This letter describes the journey made in 1829 by members of a prominent Virginia family from Lynchburg, Virginia to Leon County, Florida. It was written by Harriet Randolph, age 27, to her mother Jane Cary Randolph, who was still in Lynchburg but preparing to join her daughter in Florida. The patriarch of the family was Thomas Eston Randolph of Dungeness Plantation, who for economic reasons determined in the late 1820s to remove his family from Virginia. Randolph's son-in-law, Francis Eppes, visited Leon County in 1828 and early 1829, and rented and purchased lands on which to establish a plantation. In May 1829 Eppes and his wife Elizabeth, along with their three children, and Elizabeth's siblings Harriet and Arthur, left Lynchburg for Florida.
The party traveled to Danville, Virginia, then through the Carolinas to Augusta, Georgia. They crossed through Georgia until reaching Thomas County, after which they moved southward into Leon County, Florida. The lands they originally settled on were approximately eleven miles northwest of Tallahassee. Following the arrival of the overland party, another group of Randolphs, including both Thomas Eston Randolph and his wife Jane Cary Randolph, came to Florida by sea. They left Norfolk on November 1, 1829 and reached the St. Marks River south of Tallahassee on November 18. The two families built up large plantations over the next few years. While Jane Randolph died in 1832, Thomas Eston Randolph lived on until 1842. He helped found the St. John's Episcopal Church, and served as U.S. Marshall for Middle Florida. Their son-in-law, Francis Eppes, lived until 1881 and became a prominent member of Tallahassee society.
Ballyvourniere June 19th, 1829
Well Dearest Mother!
our journey, with all its dangers and difficulties is at length happily over. Heaven be praised.--we arrived here this morning to breakfast, and I do assure you, beacon light was never hailed with more joy by tempest tossed seamen, than was the first peep of the log house by us. we have been resting, & looking round us all day, and it is now so late in the evening that I shall only be able to write a very few lines.
Francis has promised to send to Tallahassee, to- morrow for the letter we expect to receive from home, & as it is too far to send every day, this must be put in at the same time. --we had a very hard time from Augusta to Hartford. dreadful weather, horrid roads, poisonous water.
from Hartford here however, our journey has been quite prosper- -ous. we camped out only twice. both nights in the Georgia pine barrens, on high dry ground, & in beautiful weather, & so far from thinking it a hardship, we were quite delighted with the exchange from the filthy dens, we had been sleeping in. but for the saving of time we should not have gone to a house again.
we are all much thinner than when we left home, but we have borne our fatigue and hardships, much better upon the whole than could have been expected.- I was made very sick immediately after lea- -ving Augusta by the bad water, and suffered during the rest of the journey more than I can tell you, but for a few days past, indeed ever since we crossed the Occlocknee, & left the region of rotten lime stone, -- I have been much better. the complaint has left me, & I shall soon be strong again.