Research Letter Transcription Help - 1860 Farming

archivist23

Cadet
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
I'm trying to transcribe this Civil War Letter [Broun, William to Roswell Bascom Broun, Charlottesville, VA, December 3, 1860] and there are a few words I can't figure out. This is the last page of a four page letter.

Here is what I have. The question marks in brackets are the words I can't decipher. The author is talking about farming corn and using some sort of machine. "Mulch" perhaps?

...and my crop is a very short one. We have gotten the [?] machine in successful operation. I am told it performs finely. I have not seen it since it has been put to work. Mr. Rice is working it now. I want to move it over and commence working it after Christmas. A man over in Mr. Rice's neighborhood tried the [?] this year on a very poor piece of land and I learned the result was far beyond anything that I had expected. He told me the land on which he put the [?] would not bring corn at all, this year he gather as heavy a crop from it as he did from his best cow penned land. Two ears from many of the stalk & the large ones in [hash?].

Your affectionate Bro,
W.W. Broun.

ua24-19_cwl_18601203_p004.jpg


Here is the rest of the letter transcription if anyone wants to read the whole thing:

Weston 3 Dec 60
Dear Bro

I received your letter by Ben, and was pleased to hear from you. You say there is a good deal of excitement with you. There is some with us though I do no think it is as great with us as it is with you from what I can learn there is a change growing on with some of the people with us. The attachment to the Union is growing weaker every day. I must confess my attachment has been weakened. I do not feel willing to live under a government in which I cannot have equal rights. 13 out of the 15 Northern...

[pg.01]

---

...states have nullified the federal laws, and the general government has permitted it to pay unnoticed now the President threatens if South Carolina should nullify the laws he will force her to submit but will let her secede if she wants.

I hope if there is an action on that part of the South to go out that they will be prudent and take no higher stand than they intend to stand up to. I believe they ought to be a convention of all the states and let them be a final settlement of the difficulties at once and forever. I fear if the report be true about Montgomery invasion of Missouri & Kansas its citizens is true...


[pg.02]

---

...it will be the beginning of a revolution, it is said he declares it is his intention to persist in his course until he shall free the state. I hope they may catch him soon and give him his deserts. We are all up though some of us have colds. Ms. Edwards children have been quite sick though they are better. [One has been poisoned and is suffering considerably but is better - it was from smoke from some poison wood. I would be greatly pleased if you can come up and see us there is no chance of my leaving home this winter. As I am quite busy, I have not yet finished my corn. I never saw as much damaged...

[pg.03]
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
My first thought was mulch. Looking at websites about the development of farming technology the only thing that fits is a mowing machine, but that came out in 1844 and wouldn't have been a new thing. Also, that doesn't much fit the description of the use.
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Mud machine certainly is what it looks like but every 19th century reference to mud machine I can find is a scoop for dredging - which was actually a big deal invention at the time! But it wouldn't have improved a corn harvest.

Marling is an old technique that enriched fields so a marl machine would fit that use.
 

archivist23

Cadet
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Thank you everyone! You guys are awesome!

I think it is "mud machine" as suggested. I'll put that in with a note that mentions marling as well.

If anyone wants to see the collection this came from its: Broun Family Civil War Letters, 1860-1864 at https://vtext.valdosta.edu/xmlui/handle/10428/4099

These letters have been in someone's attic for a very long time and have never been seen by the public.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Location
Hannover, Germany
Has to be "mud" in my view.

1606236615138.png


In the word above, the end of the word certainly is not a "ch" but a "d".

How about this. Mud machines seem to have been used in farming:

1606237617047.png


From the article: Agricultural implements in North Carolina, 1783-1860 by Cornelius O. Cathey in the
journal "Agricultural History" 25,3 (1951), page 128-135

Or look at this:

1606238585736.png


Source
 
Last edited:

Biscoitos

Private
Joined
May 14, 2020
I'm trying to transcribe this Civil War Letter [Broun, William to Roswell Bascom Broun, Charlottesville, VA, December 3, 1860] and there are a few words I can't figure out. This is the last page of a four page letter.

Here is what I have. The question marks in brackets are the words I can't decipher. The author is talking about farming corn and using some sort of machine. "Mulch" perhaps?

...and my crop is a very short one. We have gotten the [?] machine in successful operation. I am told it performs finely. I have not seen it since it has been put to work. Mr. Rice is working it now. I want to move it over and commence working it after Christmas. A man over in Mr. Rice's neighborhood tried the [?] this year on a very poor piece of land and I learned the result was far beyond anything that I had expected. He told me the land on which he put the [?] would not bring corn at all, this year he gather as heavy a crop from it as he did from his best cow penned land. Two ears from many of the stalk & the large ones in [hash?].

Your affectionate Bro,
W.W. Broun.

View attachment 382312

Here is the rest of the letter transcription if anyone wants to read the whole thing:

Weston 3 Dec 60
Dear Bro

I received your letter by Ben, and was pleased to hear from you. You say there is a good deal of excitement with you. There is some with us though I do no think it is as great with us as it is with you from what I can learn there is a change growing on with some of the people with us. The attachment to the Union is growing weaker every day. I must confess my attachment has been weakened. I do not feel willing to live under a government in which I cannot have equal rights. 13 out of the 15 Northern...

[pg.01]

---

...states have nullified the federal laws, and the general government has permitted it to pay unnoticed now the President threatens if South Carolina should nullify the laws he will force her to submit but will let her secede if she wants.

I hope if there is an action on that part of the South to go out that they will be prudent and take no higher stand than they intend to stand up to. I believe they ought to be a convention of all the states and let them be a final settlement of the difficulties at once and forever. I fear if the report be true about Montgomery invasion of Missouri & Kansas its citizens is true...


[pg.02]

---

...it will be the beginning of a revolution, it is said he declares it is his intention to persist in his course until he shall free the state. I hope they may catch him soon and give him his deserts. We are all up though some of us have colds. Ms. Edwards children have been quite sick though they are better. [One has been poisoned and is suffering considerably but is better - it was from smoke from some poison wood. I would be greatly pleased if you can come up and see us there is no chance of my leaving home this winter. As I am quite busy, I have not yet finished my corn. I never saw as much damaged...

[pg.03]
There are a few words in the letter that end in the letter "d", including: land, had, told, did and land again. The "d" at the end of those words looks the same, but looks different from the last letter of the disputed word.
The last letter of "would" is distorted as the writer was trying to avoid running off the paper, and should not be used for comparison.
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
I feel like there's an expert in 18th century farming out there who would take one read through and say "Of course - it's a <blank> machine!" because it would be so obvious to them
 

Georgia

Sergeant
I feel like there's an expert in 18th century farming out there who would take one read through and say "Of course - it's a <blank> machine!" because it would be so obvious to them
Might I suggest the OP contact the John C Campbell Folk School or Williamsburg to see if either could help? I’m thinking both locations would have the specific knowledge needed to decipher the missing machine.
 

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