This letter was written by 45 year-old Thomas (“Tom”) Isaac Lenoir (1817-1882) from his plantation at Forks of Pigeon, Haywood county, North Carolina. Tom was married to Mary Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Garrett. Early in the war, Tom had served as captain of Co. F, 25th North Carolina but mustered out in late April 1862 and returned home to serve in the local militia and manage his farm.
He wrote the letter to his younger brother, Walter Waightstill Lenoir (1823-1890), of Fort Defiance, Caldwell county, North Carolina. Walter also served in the Confederate army. He was captain of Co. H, 58th North Carolina Volunteers. He was badly wounded in the right leg at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. It was amputated six inches below the knee. [see 26 September 1862, Thomas I. Lenoir to wife Lizzie]
Thomas Lenoir’s Diary, edited by Carroll C. Jones, is available on Amazon.
Addressed to Capt. W. W. Lenoir, Fort Defiance, Caldwell county, North Carolina
Postmarked Forks of Pigeon
January 26th 1863
Yours of the 19th is received & if I reply to it by today’s mail, I must be quick.
Do as you think best about the Baird notes. You spoke of receiving the money & crediting the bond. I don’t understand the use of that. I believe the bond requires me to make a title to him as soon as certain notes are paid. You can guess just as well as I can when I will have a chance to make him a title & by giving him up the notes. Perhaps I might be bound to make him a title before I could do so with convenience.
If he is particularly anxious to get rid of his money, & you think it proper for me to receive it, perhaps it would be best to let him pay all but ten or twenty dollars, & leave that due upon the note last due, & then he could not complain if I refused to receive the balance until such time as I could conveniently make him a deal. But you know all the circumstances as well as I do, & anything that you may think proper to do about it will suit me. But I would not like to give him a chance to be grumbling & hurrying me.
In a short letter to you last week, mentioned that my stock of leather would probably not be sufficient to shoe both of our families, & advised you to try to get a side or two of sole leather as you will need it about gearing &c. (bridles, backbands, bell collars, home strings, &c. &c.) It can’t be got in this country. When it does sell atall. I believe it is about two dollars per pound.
In one of Lizzie’s letters, we asked you to get us some thread and cloth & sent a memorandum of Nos. &c. From what your folks tell me about their clothes, I think you would do well to be getting some for yourself. Andy says that he has but one pair of winter pants & they are getting thin. Maria has but one linsey dress & the girls have none. My folks think that they can’t possibly do without 2 linsey dresses each every winter & 2 pair shoes. (Lizzie says that Clarissa has 2 dresses & it’s Delia that has none.)
I have let them have 1 pair cotton cards (nearly new) & some cotton & will let them have cotton yarn when they are ready for it. My folks have got so far behind hand with their clothing that I have been hiring some spinning, & the women here about charge 25 cents per yard. If I had house room & could hire two good spinners by the month. I would so so & make all my folks work out.
I mentioned in my last that Delany Trull had his house burned & was begging to remain in yours longer. I suppose it is difficult for him to get any help about building now, & fear that I will just have to go up & put him out.
I am beginning to feel uneasy about my supply of horse food. Have not sold those four mules yet nor the little bay horse & have had no use for them this winter. The mules I feared would not be quite large enough for your work, or perhaps I would have advised you to take two of them instead of the oxen which I bought for you. You will need two good work nags about your place & when you get to mill building, you will want either four good oxen or 2 oxen and two good mules. But mules are so very high that I don’t know whether you ought to buy, & then you have not much to feed them on.
The oxen can go to the woods in the summer.
We have so much snow that I am confined to the house yet, but hope that I am almost well. It is time my letters were started & the boy is waiting. We are all about as usual except Romeo. ¹ He has been sick a few days. Lizzie joins me in love to all.
Your affectionate brother, — Tom
¹ Romeo Lenoir was one of the family slaves. He was born about 1822.