Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Letters of Henry Melton

Henry Harrison Melton was born around 1820 in what is now Stanly County, North Carolina. He was the son of John Melton, Sr., originally of Granville, NC and Margaret "Peggy" Wilkerson Melton. He died on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania. He may have been named for his grandfather, Henry Melton, father of John Sr.

Henry married Martha Ann Kirk, daughter of Stanly County farmer and businessman, Parham Kirk. Together, they would have 9 children:

Julia, Samuel Houston (S. H.), Jane E., Mary Francis, Sarah Louisa, John A., Rosa, James A. and Louis D.
The youngest, Louis D. H. Melton, or Milton, was born on January 13, 1863, just months before his father died.

H. H. Melton was just one of the many soldiers who perished during the Civil War. His father-in-law, several of his brothers and nephews also served and several died. He wrote of few letters, of which copies are available in the History Room of the Stanly County Public Library. His letters have also been mentioned, or included in a few books, some on the Civil War, others in family histories. In those letters he mentions several family members and neighbors. In transposing those letters here, I will attempt to interject information on who he was most likely referring to in his letters, by having thoroughly researched the family. His letters are just one of several contributory pieces of evidence of a solid and related connection between two factions of the Melton family. Not solid proof, by no means, but a definite link.

Now, in the words of Henry Harrison Melton:

"I this evening seat my self to try to tell you all some ider (idea) of camp life. I like it better than I expected. I arrived at Salisbury Friday night and was very much forteag (fatigued).
We started to Statesville about 8 ocok (o'clock) and got thare (sic) little after 9. I am not mighty well with a pain in my back, my finger is not well yet so I am in low dull spirieets (spirits) but I think that I will like camp life very well. (No information on how he injured his finger.) There is no telling how long that we will stay hear (sic) and if I have to leave I don't cear (care) how soon. I would like for you to git (sic) some cloth from Missouri to make me some pants. (I am fairly certain he is not referring to the state of Missouri here, but to Missouri Melton Forrest, the daughter of John Melton, Jr. and wife of Jesse Tatum  Forrest. John Melton, Jr. is one of the Melton's not directly connected in the land records to John Melton, Sr. As most of John Melton's Sr's children sold their portions to siblings or others, they are connected. John Melton Jr.'s land was located in the same general area as John Sr.'s and the rest of the Melton's and after his death, his widow Nancy Boysworth Melton is recorded as having sold his tracts in conjunction with surviving daughters, Laura J Melton Gill and Missouri Bosworth Melton Forrest. She and Laura relocated to Gold Hill in Rowan County where she operated a Hotel. Missouri and Tatum Forrest, as he was known, would relocate north of Rowan into Davie County and spend the remainder of their lives there and are buried at Fork Baptist Church).
Send them to me by Mr. Marshall, for white cloths (clothes) is not fit for camp-my close that I wor of is blalcker (sic) than the land I had wore 3 weeks at home. I bought  50 lbs of lard from Wm Kirk  and 50 lbs of bacon and if he brings it you must credit his note with the amount I sent the note to I O Marshall and 260 dollars and told him to give you one hundred and sixty-he will due if he hant done it before now. (Probably William Kirk, his brother-in-law, son of Alexander Kirk. There were other -and related- William Kirks. "I O Marshall" was probably "J" instead of "I" and referring to Joseph Marshall. Henry Marshall was still alive in 1860, but in his late 70's. Not likely him.) By (sic) what you need for you all and pay Marcus (referring to Marcus Carter) thirteen dollars for what I am dew (due) him. I want you to see Almond and tell him that I want him to go and see Addim Kirk. (Almond Boysworth. The Boysworths were close associates of  and intermarried with the Meltons)-pray him to teach that school shore and let all the children go if you can spare them. (Adam Kirk, son of Daniel Kirk and Mary 'Polly" Forrest Kirk. Seen in 1850 census as a student. Later a farmer, but perhaps well educated). tell the poor little things that I want them to be myty (mighty) smart and think of thr (sic) pore father and not forgit (sic) him for I shall never far git (sic) them If I never see them again and for lord sake be smart. If you get any cloth get some patterns from Timpyus (Most likely Temperance "Tempie" Russell, a seamstress who lived in Albemarle and whose son John Russell claimed James R Melton as his father) to cut them by and if you can't make them you migt get hur to make them,(might get her). To George, I want him to cover that house as soon as possible (possibly George Melton, who also fought in the Civil War and was a nephew of Henry.) and will get Mr. Marshall some rock and git T. Rummage to put it up. (Probably Joseph Marshall as Henry Marshall would have been about 80 by then. T. Rummage probably refers to Tillman Rummage, who lived nearest and was the only adult Rummage whose name started with a "T" in the area at the time.)
I wont you or Bud to see Parham Kirk, get some leather and carry it to Green Laton. (Parham Kirk, Father- in-law of Henry, and Green Laton, probably the elder,C. Green Laton,  born in 1826, not Green Laton, son of John, born in 1846. Green was a popular given name in Stanly County during the 1800's.) and let him mend up all the old shoes and will dew. (he probably meant 'he will do it'.) The balance he must make and I want it done soon as posable (sic) and don't neglect it - I don't want you all to let Jimmy to for git me. (son James A Melton 1861-1949) I want you to git him some warm cloths and shoes before cold winter. (At the time this was written, Jimmy was the youngest son. Martha would have been around 4 or 5 months pregnant with youngest son Louis Dee H. Melton, named obviously for Louis D H Kirk, a name that ran through the Kirk family. She had an uncle and first cousin with the name. The name may have reckoned back to a further ancestor as well, I don't know.) You will direct your letter to Camp Hill 8th Ridgment (sic) Company D Stanly boys.  I want you all to write and let me know what is going on ginerly (generally). I will writ every week so that you can git the letter Saturday morning by James R Martin  and if, you want to buy anything, you must send Bud (referring to eldest son Samuel H. Melton) to J Marshall and he will attend to you. I will let you know who our mess is - Stanly Parham Mauldin (1838-1877 son of James O and Mary Mauldin), Thomas Simpson (several of those, probably either the son of Isaac and Lucy or William and Anna.) E. G. C Melchor, (Christian Green Melchor, son of Mathias, who would migrate to Arkansas after the war., Henry Kirk (Henry Clay Kirk, son of Lewis Jackson Kirk and Purity Eudy Kirk, cousin of Martha Kirk Melton) Nathan Rummage - a very good crowd- if anybody comes up I will send you all something. Tell Bud that Uncle Stanly says that he must write to him -to Aunt Sarah - that he wrote to her once. Tell your grandmother and all howdy for me. Tell Marcus and all his people howdy. I will write to him and he must do the same. Tell Marcus that if he gets his money that I want him to pay that note if he pleases.  I will not writ any more now, but will write more next week. I want all to put in something. signed. Henry H Milton. 

Winchester Virginia
14 Sept 1862

Miss Martha Milton, by dear wife and children

I for the time sence I left home have not heard from you  but one time. I am well at this time and hope these lines  may reach you and find you  all well. We have been traveling far (sic) the last twelve days. Tomorrow we will leave for Maryland shore in the morning tho I don't think we will stay thare long. (I believe his misspellings also may belie his accent). I wrote to you and Jim last Tuesday. (Jim may well have been James R. Melton). If you don't got that I want you to have that ground about my shop and that about the house sowed in oates. I wrote to Jim to buy Green Michers mare and colt, (Green Melchor) if he dose you might wean the colt you can get oats from George Shankle. (Again, E.C.G. Melchor and the Shankles were German descended settlers of the Fork area in the southern part of the county) Try and rent that ground to Whitson Nash if you can. (Whitson Nash 1826 -1884, son of Edmund B. Nash and Tabitha Smith Nash, married Nancy Jane Hearne. Whitson was also a popular name of the era, maybe leading back to a common ancestor or matrilineal surname.) Tell him that I will write to him first chance. We have seen hard times since we have bin out. I have not bin shaven since I left home nor have not sot (sic) on a Chair. When I git to the regiment I will write again. You need not write until you hear from me again. I want to know whether you got money I sent. I've got some more that I could send if I had the chance. I have not got any shoes noer clothes yet and am most barfooted and most naked. I will git clothes and shoes when I git to the regiment. I don't want you to be uneasy about me far I will due the best I can and you must do the same. I send you 17 grains of wheat I got at Richmond. I want you to give it to Tatom Forrest (Jesse Tatum Forrest, husband of Missouri Melton, daughter of John Melton, Jr. and Nancy Boysworth Melton),and tell him to plant it in the garden so that we can git the seade (sic). Take cear (care) of everything. I think that I will be home about Christmas, for I think that the war will stop before long tho I can't tell. I'm in hopes of it. Tell Jim he must buy that mare shore that you can have hur to ride and go to mill and hall (sic) up the corn. Nothing more now so God bless you all forever, you don't know how bad I want to see you all.  So good by for awhile. 

Signed; H. H. Milton

Sept 14, 1862

Mr. Marcus P Carter (whose daughter Sarah would marry John Russell, son of James R "Jim" Melton). 

A few words to you all. I am well all but my finger. It is not well. I want you to sow some oats for me if you please. I want that sowed round my shop and about my house and Martha will pay you for it. Tell all the children howdy for me. When I git whare I am going I will write to you all the nuse (News) that I know. Would write more now but it is almost night and we have to cook for tomorrow. Marcus I wish you all well. If I never see you again you all must do the best that you can. I have bin traveling for the last 12 days. Nothing more.

H. H. Milton

Company Muster Roll for July and August, 1863 states:

H. H. Melton  Pvt. Co F.

enlisted Aug 8, 1862
by Col. Davis
Period:  Consp.

Remarks: Killed July 1, 1863  Never Paid.   He did not make it home to see his family again.

A Camp Hill Muster Roll records a description of H. H. Melton as:
Age  42, Eyes : Blue, Hair: Light, Complexion: Light, Height: 6 ft 1 in. Occupation: Mechanic.
Where born: Stanly County, N. C.

Prior to his death at Gettysburg he was noted on August 8, 1862 as "Deserted at Berryhill Ford".
Where H. H. Melton, Sr. deserted prior to rejoining the regiment and recieving deadly injuries. 

A namesake nephew, also Henry H. Melton, enlisted on February 28, 1863 in Company H, North Carolina 13th Infantry at the age of 18. He was wounded at Gettysburg on July 5, 1863. He was captured at the Fairground Hospital, Petersburg, Virginia, suffering from a Gunshot Wound to the head on December 3, 1865. He died 13 days later on December 16, 1865, at the age of 20.

Fairgrounds Post Hospital
Monument for 1700 plus casualties buried at the site of the Fairgrounds Hospital Cemetery near Petersburg.


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  2. Thanks so much for sharing these letters! I'm researching the men of Iverson's Brigade (5th, 12th, 20th and 23rd North Carolina) who died at Gettysburg, and this is the first cache of letters I've seen from an enlisted man. Are there any others? Thanks, Scott

  3. Thank you so very much for these letters! H.H. Milton was my 2x’s great grandfather. Reading these letters was very exciting, enlightening, and heartbreaking. I’ve read them over and over and will continue to do so. Again, thank you for taking the time to post these.

    Frances Milton Greenlee

    1. You're welcome Frances. I see you found them. Since I wrote this, I discovered that Henry Harrison Melton had a son with the seamstress Tempy Russell named William H Russell. He moved to Georgia and had a son of the same name. Tempy mentions her grandson in her will and in old Superior Court records is basically a custody dispute over the boy between H H and Tempy.