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Most all is in the brod road; you most keep in the narry road.

The following are daily notes Great Great Grandfather James Calloway Campbell wrote to his children near the end of his life.  The spelling of words is sometimes peculiarly his, but often times, the seemingly misspelled words are spellings found in the Old Blueback Speller of that time period.

These “dispatches,” as he called them, were found in my Great Grandmother Sally Campbell Vaughan’s possessions after her death in 1936.

—Austin Mitchell, 1993

Noah Webster wrote the spelling guide “The First Part of the Grammatical Institute of the English Language” in 1783. It was later called “The American Spelling Book” (1786) and “The Elementary Spelling Book” (1829). It became the basic speller for most schools in the United States. It was known as ‘Old Blueback Speller’ for its blue back cover.

No. 1

March the 28, 1902

Madison Co., Georgia

My dear children and grandchildren

I have concluded to write you a day by day dispatch to let you know that we are yet alive.  I have been sick and have a hard time getting through this winter and not through yet.  I am not well, verry paly, had cole all this winter.  Your ma is well, so that suits me, I can’t do well without her.

They say I am getting old, and I reccon I am.  I can’t get about mutch.  I an’t got mutch to do, I not able to do little, I have hard time doing noting.

Jerusha is getting dinner and that suits me.  I most go out and look around.

No. 2. March 30, 1902-Sunday

I very paly yestaday, it seems I almost got one foot in the grave and the other on land.

Yes, God is taking my tabineccle down, I feel resign to his will.  I also ready.  I am a burden to my self and this world don’t suit me now, its to fast, I can’t keep up, I will try and endure until the end.

Jerusha have been reading the paper, it fell, now she fast asleep.  So the Lord is good He gives us food, sleep and rest.

No. 3. April 1

We are well this morning, thank the Lord for all his blessings.

Jessy and Dory is married, they married brothers, their names is Odis and Joe Die, they are nice young men and well to do.  Jessy stade with us last nite.

Buly Bouhers has a girl, she pade us a visit Sunday.

Jerusha is stepping around verry lite.  Jimmy is going to Athens with a big bail of cotton for her.  She says she is going to kuit farming and rent the place out, so that suit me.

Everry thing is moving on finely.  I am calm and submissive.  I must go out and look around.

Farmers and mules lined up in a Madison County, GA cornfield ca. 1890.

Farmers and mules lined up in a Madison County, GA cornfield ca. 1890.

No. 4 April the 5

We are well by I am broke down.  I work in the garden all day and now I hafter rest, my legs will give out.

My children and grandchildren is so good and kind to us, we can’t do without them.  When I get sick they are standing a round my bed and giving me physic and mush and Milk and heap of good things.  They often bring us things that we haven’t got, so we are thankful for all their kindness.  We ought to be happy, but we are old, our limbs acks, we can’t be happy in this tabineccle.

No. 5. April the 6

I am feeling well, I am at home, I can ly down and get up when I plese.  Jerusha is setting up fast asleep.

I went to se Livona yestaday, they are all well.  I also went to se Cornelia, she gone.  And then I went to see Jessy and she gone, so I return back home.  Home is a good place to stay, but we must go slow, we may fall down.

I have nothing to rite about but foolishness, so I will beg your parden.  So, come see us.

J. C. C.

No. 6 April 15

We are well.  Jerusha says she is going to have a good dinner to day, so you know that will suit me.  I got through planting out my garden, I will hafter ly down and rest.

What have become of Gip and Hatty?  I recon they are looking after their own business, I hear nothing from them.  I note there is nothing pure now, from the pulpit down, every thing is corrupt.  Selfishness and money is all the religin.  Most all is in the brod road.  They say there is no hell fire.  You most keep in the Narry Road.

No. 7. April the 16

We are hear yet, thank the Lord.

Our town is on a boom, we have too many stores.  Jimmy and Loullen is getting rich, they got a big trade.  I am a fread they will get in the broad road.  Our doctor has several plantations and wants more, I am a fread he will lose his sole.

We have a roly mill and a blacksmith shop and a plain mill.  We have a new court house, it cost twente thousaend dollars.  A good many new houses have been built in the country.

I am content and submissive.  Another good dinner today.

No.8, April 17

Thank the Lord for this beautiful day.

I went a round my plantation, every thing is moving on finely.

I am nearly broke down, will have to rest.

Jerusha is getting dinner, she is verry handy, can’t do well without her.  She has 40 young chicks and a lot setting and wants more, so we aut to be happy

I went to see Cornelias baby, it is so sweet.  Jessy keeps a nice house, she is verry good, she says she has religin, so that suits me.  I love good people espeshily if they love more.

I have wrote enough of this stuff, must go out and look a round.

Yours Truly

J. C. Campbell

This selection has been edited; full version online at:

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Most all is in the brod road; you most keep in the narry road.


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