Letter from Green Clay to Sally Clay, 8 January 1820

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Writing from Mr. Jarrett's on the bank of the Tennessee River where he arrived on the 17th, Clay writes of sending Jeff to Smithland for letters, linen and a bag and tells of his coming home drunk. He started Sunday for the woods to go around the 17,000 acres on Clark's River. He lost his horses on Monday night and after drawing five and a half miles of his lines, it began to rain. He still hadn't finished his first survey. Claims that his provisions are exhausted (he had lost 30-40 pounds), his clothes are in rags and his expenses had been much larger than anticipated. States that the Native Americans are encamped throughout the country but appear to be quite harmless. Tells his wife of some money matters.

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Jany. 8th. 1820

My Dear Salley, I am now at Mr. Janettson on the banks of the Tennessee River where I arrived the 17th ulto. I sent Jeff last Saturday to Smithland for letters if any were in the post Office for me, & gave him two Dollars to buy linnen for a bag to carry corn meal in to the woods, and pay the postage on my letters: he came home Drunk at night: with four bottles of whiskey along altho I had sent for none, my money all gone, & a bill from the Merchant with an account against me for a ballance due for bottles & Whiskey. I was so provocated I did not know what to do. He had a great big Irishman mounted up on [fox?] behind him, for he had broake down his horse, so that he will not be fit to ride this winter. [Fox?] was sweating & [smoaking?] cold as the weather was: he had waisted all the day drinking in town: got [lost?] & [road?] hard with his man behind him, to keep from lying in the woods all night. I started Sunday for the woods with two bushels of sifted meal & a midling of [pork?], the 3d. time to go round the 17,000 acres on Clarks River: The surveyor failed to meet me: Monday Jeff hobbled our horses in the [corner?] on monday night and I have not seen nor heard of them since: I sent Jeff tuesday after them, he returned back Drunk, went to the first house where there was whiskey & no further: I started him Wednesday another course he went out of sight & then turned round through the woods to the same house (5 miles off) where he got drunk the day before, & stayed out all night, I went myself the same day where I thought it was likely I might hear of the horses: but got no tidings of them: thursday & friday I traced up about 5 miles & a half of my lines found one corner: it began to rain; & I came back here; the nearest house to my work, I lodged at when I did not lie in the woods all night: and strange to tell the man with a wife & 5 or 6 children had not one ounce of meet of any kind nor a grain of corn or meal nor a drop of milk nor a cow; they had some turkey meet when I first arrived; They lived on my provisions while I stayed there & with comers & goers eat up my provisions: this is the 3d. time I have been out & not finished the first survey: and here I am a foot.

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I have hired a man to go with Jeff tomorrow morning, in serch of the horses: Jeffs horse was hobbled with a rope: but if there should be any whiskey in the way, & I am informed there is, they will end their Journey there I expect: I must start one or 2 more men out after the horses: tomorrow or next day.

When I left home I took bearly money enough to bear my Expences, & my expences here are greatly more than I expected. Corn is 4 lb. per bushel, and in Some places one Dollar. The man Overby Sold my Whiskey to, is insolvent, I cant git one Dollar from him: his note is for $221. the greatest plenty if I could git it, to buy me two ponies to take me home. my great coat lieing in the woods, is burnt in holes: the brush and greenbriers with which this county abounds, has tore my Socks, Legings, Breeches, & Great Coat into strings or rather Rags: here for the first time for many years past, I have Dined & Sup'd on Dry bread and swamp water, I am compeled to wash down [hand?] mill [bead?], with water, I have fellen off 30. or 40. pounds I expect, with observation and the bowell complaint, my fat belley has gone down. I am now as gaunt as Brutus almost.

The Indians are encamped all through this County. I am at their camp almost every day, but they are like the Bees that assembled at Nashvill Some years ago. Quite harmeless to all appearance. They live wandering about seeking Game: and realy git more of it, and live better than half the whites: in this quarter when Jeff has whiskey he is all noise & bustle: when none he mopes about and dose but little: he is the [mer?] [iest?] Spencer: That I ever saw: I had better been by myself if I am in verry good health most of my time, and all my complaints are the effects of fateague cold and hunger. You must not send me any money in Bank Bills by the mail for I shall be gone hence before it would arrive here. The hogs in this country are all caught or shot in the woods & killed as they run no such thing as puting up hogs to fatten with corn, the [me?] eats like boar meet strong & tuff: like all other wild meet nothing like our corn feed [?]: bad enough

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as soon as you receive this letter send to Dan Dan Stevens & tell him not to make a gallery on the Top of the Dwelling house, if he has began it to stop & do no more at it. git all the money you can from Edmond Johnson at [Hones?] ferry send to him every week or two set all the money in writing you receive & the day of the month. I hire a man to take this letter to Smithland & bring me letters if any from the Office.

I wish you could keep the boys at school dont enter them for more than a quarter at a time.

There is a misserable set of people in this country. I have wrote everything I have to write from here I am greatly destress in my mind & I cant tell when I shall be relieved from it

Give my love to all the Children and accept my best wishes for your wellfare and Happyness in this & the next world

Green Clay

Sunday Morning Jany 9th Tuesday morning the man I hired to go with Jeff to hunt my horses has returned & no news of them at all The men were [steeting?] on the Ohio at Smithland last cold weather in Gangs - a man was taken sick

Tell Cassius there is one John [Derro?] making shoes at this house, who says he and another man gathered in the Ohio lowgrounds in six days 65 Bushels of Pecon nuts The weather is as cold again as ever felt nearly Jany 11th 1820. farewell again: Green Clay

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Smithland Ky Jany 13

[1820?] Mrs Salley Clay Madison County Kentucky

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