In April 1858, Mary's younger sister, Amanda Carnes Rogers, died soon after giving birth to her child, Ida. On her deathbed, Amanda asked Mary to raise her daughter and Mary could not refuse. Only two months later, Mary gave birth to a third child of her own, Ella. Soon after, Mary's mother, Elizabeth, was stricken with cancer. Although pregnant with her fourth child, Dora, Mary went to Knoxville with the children in June 1859 to help care for her dying mother. This provided the occasion for William and Mary to correspond once again.

Sunday, July 3, 1859.
Pikeville Tenn.

Mrs. Mary M. Hill

Beloved wife

I do not think it is wrong for me to write to you to-day although it is sunday. I cannot help thinking about you, and it is no worse to write to you. I hope it is no crime to be strongly attached to ones wife and children, for if it is, I think I am of all men the most vile. I miss you and the children very much to day. It has been so seldom that you have gone from home lately that home does not seem like home to me without you. It is perhaps better that you should occasionally be about, so that I may be able to appreciate your worth. I now can see how much I am indebted to you, and to your society for most of the pleasures I see in life. We have often spoken of the pleasures derived from each others society but we can, perhaps, come nearer estimating the depths of these enjoyments when we are separated. O there is no happiness on earth half so sweet - - half so pure as domestic happiness! It seems to me that without you life would indeed be a "weary journey".

I, perhaps, am not more strongly attached to you than many another man is to his wife. Indeed I am of opinion from observation and experience, that the relation of husband and wife is the most intimate of which we have any knowledge. Our Creator so designed it. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh" are the words of Him who instituted the marriage relation. It is not to be wondered at, then that I should feel to day that something is wanting to make me contented and happy. But I am more than willing to submit to whatever loneliness your abscence may produce, since I know it is your duty to be with your afflicted mother. We should not murmur, even though we should not have access to a constant stream of enjoyment. Such is not to be expected in this state. We should rather be grateful that we can hope, that after a few weeks we shall enjoy a reunion at home with our children, and that our separation is not final.

I shall await tuesday's mail with much anxiety. Besides the anxiety I feel about your mother, I am uneasy about Edwin. I know you will write to me unless you get sick. I wish I could be with you of nights to help take care of the children. They will weary you I know.

I got home the day after I left Knoxville before dark. We stayed with Uncle John H. the first night. My expenses home were the enormous sum of 10 cts. I found things at home going on right, though Billy had not ploughed as much as I expected he would. He lost some time from a sore on his foot, which affected the glands in his groin. It will take him most of this week to finish laying by. My corn looks well. A portion of it is as pretty as I ever saw. My only fears are of any weather, it being very thick - - too thick unless seasonable. Cousin Robt. Mulkey has the prettiest corn I ever saw, I think. We have had no rain in my field since you went away. It had rained a great deal between here and Knoxville almost every day.

Mr. Boyers has gone to Spencer to be at the commencement, but primarily to try to get the money on the notes we got from father, I think. Mr Rogers will perhaps be at Knoxville soon though I never heard him say he would, certainly. They had considerable company on the day of the show, I understand, for dinner. They were mostly ladies of Mr. Rogers kin. Mary Jane cooked for them and made about $2.50 washing for the showmen the same day. The show did not give satisfaction. Mr. Moffit says he made money by keeping them.

Old Mrs. Bridgman is sick though I have never heard what ails her. But I have written enough. May God bless you and ours.

Wm. J. Hill

Pikeville July 5, 1859

My Dear Mary

I have just come from the P. office and feel greatly disappointed in not getting a letter from you. I have no doubt, that you have written but it has not come. Perhaps you did not get your letter to the P.O. in time. I must excuse you, as I know you have a very bad chance to write. I wish you would write often to me. I don't want you to write long letters. I know you can't do it. You will have to stay with your mother a great deal and then the children are so troublesome. A few lines every other day would not take much time. That's all I ask. There is so much inquiry about your mother! And then I can't help feeling uneasy about Eddy. But I must wait two more days before hearing. O. I feel so bad about it! But I must not be childish.

The Opposition are making preparation for the barbecue. The(y) aim to rear a tall liberty pole with a banner prepared this week by the ladies in town and from the country. There was a considerable number of ladies in town yesterday from the country to help make the banner.

I heard this evening from Mrs. Young. She is getting well. I am truly glad to hear it. L. R. Fain and his family arrived this evening from Sparta.

Billy will get done ploughing tomorrow. I have another man helping him. We need rain very much in my field.

Mr. Rogers has not returned from Spencer and it is bedtime. He will not come tonight. Mr. Howard is selling a great many goods to those preparing for the barbecue.

Tell the children that Pa has found a parcel of little pigs for them - - 2 for Eddy and 2 for Lucius and 2 for Ida and 2 for Ella - - pretty little pigs and they may have them if they will come and see me. Tell Eddie and Lu to write to me (if they are alive and well). And now good night dear wife. May God bless you.

Your husband

W. J. Hill

Pikeville July 7, 1859

Beloved Wife

I have just finished reading your letters of the 2 & 5 inst. I do not know why they should both come at the same time. I was truly glad to hear from you as I will always be glad to hear from you. I was in hopes that you would have better news to write concerning mother. Though, when I think of the enormous size of the affection, I can scarcely hope for her to be permanently better. Yet there are some favorable symptoms from what you write. But the Lord only knows the future.

We are getting on the best we can - - very well I suppose. We have had no flour since you left. Mary Jane said she used all we had the morning we started to Knoxville. We will send for some tomorrow. We are done ploughing. I want to chop my corn out. In fact I have had a good deal of it done already. We need rain very much, and it looks like it would rain to-night. I reckon it will not though especially if the prayers of our Opposition friends prevail. They are cooking the meat for the barbecue to-night. Tomorrow will be a great day for Pikeville. The band from Athens and Cleveland are in attendance. They gave a concert at the Academy to-night - - 25cts admission. The object was to get money to pay expenses. I am informed by Mr. Howard that they did not collect any regular admission fee as they would have had to procure license. They asked voluntary contribution. There are a great many in town to-night. The taverns are full and we have several - - Mr. Rogers kindred. Mr. Rogers & others. I will give you more of the particulars when I write again.

Mrs. Bridgman is still very badly sick - - thought to have inflammatory rheumatism.

Our garden has not been injured except by Mr. Rodgers calf. It has eaten up all the beans and vines. I will have to expel it. It's eating the pop corn. Mr. Rodgers returned from Spencer yesterday - - did not get much cash. Had quite a time at Burritt. Erasmus, Mr. Washburn, Mr. Gernand and Mr. McCauly were made A.M.s and some gentlemen of Virginian D.D. He had forgotten the name.

I have not attended to having Billy's clothing made. You will have to scold more. Have you not done me injustice by saying I am disposed to procrastinate? We will talk it over when I see you. Write to me often. It seems so bad to miss getting a letter every mail.

May God bless you.

W.J. Hill

I received a letter from Uncle Abner Hill to night. He says Martha and Reals family are well. Sends love to your father and sympathises with him on account of mother's condition. He pursuades me to abandon Law and preach.



Pikeville July 12, 1859

Mary M. Hill

Dear wife

I have had the pleasure of reading another letter from you. I know you do not know how anxious I get for the arrival of the mail from the east. I cannot help feeling a little sad if I do not get a letter from you. But I have not missed but one and that was last saturday. I know you have a bad chance to write. I am not complaining. I know you would and will write if convenient. I intended writing last sunday night to send out monday morning but after coming from Smyrna I was almost compeled to go to hear Bro. Powell preach.

O, I was so much rejoiced to get such favorable news from mother. God grant that you may be able to continue writing as favorable, but I cannot help fearing that the next news will not be so favorable. I hate to hear of the chills returning on her. I hope you may find time to write a few lines so that I may get a letter every mail. I feel so anxious!

We had Bro. Witherspoon to preach for us Saturday and sunday. He intends moving west this fall. Bid the church a final farewell - - created quite a sensation in the church. The church seems warmly attached to him. He is a very feeling man. We not the promise of anyone at protracted meeting.

I believe I promised to give you some of the particulars of the barbecue on friday last. The morning looked very unfavorable - - misted a while but soon cleared up. There was a fine turn out of the natives. As Col. Sam Smith said "If the hills and valleys have not given up their dead they have poured forth their living". Col. Netherland stayed all night at Aaron Swaffords thursday night. There was a long procession formed to meet him and escort him into town, accompanied by the brass bands from Athens and Cleveland. O they stired up Pikeville parading round the square. You would (have) not known your home if you had happened to return at that time. And then the flag twenty feet long on a pole ninety feet high with Netherland, Brabson, Tibbs, and Gillespie inscribed upon it fluttering in the breeze. They had invited a great many distinguished Know nothing speakers but none of them came. And as Gov. Harris could not attend, according to an agreement, Col. Netherland could not speak. Hence the day was given up to Smith and Brabson, the candidates for congress. They had made the appointment before the barbecue was thought of and was properly entitled to the stand. Of course the immense crowd called out the best efforts of the speakers. I will not say who I think gained the victory. I am partial. But I do say I have heard of a number of opposition men coming over to democracy. Brownlow is fooled when he thinks Brabson is gaining in every county as he says in his last weekly. I have no doubt but Smith will increase his former majority. The Opposition feel that they made a grand failure. They spent lots of money and lost votes. But I have written more about politics than will interest you.

I am still your loving

William J. Hill

We have not yet had rain. My corn will be burned soon without rain. It looks like being dry weather. Billy is not gone. He is a little sick. Has a great many boils. I want him to go home next week. O how I would like to (be) with you and the children as long as I have been writing to you! I suppose no more of them have the mumps. I will write to you every mail in hope that you will answer.

God bless you

Sunday Evening July 17, 1859

Mary M. Hill

Dear wife

I am alone this evening. I miss you and the children more on sundays than any other time. There was no preaching at Smyrna to day it being old Uncle Absolum's day. Parson Bell preached here to day. I went to hear him and have been at home reading the rest of the day, except I slept a nap. The day seems so long! I did not get a letter from you yesterday. It seems like a long time to wait till the next mail. I know you have good reason for not writing if you did not write.

I suppose Mr. Rogers is with you before now and has given you the particulars of the Pikeville news. Miss Ann De La Vergne arrived to day in order to be ready to enter upon her labors to-morrow. I think there will be a very large school. There will be a number boarding.

We have had no rain at Pikeville for four weeks. It rains around us - - little showers, but it does not rain here to do much good. But it will come at the proper time.

Billy will start to see his father to-morrow. He just got his new clothes to-day. He does not seem to be much excited about it. I expect he will enjoy his trip very much. He has been a little unwell occasionally since you have been gone. Has boils yet. If it was not that I am afraid he would not treat my mare well I would not limit him in his time of visiting. I should be uneasy for him to be gone more than two weeks. His father has not written about whether he wants him to come back or not. I suppose he will come back or he would have written.

I got plank yesterday to fix our house but it is not seasoned. I do not know whether I will be able to have it fixed against you get home or not, in fact I have no time fixed for you to come home and I reckon you have not.

I suppose we are doing as well as we could without you. I have known so little about household affairs, that I could not discover wrongs however great. You may discover that all things have not gone right when you return. Mary Jane will have the kitchen full of negroes. Quite a number dined here to-day. I intend to stop it. I am afraid she is using lard lavishingly but I don't know. I hope you will find every thing right when you come home. We will do the best we can.

Cousin Nancy Hutchison enjoined it upon me, that I write to you, that if mother died while you are there, save her a lock of hair. I hope from the tone of your last letter that she will recover. And still I can hardly hope, it seems to me, when I think about it, that it is a mere question of time. Yet all things are possible with Him, with whom we have to do.

I will not enjoin it upon you any more to write to me. I know you will if you can. You don't know how bad I feel when I miss getting a letter. I am sure to think maybe something bad is the matter of mother or you or the children. But I know I am wrong for thinking of these things. It does no good. I will be more of a man hereafter. Tell Eddie that his pa loves him and wants to see him. Tell Lucius that I will come after him to have him sleep with me. I would give almost anything for one of the children to night. Kiss Ella.

Your affectionate husband

W. J. Hill

Pikeville July 19, 1859

My Dear Mary

I have just read your scolding for my not writing and will commence writing immediately so as to make amends. But I expect you are satisffied before now, that I have not neglected writing to you. You very often say that I am a little unthoughted, neglectful or forgetful or something, and I think you are right. But is this so only with reference to small things? I never forget you, and I hope I never neglect you. I believe I have sent a letter by every mail since I arrived from Knoxville save one. I cannot tell what is the reason you have not got my letters for I invariably have put in the letters on the night previous to the mails going out east. It would be considered a task to write a letter, every other day, to any body save you. But it is the greatest delight, save the reading of your letters that I have now. But I know you are too well acquainted with me and with my feelings towards you to even think that I could forget you. O me!

I am so much rejoiced to hear of Mother's continued improvement. It is so much unexpected to me I scarcely expected her to live till this time when I left. It must be a great deal better from what you write. I am beginning to hope that she may get well. I have been expecting to hear every mail that she is worse, but happily she is better.

I have no news to give you from Pikeville except that the school has started off with about 60 pupils and about 20 more expected. Prof. M Guire told me this evening that his school would pay him at least $700 this session. Miss Ann De lavergne is assisting. Cousin Saml. Fraily has set into clerking for Bridgman in Mr. Mores place. He is going to move his family down to where Henegar lives. He is to rent him land for his boys to cultivate. I do not know what Bridgman is to give him. Dr. Farris has bought the Kirklin property and is about to turn out the Pendegrases. I hope he may. Billy started home monday. I told him to come back the last of next week. I suppose Mr. Rogers will leave you to-morrow if not today. He will give me the particulars but don't fail to write as you can help conveniently.

Your lover

W.J. Hill

O it is so hot and dry. We still have no rain. My corn is ruined I am afraid. I don't want to see it till it rains.

Mr. Howard and I have a lonesome time. My family is dwindling down sharply. Mary Jane is doing very well so far as I know and that is not very far. I hope you will find all right when you come home. Remember me to the children and to all in family. O that your mother may be restored and that I may see you that family again happy as before.



Pikeville July 24, 1859

My Dear wife

Another lonely sunday is past, and in order to send you a word by next mail I write to night. I have no news to write. The burden of my communication is that I want to see you and the children. O, I miss your society so much. But we must submit to that which we cannot help. I know you would not be satisfied away from you Mother, even if it would be right. I know it is your duty to stay with her and do what you can for her. O, I shall never forget how self sacrificing she has been to you and to me. Remember how long she stayed from her home with us at Sparta. How she lost sleep of nights, with Eddie. I know we shall never repay her kindness. Then when I speak of wanting to see you I would not be understood as desiring you to come home under the present circumstances. I am only stating facts, or truths, - - that I love my family dearly. But you have not failed to discover that long since. I need not repeat it, but "from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh".

I am sorrow that the mails are so uncertain. I very often miss getting letters from you. You said you would try to get one in every other day. If you knew how bad I felt when I missed a mail you would write. It seems so long till another mail. I reckon I am foolish. I write to you every mail. It is all I can do. I would much prefer being with you. How I would like to be with you to night. But I hope the Lord may spare us all and at the proper time we shall all be again safe at home.

We have at last had a little rain, though not much. It looks like (it's) raining still. I hope it may thoroughly wet the ground to night.

The cholera is killing the hogs in town fast. I think it is probable mine are dead - - they are not up to night. If they are not dead now they will die soon I reckon. Esq. Tullop has lost 200 head since you left. I don't care much if they all die. We can eat bread and potatoes. Our potatoes look finely. Mr. Rogers says they are the prettiest he has seen.

Monday week our circuit court begins. I must examine into my cases this week. My practice is increasing more than I expected. Tell Erasmus if his mother is well enough to come down to court.

I must stop as this is all the paper I have at hand. I hope you will remember to write often to your fond husband.

W.J. Hill

Tell Eddie that his pa has been thinking about him and wants to see him. Tell Lou his pa has not got any one to sleep with him. Kiss Ella & Ida.

Love to all


Pikeville July 26, 1859

Beloved Mary

Tuesday nights mail brought another of your letters, written the 22nd. You do not get your letters in the office till too late to come out that day. Surely, your letter should have come last saturday. But I was very glad to get it even then. I read with pleasure your allusions to the same day of the month five years ago. I can say that they have been, by far, the most happy years of my life. I attribute much of my happiness to your naturally,happy, cheerful, contented, loving disposition. I can more correctly estimate the worth of your influence in your long abscence. If home had not, heretofore, been rendered so pleasant by your society I would not have missed you so much. But I should not murmer. It is not allowed for any one to have things always as he would wish them in this life. Circum-stances might be much more grievous than they are.

You intimate that you have some hopes that your mother may so recover as to allow your return soon. I know I would be glad for her sake and for the sake of her family as well as for the sake of having you at home. The Lord knows how that will be. I feel very anxious about mother. I fear every new mail that I will get word that she is worse. And if I get no letter I am thinking, may be, you have not because she is worse and you have been prevented. Would not you write just a little every other day? You miss every other mail. But I ought not to murmur, for you have such a bad chance. I hardly know how you can get along with your children.

I have no news to give you. Every thing is moving on in its old channel. We have no excitement but that about cattle. They are driving the stears around making ready to start to Virginia.

We will have an exciting week here next week, it being court week and the election comes off too. I am busy this week fixing up the points in my suits. I am employed to assist the Attorney General to prosecute two felony cases. One was put in jail last week. I don't expect to convict from my understanding of the proof in the case. Dr. Farris has bought the Kirklin property and has got into a law suit. He is trying to put old Uncle Matthew out of possession. The trial is next saturday. I am attending to it for Farris.

And now my dear wife I have nothing more of interest to write to you. You will please accept warmest love and write as often as you can to

Your devoted husband

W.J. Hill

Pikeville July 31, 1859

Beloved Mary

I did not forget to write to you last mail. I wrote but, being excited about a little lawsuit I was engaged in, in the evening - - I liked to got whiped. I will tell you about it when I see you. And another thing while I was writing the sherriff came and took Mary Jane to jail. So I put the letter in the office without "Mary M." being on it. I am sorry it did not go although it contained nothing much.

Erasmus arrived this evening. I was glad to see him but I had much rather see you. He had lost your letter to me. You are doing better about writing. I am so sorry you did not send one or both of the boys. Why did not you? I am thinking you are rather selfish. You certainly might let me have one out of so many. It would be such a pleasure to me. But I know you were not disposed to deprive me of any pleasure, if you had thought it proper for the children to come. And I was only jesting when I intimated that you are selfish. You are not selfish. I have had abundant proof that you esteem my happiness, scarcely less than your own. I know you are grieved even more than I am that circumstances are such as they are. We must endure.

I intend seeing you all before a great while if nothing happens. But I can't tell when. We have court next week, and Billy has not come back. Mr. Rogers will have to go to Spencer next week and both of us ought not to be away at once. But I think I will be up in two or three weeks if you stay so long at Knoxville. I would be glad to be with you now if I could. Nothing would give me more pleasure I know. I am thankful since we must be separated that we can hear from each other so often. O, I could not endure it if I did not hear from (you) often.

We had a fine rain last thursday night. It will do great good but we cannot make little more than half crops. My corn is injured greatly but it will make a plenty to do us one year. I will not make more than half as much as I would have made had it been seasonable. But I am grateful for the rain we had.

I said something about Mary Jane's being taken to jail. The sherriff had levied on the woman that lives with Prof. M Guire but she ran away the night before she was to be sold and to secure himself he seized Mary Jane. But he went and got two others and released Mary Jane. I thought we were going to have a bad time without a cook. We are doing very well so fare as fare is concerned, but I don't know how much waste is going on.

You want me to tell you about the household affairs. I don't know much about them. My shirts and drawers too are rather torn and ragged. The shirt I have on now is split nearly the full length of the bosom. But I will have Mary Jane to fix them. I will get along somehow.

Mr. Rogers and Erasmus have gone to church to night. The Rev. Dr. Sloan preaches. He is another physician that has lately located here. He is late of the city of Nashville. A Methodist preacher. He preaches pretty well.

I gained the property for Dr. Farris from the Pendegrasses but he is on the eve of starting to Sparta. Mr. Rogers is going to move him and will start tomorrow I think.

But I have written enough. My pen is so sharp that I can't write to do any good. Give love to all and accept my all to yourself.

Your husband

W.J. Hill

Pikeville Aug. 1859

Beloved wife

We have to begin again our correspondence, a miserable expedient, though the best we can do under the circumstances. I thought I could return and go along awhile pretty well without you, but home had no charms when I came home. It sighed for you before an hour. I feel if possible more lonely than before I went to see you. Now it seems so long till I can expect to see you.

I trust, or I would fain trust, that Mother will improve now from what you wrote about the effect of Dr. Frazier's medicine. I would be glad it could be so, but it looks like it is improbable unless it be temporarily. But let us leave off these speculations and leave it with Him "who doeth all things well." Let us do our duties, and all will come off well. I know you do all you can for her, and you will hereafter feel none the worse for it. We never fully appreciate our parents till they are lost. Then very often, too late, we see our ingratitude. I have often, since the death of my parents felt that I would be so glad to have an opportunity of confessing my ingratitude to them. You, being yourself a parent, know something of the debt due to parent from the child. It will be a great satisfaction to you hereafter to remember that you did all you could to alleviate her sufferings. I know you have a bad chance to do much for her on account of our children.

I did not get home tuesday. I stayed at Uncle John Frailey's. I found things all right so far as I know. Bro. Metcalfe and Mrs. Simpson stayed at the Hotel on their way to Sparta last night.

The meeting closed yesterday. Bros. Witherspoon, Love, and Seitz attended. Bro. Buch not here but 2 additions and they are thought to be no account.

Camp meeting at Cedar grove Sunday. I believe I will go. I must quit for I know nothing important to write and Mr. Howard is now P.M. (Mr. More is gone to buy goods) and he wants to make up his mails to-night.

God bless you is the wish of your

W.J. Hill

Pikeville Aug. 22, 1859

My dear Mary

I feel much disappointed that I did not get a letter from you to-night. I will have to wait till thursday night. I felt very anxious about mother. I somehow felt that she would either be considerably better or worse. I feel almost certain that before I hear again there will be an alteration in her. But she is in the hands of her God, and He alone knows about these things. I can't help trying to think what has prevented you from writing. We are apt to think unfavorable you know. I hope that you only failed to get a letter in time. Maybe Erasmus is on the road and you depended on him bringing news. You wrote that he was speaking some of starting down here immediately. I suppose he has succeeded in his mill enterprize. I want to hear how that is. He will write.

Dear wife, how I would like only spend an hour with you to-night - - that I might see how things are. I was telling Mr. Rogers to day that I did not know what to expect in your letter to night. I hope that nothing bad is the matter or I would certainly have got word. I feel comforted in the thought that you are all in the hands of him who watches over us for our good.

I have nothing of interest to write to you. Matilda and Ann Acuff started monday morning to Post Oak. They intend going to Knoxville. The health of the valley is generally good. Cousin John Hutcherson has been rather unwell indeed was thought to be threatened with fever when I heard from him last.

Camp meeting is still holding on. I reckon the rain we had to-day will disband them. We have a baptist meeting going on at the school house at Mulkey's. There was a great revival at a meeting house near Mr. Humbles - - baptists.

I will stop hoping that you write so that I can hear by next mail. As ever

Your devoted husband

W.J. Hill

Our sales in the store have been very satisfactory for the last week or two. Mr. Rogers speaks of going to Nashville next week.

I have done nothing in the line of improving since I came home. I am having the weeds cut out of my corn. I want to try to get my stables built before I take fodder. My old sow is getting so she can walk. The pigs will die - - most of them. I hope I can save the sow. My big shoats have not been seen since I came home. I reckon they are dead. Give Love to all and kiss the children for Pa, especially Dolly, and imagine yourself kissed by me.


Knoxville Tenn.

Aug. 25, 1859

My very dear husband,

O, I do not want to write to you now. I would so much rather sit with my arms around your neck and my head on your shoulder so I could talk and say all I want you to know. I am so tired I feel just like resting myself in that way.

I went to town this morning. Mother insisted I should go and get some clothing and have ready for her. She is very - very low - so much as I am almost afraid to be left alone with her. There has been no sorrel applied since the day you left so that the cancer has begun to grow worse, but she is now too feeble to have it applied. O, she has changed greatly since you left. If had been the will of the Lord I would have been glad to have been delivered from ever seeing my dear mother in the condition mine now is and has been for many months. To see one who has done so much for me and ministered to me in all my sufferings - - suffer so much and not be able to do any thing for her is distressing. She is very patient. She is now so weak she can scarcely speak above a whisper. I am confident she will not be with us long. I know she has lasted longer (than) any of us dreamed of or hoped for, but she has never been so low before as she now is.

I am so tired and my legs ache so I can't write much this evening. O, I was so glad to get such a long letter from you - the extra contents was also acceptable. I bought some yarn for our children's stockings, some shoes for Dolly and some stuff for Lu - a warmer Sague. Also some flanel for the little girl's petty cotes. Ella has very much neaded (a) nurse since she has been sick. She and all the others are very well now. Lu is getting perfectly fat since he got well of his sores. They do pretty well at night. I am up some every night. The black spots on my legs are much larger than they were and trouble me by a burning twiching disagreeable feeling. I think my going up and down stairs causes this. I am doing tolerably well otherwise.

I am glad you did not have the fever. If you had I would have been with you soon after hearing it. Mother could be taken care of without me some way, but you have no one near you to do for you if you should be sick. I hope you will not be however. I feel like being deprived so long of your society is making a great gap or blank in my life so far as a real enjoyment is concerned. None can fill your place.

Early morning 26

I was called away and this is the first time I have found to finish this letter. I have just been down to see how mother is. She is just about as she was - had a very bad night. This is Lu's birthday. I am going to give him a little cake for them to eat out at their play house. I hope you are doing well and will write - I know you will - - - to your own


I left this letter down yesterday and you see what the children have (done) for it. I think it was Lu - he is the most mischievious fellow I ever saw. The children had a great lamentation about their pig. I hope they will not all die for the children's sakes. Ras is very unwell. He can't study while his health is so bad. He has not yet decided what he will do. He has been talking of going to Texas this fall. I am sorry for him - - he feels so bad he don't know what to do.

Have the turnips come up? I want to know how all the things are coming on at home. I am very busy these days but not getting much done to show. How I will be behind with my work again as I am always. But let it all go. I am doing my duty, I think.


Pikeville Sunday night Aug. 28, 1859

My dear wife

The time has come for me to write to you. I would much rather be with you to-night. I would like very much to know how you all are doing to-night, especially your mother. I think it very probable that she is gone before now. You wrote in you letter of the 23rd that she was very bad. It would seem hardly probable that she is living. Indeed I could not sorrow to hear of her death. Although I esteem her highly and I might say I love her (I have never seen but one woman that I esteemed her equal, taking all things into consideration) no one except, perhaps, her husband would be more rejoiced at her recovery, but it seems that it is not the will of the Lord. To wish her life prolonged in her present state would be cruel. If it is the will of the Lord I hope her prayer may be granted, "that she may be taken from hence where she may find rest." I feel for you; for your father and for you all. I hope you will have fortitude. The stroke will be more easily borne, since by your mother's protracted illness, the idea of her loss has become familiar. There are many things which will not fail to comfort and console her sorrowing friends. I only crave that she may retain her reason. I don't know why it is but there is something in the idea of one's dying deranged that is revolting to my mind.

I saw our neighbor Billy Dalton deposited in his resting place yesterday. He died of some old disease or rather a combination of diseases. The general health of the valley is very good. I do not hear of any sickness scarcely at all.

I received a letter from brother James Hill yesterday. The friends are all well except Ed Moore and sister Helen. Ed has been sick ever since his trip to the south. James says that Sanderson has made a fine crop of corn. Ed Real has sold his farm and talks of going back to Texas this fall. James had received a letter from George Real. George had joined the Christian Church. I am truly Glad to hear it. He will now encourage Martha instead of exerting a bad influence upon her.

But I must again bid you good night. I rejoice that though I am absent from those I love most dearly, there is a Friend to whom I can entrust them believing that he will watch over them for

Your devoted husband

W.J. Hill

Thursday night Sept. 2, 1859

Much loved wife

I take a little time to write to you although you father , Uncle John, and all the boys are here, and none but myself to entertain them. I asked them to excuse me to write to you. They did so. We have just returned from the burial of your mother. I have not time now to tell you the particulars. You will learn that from father when he returns.

Father told me to tell you that he and Jo. and Will will be at home next monday. Campbell went this evening to Spencer or Rocky river. He will probably be at home next Tuesday. Erasmus will stay till I go up after you.

I am sorrow on my own account that I am not so situated to go after you now but my fodder must be pulled next week. I have hired several hands - - five or six - - and I want to hire more to commence on monday. I cannot go and come back before then.

You know I want you at home and I am sensible that you would like to come pretty soon, but duty forbids that I should go now. Mr. Rogers started to purchase goods to-day. I expect we will have to make a trip to Shell mound before I can go after you. It seems long to me. I can scarcely bear the idea.

But there is another consideration that I think should weigh something. Your father is very anxious for you and the children to remain awhile. It is a time that he will be more disposed to be melancholy than any other. I am willing therefore for his sake that you may remain two or three weeks that you may as much as you can divert him. He will soon become engaged in his school which will be well for him. I want you to write to me what you think about this. I know you desire to be at home and you are desired just as bad. I know you have long since become sensible of my ardent attachment to you, but I doubt your knowing its depths. I scarcely know it myself. Write to you husband

W.J. Hill

Sunday night Sept. 4, 1859

My dearly loved Mary

I will write a few lines to induce you to write. You did not write to me this last mail. I suppose you thought I would probably not be at home to get it. I am sorry that I am not so situated that I can leave. I have felt to-day like I could not do without you long. It has been raining all day, nearly. Erasmus and Mr. Howard have been with me but I could not but sigh for the one I love more than all others. I think about you all day and dream of you and the children at night.

I will have several hands to pull fodder to-morrow. I wish you were here to help me fix for their dinners. I have engaged 9 or ten hands. I will have to take them dinners and I need your ingenuity to devise the best way of fixing it up, but you are not here and we will have to do the best we can.

Mr. Rogers is on his way to Nashville to-night. He will return in about a week. Erasmus is looking out himself a millseat. He has ascertained that the Pankey place cannot be bought since the minors have an interest. He is much disappointed. He intends to explore the river in search of some other seat. I wish he may find a place suitable as he seems to desire it so much. He talks of seeing whether he cannot make arrangements to put up a steam mill if he can't find water power to suit him.

My hogs still have the cholera. My pigs are all dead but two. Lu's and Eddie's. I think they will live perhaps till they get home. Tell them they may feed them when they come home. Tell them that Pa has raised them some pop-corn. It has yielded finely, that is, what Mr. Rogers' calf left.

I don't know what else to write to you. The burden of my letter is that I am very anxious to see you and the children. I am almost in hope that you will shortly write for me to come after you anyhow so that I may have an excuse to quit business. I would make arrangements somehow to have you come soon if it was not for father. He seems anxious that you should stay awhile. For his sake you ought to stay awhile anyhow. O, I hate not to get a letter from you. A kiss for the children and two for you paid when I see you.

W.J. Hill


To continue, go to THE TEXAS LETTERS (March-June 1861) 

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