The following transcript is from a hand written letter from Thomas Jefferson Coatney to his mother Arminda B. Coatney Johnson in Scott County Indiana
December 14, 1878
New Madrid Missouri
As it is Sunday and raining I will write you a long letter and tell you how we are getting along as well as some things about our trip. We are all well at present. George and Oswil (?) have been sick but they are getting well as fast as they can. Now I must tell you some things about the trip. We started from Louisville in a skiff. We had no beds so we slept on the rocks without any covers for two nights. Then we bought our boat. It is 7x25 with a cabin 7x14 ft. We are pretty well fixed. We have a good stove with a skillet, pot stewer, plates, knives, forks, and other things too numerous to mention. In the grub line we have plenty of meal, meat, salt, flour, apples, potatoes, beans, molasses, & game. We have plenty of ammunition, a lantern, lamp, and chimney, plenty of coal oil. For beds we have great big coffee sacks stuffed with straw. Our progress down the Ohio was slow but when we struck the Mississippi we went it skwting like opossum on a sleety limb. There is a great deal of difference in the scenery on the two rivers. That of the Ohio being a great deal the most beautiful. The banks of the Mississippi are giving away all the time with a swollen roar that sounds like heavy cannons 25 or 30 miles off. I saw a big tree go in yesterday clear out of sight.We have run into a bayou just above town. We are run with it up into the swamps to hunt and trap. Well mother I understand you have moved back to the farm so they wrote to us. I am glad to hear it. If you now have the boys with you and I reckon you have tell them I said to be good honest boys and to learn all they can and to take good care of you. Boys you must write to me. Both of you. Now don't forget it for I want to hear from you. I have not received any letters from home yet. Please tell uncle Ben to write and send me a democrat paper or two. Well mother I have written you a long letter. I will wind up by requesting that you write soon and let me know how you are getting along. Address at New Madrid, Madrid Co. MO.
T. J. Coatney