|Dear Sister Mary and family,|
I have delayed answering your letters received sometime since, that I am almost ashamed to attempt at this late day to offer an apology for not written sooner, but the date you so desired concerning our family was recorded in Father's old Bible and I have been seeking its whereabouts and one day last week found it at Bell's stowed away among other relics of antiquity. In moving around I had forgotten where it was, but have at last found it and will keep it close to me. The old Bible was purchased by our father at Mobile, Ala. in 1839 when I was only 3 years old. We were living then at the Mills on his plantation in Covington County, Miss. three miles from Williamsburg where I was born. You, brother Joe and sister Lem were born at the Mills. The older ones were born in Williamsburg, except sister Elizabeth, Francis, and brother William who were born in South Carolina. I will make here a copy of the record and you can see how our ages run, commencing with our grandfather Jolly.
JAMES JOLLY was born Feb.22, 1768 in S. Carolina
JAMES LEWIS JOLLY born Dec.4,1797 in S. Carolina
ELIZABETH SPEED born Nov.5,1805 in S. Carolina
SARAH ELIZABETH JOLLY born Dec.3,1824 in S. Carolina
JAMES WILLIAM JOLLY born Jan.5,1826 in S. Carolina
FRANCIS RACHEL JOLLY born (illegible)12,1828 in S. Carolina
JOHN NEWTON JOLLY born July 24, 1830 in Mississippi
VAN B. JOLLY born Aug.13,1832 in Mississippi
MELISSA ANN JOLLY born April 23, 1839
JOSEPH M. and MARY LOU JOLLY (twins) born March 28, 1842 in Mississippi.
Further back than this record shows I have no knowledge of our ancestors only from the lips of Father and Mother. Mother's family were, she told all the children both prominent and quite wealthy as considered at that period. Fathers family were of noted South Carolina stock, many of whom still live in South Carolina, and Alabama. In immigrating from South Carolina father went to Mississippi, while Uncle Maxey, Uncle Joe Johnson (father's half brother) and Uncle John Moorehead went to Kentucky and thense to Indiana. I can remember when father was quite wealthy -- owning over 50 slaves and having two large plantations, besides considerable town property, plenty of mules, horses, and cattle. He was sherriff of Covington County, Mississippi for 14 years and county treasurer for 8 years. While treasurer he had on hand many thousands of dollars for the States money, mostly Branch Bank Shinplasters, as they were called, and when with the money in his saddlebags on his way to Jackson, the Capitol to make settlement with the State Treasurer the bank failed the day before he reached Jackson the state refused to accept the money as it was worthless, holding him liable for the amount. He told them not to push his bondsmen but to give him 30 days and he would dispose of property sufficient to make the bad money good. This was consented to, and upon his return home he began selling at private sale his negroes and other property until he realized enough to pay the State her money. This left him with but little property to begin anew, in fact he never fully recovered from this misfortune but always had plenty to conduct a fair business up to a few years before his death. Mother, John, and Elizabeth dying so close together at New Baltimore, Indiana almost ran him distracted. He seemed to lose all energy and all interest in business pursuits, and died, as you are aware a poor man.