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Smithfield Preston Foundation

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


July 3, 1838 -- letter from Thomas Lewis Preston in Abingdon, Virginia to Col. William Preston in Chorlotesville, Virginia

Abingdon July 3rd 1838

My Dear Brother

Both of your betters come together & I read them as they were written. From a notice I received a few days before, of suit being instituted in the Circuit Court against C. F. Frigg & myself I presumed you had taken your course & that I must brace myself for the worst. I waited for the arrival of cousin Ballard to decide my action, as he has been kind enough to interest himself & in some measure take charge of my affairs. Your letters however have thrown no light upon this subject, & I beg to call your attention to it at once. I have not seen the Bill & therefore do not know its p--ssort. If it is to foreclose the mortgage I presume you will have no objection to suspend the prosecution of it till this action of sousin Ballard is decided on & put in force. If as I suspect it is a suit to replace Frigg & appoint another Justice then it is unnecessary, as that can be done by a simple motion conceived in by the parties. This was done in brother John's case & produced neither ---- nor feeling, not did it subject any ---- to any cast. I suspect it is a device of Mr. Shiffey to receive a fee & under the pretext of preculiar fidility to make you pay & me wince. I will however see the bill & answer accordingly. I trust you will not have Shiffey appointed justice. I have no confidence in him & I know of no principle in his nature more fixed & active than his malice. That he can never forget the past is certain & that he never forgives an humiliation, (& that he ---- at my hands) is as much a part of his nature as the color of his eyes. In brother John's case, Maj. Arthur C. Cummings, the son in law of John M. Preston was at the suggestion of Walter Preston with my ---- approbation, appointed justice.

In regard to the other matters. I fear you have infered more than I intended to convey in my brief note from the Saltworks, & that you are under the impression that I have made a formal assignment. This is not yet the case. I made a statement of my condition for my friends & put myself in their hands, signing I would do any thing & persue any course they would designate. Upon that exhibit a certain line of policy was suggested & cousin Ballard has been kind enough to undertake its execution.

The course is that supposed by you & I did not hesitate to show your last letter to Ballard. He exprassed preculiar gratification at the ---- of views & said he felt himself fortified by the opinions you entertained. His plan of placing me upon a proper footing is to lease the Saltworks for a time of years sufficiently long to pay off every debt upon me & by a mortgage of the lease & the real estate to obtain the means of paying out at once.

This would place me upon the best footing with all my creditors, & leave me with only our debt, the payment of which was secured & in process of liquidation.

The other assets in my hands would be applied as fast as realized to my ---- or to the diminution of the mortgage, so as to diminish its duration. If this can be affected I would reserve for substance a sufficient amount to place me in easy circumstances, & make my family comfortable.

To accomplish this cousin Ballard proposes a lease of the Saltworks for ten years or larger if necessary, & he is here to secure the co-operation of Mr. Robertson & other leading interests in the King Estate.

His negotiations are diplomatic & like all diplomacy requires a certain degree of sieracy, & management. I read him the letter I wrote Sister Eliza yesterday, & he remarked, "when you write to your brother, impress upon him the same idea, & request him to be very cautious in saying any thing about these matters till something definite is accomplished, for a word from him might mar our whole arrangements." I mention this to show the importance in my present critical condition of apparent ---- & if possible confidence in my ----. Cousin Ballard is very sanguine of success, & his hopefulness is contagious. I feel assured that my means are more than ample to pay all claims & my purpose & fixed determination is to make them available for that purpose.

If the Saltworks are saved to the family I shall be truly rejoiced not that I have any interest in them beyond the present generation, but the original patent was to our ancestor & I would be glad to ---- it to one of the blood. In ten years the estate will be very valuable. I may not live to see it, nor do I set my heart upon enjoying any portion of it . But others may need it & why not our own relations have it.

The pleasure of a fortune is to contribute to the enjoyment of those we love, & it is our nature to be drawn to & love those in whose viens flows our own blood.

We are at present wainting for Ben R. Johnston who went to Richmond a few days ago & has not yet returned. He does the thinking for the James King interest & as their advisor governs nearly 1/12 of the King Estate. We hope to have matters settled here in a few days & then open upon certain parties elsewhere the subject of a lease. Cousin Ballard has them in his eye & is preparing them for the enterprise.

Thmas McDowell's child is a little better & we hope may recover. I am not sanguine however, for the weather is very oppressive for this climate & the poor little fellow is very feeble. My wife often complains of ---- & does not look very well, but her general health is about as usual.

My wheat is fine & all the crops at the Saltworks ---- flourishing. The wheat harvest ends to day. The crop generally is much injured by rust. With kindest love to Sister & family believe me

your truly affectionate brother

Thomas L. Preston

To Col. William C. Preston

Charlottesville, Va


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