This letter was written by Milford Clyce (1810-1856) of Warren county, Missouri. He wrote the letter to his son-in-law, James Franklin Miller (1826-1899) who married his daughter Nancy Adelia Clyce (1832-1927).
This letter devotes a considerable portion to James’ brother, Samuel (“Sam”) Clark Washington Miller (1815-1888) who was in financial trouble for having secured a note for a Dr. Isaac Cummings Lund. It seems Lund had purchased 80 acres and the mill property from Milton W. Griswold (1818-1855) who had recently returned from California. When the note came due and was unpaid, Griswold demanded his money. When Lund went to retrieve a couple of horses he had on the property, Griswold intervened and Lund shot him.
Addressed to Mr. James Miller, Esq., Barry, Mo.
Pinckney, Warren County, Missouri
I embrace the present opportunity of dropping you a few lines to inform you how we are getting along. We are all well at present and have been most of the time, with the exception of colds. Little John has had the chills occasionally but has got entirely well of them. Mother Miller’s family was well the last time I heard from there. John Miller was here about three weeks since, I believe. I have not heard from them since, but presume that they are well from the circumstance that it has been very healthy in this section this fall & winter so far. I believe that we have had the prettiest fall that I have ever experienced in all my life. It has been warm & dry with hardly rain sufficient to make the wheat good, but I believe winter has begun in earnest for it is now snowing very fast, but I am glad to have it to say that the citizens are generally prepared for it and should think there be any who are not they cannot say that they have not had time for there has not been a say all this and winter but a person might have worked most of the time.
We have made good crops this year and are pretty generally well taken care of. John and Mary are well at this time. Mary will be confined some time this winter. John has sold his place to a German for eleven hundred dollars. He expects to be in your section this winter to get himself another place if not otherwise suited. He has gone to the prairie today to see to the dividing of 8 negroes in which one eighth part are his. They are from his grandfather’s estate in Kentucky. The negroes are at his Uncle William S. Wyatt’s. I have bought Burgesses place, his hogs & a part of his corn for twenty-three thousand hundred 75 dollars, thirteen hundred of it to be paid on the first of April, the balance in twelve months from that time. I am feeding 41 herd cattle. They are the best lot of steers I have ever fed. I think they will average in the spring seven hundred pounds. I have one hundred and seventy young hogs. The most of them will make fine hogs then if taken care of. I expect to sow in oats all the ground on the Burgess place between the road and the river. The most of which I expect for pasture for my hogs & let them to the river for water. The field that I got from Uncle John Wyatt is mostly well set with clover. I will then have left for corn 157 acres for which to make. I will have to hire one hand and perhaps 2 if I don’t make one myself which I think is rather doubtful for the old complaint still sticks to me, more over I am always busy so that I won’t do to depend upon for a steady hand at the plow, but love to see it moving late and early. You recollect the saying of poor Richard:
He that by the plow would thrive,
Must himself either hold or drive.
Fred is going to school at the District School House on the bluff beyond Mr. Griswold’s. We have not heard from any of you in a long time. I suppose you have not written. Perhaps too busy or like me, put it off from time to time and are then not as well prepared to do it as if I had of written oftener for you know that it’s practice that makes perfect. We are always glad to hear from you and I believe you are the same. Therefore, write when you can. I believe all the relations and friends are generally well so far as I recollect. Your brother Sam has got himself into a bad snap by going Dr. [Isaac Cummings] Lund’s security. Perhaps you have heard of the circumstance, but in as much as I have said a bad snap which I know will excite your curiosity — or rather sympathies — if you have not heard of it. I am not entirely acquainted with the circumstances myself to give you a full detail of the matter (further, I have not space), but the outline of what I know I will relate. Sometime during Lund’s stay at the Mill, Sam went his (Lund’s) security for some two thousand dollars or thereabouts. M[ilton] W. G[riswold] has come back from California, taken possession of everything that _____ had in his possession, has driven Lund off and threatening his life if Lund does not quit using his (M. W. G.’s) private [ ] to his disadvantage. Lund went with Sam and ____ judgement and the officer has an execution but can’t find property wherein to levy the same. They have executed & sold some seventy brass clocks but I don’t suppose they brought much. I think Sam will have to pay some 23 or 25 hundred dollars unless he can make it out of Milt. [Dr.] Lund says that Milt forced him to make a deed to the mill property. Milt denies the statement and says that Lund owes him $2,000 or upwards and has his bond for it executed to Milt before he went to California. Lund went to the store about 2 weeks ago to get a couple of horses that he says are his. He got hold of them but Milt interfered and took them away. In the melee, Lund shot Milt in the lower part of the abdomen but not mortal for he has about recovered. When Lund shot, Milt called for his pistol which was brought but taken away by Bill Hargess and ran crying murder every jump. Milt [went] after him, caught him somewhere about the ford of the creek & beat him very badly, took his (Lund’s) pistol from him, broke it to pieces, and throwed them in the Mill dam. So you may guess they have ugly times. My impression is Sam will have to pay the money for Lund owns nothing but the clothes on his back.
Our railroad men have pretty near quit work for the winter. They are only at work in the dikes and bridges which they want to finish while the water are low. They have got along finely with the work but I think they will not get it done in contract time. I understand they have laid out a depot at Sam’s. The engineers have built a large office at Sam’s. There is two or three boarding shanties there. The contractors have put up a store there too.
Nathan Richardson is dead. He died about the first of this month. Was sick some time. James E. Williams has been here since you was down but did not stay but a day or two. I have many other things that I could write but will content myself at present with what I have written. Tell George M. that I have not forgotten him. Give my best respects to my friends, Uncle John Wyatt & family, John S. Dunham & family, A. S. Huges & family, W B. Toler & family. And accept my well wish for your welfare.
— Milford Clyce