Submitted by Blaine Standiford.
Letter written by John Martin from Marshall Co., W. Va. to his son, Skinner Dolphus Martin at Minonk, Illinois. Skinner and his brother, Van Buren, had traveled to Illinois by horseback in 1863. According to this letter, Van Buren was killed by a "rebel who hunted him down." His death occurred on Nov. 20, 1870. Jotham Martin, according to this letter, notified his Uncle John of Van Buren's death. Punctuation and spelling have been revised in this copy for easier reading, but the context remains the same as the original.
Marshall Co., Va.(WV)
December 8th., 1870
I proceed to answer your welcome and almost unexpected letter. We are all well at this date. I was glad to know you was able to write. I was sorry to hear of Robert getting hurt. I hope his wound is not serious. It does seem to me that my troubles are all coming on me at once.
I heard of poor Van Buren's death on Wednesday evening, and on Thursday evening I received a dispatch that you was not expected to live. It required a strong nerve on my part and that of your poor mother to bare up under such sorrowful news, but it gave us great relief when we read the dispatch that you was on the mend and likely to get well. It stands you in hand to be very careful for awhile or you might take a relapse.
I wish you would arrange your business there in such a way that you can come home and stay. If you want to sell your land there, you can sell as well here as by staying there. I would like you would come as soon as you think you would be safe in starting, and not before.
I read a very kind and affectionate letter from poor affectionate Rachel [Van Buren' wife] last mail, which I will answer by next mail. And also one from Jotham [Martin]. In none of yours or theirs said whether you are staying at home. Rachel broke up housekeeping. She did not say who administered on V.B's [Van Buren's] estate.
If you feel inclined to write, I would like you would at length. Tell me where Van Buren is buried. Jotham says his funeral was largely attended, that he had a great many friends in that state. His death was lamented here by his old acquaintances and school mates. His fame will live when the rebel that hunted him down is dead and forgotten.
I am not able at this time to tell where William Martin lives. It is someplace in southern part of Ohio. Patrick Fitsimmons saw him in New Martinsville last spring. He has been working on Fishing Creek. Some years ago he made some improvement on some potter wheel. I think the Parker wheel that gives general satisfaction. He has been putting them on Fishing [Creek]. I will try to find out his place of abode and let you know as soon as I can.
John Burley is dead. He died last Saturday of cramp colic. Lewis Fegit is crazy. He says he saw the devil and he gave him a gold cane. He joined the Wine Berean Church He says he did not do right or he would not have had so much trouble.
Robert, poor boy, has my sincere thanks for keeping me posted with the news during your sickness and his own troubles.
To S. D. [Skinner Dolphus] Martin
Your affectionate father,