose that Texas is like Mississippi, a hard road to travel. I have give up any notion of coming to Texas. I am too old to travel alone in a strange country. If you had come to Mississippi as you had the intention, I would go back with you. If you still have the mind to come on a visit, or to stay, come this fall and I will pay your expenses back and perhaps go back with you.
There is nothing new here. Your brothers are all doing well and making money. Narcisse and Ed have bought a farm near here, 160 acres for about $10 an acre, but I can tell you that time is very hard here and money scarce. This is good cotton country. On a good place you can make from 8 to 10 bales of cotton to the hand, but it is not so good for corn.
The weather this far has been very unfavorable for plantingto much rain. The farmers are just beginning, and a good many are not readyand still it rains. We have ourselves 12 acres to plant and only half the land ready, and I am fearful that there will be a short crop made in this country, owing to the bad weather. I expected to plant 20 acres in cotton, but I expect I will turn some land out.
I have nothing new to write. Your Mother and sisters are all well. Write soon.
July 10, 1877
I have been very negligent in not having answered your letter, for I suppose that you did not receive the letter which I mailed you after I received yours of the fourth of last month, in which you sent the final installment of my part of the estate. In that letter I thanked you for the sacrifice which you made for me in the loss arising from the action of that thief of a notaire. I suppose that surely the letter did not reach you, for I think that you would certainly have responded. I thank you a thousand times for all the pains which you have taken.
My health the last year or two has not been good. However, in spite of that, I am still in the number of the living.
Five of my children are established and married and are doing well since they left my farm. For the last 2 or 3 years planting cotton has not been profitable. In 1871, 1872, and 1873 I made a profit of $2000, but today it takes all the cotton the farmer is able to make to support his family.
Give me the news of all the family.
August 10, 1877
Dear Madame Heric,
As Victorine wrote you as soon as soon as they arrived, I preferred to wait a few days. Victorine and Louise had a good trip, but their trunk arrived only yesterday morning. The card on the trunk was well addressed, but the way bill was addressed "Sallis" instead of "Sardis", which caused it to be held up. A telegram to different points along the way got it returned.
I was afraid that they would be bored in the country, but Louise is enchanted. She goes on horseback every day a distance of 5 or 6 miles. Victorine also seems pleased. We have very good neighbors, and they do not stay in the house much.
We have all been well, but I tell you that our crops are very bad. The big rains in June have ruined them.
We are doing our best so that Victorine and Louise will have as good a vacation as possible. [ next page torn out ]
August 14, 1877
Your cousin, Mr. W. P. Ladd, who has been very sick for the last 4 weeks is still in a very precarious condition. He is partly recovered and is out of danger, but one of his hands and one side of his head is paralyzed. He is in his right mind, but it is impossible to understand him, and I don't think that he will ever be able to attend to his business. At the beginning of his sickness all the neighbors have done all that could be done for him, but since, none but myself and my family was left to wait on him.
As Mr. Ladd has no near relatives but yourself, it will be necessary for you to come and attend to him or else remove him to Columbus. Confer with Capt. Fields about it for it is impossible for me to do more for him without assistance, and if I leave him you may guess what will be the result, for he is not able to take care of himself.
Please answer immediately.
August 28, 1877
Mrs. Jane Ladd:
I have received your letter yesterday of the 24th inst., in which you inquire about Mr. Ladd's circumstances and if he was able to bear the expenses of his removal to Columbus. I am sorry to tell you that with exception of what he has about the house, he has nothing. Mr. Hunter claims the whole of his crop of cotton for supplies and says it will not pay him. Besides, there is a very heavy doctor bill. All which Mr. Ladd has in his personal property such as his watch, clothing, bedding, etc. , I think is worth about $150.
Mr. Ladd's health is about the same as when I wrote the last. There is no improvement with him. In regard to his mind, I can not say, and I think it is doubtful whether he would be willing to go back to Columbus, as it is impossible to make him understand a word. Mr. Ladd has a Negro to do his cooking and keep his house in order, and I am relieved in that respect.
I think the best thing Mr. Ladd could do would be to go back to Columbus. He is getting old and is in need of somebody to see to him, for I don't think he will ever be able to attend to business again.
August 29, 1877
I have received your letter yesterday in which you inquire if Mr. Ladd had the means to carry him back to Columbus. I am sorry to tell you that he is not. I have seen Mr. Hunter a few days ago who told me that your cousin's crop of cotton would not pay him, besides there is a heavy doctor bill. There is a another draw backit is very uncertain after you get here whether he is willing to go back or not. I have asked him several times but could get no satisfaction from him. Mr. Ladd is in a bad situation here among strangers without means, old and liable to get sick. Every day, if he was in his right mind, he would see the necessity of going back among his friends. I can not give you any advice. Do for the best. If he is willing to go back to Columbus, I think Mr. Ladd could raise money enough on his watch to take him there. He could not sell it for what it is worth, but could borrow money on it and redeem it afterward. My opinion is that Mr. Ladd's health never will be restored as to fit him for business. In consequence, the sooner he is removed the better.
Yesterday I received your letter which told me that you and Louise arrived in New Orleans safely and in good health. I too think that it was a great time, and that it will take you less than a week to wipe out the boredom of Mississippi and regain the gaity for the time you lost. The place seems deserted since you left us. Lillie can hardly realize that Louise is gone. Mr. Ladd also said that he is sad since you are gone and that no one comes to see him any more. With his knife he traces the route which you have taken. Then laughing he says, "There she is . That's her!"
Victorine, I do not have anything new to tell you. I went with Martin fishing the day after you left and returned at 3 o'clock with a little less than 100 pounds of fish. I wished very much that you were still here to help eat them. It has been very hot since you left, and we were obliged to distribute them around the neighborhood, for it was impossible to save them.
Tell Louise that Lillie is very insulted that she did not mention her in her letter. Tell her not to forget next time.
I think that you will receive a half dozen letters with mine which will give you all the news better than I am able to do. I thank you very much for the portraits which you sent. Write me another time. My compliments to Mr. And Mrs. Heric. Tell them not to forget to write me.
Louis A. Dorr
September 28, 1877
I received your letter a few days ago containing the pictures which you sent. I have also received a letter from Madame Heric in which she tells me that she is suffering. In telling of Louise, she said that she is not satisfied with her cooking and complains. Tell her to come back. We still have that salt pork and the good peas which she liked so much. Her old horse, Charley, also is lonesome since you left and would be very happy to take exercise on the route to Rock Hill.
I do not know anything which would possibly interest you, except that Mr. Ladd left us yesterday to return to Columbus. I truly don't know what I will do without him. Probably I will do to Texas with Albert next year.
Narcisse's wife has, I think, this morning another youngster. Francoise has been there all night and has still not returned this morning.
Lillie and Ninnie are very happy with their presents and tell me to thank you.
I have written you a letter soon after Mr. Ladd left us, but whether my letter was missent I have not received and answer. Since I am very anxious to hear if Mr. Ladd has recovered from his sickness and hope that you will answer this.
Please explain to him the contents, and if he is able, I am satisfied that he will answer.
Tell Mr. Ladd that his cotton crop will just satisfy Mr. Hunter's account. As for Dr. Sullivan, he will not get anything paid on his bill. I am very sorry for him, for he has attended him faithfully. No news of interest to write. The family send you their respects.
October 20, 1877
Dear Friend Johnson,
I really do not know whether I ought to write to you or not. You have been so neglectful to write to me. There has been at least four years since I have had news from you. Yet I am anxious to hear from you. We are getting news from Arkansas very often, but there is never a word from you. Mrs. Mildred Murphy has spent half of this summer here, but she says that she never heard a word from you and she expected that you had left Arkansas. I am very anxious to hear from you and good Mrs. Johnson, and also of all your children.
As for myself, I am old and broke down. Four of my boys are married and rest likely to be soon. I have but Eugene with me now and he will be free in twelve months. I have a good tract of land, part of which I rent out, and cultivate a little myself. Five or six years ago we made from 30 to 40 bales of cotton every year, and now we are making about such crops as we were making in Kemper, from 8 to 10 bales. I am to old now to have anything to do with a farm, and I have concluded for the boys to divide the farm among themselves by paying a small rent to defray the expenses on the place.
I have not heard news from Kemper in several years. The last letter I have received from Mr. Burton is two years ago. He was then talking of moving off to the Mississippi bottom, but I expect that he is still working his Arkansas plantation.
Narcissus and his wife are all well. They have three children living. The oldest one died in 1871. Ed and Norman are living in the neighborhood and have bought land at 10 dollars per acre and will make the last payment on it this winter.
Cotton crops are very sorry here. Not more than a half crop will be made. The corn crop is moderately good, corn selling in the field for 40 cents a bushel.
I wish it was possible for me to come and see you, but it is impossible. I'm getting too old and you live too far for me to venture so far.
Be sure to answer my letter. I know that you don't like to write, but have some of your children to do it for you. Give me all the news of Arkansas, how you are getting on, and If you expect to remain in Arkansas.
Make my compliments to Mrs. Johnson and all the children.
April 17, 1878
I have not received a letter from you for more than 2 years and can't form no idea of what has become of you. You never before has left us without news so long a time. The boys all think that you have left Texas for a better clime. I always had hoped that you would come and make us a visit in Mississippi, and in as much as you don't like Texas, you would remove here, for I have plenty of land and nobody to it. I have to rent to Negroes and to furnish them their supplies, and they spend more than they make. There is but Eugene with me now. Rufus and Henry have rented a plantation of a hundred and twenty acres and subrent to Negroes. Martin stays here but works land from Narcisse.
Time is very hard here. The two last cotton crops have been very sorry, and the price of cotton low. Everyone is in debt and not likely to get out of it. Rufus has been here for several days and is sick, but got better today.
If you receive my letter, send me a answer without lapse of time, for I don't know what to think of you. Let me know how you are getting on and if you expect to remain. Having nothing of interest to write, I will close my letter.
[Portion of letter to Victorine or Louise. The first part is missing.]
Since you left us, nothing has happened new with us. Mr. Ladd has returned to Columbus, and I have not heard anything from him since he left.
Write me a long letter and give me all the news. If Martin does not see you this winter, plan on coming next summer and Lillie will return with you.
Make my compliments to your papa and mama.
[Portion of letter to Albert. Pages torn out, so the first part is missing.]
. . . getting old and feeble and would be at a loss to find you, and then I did not know if it would suit you wife. I am miserably tired of this place.
If the plan suits you, let me know and I will settle my affairs here, but I can come before the first of January. I have 1000 dollars or more to be collected about that time.
There is nothing of interest here except hard time. Money is very scarce and those that have anything to sell can't get nothing for it.
February 7, 1879
It was with much pleasure that I received yesterday your letter of January 20. Several times I thought I would write you, but I always postponed it, thinking I would receive a letter from you, since I had written last.
As to the matter of the amount of all you have sent me at different times, I believe I have sent you some years ago the amounts and the dates which correspond.
In 1866 $200
I want to thank you again for all the pains and the bother which that liquidation gave you. I thank you also for your generosity to me for the surrender of those 3000 francs.
I have no doubt that you did all that was possible to insure my interests. No doubt we have all been cheated by the dishonesty of Genot of many thousand francs and the long delay in the final settlement of the estate
Since I wrote you my last letter, there has not been anything happening with us of any interest. My children are marrying and are doing well. They are, except for the young ones, settled. Eugene, our youngest boy, left us several days ago and has gone to New Orleans. There is no one left to farm.
We are all well, me in particular. My sons rent and work the farm. It yields me 1000 francs a year, which suffices for our living expenses.
I guess you saw in the French newspapers an account of the ravages the yellow fever in our part of America. For more than 3 months we were surrounded by this plague. More than 15,000 people perished. We took great precautions, and there was a sanitation guard established around our vicinity which saved us.
If it is possible, I will send you the stamp which you requested. It is difficult in the country to get any kind except postage stamps. In regard to the final release which you requested, I think that this letter will suffice. If you wish a release form, send me one and I will sign it and return it.
Excuse me if I do not write you a longer letter. I am so out of the habit of writing in French that I do not know if you comprehend the sense of my short letter.
Write me often. Tell Rosine to write me. Tell me also what you know about the children. Give them my compliments and also all your family.
Your devoted brother,
Louis A. Dorr
Dear Madame Heric,
It is with pleasure that I write you these few lines, for you told me that Rufus and Eugene had arrived without any accident. They are so enchanted with their visit they will not be able to realize until the time of festivity and carnival is over that they are late writing and have failed to sit down to work. It seems that you have two good-for-nothings. They say that it will be revelry all the time they are with you, but in a few days their excitement will pass. I think that those two fellows will be much trouble for you, and I thank you very much for all the bother which they cause you.
All the family is well and they all tell me to thank you for all the beautiful things which you are doing for Rufus and Eugene. I always hope that some of your family will come to see us. It would be a great occasion. I do not think that you or Mr. Heric will come, but I think that Louise or Victorine or the others could avail themselves of a good opportunity.
I think that Rufus and Eugene will write you after their return and will give you all the news. I don't know how to thank you for my goodlooking trousers and those good prunes.
My compliments to Mr. Heric and all the family.
May 14, 1879
I have received your two or three letters asking for money to return here. I am surprised that after being in Texas for near ten years you are not able to raise enough to bring you here, for if you come here to stay, why don't you sell your stock and land and everything you possess there and save you the trouble to return next fall spend 50 or 60 dollars for a trip. But I expect that the smart widow got you so entangled that everything is her own. I send you , however, a post office order for $30but if you have anything there I would sell for half price to save me all the trouble of going back. The family is all well and I have no news of interest to write. They send their compliments. You did not tell me in your last letter if your widow had returned home. I am busy and have no news, so I close.
Louis A. Dorr
July 2, 1879
I have sent you about 6 weeks ago a post order for $30,but have not heard from you since. I have not the least doubt that you have received it, as post office can not get lost, and I expected a letter from you every day acknowledging the receipt of the money, as you don't come yourself.
I want you to be sure to write to me as soon as you receive this, for I would be greatly relieved to know that you got it, and also tell me why you do not come as you promised.
The family is all well.
That letter, dated July 2, 1879, is the last letter in the book. The next 40 pages have been deliberately cut out. I can tell from the half inch left of the cut pages that they were all filled with his handwriting. Undoubtedly he continued to put copies of letters in this old ledger the rest of his life, and who cut them out and why will remain a mystery forever.
Letters copied and translated by Mildred Dorr Goodman