This letter was written by John Calvin Perkins to an unknown cousin 18 May 1943. It contains language that will be offensive to many. However, it is a historical document from a time and place where such language was common. It is a document which is very helpful to our research.
Many of Calvin's descendants have photocopies of the letter, but it is not known if the original still exists.
Willow Sprgs, Mo.
May 18, 1943
Dear Cousin. Thank you for answering my letter & come & see us when traveling our way.
We would like to have gone down to the old homestead that was grandmas to Mt. Zion on the second Sunday in May but our drivers are all working & too it was a rainy day most part. We are all soaked down there & cows and crops & it is giving us something to be anxious about too. We enjoyed Uncle Jims last visit in the fall of '38, he is a live wire alright & good company I always thought.
Thanks for the dates etc. We would surely like to know what the writing is that you can't make out as I understand it came before the birth & marriage of our grand father who I guess you know was Jas. B. Perkins & Sara was his....
....2/ Aunt Mary Wadley was questioned about Hampton. All she would say was she didn't know anything about any "woods colt" & also told parties she didn't know if her grandmother was ever married or not. Well poor old auntie is very proud especially of her Perkins blood & I guess the common law marriages were pretty plentiful before the civil war. Well I started in to write a letter not a book but they said Jas. Perkins was very dark & Aunt Mary was like him. His mother Easter was very fair, was once rich & was captured from some island. Now isn't that the rits [sic]? Well my boy Eugene Perkins who has been in North Africa wrote to tell him what we knew of the Hampton-Perkins case. I guess the boy just got to studying about it over there....
....But according to history handed down by my parents Benj. & James Perkins father was named Hampton & their mother Miss Easter (or Ester) Perkins. Hampton was boastful & she refused to marry him but swore her 2 children to him which was the way they did things then & still do I guess. Hampton was of Portugese blood & a slave owner there in the south.
Jas. B. Perkins came to the dry creek county before the civil war from Roan or Roun County East Tenn. I understand my father William Johnson Perkins was named for a slave owner who visited his parents before my dad was born & asked them to name the baby if it was a boy after him & would give him a slave & they did so & he told them "to come and get his nigger". I would like to know if this man was Wm Johnson Hampton or not. My sister thinks it was, when....
....4/ & that the reason of us wanting the information & if you do go to the trouble of getting anything further. I will help if I can and also feel indebted to you & would like to know if what I have written coincides with whatever you have heard from the old folks about thier ancestors and thanking you again I remain your cousin.
J. Calvin Perkins age 68
Willow Spgs, Mo
Aunt Marys date in her bible of our grandparents says, or her parents were born James B. Perkins born 1817, Sarah Bunton born 1818 & " " [Sarah Bunton's] father was Billie Bunton. Seems as if Benj & James married sisters or girls of same surname, anyway.
There are a number of interesting points made in this letter, including confirmation:
- that Calvin's father was William Johnson Perkins;
- that William's parents were James B. Perkins (born 1817) and Sarah Bunton (born 1818);
- that Sarah's father was William "Billie" Bunton;
- that James B. Perkins had a brother named Benjamin;
- that James and Benjamin married sisters;
- that Calvin had an aunt Mary (Perkins) Wadley;
- that James B. Perkins came to Howell County, Missouri, from Roan County, Tennessee; and
- that the family knew in 1943 that Calvin's great-grandmother Esther Perkins had born children to a man named Hampton, outside of marriage, and that they supposed that Hampton's given name might have been William Johnson.
However, some of the information is incorrect, including:
- that Ester and Johnson Hampton had two children, when, in fact, they had three: Benjamin L., James B., and Pauline, and
- that Esther was rich and Hampton was Portugese.
We would all love to know where Aunt Mary's Bible is now.
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