Oct. 28th 1860
My dear little Nephew,
I received your kind letter of the 8th a few days after it was written and am now seated in my office by a good little fire – all alone – to engage in the pleasant task of replying to the first letter ever written me by a nephew. I tell you, I was smartly puzzled to know who it was from, for I didn’t dream that little Dick could write so well. I hope; I know you will continue to study hard and improve until you become a man. Then you can be a man in truth and honor to your Pa and all other friends, as well as have yourself a good name. But there is no use to lecture you and Davie, for I know you will be good boys and will make good men of yourselves should you live.
Well, you wanted me to write if I was elected, I suppose you have heard this – I was – for I wrote your Pa soon after the election. I beat my opponent more than any candidate ever beat an opponent in this county before.
I have been at your Grandpa’s ever since the election until yesterday, helping him move to the Depot. He is now living at the Depot. He tore his old house down in Carrollville and moved it to the R.R.
He and your Grandma are there alone now, so far as children are concerned – for your Aunt Mat and Julia are off at your Aunt Harriet’s and have been for a month. I told him what you said about his not answering your letter. He told me to write you that he had not forgotten it but had been so busy moving and etc. that he really hadn’t time to write, but as soon as he had a moment’s time he would write you a long letter.
I stayed with Mr. Moore and Cousin Annie night before last, they were well, Cousin Annie is very anxious to see her mama – don’t you tell her though – they will be up to live with or near you in about six weeks. I would like to be up there to eat some of the chestnuts you said you would save if I would come up, but it will be impossible for me to leave home much for the next two years. It’s late at night. I must close. Give my love to your Pa and Uncle Clinton, to Davie and Sister. When you see her, tell her I will write to her soon. Give my love to your Grandmother, and tell little Buddie he must save that pup for me, that he said would make such a good possum dog. You must write to me again.
Your devoted Uncle,
Richard Erskine “Dick” Clayton, was a year old in 1836 when his father, Col. R. B. Clayton, took charge of the Carrollville tavern. Following in his father’s footsteps, Dick became postmaster in Carrollville, for six months in 1855, when he was only 20 years old. The old Colonel had held the post himself for a dozen years, beginning in 1843. In 1860, at the age of 25, the younger Clayton penned the letter reprinted here to a nephew near Huntsville, Alabama, just two months before the Mobile & Ohio Rail Road reached town and Baldwyn was born. He encouraged his young relative, Richard Hunt, to “be a man of truth and honor” and to have himself “a good name.”
The bright prospects for the future of Dick Clayton of Carrollville, Mississippi, ended far from home in Jefferson County, Virginia. It was there he died from wounds suffered at the Battle of Shepherdstown, where confederate forces stayed behind to protect General Robert E. Lee’s Army from Union pursuit in the days following Antietam. The date of his death was recorded in Col. R. B. Clayton’s family Bible as September 30, 1862, less than two years removed from an uncle’s letter to his nephew and a time when Dick Clayton’s foremost concerns were of possum dogs, travelling sisters and helping his aging parents set up shop in the new city of Baldwyn.