Volume 9 , Number 10 , Winter 1988
William Underwood, a merchant, arrived in Springfield, Greene County, Mo., in the late 1830s. He was a widower, as his wife, Elizabeth Marley, had died at Marley Mills, Chatham County, N.C., in 1836. Many records from North Carolina indicate that William Underwood was a very successful merchant and business man. Williams father and mother, James Underwood and Margaret Campbell Underwood had at least two other sons in addition to William: John, who married Sallie Watson, was born about 1752; and Daniel, who died in August 1820.
William arrived in Springfield with six children, Eliza Ann born about 1822, Bedford B. born about 1824, Martha R. born about 1826, Alfred Moore born Nov. 14, 1828, Elizabeth born about 1832 and George Clymer born Sept. 4, 1835. William Underwood died suddenly at Springfield, Mo., in April 1840. His estate settlement shows that he had just received a large shipment of luxury merchandise for a store. His current bills indicated that he was also fitting out a farming operation. Records disclose that one of his employees, Thomas P. Henry, possibly engaged in hauling merchandise from the Missouri River landing at Franklin, Mo., to Springfield, Mo.
Thomas P. Henry married William Underwoods eldest daughter, Eliza Ann, within a week after William died. The remaining five children went through various guardianships and all except George Clymer remained in Missouri until they reached their majority. Later, Benjamin Marley, a maternal relative of the Underwood children, moved to Greene County and became guardian for the residue of William Underwoods estate. When George Clymer was 13, he was sent back to Marley Mills, N.C., to live with his maternal grandfather, Jesse Marley.
Both George Clymer and Alfred Moore Underwood became country doctors. George Clymer practiced in Chatham and Randolph Counties, N.C., and Alfred Moore in Barry and McDonald Counties, Mo. Both men farmed and were engaged in other professional activities in addition to their medical practices.
George C. Underwood was assistant surgeon for the 26th Regiment of the North Carolina Troops during the Civil War. He wrote a history of the 26th Regiments activities in the Civil War. This book was published by Nash Brothers Printers, Goldsboro, N.C., in 1901. There is a single reference in the historical materials at the Pea Ridge Battlefield Office showing that Alfred Moore Underwood was a Confederate doctor during that engagement. Dr. Alfred Moore Underwood died at Cyclone, McDonald County, Mo., Nov. 16, 1896. Dr. George Clymer Underwood died at Marley Mills, Chatham County, N.C., Oct. 26, 1903.
Two letters from Dr. George Clymer Underwood to Dr. Alfred Moore Underwood have survived. The first letter was dated April 5, 1861, just one week before the first shot of the Civil Was was fired at Fort Sumter, Virginia. The second letter was dated more than 27 years later, June 28, 1888. Although the letters are of a personal nature, they are reproduced here for whatever historical value they may contain.
Marleys Mills, N.C.
April 5th, 1861 Dear Brother,
I went to Philadelphia about the 1st of October -attended a full course of Medical Lectures - five months. I was very well pleased indeed with the school. I attended the Jefferson College; there was a pretty large class - considerable diminution however, from the class there twelve months ago, then being 630.1 enjoyed uninterrupted health while there - had good company, good diet to. I visited most of the places of note about the city both of nature and art. I visited also the Niagara Falls in NY - that is magnificent. I spent 24 hours in the City of NY. There was considerable political excitement there during the winter as well as every where else in the United States. I hope our national troubles will yet result in peace and harmony.
I returned home about the 10th of March. Cousin
Henry Marley was on with me attending his second
Letters cont. from p. 16
course he graduated.
I received a letter a short time ago from cousin Jane Henry giving me the sad intelligence of the death of our dear Sister Elizabeth and her husband. I hope they are enjoying the "Rest" prepared for the faithful.
I am glad to hear that your health is improving.
Our relations here are all well. Health of the country good.
Write soon and often
Your affectionate brother
Geo. C. Underwood
Marleys Mills, Randolph County, N. Carolina.
June 28th 1888.
Dear Brother Alfred:
I was so glad to receive your letter of the 12th of May last, as I had been anxiously expecting one for a long time. I was glad to hear that you and family were all in common health and getting along I suppose well so far as earthly comforts are concerned, and I hope a bright prospect of a home beyond the stars when we have to leave these low grounds of sorrow - this mundane sphere, this terrestrial ball; which of course be the amount of our aspirations in this life, so as to secure these needed blessings by doing our duty.
I was sorry to hear of the death of our nephew and of the misfortune of the other one; but such is life. We are destined to have our hopes blasted and our prospects blighted for this world. Measles have become to be quite a fatal disease when cold is taken and there is a predisposition to Lung Disease - the Lungs being a weak point in the system. Callie and our two little boys have never had measles yet. Our little fellows have had no contagious disease. The measles and mumps have been in our county recently. The health of the surrounding country is tolerably good now, and has been a good while.
The wheat and corn crops of last yearhere were tolerably good, though they sell higher here than with you I suppose at any time. Wheat one dollar per bushel -corn 75 cents and occasionally as much as a dollar, and bacon 12 1/2 cts, oats 50 cts. These figures are about the top of our markets and I suppose will be for time to come. We had a right cold, disagreeable winter here, but not much snow - a great deal of rain and cold weather in the Spring - an uncommon amount of rain and cold in May which makes our wheat crops not more than two-thirds as now thought. Corn is not promising for the time of year - winter oats right good.
I taught nearly a four-month school again last fall and winter. They paid me $25 per month. The school was 4 miles south of us. I boarded with one of Callies brothers, John Brower. Just on my route to school lived Mathis Edwards and wife. Do you remember her? She was Eliza Paschal, sister to Richard (Dick) Paschal. She said she had nursed me many times. She died last winter. Richard has been dead many years. He was sheriff of Chatham one or two terms some thirty years ago. I was at old Springfield at meeting again last fall - always see our old place when I go there. Mr. James Jordan owns the place.
Have I ever told you where we live? You remember where Uncle Thomas Morley lived (his son now lives) the mill; just 3/4 of a mile due west on the stage road to Asheboro, we live. I bought the land from Uncle Thomas estate. We generally raise about 100 bushels of corn, sometimes more, from 40 to 50 bushels of wheat some oats and hay enough to do us - and some cotton - try to make about our support on the farm without hiring much.
Willie can plow well - can begin to cut wheat and mow some. James can hoe, make hay etc. - help considerably. He can solve problems in fractions and compound quantities right well - can read and spell quite and can write a passable hand for a boy not 10 years old till the last day of next August. Willie studied Grammer some this last winter - can diagram very well for his age 14 the 7th of next month - he also worked the Common School Arithmetic quite a good many changes in modes of training at school since I was a boy even.
When I look at your good, round, smooth copy-handwriting, I feel sorry that I have injured my own hand so much by writing fast. I am trying to get our boys to write a plain, round hand. There is quite a flourish to our modern writing here - writing schools taught under the system.
The Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Rail Road runs in Letters
4 miles of us - Staley Depot. It runs by William Mathews. Do you remember that place? A depot there called Suer City - quite a vilage now - 5 miles east of Marleys Mills, Write soon and tell me all that you think would interest me.
your affectionate brother- G. C. Underwood
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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