1898 Letter from Robert Chambers Craig to John Thompson Mitchell with Recollections on Robert Craig

Thank you to Jim Mitchell for the photocopy of the below letter from Robert Chambers Craig to John Thompson Craig. The photocopy is of a typewritten copy of the original. Below is my transcription and following it some notes.

Benham, March 26, 1898

Dear Cousin; —

Your letter of March 18th is to hand, and this being a snowy rainey day, such as I detest having to ride in, I have concluded to kill time by answering your very kind letter. As you must know the pleasure it affords an old man like myself to hear from near and dear relatives even though he has never seen them. I received from Cousin James on yesterday a long letter for which I sincerely thank him. I have tried for years to locate him but could not do so. Oh how much I would love to see all the children of my dear Cousin but fear it will never be so. You omit to say in your letter who Mrs. Dr. Frick was, whether she was the wife of Dr. Wm. Frick who left this County perhaps in the (50, Fifties) and settling I think in Lafayette Co., Mo. You state that I got figures mixed in regard to the time Grandfather came from Carlisle, Penn. to Washington County, Sir he came here in 1777. I act largely on this date as taken from his obituary note as written by Uncle Bovell, who was in a position having the assistance of Aunt Hamilton, Aunt Nancy Bovell, and my mother to give him correct data. This same document states that he followed Gen. Washington through tours, not campaigns as I stated, and that he was quite active in organizing companies and socities during that period. He also served in the Legislature of Penn. one or two sessions. He was without doubt a captain in the commisary department and acquired his title of Capt. in this way. I recollect distinctly when a boy of 12 or 13 years of age writing out as Grandfather dictated it quite a lengthy account of his services in the war of the revolution. What became of it I do not know. My dear wife died 10 long years ago. We lived together nearly 50 years. Our family consisted of seven children 5 girls and 2 boys. Three of our children are dead. I have a daughter Amanda Johnson who had 6 children. Mollie E. Ropp 2 children, Hattie B. Countip 9 children, Robt. Claude 4 children. Claude is a Dr., a fine workman but does not like the business and attends more to the farm than his profession. You ask me when and where I graduated, I think now I see you smile. I was raised and trained for a merchant and followed this business for 12 years. I became dyspective, lost my health, and failing in business I commenced reading medicine and farming for the sake of health as much as anything else. I became interested and in 1845 being several miles from Abingdon I went to see many cases, and finally took license and went regularly into the work. I can say without boasting that I have practised medicine longer than any other Physician that ever lived in the County. I have done more practice than others. I have had always a great fondness for surgery and have done more autopsys by order of the coroner thany any other Physician. We have rarely a criminal case in court but I am summoned as an expert. I have performed 2 craniotomies successfully with a pocket knife and a pair of pothooks converted into the blaunt hook. So you see that things can be done sometimes without all the appliances that science now demands. I operated several years since on a man some 50 years of age on the 8th day of his attack for appendicitus; had no assistance other than laymen he secured. This is the only recovery that has occured here although several fine physicians have done the work. I never lost a case of surgery except one of hernia which had been delayed too long, the bowell sloughing from strangulation. Now I suppose you are getting weary of this and I will stop it.

Now I will say something of what my family and friends is my weak point. I was and have been a Republican for 20 years or upwards, my folks are all democrats if they know what a democrat means as I confess I do not; there are so many kinds and none agreeing on any cardinal points, but on platforms I think they areat sea without chart or compass.

I have canvassed my County time and again for my friends always getting beat. Three years since an election for country committeemen was held in Abingdon at a large mass meeting. My name was placed before the meeting with that of a very bright young lawyer, Loo Summens. I was elected which meant you have now to stump the county. I was then appointed committeeman for the congressional districts of 14 counties. When I commenced the camp air started with 1600 majority in the County against us and 6000 in the district. In this canvas I rode horseback some 1000 miles and spoke at nearly every school house and road nad public place for 2 months speaking nearly every day twice and sometimes 3 times a day, result we carried the County by 186 votes and the district by 2100. Last fall we carried the county by 586 and this spring we ought carry it by a larger margin, I am done now I think with politics. After the canvas 2 years ago when the excitement was over I was laid up by prostration for several weeks.

I shall always be pleased to hear from you of any of the relatives at any time.

Yours truly,

R. C. Craig

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Robert Chambers Craig, born Jan 21 1819, died Jan 13, 1900, was the son of James Chambers Craig and Amanda Patton Craig b. Feb 2 1796 and died Dec 10 1856. I read that James Chambers Craig died quite young in the Seminole War, but I’ve seen varying dates of death. Amanda was the daughter of Robert Craig and Jane Denny.

Robert Chambers Craig married Margaret Jane Parrott on April 6 1841. Children: Amanda Patton Craig married Jacob Henderson Johnson; Margaret Parrott Craig died as a teen; Virginia King Heiskel Craig died as a youth; James Henry Craig died as a child; Mary Elizabeth Craig married David Parrott Repp; Sarah Harriet Craig married Charles Countiss; Robert Claude Craig married Frances Bradley. I took the above family info from the internet from what seemed a reliable tree.

The Aunt Hamilton he mentions would be Sarah Craig, daughter of Robert Craig and his first wife, Margaret Whitefield. Sarah lived 1776 to 1848 and married Frederick Hamilton in 1797. Aunt Nancy Bovell (my line) is Ann Middleton “Nancy” Craig, daughter of Robert and his second wife, Jane Denny. She married first Captain John Mitchell in 1808 and after his death in 1821 married Stephen Bovell in 1824. Stephen Bovell would be the “Uncle Bovell”. Ann lived 1786 to 1837.

John Thompson Mitchell, 1847 thru 1912, was the same of James Bourne Mitchell and Martha Cowden Dysart, grandson of Capt. John Mitchell and Ann Middleton “Nancy” Craig, and thus great-grandson of Robert Craig. Robert Chambers Craig and John Thompson Mitchell were 1st cousins once removed.

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