Jackson, Tennessee, 1839. Envelope or Cover. This three-page stampless letter measures 15.5” x 12.5” unfolded. It is datelined “Jackson Feb. 2. 1839”. It bears a relatively circular “Jackson / Ten.” postmark dated “Feb / 4” and a “12½” rate handstamp, both in blue. (A combination of relatively scarce postal markings per p. 750, Vol. 1, ASCC 1997.) Two pinholes at the intersection of postal folds and two small marginal repairs with what appears to be archival tape. In nice shape. Partial transcript included.
In the letter, an attorney answers a query regarding the inheritance of his “quite ill” partner regarding the inheritance of an estate including property valued at $3,000 and named slaves valued at $5,000.
“The inventory of the property of Salem Arnold Senior and ward shows as follows. One negro man, Lewis – one negro woman Ramona and her six children, Jacob, , Hamill, Francis, Henry two children Tunis, Sam & Polly – Two milk cows, & two yearlings, two beds & furniture, six chairs, one kettle & one oven. There is also a tract of land of from 400 to 600 acres. . .. The land may be surely estimated a $3000 and the negroes at $5000. The negroes have doubtless insurance but I cannot know without attracting suspicions which you wish to avoid.”
The inheritance was significant. $3,000 in 1839 is equivalent to $83,600 today, and $5,000 in 1839 is equivalent to $139,300.
The remainder of the letter details hush-hush machinations that suggest a conspiracy to prevent “different branches of the family” to learn about the distribution of the estate. Very good. Item #009642
It is always startlingly disturbing to discover documents listing human beings as no more than chattel to be sold, traded, or distributed along with kettles, livestock, furniture, etc.