University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

White Sulphur Springs: Letter from J. S. Martin to Martha Ann Martin, Scottsville, Va., 1847

Mr. Martin wrote this letter five days before the birth of Thomas Staples Martin, one of his eight children and a future United States Senator.  J.S. Martin lived for another 20 years after writing to his wife about his “precarious” situation and concern for his life. {1}

Miscellaneous Virginia Letters, 1820-1928, Accession #13495, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

White Sulpher Saturday Night July 24 1847
My Dear Martha Ann
I have just recd. your last letter (of 21st) It is useless to say what great pleasure I enjoy at every arrival of a letter from you; I wrote to you last mail, & intending at that time to leave here for the Hot Springs. … I had perceived no benefit (or very little) from the Water here, and to day went & paid my stage fare to the Hot Springs for Monday morning, but being advised by so many (& those who say that they have been similarly afflicted) not to leave & meeting with a gentm. this evening, who insisted & advised me to consult the Doctor here & see what he would say before I left.
So I concluded as my situation is doubtless a very precarious, or complicated one – to take his advice, and if necessary remain longer, for I had better sacrifice time & money now than to even be spared & linger on as I am at present = I went & saw Dr. Moorman who is said to be a very good physician, having been here for 15 years. he made a full and more thorough examination of me than has ever been made, & says that my Liver is doubtless diseased, that the lower part of my right Lung laying on the Liver is also slightly diseased & from his examination & sounding – I am firmly of the belief that he is right all the other Symptoms he seems to regard as sympathetic; he says that as sure as can be (that is, he speaks confidently) if I will continue here longer, that I will improve (he says even 10 days) but that if I will stay long enough for the water to have its proper alterative effect, that I can be cured. I felt that my life is at stake, & that I could do my dear family no good in my present condition, & that without health I could do nothing & as I feel willing to sacrifice all the little effects that I have in this world for health, I determined notwithstanding my desire to be with you to remain and be governed by the Dr – still longer – praying continually to our Heavenly Father for his protection and preservation of my dear wife & children, which is all that I can do. – Were I with you my dear I could do you no good = I conclude to remain & have met a very kind friend a Mr. Palmore from King & Queen with whom I shall room, as he insists on it – & he has a servant who can attend us both = I feel in better spirits from the confident assurances of Dr. Moorman and could I but feel satisfied about home & know that you & all were well, or rather were it not for your situation, I should feel more like remaining contented = the Dr. has given me blister ointment to use on my side & lung – and I am inclined to hope that I may be benefited

Oh, that I had taken your Pa’s advice at first and gone to Richmond or somewhere & been properly examined, but it is not too late, I hope = I meet with a plenty of acquaintances & kind so far as they are able, but there is but little to be expected here =
Continue to write to me here = oh my dear I do want to see you, oh how happy I should be to see you & our dear little children & friends = but we are separated for the present, God in his mercy will restore us to each other again – for which let us pray = I feel that I shall improve now & hope my next may be more cheerful = I have improved in my general health = altho’ I have reduced very much = don’t be uneasy for me, it can do no good – be careful of your [missing] oh my dear take good care of yourself I am glad that all are well; it goes hard with your Pa, to have so much to [att]end to but I hope that I may be able after a while to render better service; give my love to all to whom I am so much attached- Advise me what you think of my staying by next mail – oh I am so fickle – I need advice from some one that I know =
Write to me every mail –
Your most devoted

{1} For additional information about John S. Martin, see this website about his son, Thomas Staples Martin.

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