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Smithfield Preston Foundation

Papers, 1784-1881, n.d., Ms1997-002


January 16, 1821 -- letter from Francis Preston in Abington to James McDowell

Jany 16, 1821

Dear James

I have not returned from Richmond more than 10 days, having come by Genl Carrington, where I found all well, as was the Smithfield family, but my Brother William who is at Sister Floyds is almost gone, it seems to me he cannot live till spring. He is now unable to walk at all. Three or four weeks ago he tho't himself almost well, living free from disease, but he was attacked with the influenza which brought him almost to deaths door, contrary however to the expectation of everyone he recovered of that and was mending when he was seized with the yellow jaundice which has more afflicted him upwards of a fortnight and by a letter I yesterday recd from sister it seems unmoveable, and she seems to have lost all hopes of a recovery. I would have returned immediately to his assistance, but I found Williams Wife in the most deplorable way, afflicted with an mystical mania that I thot had almost bereaved her of her mind perpetually or would result in Death, but within these four or five days, she has measurably minded, and affends us the shinyest hope that this awful affliction is temporary. The ---- this affliction has given the family you can scarcily conjecture but especially to my miserable son, who tho' he makes every effort to bear it with fortitude, is making evident enroads open, and if she dous not recover he wil be a miserable man. Two or three days ago she was well enough to go to the ---- and has been getting better ever since.

You no doubt saw in the Enquirer of Richmond the proceedery on my Brothers affair. lest you may ---- I will state briefly that the question occupied the court 10 days, these being so many points in the case. 1st our Counsel endeavoured to make the Bond which was given after his First election the only respensible bond. The court decided unanimously it was not and in giving this opinion, they inevidently gave the opinion that each Bond was ---- alone for its own year. On this point I was plantiff and defendant, for ---- a security ---- 1819 it became my interest to ---- it upon 1809 the first, but my Brother Thomas and my ---- ----- securities alone for that year, it was a war --- or ---- interest to repete the securities of 1819, which I did by ---- playing counsel and privailed to my great satisfaction. But the great point in the case is whether the accounts reports and statements made by my Brother in his official character is conclusive testimony against his Securities, this point was made by the attornies for the Common wealth, objected to by ours, and sustained by the Court 5 to 3, in which the Commonwealth took on appeal as well as on all other points that were determined against it, and thus the question remains. If the Court of Appeals shall sustain the opinion of the General court then there is no doubt the Securities will be clear if they should reverse that opinion and say his accounts are conclusive evidence, then the securities of 1819 will have to pay the 83,000 which we think the Generals property is competent to and therefore hope we shall finally not suffer much; but yet ---- but have my fears every thing that is in doubt is in danger (you know I like ---- sayings) and every thing that is in ---- is in doubt and therefore in danger this too will pass for a ---- -----. The court of appeals will decide the case some time this spring, which will then go to the Gen. Court to be carried into effect in June next. My

Brother has presented a Memorial to the Legislature proposing to surrender his property to the Commonwealth, that it may sell it in such credit as will ensure nearly its value and thus ---- the disperency, as by enforcing the sale it will be at such ---- that the Commonwealth will lose if the Securities are not back. It is thought the Legislature will accept the proposition, as matter of interest as it seems to be the General impression that the Securities are not liable, if it does I shall then rest in quietness, which I have not done now for 12 months.

Before I went to Richmond I forwarded by ---- ---- a package to Mr. Michliffe, the contents of which were principally intended for ---- Whittlesey and Crane, attornies of Louisville who practice in partnership, and are doing my business there as attornies of Law and in fact, I have not heard from them since, and am apprehensive that ---- may have neglected the papers as he is a drunken fellow or that Mr. Michliffe has laid them on his shelf and never thought of them since, that envelope contained two answers in ---- I think ---- one in the case of Arthur Campbell the other one Reynolds, at all events it contained an ---- copy of my fathers Mill which was essentially necessary in suits I have in Louisville which these Gentlemen have the management of . May I ask the favor of you the first time you go to Lexington to enquire of Mr. Michliffe if he recd these papers and forwarded them on. I will write today to Whittlesay and Crane to know whether they have recd them when in conversation with Mr. Michcliffe I would thank you to ask him what is the situation of the suits above mentioned

---- against Cambell in the State Court and against Reynolds in the Federal Court, I have calculated pretty ---- that I have a recovery against the latter at the ---- court, and that it will shurly afford me some funds, which I want much, but particularly some for Capt. Issac, who has written me a most pitifull letter about some ---- state land he purchased in Indiana and is apprehensive will be forfeited in February for a balance of about 900$, which balance has occurred in consequence of my Brother failing to pay into the receivers office 500$ which I put into his hands two years ago, and in default of some ---- the Captain had on some one in Kentucky, but I believe the draft is more ready to be paid in or is actually paid so that perhaps there may not be but the balance of the 500 and interest not ---- by the Major. I would be glad therefore if this money of Reynolds can be got out that you would abtain as much of it as would answer this purpose and forward it to the receiver of public monies in Jeffersonville. I will write to my agent at Louisville to appropriate any funds of mine he may have, to this ---- also, I am unwilling the poor fellow should loose his land and fearfull he has already paid, but I hope this will not be the case as I imagine from what I see in the public papers Congress will give relief by extending the time.

I have written out my sheet and the mail hour has arrived, therefore I conclude with the Sincerest Love to you, my precious daughter and lovely ----.

Francis Preston

PS. I imagine Mr. ---- ---- advance you any thing on any recovery against Reynolds, you --- that you may ask by showing him this letter without the formality of a draft, which I am unwilling to give as I do not know whether he has got anything yet. Please to tell if he has been successful against Reynolds with suit in Chanery, that he will proceed on to recover the balance of Debt which is 8000$.

We have no news in this Country, Abington is just as usual. Tell Susan her mother will go to Hallifax about the 1st of March. Eliza expects her.

Yours affectionately
Francis Preston


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