[Flemingsburg, Kentucky], August 4, 1815. 3 pages on a laid paper folio with an integral address to Cook, franked by the postmaster in red ink for 30 cents postage from “Fleming CH” [Fleming Court House], Aug. 5. Approx. 400 words. Paper toned, some light foxing; contemporary pen tests and sums and John Cook’s name repeated in an early hand on the cover; in very good condition, quite legible. With a preliminary transcript. Item #19781
On the perils of travel and illness: “I am just recovered from A Severe turn of the fever. . . . I took it before I left the Indian nation and continued to travel on untill I came to A Mr Andrew’s this Side of Lexington where I now am, and has been for nearly four weeks, the two first of which I was constantly confined to bed, A very good Doctor attending me. . . . I have been very kindly treated since I came here, I could not have been better – excuse the scrawl as at present I can neither write nor indite, my head is so much out of order, part of my complaint being then, it was A continual Sounding as if there had been A number of Water falls around me. – I was blistered for that between [my?] shoulders or rather above.” The cover addressed to Millers Run, Pittsburgh suggests the settlement in Chartiers Township near the Miller Run in the tract that had once been George Washington’s 2800 land grant southwest of Pittsburgh. The identities of which specific Cook and Johnston we are dealing with here—these surnames, like the fever and ague itself, in no short supply among the early settlers of the region—remain unclear. (Other Cooks mentioned in the note include Archibald, Margaret, and Miss Jean.) In any case, an evocative early letter of frontier travel.