Volume 7, Number 6, Fall 1981
Copy of letter written at Ponce De Leon by Mahlon O. Bedell, great uncle of W.R.V.H.S. member Lucille Chrisman, to Mr. and Mrs. Allen Wallis, his brother-in-law and sister, on January 18, 1892.
Well, we have quite a town here. It is about three quarters of a mile long from north to south. The north end is about one-quarter of a mile wide running nearly to a point at the south end. I suppose there is about one hundred and fifty houses. Some are very good ones, but a majority are box houses. We have a dozen or more good houses. The population is estimated to be from 300 to 400. We have some fine people here while we have a great many of the lower classes. We have professors of almost every denomination. We have members of the M. E. Church. None of our own except what come from Elm Spring. There are Campbellites, Hardshell Baptist, Freewill Baptist, Latter Day Saints, Congregationalist, a few Missionary Baptist and some Cumberland Presbyterians. The C. P. preacher is J. W. Moore. He is a nice man with a splendid wife and three children. He preaches for us -sometimes twice on the Sabbath. Rev. Mr. Fly has moved his family here and he is here occasionally.
The M. E. preacher (Turrentine) preaches here on the first Sunday of each month and they are doing their very best to build a church. Their trustees consist of two South Methodist (myself and Charley Huff), some Cumberland, some Baptist, and some of their own church. They have a building committee but I am not on that. Yet, they elected me for treasurer, so you see, they think I must be honest. This may be bait, but if I am in Stone County I am one of the worst South Methodist you have ever seen and if I die in Africa I expect to die a member of the M. E. Church South. Never expect to have my name taken from Elm Spring until I can attach to some other class, unless they take me off without my consent. I love the people and the church at Elm Spring. Our Preacher (Brother Hoyle) has been here twice and I like him fine. Think he is a good man.
My mind often wanders back to my old home and friends and I often think there is no place where I can ever enjoy myself at church like Elm Spring. It seemed to me there was work for me there and a responsibility resting on my shoulders that I always tried to discharge. I loved the Sunday School. I loved my seat that I always filled ever since we seated the house. I often wonder who fills my seat now. Since Uncle Billy died I wonder who fills his seat, and his place in the class, but a short time since we parted in good health. Today I am in Stone County while he is in Heaven. I loved him dearly and, God being my helper, I intend to meet him there.
Well, our House, which is the best house in town, stands on the identical spot where Alf Bolin, the notorious bush whacker lived during the war, or until he was killed. It is twenty by forty feet, two stories high with a good cellar. The lower room has a partition cutting off eight feet, leaving the front twenty by thirty-two feet. I occupy the upper story with my family. The main spring is about twenty-five or thirty feet from the door. We have about a $1,200.00 stock consisting of dry goods, groceries, queens ware, boots, shoes, etc. There is six other little stores here, some of them amount to almost nothing. My trade is not heavy but as good as I expected it would be this winter. My sales last week averaged $7.00 per day. Monday of this week I sold $13.50 and my trade is increasing daily. I was the last house opening up but I believe I have as many friends as any of them and will finally get the best trade.
Give my best wishes to Uncle George Winton and family and Dr. Ellis and family. Would be glad to see you and family. Tell Uncle George I would love to have been at Elm Spring the first Sunday he went there. I wanted to sing him a song on page 132 in Wreath of Praise. May God bless you is the prayer of your brother.
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