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Augusta County: James R. McCutchan to Rachel Ann McCutchan, July 11, 1862

In this long letter to his cousin Rachel, James R. McCutchan writes of the beauty of the area in which he is staying, telling Rachel of a deep mountain lake she should see one day. The letter also refers to several people McCutchan had recently encountered.

July 11th, 62

Newport Giles Co.

Dear Rate,

I have'nt heard a word from you since I left your house, I have no means of knowing whether you are dead or alive. Though I hope the "black rose" is entirely gone from your cheek, & that you are again well & happy. Together with the rest of the family that were sick when I left. I had an extremely lonesome trip through the mountains to [deleted: ], but as I gave Lizzie an account of it in my letter to her, I will not here repeat it.

I am still with Henry, he is getting well again & I think will soon be able to walk about. He is able to sit up ten or fifteen minutes at a time now, though not more than twice a day. I have had a directly hard time of it. I hav'nt had a good nights sleep since last Wednesday was a week. I was so sleepy this morning after breakfast, that I could'nt keep my eyes open, & I lay down & went to sleep I did'nt

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wake up till dinner was ready & I'm going to sleep again as soon as I get through writing.

Mrs. Paine is a fine old lady, her husband is dead & she has no children she has an adopted daughter, Miss Hattie Early a young lady about six teen. They are all mighty nice about every thing, real sanctified methodists. The circuit rider is here now. I don't know how he can preach but from his appearances, I judge if I had two days study, & a glass of brandy, I could preach as well in the back woods as he can.

This is a romantic place, if you imagine little [unclear: young] mountains coming from every direction with deep narrow hollers between & meeting around a dark ravine filled with some dozen plain houses, you have a pretty [illeg.] idea of Newport & its vicinity.

You would laugh if you could hear the old woman squalling at her little

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"niggers" She has about a half a dozen attired in long [unclear: tow] shirts slit up on both sides, & nothing else in the world on their backs. She is a perfect [unclear: termagnent] among the darkies & when the equality of her temper has been a little ruffled, her voice reminds me very much of a thrashing machine in full motion, or the escape of steam from a steam whistle. I suppose I'm too hard on the old woman, but she will forgive me I reckon for the sake of a little [unclear: four].

Well how is l_e_d getting along I suppose she quit coming to see the sick after I left, she is the biggest fool I ever saw I think & I dont know why somebody d'nt tell her so. I have'nt heard a word from my Dearie since I saw her a month ago, I would like very much to hear from her & much better would I like to see her, though it is hard telling when that will be.

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I wish you were here Rate, we would go to see the falls & the mountain lake, two great natural curiosities. The falls are about 5 mls from here. I have never been there, I know but little about it. The mountain lake is 8 mls from here on top of a lofty mountain. The top of the mountain is level for some 6 mls across at this place, with some interesting ravines. This lake has been formed in one of these in the last half century. Some years ago several small streams from the mountain sides around led down into the bottom of this deep hollow & formed an outlet through the ground, cattle were salted here it is said in Summer a great[unclear: -eat] & in the course of time the opening at the bottom became closed & it began to fill up, & it was 30 years filling up to where it formed an outlet

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From a little pool where cattle were salted it grew to be a pond, & from a pond it has grown to be a beautiful silvery lake three mls in circumferance & three hundred feet deep. You can't imagine any thing more beautiful & grand than this lake on the mountain top. There has been a beautiful hotel erected on its margin by a Mr. Porter & not another house within six miles of it. There are several boats there for the accomodations of visitors, but all old & out of repair & a sail on the lake in one of them is not half so pleasant as it would be in a a good skiff or sailboat. I stopped there a little while as I came from [unclear: mission] here & sailed out upon the lake in comp'y with Mr. Long, when we had gotten about a half mile from shore, there came up

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a tremendous storm of wind & rain & you may well suppose that we hauled in canvass, tacked about, & bent our oars into port, we reached shore without any accident except a good soaking. The water is quite clear & pure & one can see down in to it for some distance.

There is a high knob of the mountain 3/4 of a mile from the lake, from the top of which you can see into Kentucky, Tennessee & North Carolina. When the war is over I am going to get married and bring my old woman here to see it & you may come along. Give my love to all & Cousin Sallie too & write soon. Direct to Newport Giles Co. Va. in no ones care.

Yours Affectionately,

James R. McCutchan

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