This letter was written by Thomas Hunter Sparks (1814-1863) of Paulding county, Georgia. He was the son of Martin Peeples Sparks (1786-1837) and Elizabeth Whatley (1795-1870). His first wife was Mary Ann Leonard (1818-1839). They were married in 1834 but she died in October 1839 at their Cedar Valley Plantation in Polk county, Georgia. He was married again in February 1845 to Ann Linton (1827-1895).
Sparks wrote this letter to John P. Veasy (1818-1860) — a former neighbor in Paulding county, Georgia. John was married to Martha Pryor [or Prior] in 1837. I believe the Veasy family had relocated to Smith county, Texas, by the time this letter was written in 1855.
Sparks datelined this letter from “Montvale Springs” which was a fashionable resort that first hosted visitors in the early 1830s. In 1850, the resort went through a change of ownership and a large, new three-story hotel called “The Seven Gables Hotel” containing 125 guest rooms was erected on the property. It became known as “The Saratoga of the South.” The spa’s water was advertised as providing a cure for a great range of health conditions.
Montvale Springs, Tennessee
August 7th 1855
Dear Brother Veasey
You will perceive that I am from home & a good long ways too, being in the upper part of Tennessee — not far from the line of North Carolina. My business here is to recover my health, if possible, which has been declining ever since you left here in the spring. Old Bro. [Springer] Gibson ¹ & wife & Dr. [Edward H.] Richardson ² & wife came in company with me. Bro. Peck & wife & Mrs. [Charity] Moseley were here when we arrived so you may understand that several of the Cedar Valley friends were & are here now in search of health. The Dr. & his wife tired pretty soon & have left for home. The balance of us expect to leave in about a week. We can’t tell certainly whether the trip here benefited us much or not. Hope it has & the effects will follow us even after we have gone.
There has been some sickness in Cedar Valley & a few deaths. A gentleman died there a few days ago I was not acquainted with & near the same time a young lady — daughter of ____ Thompson. Dr. Richardson has lost 2 or 3 negroes since you left. My wife wrote me a day or two back that Old Bro. Battle has lost 2 negro men since I left & another very sick.
We were very dry in the spring & began to fear another failure in the corn crop but the rains set in in time & our prospect for a bountiful crop is now very flattering. There is being, I am a little afraid, too much rain for a good cotton crop in our country as it seems too much inclined to grow, & not square. An early frost, I think, would cut it off pretty short. Where I am now is a great clover & grass country. Large fields covered over with clover from knee to waist high in full bloom is a beautiful sight. Their best lands here, they say, will being from 50 to 100 dollars per acre. Their corn is very fine.
I don’t believe I know of any news of much interest from our valley to write you. Politics run pretty high & people a good deal excited — so much so that occasionally at their meetings they have almost a general rough & tumble. It is reported here they had about 20 fights in Ringgold a few days ago & at another meeting at Cartersville 2 men were killed & another pretty badly wounded. The election in this state for Governor & Congressmen came off last Thursday. We have not yet heard the whole result but it is close clipping.
I believe I wrote you in my last that the Dr. had become serious at a Methodist protracted meeting which at that time gave us hope for a reformation in him. But the poor fellow could not restrain himself & has been drinking again. Harden & the balance of the relation so far as I know well.
While I think of it, Bro. Peck requested me to ask you if you had an interview with Mr. Duberry? If you had, what was the result of it &c.? Let me hear from you. I am anxious to know how you have enjoyed your health this year, how your crops are, &c.
I am here in a great crowd of persons from several states — some after health — some after pleasure & thus I don’t know what. Some of them are now in a room directly below me enjoying themselves with music & dancing, some rolling ten pins & so on. If my health was good, such a place as this could not hold me. If I have enjoyment anywhere in this life, it is at home in the company of wife & children.
Well my paper is almost written over & I fear you have not found much to interest you. Give my love to sister Veasey & the children & receive for yourself my best wishes for your present & future welfare.
Very truly, — Thomas H. Sparks
Well I thought on the other side my sheet was written over but find it is not so but believe I cannot at present recollect anything further to write of importance. I shall expect to hear from you soon. As ever yours, — Sparks
¹ This was probably Col. Springer Gibson (1796-1867). He was married to Mattie Sparks.
² Dr. Edward Hamilton Richardson (1814-18xx) of Georgia. He married Mary Ann Frances James (1818-1880) in 1837.