These two letters were written by Corbin Braxton (1783-1850) of Ditchley Plantation. Corbin was a son of George Braxton (1762-1801) and Mary Walker Carter (1763-1825). Corbin was married to Mary Williamson Tomlin (1806-1825). The first letter contains an interesting description of Braxton’s passage on a vessel — probably a canal boat — down the James River to Richmond.
Both letter were addressed to Dr. Cary C. Cocke (1814-1888), the son of General John Hartwell Cocke (1780-1866) and Anne Blaws Barraud (1784-1816). General Cocke moved to Fluvanna County in 1803 where purchased large tracts of land that were inherited by his son, Dr. Cocke. It is said that General Cocke and his heirs owned 1,000 slaves and 14,000 acres of land in Virginia as well as other states.
Doctor Cocke married Lucy Williamson Oliver (1816-1899) in May 1839. In 1861, Cocke and John J. Ancell organized Cocke’s-Ancell’s Battery [also called 2nd Fluvanna Artillery] in the Confederate Service. In November, 1862, it merged with Holman’s-Huckstep’s Battery to form the Fluvanna Light Artillery.
TRANSCRIPTION of 1845 LETTER
Addressed to Dr. Cary C. Cocke, S. [Seven] Islands, Fluvanna County
October 4th 1845
My Dear Charles,
I was truly glad to learn by your letter of the 1st unto. which came to hand yesterday of your safe arrival with your father at home, and that he bore the ride so well; and have no doubt with proper prudence, he will soon be restored to health. I would though, by all means, if he has found it to agree so far well with him, to continue the use of a glass of porter every day until he finds his health, and strength perfectly restored. I heard of you on your way through my uncle William Carter.
I regretted very much I could not stay until you reached home, and could I have anticipated what we experienced on board the boat coming down should certainly have remained at least another day, and which I proposed before we got on board but was opposed by my fellow travelers, and which all much sincerely regretted when it was too late to remedy it. We found the boat quite full when we boarded but very soon it became full to excess. No berths were to be obtained and soon it became difficult to get a place to sit down on, or to sleep it was out of the question. The Captain very kindly relinquished his berth to me, and when the mate got up, William Fitzhugh took his, which gave us a few hours rest, but no sleep. Your brother and ____ succeeded at a very late hour in getting into the cabin and were so fortunate as to get a stool to sit on until morning, but the stench of the cabin required great nerve to bear it.
The quarter portion remained on deck, sitting or standing as best they could all night. All the next day till our arrival 2½ o’clock at Richmond, I had to sit on deck in the sun. When I got to Richmond, I was completely overdone, and the next day was quite sick, and have not yet regained what I lost on the trip. I did not bring the ___ away, but they brought me as I was I believe the only one who was for remaining.
I found all well, but one of the hands sick at Retreat [Plantation] and more at my house, save a child or two, and none have been, but Planter, since my absence, we had recovered again. I know not what to think of the unwanted health of the ___ this year. I still fear ____ is something we reserve for us. I have not seen William but hear them is no general sickness. He has some few very ill cases on hand, which I have not yet heard the result of, whether they are dead or alive.
Many are seeding and all making busy preparation, Mr. King began yesterday. I shall not begin before Monday. We are waiting for a more decided change in the weather before we move. Corn generally looks poorly. Tell Jack his school has opened and as soon as you can spare him, he had better come home, ___ by as long as he can be of any service to you, you will keep him. I regret to hear of Mrs. Maxwell’s indisposition but hope it may not be severe. She seemed quite indisposed when I saw her, but thought it only a little cold. We are quite dry again, but it would be well were it to keep so, until we are done seeding. This, I presume, has been fine weather for your late tobacco and hope you will be able to house it all before frost, and not be forced to cut green either.
Present my best regards to your father, with my hopes for his steady recovery. My respects also to Mr. & Mrs. Maxwell, and all other friends with you. My love to the girls, a kiss to the baby, and love to Jack.
Very sincerely your friend, — C. Braxton
TRANSCRIPTION of 1846 LETTER
Addressed to Dr. Cary C. Cocke, Seven Islands, Flavanna County, Virginia
Northumberland County, [Virginia]
October 7, 1846
My Dear Lucy,
Yours of the 2d ulto. we received yesterday and while we were much gratified of your safe return home and your general good weather, our pleasure was greatly allayed by the report you made of poor little Mary’s health. I have no doubt you are correct in your views of the case. There can, I imagine, be but little doubt that the liver is the _____ seat of disease, with perhaps now some other of the abdominal viscera, and I think iy quite likely her liver has been diseased all her life. I know of nothing better than the mercurial course you are pursuing. You must decide from actual experience which has the best affect of the different per_______ the Hyd: Cumc__ is doubtless the best preparation for the bowel complaint and I don’t know why it should not act ___ on the liver, but if you think the calomel & chalk does better, use it. She can’t get well until the liver is brought into a healthy state. I would also try the Hyd: potash with her internally and either use the ___ Hyd: cum Hyd: Potash, or the nitro muriatic acid bath. If she will not be put in the bath, try effusion of the whole body — more particularly of the liver if it was made strong enough to produce a slight eruption on the liver. I would give her the Benne leaf water as ____ more drink. Her diet must be what you find to agree with her best.
I will try and go up as soon as I can leave home, making it soon as I can get there well underway in seeding wheat. The reason that I wish to delay is that I may renaming the longer with you when I go up. We expected to have you home on Monday but Fanny was taken sick with a fever on Sunday and Monday she was ill, but I hope she is now much better and has, I hope, ____ her fever today. We hop to be able to get over this evening or in the morning, if Fanny’s blisters will admit of her being moved. We have no sickness on our plantation on the river and have not had much this season — that is, more than usual. Not near as much as we often have, but William says he is still very busy in the forrest. I have heard of no part of Virginia that has been as healthy as this ridge. There has been no case of fever in any of the inhabitants proper. I have, I think, desired great been fit from the sulphur spring at Mr. Ruffins, but it is now dry. We have not had rain for some weeks. I dare say, 5 or 6 or more.
Tell Chester I hope our little wheat will get to market in the best time, although it had fallen 5 to 10 cents on Monday, but the quantity is very small.
Poor Betty Barr has gotten herself involved in this Hoyt business by carrying a letter from that unfortunate woman to that scoundrel Boyden — that is, she brought a letter and sent it by Tom, or Boyden sent for it. Miss Carmichael is also a witness. Public opinion justifies Mr. Myers in the course he has taken.
If your ___ letter does not make poor little Mary better, I will go up immediately. I am not afraid of the canal. Company has come in and the port hour has arrived. I must therefore say goodbye. With love to Nan, Sally and all others. Tell Charles I will write as soon as I get time. With very best regards to him & the general. Tell the General I will write him soon. Carter will be at Bellemeade tonight on his way to his Presbetery in Cumberland.
Tell the Col. I would have written to him but thought he would not be at home.
All send love.
Yours affectionately, — Corbin Braxton