This letter was written by William H. Thurman [or Thurmon] (1821-1880), the son of Joshua Thurman (1789-1843) and Margaret (“Peggy”) Ramsey (1790-1845) of Kentucky. William Thurman married America Minerva Miller (b. 1823) in 1845, a few years after he had taken a residence in Boeuf, Franklin county, Missouri. America was the daughter of Philip Miller (1777-1845) and his second wife, Lucy McIntire (1803-1855) — both longtime residents of Franklin county, Missouri.
William wrote the letter to his brother-in-law, James Franklin Miller (1826-1899). James was married to Nancy A. Clyce in September 1845. The year after his marriage, he volunteered to serve in the Mexican War. In 1860, he farmed in Platte county, Missouri. In 1861, he moved to Leavenworth, Kansas — presumably to avoid the bloodshed between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions. William Thurman, on the other hand, enlisted in the 4rd Missouri Cavalry State Guard (Confederate).
Franklin county, Mo.
January the 21st, 1856
Mr. J. F. Miller
Your letter came to hand in due time and brought the news of you and family being well. You spoke of it being very cold. I can say we have had the coldest weather that was ever known in this country and the prospect is good for it to remain so. The one thing sure, we have plenty to feed on and let it rip. It is good on wheat and I have a good deal sowed and it looks well. Although the weather is very cold, it does not stop business. The drovers is coming in with their stock all the time. There has been about 7500 hogs shipped at Miller’s Landing ¹ [now New Haven, Missouri] and there will be a good many more yet. The most of the hogs that has been shipped was from Boone, Howard, & Callaway counties. They drove across the river on the ice at the Landing.
You wrote in your letter to me that if the news had to come from Sam, you would never get it. That news I suppose is the sale of the land and negroes. James, I thought that the boys had wrote to you on the matter in full. In the first place, we divided the tract into 8 lots. The Soar place 267 acres commencing at the river and then south, just leaving the spring on the Soar place. That brought $22.25 per acre. J. Brown bought it. Sam bought the place above for $20 per acre. Then the next was 8 acres in the bottom joining the Landing. That brought 55 dollars per acre. Three quarters of an acre, that same house & lands on, brought $150 dollars. The land south of the Landing — 35 acres — brought 37 dollars per acre. The land back on the Pinkney Road brought 17.25 per acre. The land on the bluff above the landing — 10 acres — brought 27.75 per acre.
Jim, the amount the land brought was 14,083.26. The slaves sold well enough — Mary and child sold for 930 dollars and Ben sold for 575, Rachel 400, Isaac 330, [and] Marthy 200. John bought Ben and Rachel and Samuel C. W. [bought] the balance. Jim, this is as correct as I can give it today for the ink freezes in my pen so I cannot write to do any good. You know I am a poor writer at best. Enough of that.
And again James, I wish to sell my land in your neighborhood — not that I think land is bad property for I bought 10 acres the other day for which I paid 300 dollars for if you can sell for me for a fair price, I would be very glad. Say for 8 or 10 per acre? Write what you think you could get cash down. I am very keen to sell for cash or anything as good. Jim, write on receipt of this without fail. Mr. Clyce is very poorly yours, &c. [to] J. F. Miller [from] W. H. Thurmon
¹ Miller’s Landing was the original name for New Haven. It was founded in 1836 by Philip Miller and was exactly what its name suggests — a landing for riverboats traveling up and down the Missouri. Wood was needed to fuel the boats and the abundant timberland along the river provided it. With a steamboat requiring ten to twenty cords of wood per day, the appetite was never satisfied. The site of Miller’s Landing had deep water near the riverbank, making it an ideal stop for the boats.