Friday, January 21, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 21

Tazewell, Tenn.
Jan. 21st, 1874.

Mr. A.L. Snow

Dear Friend,

Your letter from Coleraino Mass. was received some two weeks ago, and would have been answered immediately, but I thought it best to wait until I should make another trip to Lee, hoping that I would be able to give you more definite information in regard to the bones then I could then do. I preached up in Lee last Sunday, but Mr./ Fulkerson being sick, I failed to see him, and saw Mr. Bales, who is also interested in the matter, only at church. I called at his house on Monday morning, but he was absent from home. I left a message on the subject for him and Mr. F, and I have no doubt they will exert themselves to procure as nearly a complete skeleton as possible. I do not, however, feel very sanguine as to their success, for after Mr. Fulkerson received your letter, he and I visited several caves where from reports we confidently expected to find more valuable bones than the ones you took with you, but were disappointed, in consequence of so many of these having been carried off of late years as mere objects of curiosity.

I have so far ascertained the location of about twenty-one or twenty-two caves known to have bones in them, and a few others that have no bones, so far as is known. I feel confident that if these were all thoroughly explored that whole skeletons could be found. I believe that they contain a rich treasure for the antiquary and ethnologist, but it may be lost by delay. I cannot doubt that these bones have been very abundant within a few years past. The testimony on this point is abundant and from men whose veracity cannot be doubted. I wish you would urge Prof. Henry to get an appropriation for the exploration of the caves and mounds without waiting for a complete skeleton, for the very difficulty of obtaining one is an urgent reason against delay. If the testimony of the most prominent citizens of Lee county as to the abundance of these bones in past years, will answer the place of the skeleton in securing an appropriation, it can easily be had. If an appropriation is secured, it should be for Lee and the immediately adjoining county, for a few of the caves and perhaps one or two of the mounds are in the edge of Tenn. and probably there are some mounds at least in Harlan Co. Ky. I have no doubt that there are a good many of those "bone caves" in Lee that I have not yet heard of, for I hear of one or two additional ones nearly every time I visit the county.

Dr. Ewing received a letter from Prof. Henry in reference to the stone you spoke to me about. I saw it when in Lee the other day. It is neither conical nor hollow. It's exact shape is somewhat difficult to describe. It is about 18 inches long, the main body of it cylindrical or nearly so, tapering a little towards the ends and the ends themselves rounding. It is perhaps 2 1/2 inches in diameter. It is a black stone, of fine grit and smoothly polished. I am not mineralogist enough to say certainly what kind of stone it is. The doctor is unwilling to part with it, but has some others that will probably prove valuable additions to the cabinet of the Smithsonian Institute that he will part with, and thinks he can still procure others.

Your family are all well and mine tolerably well. I suppose Mrs. Snow keeps you posted in regard to all the news of Tazewell. There is nothing of any special interest in regard to church matters. Money is scarcer and the business of the community is a more prostrated condition than I have ever known it.

If I learn anything of importance in regard to the bones I will write again. I hope we shall see you home again before long.

Your Friend,
S.B. Campbell

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