Near Douglass December 29th 1861
Brother Bob this is Sunday evening and as we are at to (sic) great a distance from each other to converse face to face I have come to the conclusion to chat a little with you in the way of writing. it is a pleasure to me to know that I can write to my friends if I cannot see them. I would suppose that the most interisting (sic) newes (sic) to you would be to hear from Manerva and the little boys I saw Manerva and the baby today they were well the little baby is growing and looks well and fat bless its little soul Brother bob I love it for your sake because you cannot be with it. Manerva takes good care of herself and her boys she lookes (sic) as nice as ever with that white bonnet on, rosy cheekes (sic) and Sober modest countenance sometimes broken by an innocent smile which lasts generally a short time and then a deep study seemes (sic) to take the place instead she bears her trials I think with the fortitude of a Christian and a sensible lady you have gotten a wife worth haveing (sic) she is smart for buisness (sic) and has good natural sense all Manerva likes is education but as for my part I would rather have good natural sense than to have educated sense. Put good sense and education together and there it will do. This has been as dull a christmas up this way I think as I ever experienced as to earthly affairs but I do not think this a suitable time for rejoicing in the way that the most of people do Christmas
Robert Donnell Bone (1832-1892) was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, and came to Nacogdoches County in 1841 with his mother and stepfather. He and his brothers and sister moved in with his older sister when she married John Winstead Paine in 1846. After a serious illness of pneumonia, R. D. Bone rode horseback to Tennessee and entered the University at Nashville Medical School (which later became Vanderbilt University) in 1854 and returned to Douglass, Texas, to practice medicine after graduating in 1858. That same year he married Griselda Minerva Burk (1841-1912) who was also from Tennessee and had moved to Nacogdoches County, Texas, with her family in 1848. On November 25, 1861, Dr. Bone was appointed to serve as Assistant Surgeon of the 12th Texas Volunteer Infantry, Col. Overton Young's Regiment at Camp Hebert, Hempstead, Austin County, Texas. He felt it was his duty to serve the cause of the Confederacy and eagerly attended his post. As revealed in the following letters exchanged with his wife while on active duty in the Civil War, it soon became clear that he would have to contend with inadequate provisions, boring camp routine and confusing orders. "The Fever", dysentery, measles and exposure were Dr. Bone's patients' main medical problems; his regiment was not involved in any serious fighting. When he resigned his commission on March 7, 1863, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he went back to Douglass, Texas, to practice medicine. Dr. Bone also bought cotton and cattle and took them to New Orleans each fall to be sold. Minerva was Post Mistress in Douglass from 1866-1867. Only six of the Bone's 12 children reached adulthood, and two of their sons graduated from the University at Nashville Medical School exactly 50 years after Dr. Bone did. At least eight of his descendants have followed him in serving the medical profession. (Aiken, Roy L. (Pete). "Bone Family." In Nacogdoches County Families, 172. Dallas, Tx.: Curtis Media Corporation, 1985.)
Scope and Content Note
Included in the collection of letters between Dr. Bone and Minerva are letters to the Bones from family and friends, report forms from the post office at Douglass, and two poems (probably written by Dr. Bone). Typescripts for most of the papers in the collection are in a booklet in Box 2. Several 19th century newspapers belonging to Dr. Bone are cataloged and shelved with the newspaper bundles.
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