Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dr. Traylor Letters - Introduction

During the late 1850s and early 1860s, my 4th great-grandfather Dr. John Randolph Traylor, Sr. (Baldwin line) and his brother-in-law John Hill (second husband of Dr. Traylor's sister Sarah Louisa Traylor) exchanged a number of letters. The letters written by Dr. Traylor are now reportedly part of a collection of papers of John Hill housed at the Center for American History at the University of Texas. This wonderful treasure gives us a glimpse of the Traylor family and place and times in which they lived.

Signature of Dr. John Randolph Traylor
Over the coming weeks we will visit each of Dr. Traylor's letters to John Hill. Each letter will be accompanied by a transcription as the copies of the hand-written originals are difficult to read at times. Some of the transcriptions were originally done by a Kyle Traylor circa 2001; I edited, refined, and expanded them in 2007.

Much of the content of the letters relates to business matters being handled by Dr. Traylor for John Hill. John Hill had left Union Parish, Louisiana and was living in Old Waverly, Walker, Texas during the period of the letters. Some of the business is unspecified, but Dr. Traylor was also trying to help John Hill sell the remainder of his lands in Louisiana. Aside from the business matters, we see Dr. Traylor giving medical advice, reporting on medical situations in Union Parish, discussing the ups and downs of farming and crops, and discussing family. Unfortunately, very little specifics on the family are present. A Dr. White (i.e. Dr. John Allen White, his daughter Mary's husband) and a Mrs. White (John's mother, Margaret Hill) are mentioned a number of times, but the relationship is never explicitly laid out.

The last extant letter, dated 13 Jul 1863, reveals significant sadness. Dr. Traylor talks of losing his eldest son Francis Marion in the Battle of Chancellorsville in the Civil War. It is apparent that the War pained him much. Because of poor conditions in Louisiana during the war, he also is now discussing moving to Texas until the War is over, perhaps near Trinity or Austin, despite his poor health. Dr. Traylor must have followed through in the coming months for the next we see of him he has died in Montgomery County, Texas on 16 Mar 1864.

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