Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

I have received two letters from you dear Sister since I wrote last and although very closely employed yet the art of arranging my business so as to leave me most time, I never possessed and fear never shall, hence a great loss of that most precious comodity, and consequent neglect of many duties (that of letter writing for one) which more method would enable me to fulfil. I spent 5 weeks in Lynchburg with our poor sister Jane. the elder & younger members of her family as you know left her in May. They have written frequently since their arrival at the land of their destination and although living in a log house with the blue sky over their heads and one unvaried scene of Green forest around, a little in the style of the swinging lady in the tales of the castle, yet they are upon the whole well pleased with their situation so far. [. . .] the climate is a fine one. cool nights, & refreshing breezes and although Elisabeth has been very sick since her arrival, yet they do not attribute it to the climate, but rather to a very long journey taken at too late a season in the year, through some very unhealthy countries. they have bought for Mr Randolph 350 acres of very excellent land, some of it first rate sugar land at $ 1 25 c the acre. and are preparing to build a house for them in the style of the country, of logs, but the climate is so good and mild that they require very little more than shelter from the rain. James Henry had an attack of that dreadful fever which raged at the university so severe that for weeks his life hung by a thread, and it was 5 months before he could be moved. and now the 8th month is walking with difficulty with a crutch. the rheumatism which in many instances followed it is the cause of that. he is going to Norfolk & old point, where his father, mother, Lucy & little Eston, the only remaining members of the family, will join him about the first of October, and from thence sail by in the first good vessel bound to Florida. Jane is very low, she1 has an incessant and harassing cough with a discharge of pus and frequent spittings of blood. still I cannot help beleiving that it is an affection of the stomach & not of the lungs. she is generally clear of fever and eating will often, perhaps generally stop the cough. the irritation is present greatest in her throat and from thence down the middle of the chest to the pit of the stomach where she often complains of heat & a sensation of burning. but the decline has been so very gradual, that I have strong hopes there may be time yet for change of air and climate to save her. they have got the house they rented in Lynchburg off of their hands, and are now boarding in New London. We shall turn our faces northward about the middle of October, when again I shall be the mistress of a home, though a rented one; and where I shall have to learn the art of supporting a large family in genteel society, upon very limited means. Nicholas & Virginia, Browse, & Burwell, will all live with me, each furnishing their portion to the general expenses, which will render it more practicable than if thrown entirely on my own ressources. this year I expect will be one of great difficulties but I hope I we shall learn to accommodate our wants to our means of supplying them. the book of fishes Septimia gave as her most precious treasure to dear George at parting, but we will immediately write and get Mr Coolidge to forward it to N. York. I hope he has been careful of it—Jefferson has a son born at last and both Jane and the boy another Th. Jefferson. are doing very well, even better than can be expected. Mary Cary’s marriage you know; I do not remember any other occurrence in the family or amongst your acquantance worth mentioning. you must have heard of poor Lucia Willis’s (Hackley that was) death. I think I have written to you since it took place. Robert Hackley is living in Florida crippled for life in a duel. William Has commenced the practice of the law at Key West Mr H— still in N. YorkRichard Randolph married old Miss Betsey Gibbon the one has been dying for a husband these last thirty years, and the other in great want of a home in his old age. the gratification of two such anxiously desired blessings has made them both as happy as possible. David is either living with them, or in a house that Major Gibbon said he built expressly for him. I do not exactly understand the arrangement, but some discontent, I am told have arrisen out of it, between father & son—but my information may be incorrect as I seldom hear of them, & never from them adieu dear Nancy remember me most affectionately to Gouverneur the family here all join in best wishes for you & him as does most sincerely

Your friend & Sister
M Randolph

If I can find Dr Hossack’s letter I will. but the papers were all left at Monticello and in an enormous chest full, put it with out any arrangement, as the estate being insolvent they can never be wanted, I shall find it difficult perhaps impossible in the short stay of a few hours to find it. I will however do my best and send it to you if I do—

RC (PPAmP: Smith-Houston-Morris-Ogden Family Papers); dateline above postscript; addressed: “To Mrs Gouverneur Morris Morrissania Harlaem Post Office near New York”; stamped; postmarked Everettsville, 7 Sept.
1Manuscript: “the.”
Ann C. Morris
Date Range
September 6, 1829