This letter was from John Pinckney Catlett 1828-1902 to James Lafayette Catlett 1835-1880. Both men were from Sevier County, Tennessee. At the time the letter was written, John had moved to Moffetsville in Anderson County, South Carolina and he was writing to his brother back in the Fairgarden community of Sevier County, Tennessee.
I do not have a copy of the original letter. Rather, the original letter was sold on eBay, and the individual selling the letter posted some abstracts from the letter. The only image posted on eBay was of the envelope.
It has been difficult to determine the history of the Catlett family in Sevier County, and this letter is an important piece of evidence because of its identification of John Pinckney Catlett and James Lafayette Catlett as brothers. It's certainly possible that "Dear Bro" was a term of endearment, but the simplest interpretation is that the two mean literally were brothers. Given that they were brothers, we can make an informed guess as to whom their father was.
There were four Catlett men in early Sevier County:
Conventional wisdom is that the four men were brothers, sons of Reuben Catlett. I do not know what the basis of this conventional wisdom is. For example, I don't if there was a family bible or a will or a deed or something similar that ties the four men to Reuben Catlett. John, Richard, and Benjamin apparently all were born in Virginia (this is proven for John by the 1850 and 1860 censuses), and Samuel was born in Tennessee (this is proven by the 1850, 1860, 1870,and 1880 censuses). If these four men really were the sons of Reuben, it suggests that Reuben moved from Virginia to Tennessee about 1797/1798.
This is a folded lettersheet. There's three pages of writing, on a single large sheet of folded paper, from J. [?] Catlett to "Dear Bro'. The dateline is Moffettsville SC Aprl 3d / 58 . The letter was posted to Mr. James L. Catlett of Fair Garden, E. Ten. Some abstracts: "I recd your letter on yesterday which I was very happy to receive & to hear that you had good Luck in getting your stallion you never wrote whether he was a rig [?] or a full stallion." "I hatted to hear of you not getting any money of the county [?] if Mr Alexander dose collect that ...." "I think I had better not send it by mail for fear of looseing it but I tell you Gold is hard to get the Banks is in a situation that Gold is hard to get." "Bill swaped his race horse & got $175 to boot & sold for $200 to Mr. Lattimore at Lowndesville a very large Iron Gray he wants a match for him." "D.J. Tucker is keeping his horse he has got 3 or 4 more & has more promised he wants you to send his Blood & a full pettygree has improved him very much." "Oh yes I must tell you about my Negro Trade. I bought a Boy at Nanslow [?] sale on last Friday 14 [?] years [?] old & stout boy almost big enough to plough. I gave $760 for 12 mo after date with Int. from date." "Cotton is worth about 71 cts Negros sold very high Boys brot $990 at 16 years & Negro Girl with an child $1300 to $1600 & so on. When Joel writes about that woman write to me. She would suit Ma in the house & tavern [?] the field."
Most of my Catlett research efforts have focused on the next generation - putative grandchildren of Reuben Catlett, trying to associate each grandchild with the correct father. It's an ongoing process, and I'm never by any means sure that I have it all worked out correctly. In any case, John Pinckney Catlett and James Lafayette Catlett were of the generation to have been grandsons of Reuben Catlett, and the fact that they were brothers allows us to work out that they were sons of Richard Catlett.
We determine that Richard Catlett was the father of the brothers John Pinckney Catlett and James Lafayette Catlett by a process of elimination. Namely, we eliminate the other three possibilities.
This page last edited on 11 Sep 2011.