Page 15 Benjamin Lafayette Smith's letters, etc.
                                                 Lowndes Co., Miss., Dec the 9th 1857
                 My dear cousin— (Bettie Seay)
                               I received your most affectionate and loving letter last monday
                 was two veeks ago.
                 I am very sorry to tell you that aunt Selety Styles died not long since, with
                 the Bronchitis: She was sick a long time before she died. She left four little
                 children, three girls and One boy.
                     Ma has named the baby Curtis Clifford, a part of your name and a part of
                 cousins. I told you and her both about it before. He is just as fat as a pig
                 now. I never saw anything improve as fast as he has for the last month I do
                 not believe. He is just about as heavy now as he was about the first of Sep-
                 tember. Pa has made twice as much corn this year as he made last, and will
                 make a little over half as much cotton as he made. He has not got all of it
                 picked out yet, and I do not believe he will, for it has been raining all the
                 week, and it looks like it might rain all the rest of it. Uncle Berry & uncle
                 Wade will make a bale to every 2 acres, I reckon, for when I was down there last
                 summer they were calculating to make a bale to the acre. Some way or other uncle
                 Berry beats Pa making cotton every year. He has not got but 20 hands & Pa has
                 25. When I was down there, he was bragging how much he was going to beat Pa
                 making cotton.
                 I was telling you in my other letter how many overseers Pa had this year. The
                 third one has quit the second time, and now he has got the fourth.
                 I have told you most all of the news that I know and now I will tell you what
                 sort of teacher we have. Mr. Woods has whipped Penn twice, once about knocking
                 nucks in school and once about hollowing at him “I knowed he would not Whip
                 them. “ He called two boys up one evening to whip them about something, and put
                 it off a day or two to think about it, and that is the reason Penn hollowed at
                 him. He went to whip one last week, and he took up his hat and went a kiting.
                 He had said before that he was going to run, and Mr. Woods got hold, and said
                 that if he did that he would catch him, but when he ran he did not do it. There
                 is not one boy in school that likes him as a teacher. Sherman and the negroes
                 have been killing rats this morning again. He said that they bad killed about
                 50. I never saw so many rats on one place before I do not believe. Have you
                 many up your way? Cousin you never said anything about coming to see us in your
                 letter. I thought that you would have been here before now. I have been look-
                 ing for you all the fall.
                 When you see aunt Fannie tell her that she must write to me, I would be very glad
                 to receive a letter from her.
                 When you see cousin Martha, ask her does she ever intend to write to me again.
                 It has rained so much that it has washed away a great deal of the rail—road in
                 Noxubee swamp, and wright smart of it near us. They say that the water has
                 arisen higher than it ever has been before. I have been trying to think of
                 something a good while to write, but I cannot think of anything more.
                 You must not forget to tell aunt Fannie to write to me.
                  From your affectionate & loving cousin