This is a two page letter written by William Culp of Rusk County, Texas to Henry Culp Jr. in November 1857:

Note:  The letter was written on lined tablet paper as was probably found in a school at that time.  William was not a highly educated man, but was not illiterate by any means as evidenced by the fact that we are reading and understanding his writings over 150 years later.  His cursive writing style though unusual, is legible but his spelling and grammar are atrocious.  Obviously, he wrote the way he spoke-spelling words phonetically and even combining them on occasion to create new words which do not exist.  Understanding that and then noticing the unique way that he wrote some of his alphabetic letters and words was key in deciphering the manuscript before you.  Another finished project in 2010!

State of Texas Rusk County November the 23 1857                         

Dr. Brother, through the mercies of God I am pleased to write you a few lines to let you know we are yet alive but we are not all well.  We have all been sick this year.  Everybody has been sick here this year.  The most complaints was chills and fever but that has mostly abated (word "debated" used incorrectly) and the winter sickness has set in such as the pneumonia (spelled "newmyour") and the like.  There has been ten times more sickness here this year then I ever knew here before in one year.  Now the summer sickness is a little (spelled "alitle") abated (word "debated" used again-incorrectly) and the winter complaints has set in.  Though we have had but few deaths here yet but we are dreading the winter complaints.  Polly and Ben and all the children was here and took dinner with us today.  They all look mighty pale but seem hearty. Ben seems to hold his own about the best of any.  He is a little (spelled alitle again) sun burnt and the same drop hanging to his nose.  Polly has had the chills till she looks very pale and red-eyed (spelled "redeyt").  Polly and Ben seems to be tolerable well satisfied and are getting along very well.  They have a pretty place and plenty of open land.  We have made tolerable good crops even corn was tolerable good and even cotton very good.  I have made more cotton this year then I can gather.  I planted the (rest?) of 30 acres of the best ground I had.  I should make about 18 or 20 bales.  The market is very unfavorable here.  The price of everything seems to be going down except pork it is worth 7 cents per pound and skins at that.  Me and Ben will have plenty but none to sell.


Corn is worth one dollar per bushel beef is worth 3 cents on foot mules and horses has been very high but the price of them (is) getting down.  This great confusion in the money matters has flustrated (a created word) matters mighty here as everybody in the country is always more or less in debt and this year heavy doctor bills to pay.  I tell you these doctors is gettings (sic) it all here this year.  My own doctor bill will not be less then $100 this year and as cotton is the great staple of this country, the downfall of the money matters will affect this country as much or more then any other.

Dear Brother I want to see you mighty bad if it was possible but the distance is so great between me and you that I fear we never shall enjoy that pleasure again in this (phrase was not completed-probably left off the word "life").  I want you to write to me as oft as you can so I must brings letter to a close nothing more at present but remains your brother.

William Culp to Henry Culp and all.

You was saying something about a letter that remains in your hands that was yet coming to me-well if there-you will please send it with Ben Vices if you can.  I forgot matters on (didn't write first name) Culp has runaway from here about about a month ago.  He borrowed a saddle from me and horse from a widow and left and never has been seen since.