This letter was written by John Brinton Moore (1806-1888), the son of Robert Moore (1776-1823) and Elinor Moore (1799-1841). An on-line biography states that Robert “was a miller, and resided a few years at Doe Run, Chester Co. Pa., then removed to the old homestead, formerly James Moore’s — his grandfather. In addition to a sawmill and gristmill, he had a carding-macine, said to have been the first ever used in Pennsylvania. He was a man of great physical strength, and noted throughout that entire section for the heavy weights he could lift. After Robert’s death in 1823, Elinor lived on a portion of her father’s farm, until 1837, when she married Isaac, son of Everard and Margaret Conrad, and with him, removed to to his home in Lampeter Twp., Lancaster Co., Pa. After Isaac’s death she went to Ohio, and died 26 September 1841 at Port Clinton, Ohio.”
From the letter we learn that J.B. Moore suffered ill health in his 30’s and became a disciple of Samuel Thomson (1769-1843) who advocated steam baths and vegetable concoctions in lieu of the more standard practices of bleeding, blistering, etc. that were popular treatments among physicians in the early 19th century. After recovering his own health by Thomsonian practice, he studied the theory and opened his own medical practice in Perry County, Alabama.
J. B. wrote the letter to his brother, Cyrus Moore (1811-1871) — a resident of Port Clinton, Ohio. Cyrus was married (1837) to Esther H. Knight (1817-18xx). Another brother, James Moore (b. 1813) and a sister, Mary Ann Moore (b. 1819) are mentioned in the letter.
Addressed to Cyrus Moore, Port Clinton, Sandusky County, Ohio
Marion, Perry County, Alabama
June 19th 1842
I received thy letter dated at Port Clinton 2nd Month 13th some weeks ago, but the information it contained respecting poor dear Mother was such to me that I could not write immediately and I was just at that time preparing to take a circuit round through the neighboring counties toward the State of Mississippi and did shortly after set out. And since my return I have been kept so much engaged that it seemed as if I never could find time to write without committing theft.
Thee will perhaps enquire in what I have been so much engaged. I answer in short, since I have recovered my health st the Taladega Springs under the olf French Doctor, an account of which I related to poor dear Mother & sister M. A. some time ago, I have studied a new profession & have been about one year in hte practice of it. But Oh! could I only have been by the side of poor dear Mother’s sickbed. I fear her medical treatment was very improper. If you adopted the Thomsonian practice, as those medicines are all simples — or at least harmless –why not have given them freely at once before she became low and debilitated by disease? The Thomsonian or steam practice, as it is here called, is considerably in use here and increasing in favor with many. I observe it to be good and generally successful of promptly administered in fever and other acute diseases, but in chronic complaints and those of long standing and inveteracy. I have, by one french practice, been able to succeed in many instances after both the common medical and steam practices have failed to give relief, I have been able to effect a cure.
From the foregoing thee may perhaps discover that my present occupation is the practice of medicine. Since writing the above, I have been called out to see a patient and consequently prevented from finishing my letter. From the moment I commenced to take medicine from my olf French Physician, and from the time he raised me up after every other remedy had failed, I have never ceased to study his works and practice on his theory. It is entirely different from either the mineral or steam or any other system of practice of which I have become acquainted. This theory is of French origin, and our mixtures and combinations are both Dutch & French and consist of vegetable preparations. And as I have already said, we have succeeded in effecting a cure in a number of instances after the medical and steam practitioners have entirely failed, and indeed we have had several cases the Doctors themselves of both systems come to us for relief.
The order to set for the strength and efficacy of our practice I would instance my own case (& we have since had service others quite as bad) which was one of the most obstinate kind, and never did give way — or at least it was only momentary if I ever experienced even relief, and what remedies did I leave untried? or amongst good, the best physicians who did I not consult? Yes, physic, changes of climate, sea voyages, mineral waters, and diets were all essayed, and essayed too to the very best extremity, and all essayed in vain. And only a few weeks longer without proper relief, I had certainly been no more to this world. And after all this and through long persuasion I was induced to make one more effort to recover through remedies of which before I had never heard mention, and the result was that in two months time I was taken up out of my bed in which I had laid [paper torn] months, and once more walked erect & never have been down since.
It has been my intention all along to go to old home this summer but I am not certain at this advanced period whether I can get off or not, & besides the exchanges are so much against us that it will almost case a small fortune to do so. I ought to be there I know at the settling up of poor dear Mother’s affairs, but if I do not come you must get along without me & write me the result & particulars of your determinations and labors. I wish also very much to be informed of the condition of my bank & bridge stock at Columbia — how the institution stands, what the stock is worth, and what interest it pays, &c. I have desired to write to brother James for a long time, but did nor don’t know where to address a letter. Please inform me.
Please give my love & respects to all my brothers, sisters, relations, and friends, & not forgetting Father and poor old grandmother.
Affectionately, thy brother, — J. B. Moore