Jesse Slone’s 1898 Letter

Daniel W, Bynum (see more about  him here) and his wife Sarah Louisa Slone of Titus County, Texas, evidently visited relatives back in DeKalb County, Alabama in the late 1890s. Upon their return, they wrote to Jesse Slone and received the following letter in response.  Persons mentioned in the letter are identified in footnotes.  Spelling is as in original, but punctuation is added for readability.


Dealers in General Merchandise

Lebanon, Ala., March 16th, 1898

Mr. D. W. Bynum and Louisa Bynum, Cookville, Texas

Dear Nephew and Niece

I received your letter some time ago and should have answered it sooner but I am not well and seam like I have a disposition to put off everything I can. I have something like jondice make me stupid and dull. I was very glad to hear that you got home all right and your people was all well. I have hired James Slone’s1 boy to stay in the store a while.   The connections is all well as far as I know, Sam2 was down last week and stayed with us 3 or 4 days. It is raining now and looks like we was going to have a freshet. We have had but very little cold weather since you left here. It seems like I want to see you worse than I did before you come to see us. I know I can not be here long and it seems like I would like to be where I could go to see all my kin. You seem nearer to me now than any of my kin outside of my own children because we was raised up together.

Tell Becky3 I sympathize with her in her afflictions, would be glad to hear of her getting well.   I understand Mr. Phil Gilbert come to your country and married Henry Taylor’s widow.4  Hope they will get along all right and have a happy life together. Phill is one of my old associates and has visited my house a great deal and am glad to here of him doing well Think he will be good to Sarah and can have a quit time in their old age but I hardly think Mr. Gilbert will be satisfied out their after spending a lifetime in this county. Think he will want to come back to Sand Mountain to see the grass and flowers in the Spring.

Well I feel very lonely now when I think of not having a brother or sister, father or mother in the world and know that I too must soon follow after them. Of course I realiz my situation and know that I ought to be praying continually that the Lord might prepare me for that trying ordeal.   I have taken on too much business. I think I will try to get rid of it as soon as I can and try to live a more quiet life. My children are all doing well that is all but Billy. You know he must be a miserable man to think of never having any opportunity of seeing any of his connections, having to slip and hide and all the time traveling from one county to another. I will not wright any more now tonight. Tell your children to wright to me and Becky.

Respectfully, Jesse Slone

Genealogical clues:

Jesse B. Slone (1833-1904) was the uncle of Daniel Bynum’s wife, the former Sarah Louisa Slone.   We know that Jesse Slone was not related to Daniel Bynum other than by marriage, so Daniel Bynum was not his literal nephew.  (Additionally, note that Daniel Bynum’s sister Sarah is referred to as the widow of Henry Taylor rather than as a niece.)   We also know that there was no relationship between the Bynums and the families of Jesse’s wives.   Thus the letter constitutes proof that Jesse Slone was Sarah’s uncle.

  • Sarah Louisa Slone Bynum’s death certificate identifies her parents as John Slone and [blank] Isbell.  We can fill in that blank, since we know from other records that her mother’s given name was Mary.
  • Jesse B. Slone’s son Samuel identified his grandparents, Jesse Slone’s parents, as John Slone and Nancy Isbell.
  • Thus Sarah Slone’s father John Slone must have been a brother of Jesse Slone and a son of John Slone Sr.


Jesse Slone was only seven years older than Sarah Slone.  If Jesse was literally Sarah’s uncle then he must have been a much younger brother of Sarah’s father John Slone.   That is, there must have been a John Slone (married to Nancy Isbell) who had an older son named John (who married Mary Isbell) and younger ones named Jesse and William.

The statement that “we was raised up together” suggests that Jesse and Sarah may have lived in the same household as children, apparently sometime between 1840 (when Sarah Louisa Slone was born) and 1855 (when Jesse was married).   Unfortunately, they appear to be among the missing households of the 1850 DeKalb County census.   Jesse’s father was probably deceased by 1850, and he is likely in a relative’s household.  Unfortunately, the only known relative is his brother William Slone, and he is not in that household in 1850.  Jesse may have had sisters who took him in.   If Sarah Louisa and Jesse are indeed in the same household in 1850, it would presumably be that of Sarah’s stepfather, but he is nowhere to be found anywhere in Alabama. Jesse is also not in any Isbell household (even with the wrong surname).

Statement by Sarah Louisa Slone’s Grandson:

A paper handwritten by Duane Witt (1906-1986) sometime in the 1970s shows that he believed Sarah Louisa Slone and Jesse Slone were sister and brother.   It reads: ” Sarah Louisa Bynum was my grandmother… Grandmother Bynum – she was a Slone. Her folks ran a Gen. Mercantile store at Decatur, Alabama.  The name Slone & Malone.”

  1. This is James T. Slone (1857-1928), the son of Jesse’s brother William Slone. []
  2. Samuel Byron Slone (1859-1924) was Jesse’s son. []
  3. This is Daniel Bynum’s sister Rebecca Bynum Sutherland (c1836-1928).  She married Elihu Sutherland in DeKalb County and moved to Texas with the rest of her family in 1860. []
  4. Phillip B. Gilbert (c1832-?) was in the 1850 census of Cherokee County and the 1860-1880 censuses of DeKalb County with a wife named Elizabeth Ann and several children.  Shortly before this letter was written he remarried to Sarah Bynum Taylor, who was Daniel W. Bynum’s sister.  Sarah Bynum had first married Henry Taylor in Dekalb County and  about 1861 joined the rest of her family in Texas. []