This letter was written by Levi Holbrook (1797-18xx) to his wife, Eliza (Grout) Holbrook (1807-1837). They resided in Danville, Virginia, where Luther started a boys school in 1817 that evolved into the Danville Male Academy. This school eventually began taking young ladies as well.
Addressed to Mrs. Eliza Holbrook, Danville, Virginia
White Sulphur Springs
September 16, 1833
My Dear Eliza,
I wrote you last Wednesday from Fincastle. That afternoon I came part way to the Sweet Springs. Arrived there Thursday at one o’clock, stayed till 4, came 7 miles that evening. Arrived here at 9 next morning. I found 2 acquaintances at the Sweet Springs and 4 at this place, viz: D. Count — an old student and much esteemed friend, R. Moon, Lewis Williams ¹ — representative in Congress from N. Carolina, and Mr. Mills of N. C. Mr. Moon left yesterday for the Latt Sulpher. He will be in Danville next month. His wife is well and much pleased with her situation in Oxford, Ohio. I took room with Mr. Moon. He treated me very kindly. When he left, Mr. Wilkins (brother to the one who married Mrs. Brodnax) took room with me. He is a very agreeable companion. Friend Count is in very bad health.
There are no distinguished characters here except Mr. Wirt ² and family. There have been 300 persons here at a time this season. At present, not more than 60. They are constantly leaving. There were about 200 at the Sweet Springs when I was there. The weather has been quite cool since I left Fincastle.
Capt. Stone and wife came here Saturday [and] left next day on their way home. They will probably get home next week. Mrs. Stone is much improved in health though she thinks she is not entirely well. Call and see her when she comes to Danville.
I feel perfectly well. The water here the two first days made me a little sick at the stomach. I doubt whether the water will do me any good for I am inclined to think that I have too much bile. The exercise will undoubtedly do me much good. I am glad I came horse back. Many are sorry they did not come horse back. They cannot leave when they wish — the stage being constantly full. Besides a man wants a horse here to take a little exercise every day or two. Were it not so late in the season, I would go to several other springs. I think it will be too cold after a week or two. I think I shall leave here the last of this week, stay a few days at the Sweet Springs, a few days at the Botetourt Springs, and make my way leisurely home about the first of next month. It is probable I shall not write you again. There will be no direct mail to Danville after I leave the main road to Lynchburg. The stage will not leave here for Lynchburg till Wednesday. I suppose you will get this Friday.
The road from this to Danville with the exception of about 30 miles in Botetourt is the most dreary and lonesome I have ever travelled. I had company only 5 or 6 miles the whole distance which is about 144 miles. The first mountain this side of Fincastle is 7 miles across. The road is very good. I passed a gap of the Blue Ridge. The road was nearly level.
I have been out to Greenbrier River 5 miles from this place. It has a bridge over it nearly equal to Hartford Bridge. The river is not quite as large as [the] Dan. The country is by no means as pleasant as is represented by some.
The principal amusement here have ceased. [James] Calwell ³ — the proprietor — gave a Musician, an Italian from Washington, $600. He is now gone. Great complaint is made against the fare here. I get along very well. The bread is very fine. I drink tea altogether — the coffee being bad. The desert is very good.
Most affectionately yours forever, — L. Holbrook
It is possible I may not be at home the first day of next month. If not, I think you had better kick the scholars out of the rooms just plastered as much as you can. I possibly may want to stay 4 or 5 days at the Sweet Springs and stop a little on the way. If so, it will be some day in October before I get home. That will depend on the chance for improvement.
Tuesday evening the 17. This has been a very fine day. it is said to be as warm as it twas a month ago. I continue to be quite well as far as my feelings indicate. The company have so dispersed that the fare has become very good.
¹ Lewis Williams (1782-1842) was a U.S. Representative from North Carolina.
² This is probably William Wirt (1772-1834) who was once the United States Attorney General.
³ James Calwell, a former sea merchant of Baltimore, became the owner of the White Suphur Springs property when he married Mary Boyer, who inherited it from her father. Calwell built a tavern on the property which comprised eight acres and had three springs — the White Suphur Spring, the Black Sulphur Spring, and the Iron Chalybeate Spring. Eventually, more and more accommodations were constructed on the property. Mr. Calwell — described as a “courtly gentleman” died in 1851.