Location: Ellijay, Gilmer, Georgia, USA
These letters were over 100 years old when they came out of the attic, and the recipient had been dead for over 60 years. Thank you to everyone involved in preserving them for posterity.
I ( J Cox), received these letters by postal mail from Eleanor Short, wife of Jack Short on January 25, 2019. Fifi McCraw’s daughter (Mary?) bought Aunt Blanche Hamby’s old house. R.E.A. Hamby used to live with Aunt Blanche. (Blanche was R.E.A.’s daughter) Various things were found in the attic. They gave R.E.A.’s old law books to someone who is a lawyer. These letters came to Eleanor, for some reason, and she got my dad's address from the Rabun County Historical society. Well, dad had been dead for 17 years at that point, but, luckily, my brother lives in the same house and received Eleanor's inquiry, and I soon had the actual letters.
The dates of the letters range from April, 1913, to December, 1916. The addresses are simply R.E.A. Hamby, Clayton, Ga, or Col R.E.A. Hamby, or Hon. R.E.A. Hamby. The return address is the Ellijay Hardware Co., Ellijay, Ga.
There are thirty (30) envelopes. Most envelopes contain only an adding machine tape. Some of the tapes have short messages written on them. Six envelopes contain a more substantial letter.
Overall, it appears that Bob Hamby was owner, or part owner of the Ellijay Hardware store, and that John L. Hamby was sending him monthly sales reports.
Important Background Information
On Christmas Eve, 1914, Frank Hamby, son of John L. Hamby, went on a drunken spree. He had gotten into the local moonshine. He shot up the town of Ellijay, killing Herschel Teem. The spree ended when Frank was shot and wounded by someone else. He was lucky to survive. He eventually served 2 years in prison for manslaughter. My interpretation of John’s letter after the shooting is that Frank didn’t remember anything about the shooting, or at least didn’t remember that he had killed someone. (see the last two letters, of Dec 23, 1914 and Jan 2, 1915) -Jamie Cox
Italics are transcriber’s notes — not literal.
Dec 1913 (postmark)
Nothing doing for the 3 last days All Rain. Hope you all got home O.K. We are lonesome. Hope the weather will clear up. Made good plow sale yesterday. Lot of apple tree growing here looking for C….(?) Hope they will lend but old Dr. W. still lives.
Will quit - you can see the result for Dec 1913
… $1,405.00. (total)
Happy new year to ? all - Write me Rabun news you know Gilmer.
J. L. Hamby (Over) Just had a call for a J. Lyme Cut. What you do in a case like this?
Ellijay, GA Aug 3rd 1914
Col. R.E.A. Hamby, Clayton, Ga
Dear Bob, Find Pd note ($500 Bank of Ellijay note attached)
Bob see if you can arrange with Tom to carry that note 30 days longer. This month will be hard to do much. I am fearful. Please let me know at once. So I can be ready if it has to be paid. Bob, I have made a good trade and have a good 7 year-old mule. Deep Bay. Weigh 1000 # and is not fat at all. You said you wanted to get you a pr. of mules. I am sure this one would suit you fine - will work anywhere - and any way. In fact as(?) I would like to turn him over to you and you can pick up a mate for him. You can have him for $200.00 and I bet you can’t get as good on(e) for less than $225.00. Take a run up here and see him and me too. I am sure if you want mules you had better take this one at this price. Let me hear from you in this matter. All are well hope you all the same. Will you come to Atlanta this wk? We have had more rain and all looks good in the crop line. York & Holden for the Leg. no good for S-h-t. Come up. write me all the news in general.
Soon, Your servant, (Illegible)
— August 1914
This Aug. for the Ellijay Hdwe. Co. at Ellijay, Ga. (total $868.00) All gone to the Convention. Alarmist(?) politics and the fear of the war will ruin Gilmer I don’t know what to do. This has been an awful dull month. No one must come to town. No trade. Everybody down & out. You know the average man here has awful little sense and no after thought at all .
Write me, J.L.H.
This has been a hard month for to get money. Bob be sure to come to court & stay 3 day at least. All are well. Hope you are the same. Write me all the news.
(September total $985.00)
Dec 23rd, 1914 (the day before the death of Herschel Teem)
Hon REA Hamby, Mayor Elect of Clayton Ga.
Merry Xmas & Happy New Year to you and all. Sorry that you & G. (Genelia Mozley Hamby, Bob’s wife) could not come to see us now. Alls well & hope you all the same. Nov. Cash $1086.00.
This month so far no good - Taking it all to pay the Tax. Bob the man Geo. W. Paukey will be here Sat. And you write me by then just what you will have to have in his case and I will see that it is fixed and mailed to you at once. Will have him fix it Sat. And you can look for it Sun or Mon. He says he has not got the money to pay you now but will make you a good note. He is OK and will do what he says. He raised a cotton crop and you know about how he is fixed. But he will get you the $25.00. if you can get him out. I can’t find out how (?) the other Pankey got out. No one seems to know. Write me by return mail. I haven’t much time to write you this A.M. The weather here is just awful and keeps all away from town. Not 1/2 (?) in this A.M. This county is run over in Whiskey. I never have seen the like. I bet there is 500 stills in Co. today. And you can guess as the rest. I am so tired of it.
Be sure & write so I will get it Sat. Or before.
Jan 2, 1915 Image of original
All the same as far as we can learn. Frank doing fine. Never told him anything yet. Will have to soon. He wants to set up today and of course they will want to put him in the jail at once and I dread it.
John Earl ( John L Hamby’s brother-in-law) came up last night but is going back to-day. Seems he can’t stay. I wish I could do something for a laugh. I am most played out. Can’t build up a bit. Will try to write you a letter in full to-morrow (Sun) if I can. All is awful quite (quiet) here this week. Business Dull. Dec ($1065.00) Not what it should have been. Hope this month will pull up. Bob, hold Suches for a few days and I will see if I can get him (?)2.00 Blue Cooking now. (Writing seems clear, but can’t make sense of it.)