Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  Mr. Nasby Finds a New Business which Promises Ample Profits

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Mr. Nasby Finds a New Business which Promises Ample Profits

By David Ross Locke (1833–1888)

[Born in Vestal, Broome Co., N. Y., 1833. Died in New York, N. Y., 1888. From The Struggles—Social, Financial, and Political—of Petroleum V. Nasby. 1872.]

(wich is in the Stait uv Kentucky),
January 20, 1869.
I HEV it at last! I see a lite! A grate lite! a brite lite! I shall not go to Noo York, nor shall I be forced to leave the Corners, at least permanently. I hev at last struck ile! I shel live like a gentleman; I shel pay for my likker, and be on an ekal footin with other men. Bascom, whose smile is happiness, but whose frown is death, will smile onto me wunst more.

To Miss Soosan Murphy I owe my present happiness. The minnit I notist that she hed put in a claim agin the Government for property yoosed doorin the war by Fedral soljery, I to-wunst saw where my finanshel salvashen wuz. Immejitly I histed my shingle ez a agent to prossekoot claims agin the Government for property destroyed or yoosed doorin the late onpleasantnis, by Fedral troops. That shingle hedn’t bin out an hour before Joe Bigler hed red it to half the citizens uv the Corners, and in two hours I hed biznis on my hands, and money in my pockets. Ez a matter uv course, I insisted upon a retainin fee uv ten dollars in each case.

Issaker Gavitt and his two younger brothers wuz the first clients I hed. Their case is one uv pekoolyer hardship, and I feel ashoored that Congris will to-wunst afford em the releef they ask. The property destroyed wuz a barn and its contents, wich wuz destroyed by Buel in the second yeer uv the war; that is, the contents wood hev bin destroyed only they wuzn’t in the barn, ez they hed bin sold jist previously to the Confedracy. But ez the Elder, peace to his ashes, took Confedrit munny for sed contents, wich munny he, in a moment uv enthoosiasm, invested in Confedrit bonds, wich finally got to be worth nothin, we put in a claim for the valyoo uv the contents ez well ez uv the barn. Bein 70 years uv age when the war broke out, he did not volunteer in the Confedrit service, and consequently never fired a shot at the Old Flag. His two youngest sons did, it is troo, but the Elder can’t be held responsible for them boys. The estate is entitled to damage jist the same ez tho the Elder wuz alive.

Elder Pennibacker hez also claims to a considerable amount, wich is for fences, crops, barns, and sich, destroyed by Fedral armies. The Elder is not quite certain but that the fences wuz destroyed by order uv a Confedrit General, wich wuz retreetin, and it is possible that the crops, barns, and sich, wuz yoosed up at the same time. It wuz doorin the war, at any rate, and ez the Fedral Government wuz, in his opinyun, to blame for the war, wich never wood hev bin carried on hed it yeelded ez it ought to hev done, why the Fedral Government ought to pay all these losses. Uv course I shan’t put all the Elder’s talk into the petishen.

Miss Jane McGrath’s case, wich is the one I shel push the hardest, is one wich, ef Congris does not consider favorably, it will show that Congris hez no bowels. Miss McGrath is a woman. Uv course doorin the war she wuz loyal, ez she understood loyalty. She beleeved in her State. She hed two brothers which went into the Confedrit servis, and she gave em both horses. But wood any sister let her brother go afoot? Them horses must be set down to the credit uv her sisterly affeckshun. It will be showed, I make no doubt, that when her oldest brother’s regiment (he wuz a Colonel) left for the seat uv war, that Miss McGrath presented to it a soot uv colors wich she made with her own hands, wich soot included a black flag with skull and cross-bones onto it. Sposin she did? It wuz loyalty to wat she considered her State. And the fact that doorin the war she rode twelve miles to inform a Confedrit officer that four Fedral soljers wich hed escaped from Andersonville wuz hid in her barn, shood not operate agin her. Onto her piano ther wuz a choice collection uv Southern songs, and ther is a rumor that in Louisville wunst she did spit in the face uv a Fedral offiser: but wat uv that? Is a great Government goin to inquire closely into sich trifles? Miss McGrath give me the names uv three Fedral Generals who campt on her place doorin the last year uv the war, wich wood certify to her loyalty, wich, ef they didn’t, wood show that there wuzn’t any gratitood in humanity.

Deekin Pogram hez uv course a claim. The Deekin’s horses wuz all taken by a Fedral offiser, wich wuz the more aggravatin, ez the Deekin hed, in addishen to his own, jist bought 25, wich he wuz to hev delivered to General Morgan, uv the Confedracy, the next day, who wuz to hev paid for em in gold. They were gobbled. For these horses the Deekin claims payment. He wuz, doorin the war, strictly nootral. Kentucky did not secede, neither did the Deekin. His boys went into the Confedrit service, and on several occasions he mite hev cleaned his trusty rifle and gone out at nite to git a crack at Fedral pickets. Habit is strong, and ez ther were no schoolmasters to shoot, the Deekin must shoot somethin. He considered the war a great misforchoon, and many a time hez the old patriark, with teers streemin down his cheeks, exclaimed, “Why won’t Linkin withdraw his troops and let us alone?” He hez bin since the close uv the struggle a hankerin arter Peece. “Let us hev Peece!” is his cry. “Give me back my niggers; let me hev things ez they wunce wuz, and I shel be soothed into quietood.” He voted for Micklellan in 1864, and for Seymour in 1868, but that uv course won’t count agin him in the matter uv the claim. The minnit he decided to put in the claim he withdrew from the Ku-Klux, uv wich associashun he hez bin chief for this seckshun. He’s sorry now that he shot any niggers since the close of the war. He is an inoffensive old man, whose pathway to the tomb needs soothin. The horses he lost he counts worth $10,000, and he uv course wants remuneration to the amount uv $10,000 more for the anguish he suffered seein uv em go.

Almost every white citizen uv the Corners hez a claim, uv wich I shel hev the prosekootin; that is them wich kin raise the retainin fee. Some hundred or more who never hed anything before or doorin the war, and who are in the same condishen now, hev put in claims for sums rangin from $10,000 to $20,000, offerin me the half I git. I may take em. They kin swear to each other’s loyalty, wich will redoose the cost uv evidence to a mere nominal sum.

I shel hie me to Washinton and get Mrs. Cobb to take hold with me, givin her a share. Ef she succeeds with Congris ez well ez she did with the President, the result will be all that I kin desire.

(wich is Postmaster).