An article in the July 4, 1958 Bonham Daily Favorite reported that a series of letters found in Fayette Couny, Indiana, had been presented to Speaker Sam Rayburn. The earliest of the letters was dated September 7, 1851 and the latest 1854. It is unknown if the letters were all written by the same person. The letters had been found in a vacant house.
The transcribed text of the letters, with original spelling, is provided below.
September 7, 1851
Bonham Fannin Co. Texas -
Dear Sirs I now for the first oppertunity since I saw you take my pen in hand to try to address you with a very letter, but deaming it my duty to fulfill my promise to you. Why I will attempt to do so, I have injoyed myself very well since I left that part of the world. I have had the best health this summer I ever injoyed in my life and I hav knot hurt myself at work ether. I will just giv you a history of what I hav done, and then you can judge for your selves, in the first place I arived in Texas, April the 26th Bonham, Fannin Co. where I remained for two weeks, and circuit cort being in cession during these two weeks I got aquainted with Dr. Timothy Everts which got me into a gob of work. He had just put him up a house eighteen feet squair and he could knot get any carpenter to finish it off and I being a kind of bautch got the job and I worked sixteen days and laid two floors, and cased up the windows and put in the sash and maid the door and then I went to old Dickies and commenced working for my board and washing and I maid six bedsteads and one table and stand two battons, doors for him and that paid my board their and know I am just aliving at Dr. Everts and just a working a nuff to pay my board and that takes me all I can do to pay that for boarding here is ten dollars a month.
27 dollars is all the money I hav maid since I hav bin in Texas. that is four months I hav bin here it is the poorest place that I ever saw for a young man to get any thing to do unless he has got some profession thurough by know if either of you was here you could make money just as fast as you pleas but however just wait till I cum home before you start here and then I will giv you a direct history of Texas.
Texas is notorious for rich soil tolerable good waters. Shrubby timber and shouting Methodist. I say shouting Methodis because I was out at their camp meeting in August. I went out on Saturday and staid till Tuesday and I suppose that I saw some fifty at a one time a shouting that is whites and negros together and besides all the shouters that I see in the alter they was scattered round in the woods and in the prarie in the east and in west and north and south. Know you may think that I am exagerating but it is just so, but I will leave the shouting subject with you and giv you a small history of the drouth, that has bin here.
I will do it with but few words it has not rained here a nuff sinc the second day in June to wet the ground two inch deep, and it is so dry that the people is a leving their farms and mooveing to the rivers to obtain water and the range is all dried up and stock-is a suffering very much for feed. They are just tairing down fences and eating up the corn as they go and the fact of the business is it is just so dry that it dryes the hair on a mans head so that it stands right strait out and looks like the devil. Know I will leave the dry subject with you.
I reckolect the times that we pased away together in the old Pedro Schoolhouse and in Montgomerys sublefield a purforming the circus and my hart aches for the time to come when I may be back their to see you if knot to go through the same surformance. I will know take up the gall subject and try to interest you with that. It is same six months since I left home and I hav knot hugges a gall since I left but I hav written a letter to one here and I think when I get a letter I will go to se her and tell her what it is that I can't stand it any longer and she must let me. That is, all that I wrote the letter to her for because I thought that I could get to if I could only get to go to see her but however their is some as fine girls her as ever lived but ehir is some blackeyed ones, their that is far superior. I will hav to bid you adieu for the present. Tell the folks that grist and I is a prospering. You kneed not rite for I do not no how long I will stay here.
D. N. Taylor
December 30, 1851
Bonham, Fannin Co., Texas
I know take this opportunity to address this letter to you in the briefest manner I no how, for I hav but little time to spend in writing for I hav same 12 or 14 bushels of hedge seeds to get out and then I want to leave this country.
It rained here like the devil yesterday evening and I think it will raise Red River soes boats can cum up and just as quick as they come up I am off like a juge handle for that country again. Christmas is over here and it was about as dry a Christmas as I ever passed in my life. Their was nothing transpired worth noticing here in sellibrating the day of Christs birth. I passed it in seting round the house and watching the honey bees at work with my linen coat on and a sweeting at that. I hav not seen any snow this winter. It is quite a plesant plaise to spend the winter only when it comes up a norther like it has today and then it blows like the devil and is as cold as Jupiter but it only lasts 4 or 5 days at a time, but be it so, I must change my subject to something
not half so intereting to you bit it is all I can think of just now and that is in refference to the galls.
Although I hav but little to say about them I hav bin here some eight months and I hav never had my arm around a galls waist and you may no by that Ive not had a hug but I hav used your name amongst the girls and I am strongly solicited to send you to the country as soon as I cum home. The girl that solicited me the strongest is an intellagent good looking well put up beautiful formed girl and her name is Miss Caroline Everts, daughter of T. C. and Maria Everts so ends what I hav to say about the galls.
I will now giv you a sketch of the markets here and then come to a close. Poark is $7.00 per hundred - wheat is $1.25 per bu - corn is .75 cts per bu. -irish potatoes their is none - land is from 50 cts to $5.00 per acre and the emigration to this country this year through the town of Bonham has averaged about fifty families per week for the last two or three months so you may guess at the emigration into this country by way of other roads, that I don’t no anything about and I think that about one third of the emigration of people that emigrated through this town is blacks, all slaves, so I must bring my letter to a close.
I am well and all of the people that I am acquainted with in this country is well. I wrote you and Byson Barnard a letter some time ago but I do not no as you received it for I hav not heard from either of you yet. Gib I rout this without any lines and I expect you can read it without any lines and I likewise hav written it without much sense to it and when you read it I think you will read it without much sense to it and fineally I commesed it without much sense to it and I am about to end it without much sense to it and to take it all in all you may think that I am no fool, but you are mightly mistaking. Gib hug some of the girls for me and giv my love to all the rest and may we all by the lord be blest. So ends my preair to all of you their. So this will do and I will quit riting to you.
P.S. I would be glad to hear from you but I do not expect to stay here till I could receive a letter from you for I am a coming to see you and it will be much more pleasure for me to see you than to get a letter from you. Let Byson see this such as it is.
Mr. Gilbert Trusler Esq.
Gen. D. N. Taylor
August 5, 1852
Bonham, Fannin Co., Texas
Esteemed Friend it is with pleasure that I embrace the present opportunity of addressing a few lines to you. We are all well at present and hoping that through these few lines you may be known to be enjoying the same belsing I feel very well satisfied that I shall never rue my emigrating to Texas. The spontaneous productions of the earth is enough to give any person the Texas fever. We have far the best crops of corn this year that ever was known to be in Texas. Wheat and oats very good and sweetpotatoes do the best here of any place in the known world. They grow so large that a person can sit on one end and roast the other with convenience and this country cannot be surpassed for mellons both water and musk and I defy the world to beat it for Honey Deer. We have an abundance of them. Some bear, panther, wolves, wild horses, foxes and the devel cannot appreciate the number of Prairie chickens and turkeys. The mysterious knockings which is in vogue now through out the world made its appearance in the neighborhood last knight. I was there and saw some of the dvils performances as I suppose we found 5 mediums. I would like you to write and tell me what you think it is. Please answer this as soon as you can make it convenient and let me know the knews in general. Nothing more at present. But remains yours.
Richard B. Thomas
February 1st, 1852
Bonham, Fannin Co., Texas
Respected friend it is with pleasure that I embrace the present opportunity of directing a few lines to you. We are all well. I received a communication from you some two or three months back the perusal of which was quite interesting to me. I should have answered your letter before though as I have not taken time to answer letter received long before I received yours. I hope you will excuse me. O and myself are keeping bachelors hall at a place the appelation of which is very crusalesous. I am clearing a little. I work just enough to afford good exercise. I have cleared about one acre this winter which I expect to plant in corn, potatoes, pumpkins, melons and so on. I should be very glad to have you come over when my melons get ripe and partake of the nourishment contained within. Also to become acquainted with some of the fair damsels of Texas, as we have the most lovely and magnificient as well as interesting that the world afford.
So if you wish to be charmed by the beauty of the opposite sex here is the place to emigrate to. If it is your intention ever to come now is your time as land as well as every thing else is looking up. Land has thribled itself since we cam here. Cattle are one third higher than they were when we came here. Horses are high. They are worth from 75 to 125 dollars per head. Markets wheat is worth one dollar per bushel - corn 35 to 40 cts - oats about the same pork $7.00 per hundred. As I can think of nothing more that would be calculated to interest you I will bring my letter to a close by requesting of you to answer as soon as you can make it convenient. So nothing more but remains yours until the day of judgement.
Richard B. Thomas
P.S. Oliver says he would like to hear from you.
Aug 25, 1853
Bonham Fannin Co. Tex.
Mr. Trusler, I take a pleasure in stating to you that I never entertained towards you that deep rooted malice to which you alluded in your letter to Richard and that I always was an ever have been ready to meet as good friends as in times previous to our childish indescretion. I am reading law and would have been practicing but for the fact of my having had many difficulties to encounter besides my health has been rather delicate for assiduous application. I wish you were here. I should be pleased to form a partnership with you. I have every assurance that we could do wellm law business is daily increasing, as land is becoming sufficiently valuable to induce litigation. I see but few slight difficulties between myself and success which with health, I will conquer, the Chancery-practice prevails here. The following is the form of a petition to the Judge of the 8th Judicial District siting within and for the County of Fannin.
State of Texas ) In District Court
Fannin County ) Fall Term - 1853
To the Hon. W. S. Todd, Judge of the 8th Judicial District
Your petitioner John Doe - a resident of seid state and county respectfully represents that Richard Roe also a resident of Fannin County and State of Texas, heretofore to wit; made his certain promissory note in writing bearing date the day and year aforesaid, and then and there delivered the same unto your petitoner by which he the said Richard Roe promised and became bound to pay unto your petitioner or order, fifty dollars six months after date with six percent interest thereon until paid. Your petitioner avers that said sum of money has been long since due and payable as specified in said promissory note. Yet he the said defindent has not paid this sum nor any part thereof as the case may be.
Therefore your petitioner prays that process issue against said Richard Roe and for Judgement for principal interest and costs of suit where upon a citation with a copy of the petition issues at the hands of the District Clerk. Please favour me with a copy of a declaration as you would draw it up upon a promissary note.
I am certain you would be pleased with this country and that you could do well practicing law. I request a standing correspondence with you. Write to me at your earliest convenience. Yours friend,
Oliver H. S. Thomas
November 26, 1853
Yours of the 20th ultimo came to hand in due season, the receipt of which did not fail to call forth pleasant reminiscences of the past, and agreeable sensations in the present.
I have nothing of more than ordinary interest to write at present though I may say something which as being from a distance may not fall to ' interest you.
Though the resources of the country are not as yet developed there are many inducements to emigrate and settle here by anticipation Texas is now one of the ten greatest states in the Union. Schemes are being devised for the erection of railroads to travel the vast and fertile praries for which Texas is noted, which the facilities of Commerce possessed by other states will cover with golden grain, and a surplussage of Commercial commodities not excelled in quantity nor quality by those of any other state either North or South in the Union that will redound to the exaltation of our country Texas must look up. Nature has been profuse in her bounties all that is necessary to render the condition of this state flourishing beyond that of any of her sister states is industry and enterprise. And, even now, we have as much refinement society as any of the northern states. The sciences and arts are not left cultivated here than with you and we will soon surpass you in wealth.
There will be a greater emigration here this fall than ever has been before. The streets of Bonham are dark, crowded with wagons and slaves. Slavery soon looses its hideous aspect to a northern. A visit South would not fail to cure abolitionism. I look upon abolitionists as being fools, the most pitiable. I have a sovergn contempt for them. They are a class of water gremel politicians that elicit the finger of scorn'all sensible and well meaning citizens and are posting the downward road to eternal perdition, and would fain drag with them the Union.
I being a creature of destiny lay no very great plans nor concern no ponderous resolves. I have had same sore adventures in Texas among others an erotic affair is conspicuous I was engaged to be married to a young lady for 12 months, which destiny in the hands, of certain individual broke off which has to some extent disguested me with the whole human family, especially the female sex. Women are grievously fickle. I do not feel in a condition write at this time and must close. I shall be pleased to hear from you at your earliest convenience and would like also to hear from Nels by way of an epistle.
Oliver H. S. Thomas