1858: Thomas Henry McNeill to Maj. Malcom McNeill

Thomas Henry McNeill
Thomas Henry McNeill

This letter was written by Thomas Henry McNeill (1821-1866), the son of Maj. Malcom McNeill (1796-1875) and his third wife, Martha Rivers. Thomas married (1st) Rebecca Ann Tuck, daughter of Dr. Davis Green Tuck and Elizabeth M. Toot, on 26 Oct 1842 in Christian County, Kentucky. He married (2nd) Ann Eliza Arthur, daughter of William Arthur and Susannah Hill Peters, on 11 Jun 1861 in Marshall County, Mississippi. He died on 29 Nov 1866 at his plantation in Coahoma County, Mississippi, at age 45.

A descendant of Thomas Henry McNeill records: “Thomas have not been found in the 1850 or 1860 census. His holding of 24 slaves is listed on the 1850 census in Coahoma Co., Mississippi, enumerated 16 Oct 1850, apparently on his father’s plantation. When his wife’s eldest brother, Dr. William J. Tuck, died in Memphis in 1859 leaving a library of 536 books, Thomas purchased over half of them for $392 when they were offered at auction. The 1860 Federal Census of Coahoma Co., Mississippi, enumerated 18 Apr 1860, lists 82 slaves belonging to him. It is not clear whose property they were working on, though there is some indication they were rented to someone named Boon.”

1858 Letter
1858 Letter

Addressed to Maj. M. McNeill, Sunflower, Coahoma, Mississippi

Coahoma County, Mississippi
July 22, 1858

My Dear Father,

My health is still improving. Have sat up all day today and I am in hopes by care and prudence I will soon be well again.

We send Harry hoping you will take strict control over him as he is very much disposed to be headstrong — nothing but the most positive manner will do with him. Please ask mother to get him one more pair of pants and roundabout. I shall expect to hear from you very often. See as soon as you have time what old man Fraser will do and let me know.

We are having a fine rain today which I hope will benefit the country.

I trust you will get on a good, safe boat, have a pleasant trip, and find all at home. My overseer thinks we ought to make more than a hundred bales. He reports very great improvement in the cotton recently.

I hope to get all my matters arranged in a few weeks and will then be up in Christian [County, Kentucky] to see if any places can be bought at ____ing rates. I can’t and won’t give high prices for land.

I ____ to send those cane knives down per Beauty but will do so in a short time by some of my boys as they go down. I send you four cigars to smoke on the way. All give me in ____.

Your affectionate son, — Thos. Henry McNeill

Friday Evening, July 23

I am still on the mend living on tomatoes appears to improve me much. Dr. Dandridge sold out on Monday at $15 per acre, moved all hands and stock up last night on Steamer Langley. He is perfectly disgusted with the ways of the bottom. I think he sold a great bargain — very much too cheap. Miles McGee has not confirmed the trade as we heard but is anxious to do so but his relations are trying to hold him off. I hear of much sickness among the negroes. Nell lost a valuable woman a day or two since. Mine are very healthy. My corn planted on Monday last is up finely and all hands report great improvement in the cotton. So I have still a little hope to make some cotton if all are not mistaken.

Your affectionate  son, — Thos. Henry McNeill

Saturday Evening, July 23

You have had a long time to wait. I am still looking for you all this evening on a ___ boat but I find but few now running. The weather has turned very cold which is rather more than we wanted. Must prove a great many chills. I have had two come in with them since yesterday. Salt & water soon fixes them. I send you all the late Memphis papers. Let me hear from you often.

Your affectionate son, — Thos. Henry McNeill

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