AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED, DATED APRIL 9, 1856, TO JOHN W. LUKE: "I WAS IN CHARLESTOWN A FEW DAYS SINCE AND ASKED THE JAILOR WHAT HE WOULD TAKE AND RELIEVE ME OF HENRY. HE SAID HE WOULD DO IT FOR 250$. I FEEL VERY MUCH INCLINED TO GIVE IT. AS HE, HENRY, SEEMS NO BETTER, HE MAY LIVE A GOOD MANY YEARS AND IT WILL COST ME 200$ AT LEAST IN HIS PRESENT SITUATION PER YEAR. WHAT THINK YOU OF IT. I SHOULD BE PLEASED TO HEAR. BUT THE MONEY MUST BE PAID DOWN. THIS PUTS ME TO MY WITS-END... BEFORE CHRISTMAS JOHN JAMES DREW ON MY WHEAT FROM MR. BANEY 100$ TO PAY A NOTE IN BANK FOR YOURS... NOW I HAVE THOUGHT IF THIS DEBT IS STILL OUT, PERHAPS YOU COULD COLLECT IT AND HAND IT OVER TO ME (OR AT LEAST A PART TO HELP ME OUT.) IT IS WITH GREAT RELUCTANCE I MENTION THIS TO YOU. BUT YOU MUST NOT THINK HARD. NEITHER LET IT MAKE YOU THE LEAST UNEASY. MY HEALTH IS STILL FEEBLE AND MY NERVOUS SYSTEM MUCH SHATERED, CORNELIA IS COUGHING A GREAT DEAL. AND MARY IS IN A VERY STRANGE WAY. GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT IS TO BEFALL US. BUT WE MUST TRY AND HOPE IN HIS MERCY. PLEASE PRESENT MY LOVE TO ANNIE AND THE CHILDREN. AND BELIEVE ME AS HERETOFORE VERY TRULY YOURS. JAS. GRANTHAM "MR. JOHN W. LUKE "P.S. I SUPPOSE CORNELIA WILL WRITE. I SHALL MARK THIS PRIVATE AND SHALL BE PLEASED TO HAVE YOUR VIEWS IN REGARD TO HENRY ON UNCLE BILLY'S RETURN. ".
[Berryville, VA?]: 1856. 7-3/4" x 9-3/4" Completely in ink manuscript on blue unlined paper. Old folds, Very Good.
The writer, James Grantham [1793-1861], was a farmer in Jefferson County, Virginia, and the father-in-law of John W. Luke, who married James's daughter Anna Louisa Grantham [1828-1910] in 1852. John James [1826-1912], mentioned in the letter, was Grantham's son. Cornelia and Mary may have been his daughters, Elizabeth Cornelia Grantham [1835-1905], and Catherine Mary Grantham [1838-1909]. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule records him in Jefferson County and owning 15 slaves.
Major John W[helan] Luke [1815-1896] owned and farmed 123 acres in Clark County, Virginia. He served in the Virginia State Legislature from 1852-1853; was Director of the Crossroads and Summit Point Turnpike Company in 1857; operated several general stores. [Death announcement, Richmond Dispatch, October 18, 1896, page 6; Norris: HISTORY OF THE LOWER SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Chicago: 1890, pp.684-685.]. Item #36324