Clawson, C.[harles] L.
Autograph Letter Signed, Nation Ford, York District, South Carolina, August 5th, 1850, to his cousin Dr. Isaiah Dunn Clawson in New Jersey

Quarto, 4 pages, in very good, clean and legible condition accompanied by original mailing envelope.

Charles Clawson was a socially-prominent Alabama Doctor who owned three plantations - his own; one he would inherit from his father, also a physician, who had just died; and third, of 500 acres, offered him by his father-in-law after his recent marriage in Montgomery "in presence of the Governor of Alabama and many grave Senators." While settling his father's affairs in South Carolina - and wondering if growing cotton might not be more profitable than the $ 15,000 a year he made practicing medicine - Clawson received an inquiry from his northern cousin, yet another Doctor - seeking genealogical information about their family. He obtains the information requested from a surprising source - one of his slaves.

Clawson writes: 

"... I returned from Montgomery the 19th Feby. - a day or two after went to see my father who was sick of Typhoid Pneumonia - He died on the 28th - From the time I saw him I had no hopes that he would recover.

Since his death I have moved to his plantation (about ten miles from my own) leaving my own affairs in the hands of an overseer. We have not had any division of the property, and I am conducting the farm for the benefit of the Estate. I am not practicing medicine this year - Next winter I expect to go to Montgomery, where I shall resume the practice again.

My father in law offers to give me a plantation of 500 acres worth $ 10,000 twenty five miles from the city if I will move to that country. This will be a great advantage to my farming interest, as cotton can be raised there to much greater advantage than here. And besides my profession there will be profitable - Physicians make from $ 5000 to $ 12,000 a year.

We will have another bad crop of cotton this year. I believe a much worse than we had last - From Carolina to Texas the prospect is very bad. Corn in Carolina is now worth $ 100 per bushel. The present crop will be almost a failure in some parts of the State. The wheat crop in all the Southern States as far as I can learn is very short.

I am sorry that I can't give you a complete history of our ancestors - And father being dead I have no opportunity to make inquiry - I recollect several years ago to have heard the family say something about the matter, and as well as can recollect we are of Dutch descent - I think grand mothers family were French for I have heard my father say one side of the house (and I think grand mother) fled from Europe during the inquisition for having said one day "It was not right to put the heretics to death as they were doing"  For which he was likely to suffer when he escaped to this country - Grandmothers maiden name was Harris which is the middle name of father, Lucy and an older sister who died who had the full name Massey Harris.

The Dunns for whom you are named married our Aunt - Emeline. His name was Thomas and had a son by the name of Jacob calld for my father, and was a physician.

Whilst I was writing the last four lines it struck me, that I might get a clue to something you are inquiring after from a negro woman that my father brought from Virginia; so out I went to the field and here is her story.

"Dr. Thomas Dunn married Aunt Emeline Hoglin married Peny, and Ann married Martin Quick Doct Thos Dunn lived in Frankford"

Martin Quick had a son named Martin who moved to this country, and lived here some twenty years, moved to Alabama last year and died shortly after.

Query- May we not be of Jewish extract - Judging from the great number of scripture names in the family, one might think we descended from the good old patriarch Abraham, the father of the faithful - for we find Israel, Jacob, Isaac, John, Isaiah - and - I was trying to think if there was not a Jeremiah also... Jesting aside where did all these old fashioned names come form?..."

Apart from the irony that Charles Clawson had to ask a field slave about his own family's history - and that his New Jersey cousin would later be elected to Congress as an anti-slavery Republican - history records the sad fact after the Civil War, in which he lost the slaves he had owned before the conflict, Charles Clawson organized the first Ku Klux Klan chapter in South Carolina.