Lexington VA: 17 May 1867
My dear Genl
I wish it was in my power to give you such information as I would desire, in reply to your letter of the 25 Ulto: but I of inquiry are more satisfactory.know of no house that would comfortably accommodate Mrs Miller & her sister which could be rented. I have recd several applications from friends similar to yours, to which I have been obliged to return the same answer. We have now three of the Profrs of Washington College who can obtain no other quarters than furnished by the Hotel. One of these Col Wm Preston Johnston whom you know, has with him his wife & six little children. Houses may be purchased, for people here as elsewhere are obliged to part with property to save life, but there are some for rent. Answers to your other points (page 2) of inquiry are more satisfactory. Subsistence & fuel are abundant, the climate healthy, country beautiful, & though prices are high as eslewhere, yet families live comfortably for about $200 per annum, though plainly. That is almost the salary of the Profrs of the College, & they have little besides but a house. There are several small schools in Lexington, besides the College, Mil: Institute, & Female Academy, & I do not know whether another could find ready support. It would depend I should think upon the standard of the school. I wish I knew of any other place that offered better advantages than Lexington but the circumstances of all have so changed since the war, that I cannot speak advisedly. Lynchburg & Salem on the VA: & Tennessee R. R. & Staunton on the VA: Central, all within a circuit of 30 or 40 miles of this place, & all more or less known to you, I should think (page 3) could furnish the accommodation of a house more readily than Lexington, & they also have the advantage being accessible by R. R. But I know that girl schools abound in the --?-- last, & I think that provisions are higher than at Lexington. The first I should think offered the most advantages.
I am sure if you persevere in the course you indicate in your letters & are earnestly supported by the community generally, that however dark the prospects are at present the threatening storm will be dissipated or its effects ameliorated. One great & impending evil has lately been relieved: the prosecution of Mr Davis, & I have not words to tell the load that it has lifted from my heart, or to express my gratitude to the Giver of all good for this manifestation of his kindness. So I trust that sorrows will be diverted if we do what is right. We must never relax in our efforts to save our (page 4) people or save our Country, and the greater difficulties in our lives the harder must we strive for success.
Regretting that I have been unable to aid you in the purpose of your letter, & with my kindest regards to Mrs. Chestnut
I am with great respect
R E Lee
Genl James Chestnut