This letter was written by Samuel H. Croff (1831-1908), a native of Tennessee. He wrote the letter to Nancy H. Carter (1840-1884), giving her address as Allen, Randolph County, Missouri. That town no longer exists as a town; it has been absorbed into Moberly. Allen was important during the Civil War due to its location on the North Missouri railroad, which went from St Louis to Macon.
Nancy Carter was the daughter of Joseph Carter (1798-1880) and Rachael Holbrook (1804-1883), natives of Virginia, of Prairie, Randolph County, Missouri. Samuel and Nancy were eventually married in September 1867 in Randolph County, Missouri. In 1870, they had a farm in Sugar Creek Township, Randolph County, Missouri. In later years, they resided in Salisbury, Chariton County, Missouri.
The General Land Office issued a warrant to Samuel Croff on 15 January 1856 for forty acres in Howard County, Missouri.
It isn’t clear from Samuel’s letter what his present situation was. There is a Samuel Croff listed among Confederate prisoners of war held in prison in Missouri (probably Jefferson City) who were eventually released after they took the oath of allegiance. There is actually nothing in the letter that suggests the author was in the service — Union or Confederate — except that he was apparently being detained for some cause from returning to Randolph County. The letter was written from Union-occupied Jefferson City, Missouri, in September 1863. It is a distinct possibility that Samuel participated in the Civil War as a Southern-sympathizing guerrilla. Military records for such participants are customarily non-existent.
At the end of the letter, Samuel instructed Nancy to direct her letter to the care of P. T. Miller. Phillip Thomas Miller (1818-1895) was the warden of the prison in Jefferson City from 1861 to 1865.
Addressed to Miss Nancy Carter, Allen, Randolph County, Missouri
Postmarked Jefferson City, MO
Jefferson City, MO
September 20, 1863
I once more take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to inform you I am well, hoping these few lines will find you the same. I received your letter July the 11 and was glad to hear from you. You must excuse me for not writing sooner as I have not had a good opportunity.
Nancy, I would be happy to see you indeed though I don’t know when that will be — I hope not long. I know you have looked for a letter for some time and I am sorry that I hadn’t the opportunity sooner. You must write every opportunity you have. It gave me great satisfaction to hear from you.
My health is good and I am in fine spirits. Trouble I do not mind. I cast it all aside and think of the better days to come, for trouble we all have to see — some [a] great deal more than others — and it seems I have my share to see.
Nancy, you wished for me to be candid and speak sentimental on the question in regard to true lovers. I have told you my true intention. If ever I get out of here, I am coming to see you if you are single. You may get tired waiting. If you do, as I have always told you, go on and marry if you are single. When I get out, I[‘ll] make you my dear wife as sure as I live to see the day come. I am sorry I did not marry you a many long days ago. If I had, I never would had the trouble to see that I have, I am sure.
Nancy, I had gave up all hopes of us ever marrying up at one time. Now [I] intend to make you my wife if you are willing, if we ever meet. Don’t get out of heart. Cheer up and pass off the time the best you can from your once [ink blotch] …if I never meet you here, beloved, I hope we will meet in heaven.
Nancy, I spend a great deal of my time reading the bible. I have one been a very wild boy though never drinking nor car playing did I follow. Nancy, I get out next summer or fall and that will be as soon as I can free myself. I have friends to see to this and will attend to it for me without a doubt. Nancy, if we never had no trouble, we never would know what trouble was. If you still hold out faithful, all things will come out alright after awhile.
Mr. Herdon bought my land for me. It was sold to pay the cost. It went for one dollar. I was glad he bought it for me. I have made arrangements with him. He rented it out last spring to old man Bain Miller father ______
Nancy, you must write every opportunity you can for I want to hear from you the worst kind. I think of you often and think of the happy days that we passed away the last time I saw you. If I had been told how things would change, I would not have ever believed it to have been. It will soon be three years, the first of December, since I last saw you & indeed, if I had known my time was so short in that country, I would have come and seen you though I had no such thoughts.
I must come to a close. Wish you great luck, I am forever your true friend until death. Write soon as you can.
— Samuel Croff [to] Nancy Carter
Direct as before in care of P. T. Miller