[John Warfield Johnston at Richmond, Virginia, to Nicketti Buchanan Floyd Johnston [at Southwest Virginia], December 29, 1847, folder 160, Trigg-Floyd Collection, Special Collections, John Cook Wyllie Library, The University of Virginia's College at Wise (formerly Clinch Valley College), Wise, Virginia. This is my rough transcription. Gaps from missing bits of text].
Richmond Dec 29th 1847
Richmond Dec 29th 1847
My dearest wife:
I was very much relieved yesterday on getting your letter from home as it was the first intelligence I had had at all of home affairs. Your letter from Wythe was a long time on the road as it only reached me a day or two before your last. I am rejoiced to hear how well you get on, tho’ I shudder to think of the cold you must be suffering from now, if it as much severer than it is here as the difference of climate would indicate. The ground has been covered with snow for ten days or more & hard frozen all the time.
I was actually afraid yesterday to put my nose out of the door & stayed cooped up all day. It has been an unparalleled season here so far. I shall go down to see Holmes tomorrow or next day if the weather moderates, tho’ he went off in rather a bad humour. John Floyd argued with him about some new History of the Middle Ages . . . Holmes . . . as a very profound work was in fact a novel, no history, & . . .ed his side of the question with great gran. . . I, of course, sided with the Captain & more to every thing he advanced. You may judge what a fret this put Holmes into & as it was the night before he started, I am a little afraid that he has not recovered his good humour.
Cousin Sally talks a little like going down with me & I am to go up to Gen. Carrington’s before I start to see her. I have not been up for a couple of weeks. Some how, I can’t get over the notion that I am not entirely agreeable as a visitor there, tho’ they are kind in their intentions. I dined with Mr. O’Brien once since I got down. He has enlarged & improved his church very much & I see that his congregation has increased in the same ratio: Mr. Downing was with him when I came down who, tho’ extremely agreeable as a companion, is not eloquent or profound by any means as a preacher. The Bishop is not here, nor did I learn when he was expected.
I am still boarding at the Exchange, where they charge me $12 a week. This is very high & tho’ the accommodations are very superior to any in the city, I am hesitating whether to leave here or not. Gillespie & Tate . . . me to go the the …ulian, but . . . not like the . . . bustle & crowd that is always there. Besides, I rather believe that it would be better to stay here. Unless a man can have great reputation for talent, he had better at least keep the best company the place affords.
I had written thus far when I was interrupted & did not have an opportunity of finishing until after my return from a party at Joseph Mayo’s. It is now one o’clock, but that is not much before my usual bedtime. I can’t sleep in the early part of the night at all & prefer sitting up to lying in bed awake.
I can’t tell you now what will be the probable length of the session. If we take up the criminal code, it will be spun out to the 1st [of] April. I hope, however, that it will be agreed on all hands, to postpone that until the completion of the civil code & then make them both the business of an extra session, which is the only way in which, it can be done well.
Spotts tells me that Robert Davidson will be down here with his wagon in a few days & that he will probably be able to take p the groceries &c. I will procure the Mother’s Relief, if it can [readily] be obtained in the meantime.
It has been determined [to] offer a reso[lution awarding] a sword by the state to uncle Jo, who, I am sure, deserves it as much as any officer in the army. I have written to uncle Edward to send me a sketch of his services for the use of the gentleman who will offer the resolution.
John Floyd has been in my room once, & then I invited him to dine with me. I suppose, won’t cut my acquaintance entirely, however. He does not mingle much with the members & seems to keep himself close at his quarters.
I have paid out $45 for cousin Joe & any money that you may want apply to him for. I don’t think that I shall go to Washington, as I can’t afford the money now. If I go to see Holmes, I will go as far as Norfolk in order to get a sight of the ocean while I have the opportunity. Give my love to mother: kiss my babies & remember me to my friends.
Believe me dearest wife
John W. Joh[nston]
[$12 in 1847 = about $325 in 2016
John Warfield Johnston (1818-1889), Senator in the Virginia General Assembly, 1846-1847 and 1847-1848, representing several SW Virginia counties. Married to Nicketti Buchanan Floyd, sister of Elizabeth Lavalette Floyd, who was married to George Frederick Holmes (1820-1897), and John Buchanan Floyd (1806-1863), member of the Virginia House of Delegates, 1847 to 1849 and Governor of Virginia from 1849 to 1852, who was married to their cousin Sarah “Sally” Buchanan Preston (1802-1879), who was a sister of Elizabeth Henry Preston (1796-1876), who was married to General Edward Codrington Carrington (1790-1855)
Uncle Jo = Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891), well-known at the time for his heroics during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848Uncle Edward = Edward William Johnston (1799-1867)
Cousin Joe = ?]
Many thanks to William Myers, Mary Davy and Sally Young for their ongoing research collaboration.