Amanuensis Monday: John Pearson Minor

Inside the valise, its leather cracking from decades of storage, lie my treasure–letters, receipts, documents, small notebooks–tokens of family business conducted over a century ago. Today’s transcription is of a letter posted from A. D. Clarke of Woodlands, Virginia to my great to the third grandfather, John P. Minor of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, on the 28 May 1839.  It reads:

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for your kind favor which came to hand on the 19th but R Wills informed me all particulars and directed me to forward you the draft and that you would bring me the amount of charges as the Bank agreed to pay the am’t in a ? money . Accept my best acknowledgments for the trouble you have taken. Mr. Wills expects you this week. I would feel ablidged for acknowledging the rec’t of the Inclosed unless you are coming on.  I seen Rolly this –he expects you see the letter about the lands.

Dear Sir,

From your ablidg’d Friend,

A.D. Clarke

John P. Minor was one of several Minor family members living in Greene County, Pennsylvania in the 1800s.  The patriarch of his branch, John P. evidently purchased large tracts of  land, raised cattle, and lent money to family and friends, as this letter indicates, as early as 1839.


2 thoughts on “Amanuensis Monday: John Pearson Minor

  1. and so we commute from old ink and paper through typewriters to word processors to computers to twitters. You reduce all that is olfactory, tactile, and auditory to a simple visual message. We depend on your words alone to open our imaginations to what you smell, hear, and feel.

    We gain worldwide transport of the message. Perhaps those sensory cues had mainly one purpose anyway: connection to others. We willingly relinquish those cues for a larger connection.

    Nevertheless, I’m sure you cherish the original source- the fragrant, the crinkly, the yellowed old papers. Through how many moves have they been hoisted upon a wagon, hidden in an attic, hoarded under the mattress?

  2. I don’t know what fascinates me more: the message or the object. This communique was written on a single sheet of paper, folded to be both letter and envelope, a red dot of remnant wax indicating a broken seal. The script is both alien and familiar, making my eyes work hard to translate the curls, dots and lines. My introduction to John P. Minor has left me very curious. In a year or two or three, when I have transcribed all the trunk’s secrets I will understand this other time, this other’s choices in a much fuller way.

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