Letters from John I. Ragin to John R. King
Dated April 1868
Dear John (R. King)
Years with they enclosed came safe to land. I hardly know how to comply with your request, as regards...difficulty as it would take up so much paper to enter into a full detail. After the close of the war, the negroes that left this community with Potters Army located at Georgetown and made it a business to come back and steal our horses. On this occasion they stole 12 or 14. Heard they were pursued down into Williamsburg District. Our party got ahead of the negroes and took their stand or was at old Mr Alex McKnights place guarding the road when the party approached they fired into them and followed it up till they recaptured all of the horses but do not know whether any damage was done to the thiefs or not as they left the horses and took to the woods, it being at night. They captured one fellow who formerly belonged to Mr. W. C. Dukes. He attempted to get away and was shot several times in the middle of a pond of water. And was thought to be dead but he came to, got better, came back in the neighborhood and in attempting to take him he tried to make his escape again and was shot by one of the party and was considered mortally wounded. This was down in Summerton or he was found at Dr. T. W. Briggs kitchen in Summerton and as he jumped out of the window, T. W. B. Jr., shot him. He had previously threatened Mr. W. C. D. and several other gentlemenly lives. So the party, with instructions from Mr. D. concluded to make a military affair of it and finish him by shooting him again. This status is the sum and substance of this affair. I was reported to the provo court, for putting some negroes off of one of my places, and as they got no satisfaction out of this, nothing supported this case, but Guly, (here, he is speaking about July Ragin) implicated two of the party and I thought it was best to leave the district then to have the matter investigated as the whole party would have had to been brought in though no notice has been taken off it. It has all died away, and the Prov. Court broken up. Yet as it is off we had better remain until Civil law is fully restored. I am truly sorry to hear of J. R. F. affliction. We have two negroes elected to the Legislature. One is Powel, who formerly belonged to Est. Uncle R. Ragin, so you see, we are about to be governed by Negroes.
Nearly everybody is broke and gone into Bankrutcy and those not able to pay to go into it are having what little they have sold out by the Sheriffs and bought up? by a preferred creditor. No one will bid on Henrys property. I bought everything a man had last Saturday for $85, Place, Household and Kitchen furniture, stock & all.
Love to all truly yours
John I. Ragin
Letter from John I. Ragin To John ???
Dated September 9th 1868
I need your kind favour, a few mails ago and now hasten a reply, I can only offer as an apology for my long silence. the pressure in busying in trying to make something to live on. Our crops did fair to make a fine yield up to August, but has cut them off short, that is cotton, corn is very good. I am truly glad to hear that you are making a good crop. Farming is slow with Free Negroes. I am carrying on four farms this year and several s----5 or 6 hands on each place. I planted for 50 or 60 bales of cotton, but fear I shall miss my mark. Yet my cotton is good on each place. This year has been one of the hardest even winter ----or felt by us as a people. There is only a few men in our community but what is broke and gone into Bankruptcey, therefore, they had no money nor credit. So you may imagine that they had a pretty hard road to travel in the way of getting supplies.
As regards the political affairs here, I judge you see from the papers and know as much or more than I could tell you we have no trouble in our community with the Negroes, only that they carried all the elections and with some planters they could not command their labor. So as to make it profitable, the Negroes are now beginning to turn over to the Democratic party, not from choice only thought of fear of being dismissed from the plantations in January. I have given those on my places to understand if they vote the Radical ticket again that will not keep them on my places. So they have quit going to the Negroe meetings and say they do not intend voting again. The only way to manage them is to drive them into measures. Many of the Radicals Elected to our District Offices can give Bond. So Gov Scott (Yankey), has ordered the old officers to hold on to their offices. I am using this year the Wands fertilizer, manufactured in Charleston by W. C. Dukes & Co. and am pleased with it. I prefer it in cotton to the Peruvian G-- as I see no sign of rush in the Cotton as is usual with Peruvian. I only used two tons of it this year and I think it will pay.
I have not heard from Cousin J. R. King and J. R. Felder since Lilly came home from Ga. what has become of them and how are they getting on and how does they look. Old, I judge from myself. I begin to feel my age, but do not think I have broke much or look much older than I did two years ago as my health has been better ---- from my old dissreptic compainity. "Old Aunt Maria Ragin" is nearly blind, cannot tell any one by sight, they have kept up as yet but very much seduced and fear that it will continue to be worse. As Dave Ragin managed free Negroes very badly. I might say they pretty well managed him. J. H. Gayle and L. R. Chewning are both Bankrupt and have some 10 children a piece. If I were to attemt to give you the history of all you know here, it would fill a little volume. ( I wish he had written that volume of history, it would save me the trouble of digging). Surfise to say, ther is very few indeed that has been able to brook the storm we have had to pass through and I verily believe had we have been faithfull to God in our dutys, the chastisement would have been much lighter. Rob Ragin and Bob Wells has been pretty tight up this year, as well as the rest of us. Lilly says I might tell you to send her the photographs of yourself & family as she wants some pretty ones in her alblum, I would like so much to have cousin J. R. King and family, Syl C. King thought more of me than any of you, he sent me his & familys. It is quite sickly here this year again with chills & fever.
I am oblige to you for your kindness in forwarding Henrys letters, he is doing very well indeed where he now is, making a good support, and I will trust it will make a man of him. I am getting very anxious to see him but as he is making so much more than he can at home, I will let him remain where he is and follow his own intuitions as to regards coming home, though I would like him to come on a visit.
Give our love to all and tell cousin J. R. King to be certain and write to me. I will write to him soon. Answer this soon.
Love Afect Cousin
John I. Ragin
I-- my letters are forward to Henry throught the f---- (firms) in Charleston.
(30 Mar. 1868)
I had a very nice time with the Bowdonites there. I saw Parson Ben Newman. He sound very glad to see me. I hear that Uncle Rufus is quite sick. I am going to Clerk for Mr. McDaniel every Saturday when he is pretty busy. I have met up with several of the Georgia Militia that were with us at Savannah. I heard that Uncle Alf had a boy. I am going to live up here, it is a good place to live at. Has cousin John Felder gone back to Texas yet. I would like to see him. I heard from Uncle Syl the other day through one of the young men he says that he is doing very well only he and D R are both drinking. D. R. drinks more than he does.
Love to all
Jack E. Ragin
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