A most touching note came by snail mail last week. My uncle, a darling man with a twinkling smile and gentle eyes, shared a memory of his mother, my grandmother.
“Mom went down on her knees beside her bed to pray,” he wrote, “EVERY night before going to sleep. The attached is her adaptation of The Lord’s Prayer.” (copied in her hand sometime in November 1971)
The unlined paper was folded in half, then in half again. The resulting seven by three inch rectangle bore no identifying notation. I have reread the Wilson-Minor Land transactions (see post 1, post 2, and post 3) several times since first spreading this undated agreement out on my work table. The deep brown ink now yields a message which I understand.
John P. Minor purchased 350 acres on Simpsons Creek, Harrison County, (West) Virginia from James P. Wilson and wife Rowena on October 25, 1841 (post 2). This letter appears to be laying out the terms of payment for an adjacent tract– the 223 acres on Simpsons Creek, Harrison County, (West) Virginia sold to John P. Minor by James P. Wilson and wife Rowena on April 1, 1842 (post 3).
–the said Miner bonds himself to pay for the said land at thirteen dollars per acre in the following payments one thousand dollars in current bank paper of Virginia on or before the first of April next (*1) also one bay horse at eighty dollars down and the balance till paid at three hundred dollars per year and the P. Wilson agrees to let the horse be included in the second yearly payment . Both parties bind themselves their heirs to comply and said Wilson further agrees to make a good deed when called on and the P Miner is to execute his notes for said land. Wilson is to make a general warrantee (sic) deed clear of all encumberances (sic) except the coal bank in testimony hereof the parties bind them selves their heirs this 26th of Oct 1841.
Jas. P. Wilson
John P. Miner
PS the land mentioned in this contract is to be used as the land bought in a former contract Miner is to have Wilsons interest in D. D. Wilsons coal bank on the hill P. Miner is to allow P Wilson the privilege of passing through his land to his the p Wilsons land lying above for all family purposes so wilson to keep up the gaps and not injure P Miner.
How interesting that this land is to be purchased with two forms of stored value–bank notes backed by the state of Virginia and a bay horse. There was no national currency in 1841, and a hodgepodge of financial mechanisms and payment systems filled the vacuum. I am tempted to digress into the whole interplay of banking, bartering and currency issues of our antebellum nation, but I fear that that subject deserves its own blog–or several blog posts, at the very least.
It is also interesting to note the lack of convention in both spelling and punctuation. Though it makes for some tough reading, I believe by staying true to the original author I convey the message and provide a little clue about the mental landscape in which our ancestors lived.
(*1) 1 April 1842.