Lexington Va: 18 Oct ‘66


My dear Son

I recd to day your letter of the 11th & am glad to hear that you are well & progressing favourably. Your uncle Smith in a letter just recd, in which he recites his difficulties & drawbacks, says I must tell you that if you desire to succeed in any matter relating to agriculture, you must personally superintend & see to every thing. Perhaps your experience coincides with his. I hope your wheat will reimburse you for your labour & guano. I think you are right in improving your land. You will gain by cultivating less & cultivating that well, & I would endeavor to manure every crop. As to the kind of manure which will be the most profitable, you must experiment. Lime acts finely on your land & is more lasting than guano. If you can get shells to burn on the land or if not shell lime from Baltimore, I think you would more certainly & more cheaply restore your fields. But of that you must judge.

I hope your sale of ship timber may place you in funds to make your improvements. You will have to attend to your Contractors. They will generally bear great attention & at last circumvent you.

The mill dam I Know is a troublesome work, but I hope you will accomplish it, & I fear you will have to execute it with negro labour. I presume at present there is none other to be had.

You might get aid from the Va Emigration Co; which now has an agent in Europe endeavouring to procure emigrants. I am not able to inform you as to the details of their organization, but think you might lease small tracts to families. As regards sales to the society the lien on the land by your Grd fathers will might interfere.

I hope we shall see you this winter, when we can talk over the matter.

We are pretty well. Your mother better by her visit to the Baths. Mildred talks of going to the E. S. of Md: next month & I fear will be absent from us all the winter.

I must refer you to your sisters for all news. They are great letter writers, & their correspondence extends over the globe.

Miss Ella Selden is with us. All our summer visitors have gone, & some whom I hoped would us, have visited have not come. We have had heavy rains here last week but the weather now is beautiful. Your Uncle S. says the rain destroyed his fodder, pigs & did him unalterable damage.

They have all escaped the chills, & he never saw your aunt Nannie, better or happier. Henry is the only one of the boys who is doing anything in the way of matrimony & “he has struck an ill spring of inestimable value”.    

Good bye my dear son. May God bless you. I enclose a letter sent to me, which I presume is for you. Your affectionate father.


R E Lee




Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c, Section 31, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 April 24