Red Sulphur Springs: Letter from Grace Fenton Hunter to Maria (Hunter) Garnett, August 4, 1838
Aug. 4.th 1838 Candlelight
I have just received your welcome letter and hasten to reply to it, Though I almost despair of my answers reaching Essex, what can have become of our letters from this place I cannot imagine, for it does not appear as if one of them had been received by our friends, Martha’s from the White Sulpher, is the only acknowledged and all those we get are filled with complaints of our silence, tho’ you all ought to be certain we had written and attribute your not hearing from us, to any thing but neglect. What surprises me more than all, is, that the letters from Essex come to us regularly the 6.th or 7.th day after the dates (not one being mentioned that has not come safe to hand) and on the rout all we write, miscarry or lie somewhere, till they become quite old. It is a mystery I cant fathom.
… I hope we are all beginning to benefit by our trip. I think I have certainly gained flesh, and also strength finding myself more capable of standing the excessively hot weather we have had than I usually am such spells, Though to say the truth, I do not remember ever having seen such a long spell of the weather we have had the whole month of July before. The people who reside here, say it is, unexampled. We have laughed heartily at the letters we get filled with congratulations upon the escape we have made from the heat, or expressions of almost envy of the cool mountain breezes we are enjoying, Tho’ by the by our loss of what we ought in the
Let Esther’s family know she is well & sends her love to all her friends
course of nature to have enjoyed is no laughing matter. I had a letter from William the other day in which he says he is persuaded we will all think that no one who can afford it, but wou’d rejoice to escape every year from the summer heat to below, to luxuriate in a climate which he verily believes has no superior in any country in the world, Now, only think of this being addressed to people panting under an African sun, (or if reports I have seen from thence of late years of the range of the thermometer there, are correct) a hotter one. It seems like making a mock of them. Your Aunt Betsy wrote to Martha in the same strain, rejoicing that we are inhaling the cool mountain breezes, and complaining of being almost dead with heat. However [matters?] seem now to be improving, we had a good shower a few days ago and since that the days have been like common summer weather, and the nights cool enough to allow us to sleep. Fenton’s cough has been better within a day or two, and her pulse somewhat reduced, she thinks herself mending and I hope she is. She says she is just getting over the fatigue of the journey, which was enough to make a well person sick, much more invalids, indeed we have reason to be thankful we were not all laid up by it. I have been afraid she would suffer by want of exercise here, and I doubt not but it has prevented her from improving as much as she might have done.
We have lately formed an acquaintance with a lady in our row, a Mrs Winter, who has a carriage, and who has invited her to ride with her these two days, so I hope she will now have a chance of trying the effect of exercise added to the use of the water. This lady we understand is to stay some time, our first friend Mrs Alexander, who lent her carriage to our party sometimes, has gone with her husband to the Salt Sulphur I think Martha has certainly improved in health, and I hope will have reason to rejoice in having taken the trip, it has been a great thing to us, her being of the party. She has written home so often I tell her she will not leave us any thing to talk about when we get there. Mrs [P?] looks better than when she left home, but will not allow she has mended and indeed she seems but poorly yet. Our minister Mr Cooke left us this morning which I regret as I was pleased with both the sermons I heard him preach. and the only chance we have now of a preacher is a very indifferent one.
It was so late last night when I got thus far, I concluded to put off finishing my letter until to day. We have been much disappointed both the last times we heard from Essex, to find Maria still had to go thro’ the suffering which we thought was certainly over. however I hope the next letter will contain the good news, I am sorry to hear of the great drought below, there has been just the same where ever I have been, even now when we have had a fine shower which refreshed things very much a few days ago, the earth is almost as dry as ever, one day last week Dr B bought some peaches the size of Indian walnuts about half ripe, and some plums in the same state, this is all we’[ve] seen like fruit since we got here, except black berries mixed [missing] very sour whortleberries brought to table. vegetables of course [missing] scarce and indifferent. we have however other things for dessert besides black berries. I thank you for looking after my affairs, and wish you wou’d tell my people if any of my trees bear peaches to take notice of the kind, as I don’t the kind of a single tree, please also enquire particularly about my old wom[an?] W Micon arrived here two days ago, and proposes to spend a week here, A Mrs Nesbitt from Georgia died in our building yesterday morning, and was buried this morning, the service was performed in the portico before the door of the room in which she died, by a baptist minister. I was present but heard no part of the funeral sermon. This is the second death that has happened at the place since we came here. The burying ground is about a mile off. many persons went out there in carriages but none in our party were of the number. There are two sons, a daughter, niece, all very young looking people, belonging to her family left here. I suppose they are wealthy as they brought three men servants with them. I did not even hear there was a sick lady in our row, until about two days before her death. tho’ her next neighbor assisted in nursing her. when we heard of her situation Martha & myself offered our services but were not called upon to do any thing. Mrs Brokenbrough is at the White Sulphur, and we have heard a report of her coming here but it is uncertain. Martha desires me to say she has written both to you and Muscoe, and Fenton to say she has received and answered all the letters that have been written to her your Aunt Betsy complains of not hearing from any of you since we left her. After I began this last night Dr. B. suggested that our letters not having reached Essex in the time they shou’d have done is owing to their not being directed via Fbg. two of his directed so have been duly received. the others probably were sent via Richmond which wou’d account for their detention. William says Louisa left them a short time before he wrote and that she has suffered so much lately with a pain in her back, she fears a spinal disease. R Tunstall has come down from her residence since she went up, and says there was no sickness on the plantation, tho’ many deaths amongst the irish laborers from heat & intemperance. Anna Maria had a fever when he left them, owing (as was supposed) to vaccination. Anna her daughters & Betsy, who is very poorly as usual at this season, are going to spend some days at Old Point. Richard, got home the 1st of July much [grownd?] improved in person & manners. Martha & F join me in much love to yourself Muscoe, and the rest of our dear friends with you and around you
Red Sul Springs Va
August 6, 1838
Mrs Maria H. Garnett.
Via Fredericksburg Essex.