1852: Jasper Ashworth Barry to James Walter Thomas

This letter was written by Jasper Ashworth Barry (1832-1861), the son of David Noble Barry (1808-1878) and Martha Calvin Smith (1815-1888) of Clarksville, Red River county, Texas — formerly from Tennessee. He was married to Mary Ann Hopkins (1841-1927) in August 1857. In 1859, Jasper sold his stock of drugs and medicines to Hart & Bates in Clarksville and went exclusively into the practice of medicine. In the 1860 U.S. Census, Jasper was enumerated as a physician in Clarksville, Red River county, Texas. In 1861, he served as a surgeon in Ragsdale’s Company, Texas Cavalry (“Red River Dragoons”) in the Confederate service. He enlisted on 15 June 1861 but there is no further record of him and he is believed to have died in the service in the fall of 1861.

Clarksville Standard (1861)

On 17 April 1861, just before enlisting in the Confederate service, Jasper posted the following notice in the Clarkesville Standard: “For Sale. As I intend to move to the country, I offer for sale my town residence, including eighteen lots adjacent to the public square, in the town of Clarksville. Also, 855 acres of land 10 miles southeast of Clarksville, the same being the head right of george S. Young, and 1085 acres lying in Red River county on Still creek through which the railroad runs. Also 387 acres lying on Mud creek in Bowie county near the town of DeKalb. Also, 320 acres in Titus county, 320 acres in Blossom Prairie in Red River county, and 320 acres one mile and a half south of Clarksville, known as the Scurry place, the titles to all of which are indisputable. Anyone desiring any of the above pieces of property can get them on the most reasonable terms by application to the undersigned or to F. M. Sims, Esq., who may always be found at my office. — J. A. Barry, Clarksville, April 17th ’61.”

From this 1852 letter we learn that Jasper journeyed from Clarksville, Texas, to New Orleans to attend medical lectures at the Medical Department of the Louisiana College (now Tulane University) which opened in 1835. He arrived in New Orleans during the excitement of the presidential election of 1852 in which Democratic nominee Franklin Pierce handily defeated General Winfield Scoot, the Whig nominee.

Jasper wrote the letter to his friend, James Walter Thomas (1828-1916), who became a judge in Texas and served in Co. D, 22nd Texas Volunteers.


Addressed to James W. Thomas, Clarksville, Red River county, Texas

New Orleans, La.
November 3d 1852

Dear Sir,

Punctuality begets confidence & a want of it sometimes begets enmity. So I have concluded to obey my promise. On the 21st if October I arrived at the “Crescent City” safe & sound with the exception of a violent cold which I took on the voyage to this place. A fever, which lasted a day & two nights resulted, from which I am just recovering.

New Orleans is all excitement with regard to the election; last night the streets were crowded with enthusiastic politicians betting, drinking, fighting. This is a very noisy place. I think if I could step over to Clarksville, I would do so to get one quiet’s night’s rest. The time was once when to promenade the streets at night unaccompanied would be to endanger personal safety. Such is not the case now. The scavengers & robbers of the streets have fled before an organized & well regulated system of police. From the present returns, I am very much afraid that [Gen. Winfield] Scott will be outdone. New Orleans has always given a large Whig majority but at present the Democrats have a majority of upwards 150 as you will see from the paper I send you. It is the opinion of a great many that Scott will carry yet this state.

The lectures in the Medical Department of the Louisiana College do not commence until some time in this month. I have grown tired in doing nothing. Oh how I would like to see some of my friends from Clarksville. I am an entire stranger here and am very lonesome. I have no news of interest & being very weak physically & mentally, I am in a bad condition to write an interesting letter.

Give my compliments to Billy Thomas & Lady. I wish them a long, prosperous, & happy life.

Don’t forget me to all the young ladies that I & you used to love so hard. You must reply to this if it merits an answer. Give me all the news &c. My respects to all my friends. Respectfully, — Jasper A. Barry

Gen’l. Pierce is undoubtedly elected (later dispatches) — J. A. B.


Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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