Mississippi Freedman to His Wife in Virginia

Aberdeen, Miss., December 17, 1865.

My Dear Wife:  Yours is just received.  I am glad to hear from you again.  I can not send you any money now, because it is too unsafe, unless I can see some one going there.  You had better try and make your arrangements to come out here to me.  I think I can do well here.  My master has good land.  He has agreed to let us go and work it.  He provides all the stock, farming utensils and land, and gives us half we can make.  I am not able to go there now. so come out and bring all your children, and tell Neverson and William to Come.  We can all do better here than we can there.  Give my love to cousin Randall Quarles, and tell him his brother Wash is still with Master.  We have plenty to eat here, good Clothes, and have found work generally.  Remember me to father, my brothers, and all my friends.  Write me again soon.  Your affectionate husband,

Moses Scott.

Moses Scott to My Dear Wife, 17 Dec. 1865, enclosed in Capt. William Tidball to Bvt. Maj. Wm. R. Morse, 24 Aug. 1866, Letters Received, series 3922, Charlottesville VA Assistant Superintendent, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. According to the covering letter, Moses Scott's wife, Lilly Ann Scott, presented her husband's letter to the Freedmen's Bureau agent at Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 1866, reporting that she had received no further word from him and that her own letters to him had been returned “through the Dead Letter Office.” The agent forwarded this copy of Moses Scott's letter to the superintendent of the bureau's 4th district in Virginia, noting that “[w]hen last heard from, he was in or near Aberdeen, Mississippi, in the employment of a man by the name of John Walker Timberlake.” Lilly Ann Scott, he reported, “wishes to know if her husband is living, and if so, why he does not write to her, and provide for her, and send for her to come and live with him. She is ready to go to him any where, but has not the means necessary.” Moses Scott, the agent concluded, should “be found and compelled to support his family, who will otherwise become a tax, partial or entire, upon the Bureau or the County.” Endorsements referred the letters through Freedmen's Bureau channels to the subcommissioner at Columbus, Mississippi, who in an endorsement of September 23, 1866, reported that Moses Scott was working on a plantation owned by Mr. Timberlake near Okolona and “wishes to live with this Woman and provide for her & his child, but has not the means to bring them here.” The subcommissioner cited additional circumstances that may also have complicated the couple's reunion. “It appears, about the breaking out of the War,” he wrote, “that Lilly Ann's former husband, by whom she had five or Six children, left, when Moses took up with her.” Other endorsements, none of which indicates whether the couple was reunited.

Published in Land and Labor, 1865, pp. 969–70.