The following letter was postmarked July 11the 1854. The writer was Shiloh Orme (b.
1806), a farmer from Kentucky who migrated to Texas after living in Tennessee for a
while. Descendant Sam Orme has kindly given me permission to reproduce the
contents of the letter here. Thanks, Sam, for offering this rare glimpse into the Red
River Valley landscape 150 years ago!
This letter has been edited very little. Just for the sake of clarity, I've added periods and
changed the spelling in a few instances. I also deleted two sentences that were difficult to
decipher. The spelling as you read it is original.
Lamar Texas July 10th 1854
Dear William and Family:
Almost two years have past sence I had the opportunity of conversing with you. I have
now chance only by letter so I avale My self of teh opportunity this Sabath Morning of
holding a conversation with you by letter. I confess I hav bin very negligent about
writing to You. It appeares you hav bin down with the sam disease. I presume you knew
whear I lived or at least you could hav known by reading the Girles letters.
I don't know as I hav any thing of importance to write only we hav good helth at present
and had as good helth In Texas as we ever had in Tenn. That ant all about it I am better
satified in this Contry than any country that I hav ever lived in. From several
consideration which too tegious to name I will jest name a few of them. As I pas along
the first is it tis the best Stock Country I believ allmost in the known world. As for wheat
it cant be beat in no country. I ahve Never seean better wheat grow out of the Earth
than has bin hear this year and last. It tant as good a Corn Country as Tenn from the
fact that the Seasons is more unsurtain. We have long wet spelles and a dry one which
makes corn crops mor unserutain hear than thear.
The land is as rich hear aperantly as it gets to be in any Country. We rased fine corn
crops last year. Notwithstanding the quantity of corn mad tis worth 75 cnts per bushe.
Every thing [costs] is very high in this Country. I will giv you the prise of som things.
Cows and Calvs worth from 15 to 25 Dollars. Been from 3 to 4 cnts per pound. 4 year
old steears from 20 Dollars. Bacon 12 1/2 cnts. Labor one dollar per day from 15 to 20
Dollars per month. Evry thing else in propotion with the exseption of lan improved.
Land is rating at from three to fiv Dollars per acre. Rough land is worth from one to
three Dollars per acre.
Thear is a very gross mistak gon out in that Country about Texanes being Hethens. I
hav formed rit smart acquaints sence I hav bin in the Country. i think tis greatear more
sivalised than Sequatchee Valey is, too the best of my recollection, I aint heard fifty
cuths words sence I hav bin in Texas. I aint seen but two or three men disguised with
liquor, I dont dout buth what their is a potion of the Country holds just sutch people as
I described. In the bounds of my acquaintanc I can venture the assertion that thear is
at least two thirds of the people professors. I think thear is as good people in Texas as
ever trod the soiel, and I further believ that people in Texas would suffer to be burnt at
the stake before they would renounce their religion. Tis frequently the case that a two
days meeting will last a week. One has jest brok in this Neighborhood lasted seven
days. It would hav bin in sesion yet the preacher in charg had to leave. We hav as good
meetings and as wel behav Congregation in Texas as any place in the world.
Give our Respects to all enqurin Friends
Yours Dear Sir Respectfully
|Would the pioneers have had it easier if the trails
had been a little better marked?
|When Shiloh moved to Lamar County, he was
surprised to see this neon sign. He thought it too
garish. (Actually, this is from the Bob Bullock
Museum in Austin).