This letter was written by 52 year-old Willis Faulke Riddick (1811-1871), the son of Micajah Riddick (1768-1822) and Elizabeth Sumner (1770-1836). He wrote the letter to Adeline Burr Currier (1845-19xx) of Warren County, North Carolina, who became his third wife in October 1866.
An article in the Carolina Observer (Fayetteville) published on 15 October 1860 reported that “Willis [F.] Riddick of Gates County, North Carolina, sold on the 5th inst., to a Southern planter, 85 negroes for $85,000, payment to be made in six annual installments with interest.”
On-line records indicate that Willis F. Riddick was employed in the Confederate postal service in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War.
April 1st 1863
Your two letters of the 18th & 24th ult. have been duly received, and the letter, with the latter, has been forwarded to the North. You have no idea of the pleasure it affords me to receive and peruse your letters. They afford me more enjoyment than anything else; and I feel deeply indebted to you for them. ‘Tis true, there is sometimes delay in your writing, but you always explain the causes, which have invariably been sufficient and satisfactory.
Mrs. Gaines and Mrs. Whiting are at the “Spotswood” Hotel, in good health and spirits. The former went to Lynchburg last week and remained a few days. Mrs. Whiting’s son has just recovered from a severe attack of scarlet fever, but is now up and has a keen appetite.
I have not seen Miss Hickman since she left here a week or two after her arrival from North Carolina to visit her relation in the country, about twenty miles from here. Some time ago, I received an invitation to a “party” given by Mrs. Blake in that vicinity, and as I have no acquaintances with her, feel that I am indebted to Miss Hickman for it. But I could not attend.
“The Step Sister” ¹ was as you say — interesting; and I regret its sudden conclusion. Hope, however, the author, who seems to be particularly gifted in that particular style of writing, and to have a lively imagination, will soon furnish us with something more of the “same sort.”
I have not become satisfied of Simm’s object in writing “Paddy McGann.” But from what I have seen of it, my present opinion is that it is his purpose to expose a kind of superstitious belief of some ignorant persons, particularly among the Irish, often influencing their actions, disturbing their mental equilibrium and rendering them unhappy. He has acquired considerable fame in the literary world as a humorous writer, and I hope in this late effort he will sustain the position he has occupied, increase the extent of his fame, and succeed in doing much good. ²
For your attention to the garden — delightful, healthful, praise-worthy exercise. I sincerely hope you will be benefitted in body and mind, have an abundant supply of excellent vegetables, and be rewarded in many other respects; and that I may have the pleasure of walking with you to look at them where they are growing, and of partaking with you of a dish of them in the dining room.
The “Spotswood” Hotel is still open but the “Richmond House,” — a popular little hotel, and several respectable boarding [houses] have been closed in consequence of the difficulty in getting provisions, as the proprietors say. I reckon it is true — that provisions are scarce, and I know they are high in price.
With respect to the duration of the war, I think it will continue till the expiration of Lincoln’s term of office. It has been occasioned by fanaticism, is prosecuted by fanatics, and they will continue it while they have the power for they are blind, foolish, and mad.
My health is good, and I work as hard as ever. Instead of decreasing, business increases, and feeling better satisfied to do my part. I can have no respite yet. But I think of you often and when I can leave here to visit North Carolina, will surely call at “Esmeralda.” ³ Write soon.
With my high regard, &c. Yours truly, — W. F. Riddick
¹ The Step-Sister. A Novelette. By a Southern Gentleman. Richmond: Ayres & Wade. First published in the Southern Illustrated News, Jan. 3 – March 21, 1863
² William Gilmore Simms was the author of Paddy Gilmore, published in 1863). His earlier work was “As Good as a Comedy” published in 1852.
³ “Esmeralda” was the country home of Col. Wharton Green in Warren County, North Carolina. There may have been other estates known by that name, however.