1813 1931

Barnes Family Letters

Sharman Columbia Co Ark
June 29, 1880

My Dear Sister;

          Barbara tells me that you have not rec'd a letter from me in two years that you are hurt about it.

          I wrote to you and Will jointly about six months ago and as I received no answer I supposed that writing had become a task with you and that you heard from me through Barbara, sufficiently often to feel satisfied as to my health and employment. It was, I can assure you, no want of affection, that prompted my apparent neglect, but candidly for the causes enumerated herein.

          Thought it has been so long since I wrote to you I have no news of interest. I am getting along very well and am probably settled for awhile, but should my health ever become as bad as it was for five years I shall probably come home to die as I feel sure that I can never stand such another siege. Money is not plenty here (where is it plenty) but people are doing very well. I am practicing law but am teaching also. I get more law business than I can well attend to and keep up my school duties, but not enough to abandon the school - it being more of a certainty. After getting thoroughly acquainted here I shall discontinue teaching.

          Mary, I was out of something to write Barbara not long since and wrote to her that I had some notion of marrying. Now I said the girls name is Miss Nellie LaRue of Louisville, Ky. I am corresponding with her but not on that business.

          The fact is I only wanted to see if Barbara had lost by marrying any of her interest in me. To my astonishment all hands are willing - Mother, Father and Barbara. I have at present no notion whatever of such a step, and though I am thirty year old, I have never thought I was in love but once since I left home. That was in North Carolina, and I was mistaken in myself. I was not in love.

          If I go five more years single, you may know you have a bachelor brother, which I shall be very likely to do from my present feelings.

          Train you children, dear Sister, with great care to be truthful to use no deception and to be industrious, dont overtassk them in any duties you impose but when you give them a duty to discharge, never, Never, NEVER let them shirk it. Teach them self respect, and that honor is worth more than most peoples religion.

          Well I have written more than I supposed I would - Write soon. I shall write once a month in the future.

Your Devoted Brother John

Sharman Columbia Ark.
July 8, 1880

My Dear Mother:

          I has been quite a long time since I wrote to you, as I knew you were hearing from me through the letters I wrote to the rest of the family.

          My general health remains good except losing flesh, which is not, I suppose any characteristic of disease in summer.

          I am aware that you are as familiar with my surroundings as those to whom I have been writing directly, so I am at a loss to know to lengthen out this letter sufficiently long and interesting, for it to correspond with the feelings which the writer entertains for the dear one to whom it is addressed

          If words were consummate in a true betrayal of fondness, Mothers would doubtless receive more loving assurances from distant sons than would ever be found in any other species of correspondence. There is such a mystic, and conscious instinct to be exactly truthful however, in such a letter that it curtails, denies that style of emblishment which with less care for what we say to others in order to captivate the eye of rhetoric on the ear standing open for fiction.

          I am doing very well here. I have never until the past year have had a fair opportunity to bring all my energy and discretion to bear on my business and a lax pursuit of any livelyhood is always followed by a feeble reward, but my efforts in this locality have been well nigh up to my entire ability and now I am prepared to push my avocation, either law or teaching, with vigor and more over am braced by assurances of being a decided preference with the popular majority in either calling.

          My greatest regret is that I cannot see the proprity of my returning home to practice for the reason that that country is too poverty ridden to give much paying employment to any profession. I am going to make just in here somewhere my permanent home because I am now among a class of people whose whole order of process comes natural to me from its resemblance to the caste among which I was raised.

          I wrote Barbara a hughe story in regard to an inteded marriage. I was only trying to see if she was as fond of me now as before her late departure.

          There is one thing however about which I am a little unsettled as I grow older and more quiet in my tastes and see the measureless ruin that is attending humanity from ignoring the Bible. I become more convinced that my influence should be given to the support of upright tenets and may before long join the church. There are no organized Baptists or Presbyterians convenient. I shall probably unit with the Methodist Protestants. This people are trying to get me to agree to settle right here for life, but I do not know that I shall not change to Magnolia this autumn.

          Give my love to Father and Lou. Tell her to do your writing even though she cares so little about me herself. She is Tom's child and that secures to her my undying affection.

          Write to

Your Devoted Son
J. H. Davis

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