OLD FAMILY LETTERS
|Letter to Walter Lenoir from his brother-in-law, Gov Israel Pickens|
St Stephens, Ala., Aug. 25, 1823.
|My cup of tribulation is now full. All that my heart values is
lost forever. By my letter
to your father by last mail you may have understood the melancholy
detailed of the illness of your dear sister—my beloved Martha, my
wife. She departed this
troublesome life on the 16th of this month about five o'clock in the
afternoon, after an illness
of eighteen days - billious fever, which for a few of the last days
assumed a nervous type.
She endured her whole sickness with the most perfect patience and
was entirely resigned to
the course of providence. This season has been peculiarly fatal in
many parts of our country. Little William our youngest child has been very sick ever since
his mother's death of
billious fever and teething combined. He is truly a patient child
but is quite restless, and has
given me great fatigue especially of nights, as I cannot trust him
to the carelessness and
drowsiness of a nurse. The little fellow had not been weaned till
his mother took sick, and
he may have been feverish several days before it was discovered, as
he was overlooked very
much in the concern for her situation. I think he is rather better
but has his fever every
day. The other children are quite hearty thus far, These dear little
ones are now my only
objects of affectionate concern; and the very trouble they afford me
is perhaps at this moment a blessing, as they furnish subjects of attention both to my
body and mind.
My dear Walter your own experience will enable you to estimate my distress and to fill your mind with friendly sympathies. I can form no plan at this moment for the better management of my children than to keep them under my own care. My friends here have made very friendly requests that they be left with them for a while or entirely. But while I am at liberty to be at home, I would prefer giving them my own personal care.
The mail is about leaving. I must conclude with my kind respects to sister Evelina and my sincere assurance of esteem and respect for yourself and your little ones.
|To Walter R. Lenoir, Esq, Wilkesboro, N. C.|
|Letter to Gets Wm Lenoir from Wm R. Lenoir son of John Lenoir.|
Sumterville, S. C.
|My dear Uncle:|
|Altho I have never had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you yet I
embrace an opportunity of manifesting that regard which naturally grows from the
ties of consanguinity.
I and my family, consisting of two, are in tolerable health. I. have a son and daughter, very fine promising children, I live in the village of Sumterville, Sumter District, and am doing as well as my circumstance and delicate health will admit.
I have had my vicissitudes of fortune with the rest of my fellow beings; in respect to property, altho comparatively poor, good fortune has preponderated; but in respect to health, I have suffered great loss. I hope however that I am resigned to the will of him who made me.
Our mutual friend and relative Col Wm H. Capers has (like many official men) been unfortunate. His property was sold for a song, and his debts remain unpaid, but there is a probability of his getting a part of it back from the purchasers. All the rest of our relations are doing well.
You have no doubt heard of the marriage of Mary E. Capers to Col Wm H. Jones; also Mary Jane Mathis (daughter of sister Jane) to Wm S. Belser, now moved to Alabama.
I was married 18th Dec., 1823 to Miss Jane Ann Caldwell of our village Have always heard the most flattering reports of the prosperity of my relations in Wilkes, the lineal descendants of my venerable old uncle, whose name I have the honour to bear.
If not too great a favour from declining age, would be glad to hear from you in answer to this short epistle. If too great a task, impress it on some of the rising stock, whose minds heave with anxiety, are pleased with novelty, or who respond in the emotions of youth, and are vivid at the thought of absent friends. Let not the distance of two or three hundred miles separate our feelings so far; even should we not be so fortunate as to meet in time, and read each others sympathies face to face, let us endeavour to meet where soul and body never part. Remember me kindly to my ancient aunt; am glad to hear she is convalescent. To Cousin Mira say I will with pleasure receive a few lines from any disposed to write. Say to all friends that we are well, are doing well, and hope to do better. Our relations on the River, and in the fork of Black river, and between, are well, Cousin Leah was sick, now is mending. Cousin Leonora McFaddin married Samuel McLeary, merchant of Charlestown, said to be wealthy. Sister Matilda has a son and daughter, is in good health and fine spirits. My family join me in cordial love and respect to my old uncle, aunt, and all enquiring friends,
Wm R. Lenoir
To Gen Wen Lenoir
|Letter to Mira Lenoir from Julia Pickens, a student at Salem.|
Salem, March 28th, 1830.
|Do not be uneasy, my dear aunt, on account of my silence; for, though I ought,
haps, to offer an apology for its being so long, I acknowledge I have only to
say, that I
have been very busy setting notes, writing history, etc. But I know you are
to forgive me, even tho' I had no excuse to plead. Last Thursday cousin Louisa
by Mr Bagge, a note, which she found to be from, E. Ellis, who was then at the
tavern, and desired to see us. She is much the same as when we saw
her last; but she is no longer Elizabeth Ellis, for she was married
to a Mr. Pearson a short time before she came here, and a few days
before she was seventeen! The weather is getting very pleasant, and
we begin to feel the "ethereal mildness" of spring. Our walks are
becoming daily more interesting to us; the birds seem just awaking to life; and the garden is dressed
sweet flowers; however, it will not look so gay till its queen, the rose, blooms
humbler flowers. But, for the fear you will think I am growing sentimental, I
will speak of
something equally interesting—the examination. It will be on the 27th and 28th
The first class have a dialogue on astronomy, and one on education, the first
one on Arithmetic. We are busily preparing for the examination; and I hope at
to disgrace myself, but I find it very difficult to acquire a habit of speaking
as loud as I
ought, so as to be heard by so many persons. I hope, dear aunt, you will
promise, and come to see us, then.
When have you heard from Alabama? I have not since last fall, although uncle Sam uel, and brother Andrew both owe me a letter. Indeed, I begin to fear something has happened. I shall write to my brothers, before long; and I hope to hear from them; for brother A. is generally a very regular correspondent.
Last month, I received a letter from S. Swann. She, and her friends were well. I have written to her since, and I anxiously expect her reply. How is grandma? I hope she is quite well. I often dream of her, and wish to see her very much; and in two months, I hope to enjoy the pleasure of seeing you all, again; but I shall be grieved, at the same time, to be separated from my dear friends in Salem. Last Tuesday, Mr. Reichel started to Pennsylvania, where he is to be married to an English lady, the sister of his brother's wife. He expects to be again in Salem, in the course of 5 or 6 weeks. During his absence, Mr. Steiner will take charge of the school. Remember us all affectionately to our beloved grandparents, and other relations.
Your ever dutiful,
P. S. You will bring my examination clothes, won't you dear aunt?
|To Miss Eliza Mira Lenoir, Fort Defiance, Wilkes County, N. C.|
|Letter to Thos I. Lenoir from Laura Lenoir, a student at Salem.|
Salem, August 17, 1831
|My dear Brother:|
|We are again many miles apart, and are both absent from our dear home, but,
we are in pursuit of useful knowledge, our time cannot fail to pass agreeably.
may have an idea of how mine is occupied, I will, in the first place, give you
of my studies. They are grammar, Geography, Arithmetic, History, and
Chronology, Astronomy, and Music. We have just finished learning the history of Greece and
that of Rome. They are both extremely interesting; indeed History is so
my lessons in that study appear more like an agreeable amusement than a task.
As you have always had the name of being an industrious boy and attentive to
studies, I will forbear to give you any advice on that score; but, as your elder
sister, I claim
the privilege of scolding you a little for the apparent neglect with which you
my attempts at a correspondence with you. I think I wrote twice to you before I
home without receiving an answer, and if you still persist in your obstinate
silence, I shall
soon give you the appellation of a lazy little fellow, and think that you care
me. Now I hope you will soon convince me that this is not the case. I was much
to learn by sister's letter that Pa intended to take you with him to Haywood. I
should be quite delighted to go there, for I have still many pleasing
recollections of the place
where were so happily past the days of my early childhood. You will no doubt
many a spot that has been the scene of our childish sport.
I suppose you have heard that cousin John is going to school in Wilkesboro. How do you and all my little cousins come on with your Latin, etc.? Is Lenoir as wild and mischievous as ever? Tell Adelaide I hope she has not quite forgotten me. Remember me most affectionately to my dear grand-ma, aunt, uncle, and cousins.
|Mr Thos I. Lenoir, Fort Defiance, N. C.|
|Letter to Gen Wm. Lenoir from his cousin James H. Norwood.|
Hillsborough, Jan. 5, 1833
|My dear Sir:|
|Joseph will inform you that I have quit the profession of the law, and am now engaged at Chapel Hill as a tutor. The high regard which I have for your good opinion prompts me to say a word in explanation of this step. I need hardly allude to those circumstances of disposition and manners which so much impeded my progress at the bar, for no one formed a more correct estimate of them than yourself. At length I found myself (without any private fortune) considerably in debt, and every day becoming more so. As an honest man, it became my duty to stop. It is true, it was possible by what the world calls a lucky hit, to retrieve my circumstances, and pass my life in affluence, though not in happiness. And for a while I did not reconcile myself to the idea of sacrificing the honest affections of my nature at the shrine of money. But I could not long endure an idea which carried with it a feeling of degradation, and it was not honourable to incur debts, the payment of which was to depend upon accident. The step which I have taken was painful, but it is right. And it is a fortunate circumstance that in the present arrangement, I am able to consult my inclination, and devote myself to literature and philosophy. I will remain in my present situation until I can do better, and if I should ever be called upon to serve my country in a more public station, I will not be the worse qualified, for having spent a few years in profound study. The duties which I will have to perform are to me easy and pleasant, and will allow me much time for improvement. The salary is only $400, but it is better to make $400 than to spend $1000. I have made these remarks as I before stated, because I value your opinion, and also because, I believe you feel a real friendship for me, and would wish to know the reasons of my conduct. The session commencing at Chapel Hill in a few days, it will not be in my power to attend personally to the settlement of my affairs at this time. My father has been good enough to say that no one shall lose anything on my account, and my brother Joseph will make such arrangements as are immediately necessary. And in the summer vacation I will myself visit the mountains, at which time I will of course do myself the pleasure of paying another visit to Fort Defiance. I desire to be remembered affectionately to Aunt Lenoir and all the family. And I remain with sincere regard.|
|To Gen William Lenoir, Fort Defiance.|
|Letter to Gen Wm Lenoir from his son Wm Ballard Lenoir,|
Lenoir P. 0., Roane Co., E. T.
December 27, 1834
|It has been so long since I wrote to you that I am really
ashamed of it. I now take an early start at it this morning under a
determination that I will not be hindered from it, For weeks past I
have been anxiously looking for a letter from Wilkes. On Christmas
morning early I heard the stage horn. Now I shall surely hear from
Wilkes thought I, but no letter came. My friends have not been more
neglectful than I have, therefore I must not complain. It being
Christmas time, times of merriment in my youthful days, it was
natural for me to think more of times past and absent and far
distant friends than common. And for several days I think not very many minutes at a time have passed
thoughts having been turned to the place of my nativity, and to those who are
dear to me and who will ever be recollected with a grateful remembrance. But
changed and we change with them. Not long since I was one of the boys that used
delight in squirrel hunting, shooting at a mark, etc. You were then looked on as
in the days of the aged, whose eyesight was not sufficiently good to rank you
boys as a marksman. I am now looked on as you were then, and have more boys
(shooting boys) than you had. Say Albert, Tommy, William, Avery, and Franklin all
they are tolerable good with a gun, and all have rifles. Yesterday they got to
far from the house. I went to them and took a couple of rounds and by chance (as
I can not see to take a good sight) made two good shots, such as would have been
equal to the best of them had they shot but twice. This being a pretty clear
first fair one for 8 or 10 days, they will probably take a squirrel hunt and I
may want to
be with them. There is a time for all things and my time for squirrel hunting
last long.—Enough of this.---
This past summer and fall may justly be called the sickly season or sukly year in Tenn. There has been more sickness, say measles, mumps, fever, and fevers and ague than ever I have known before. We had two or three tolerably bad cases of the mumps last winter or spring and some few slight cases of sickness since. On the whole I might say that my family has enjoyed pretty good health. We are all well at this time. We have a few days ago finished gathering our crop of corn some better than 5500 bushels. It was somewhat injured by the late drought, but I have no reason to complain of it. I have been engaged in building two frame houses a story and a half high. The chimneys (brick) are done, and the ceiling of one nearly finished. When they are done I will have 4 frame houses with good brick chimneys for negroes to live in and after I build a store house next summer the present store house will make a fifth negro house, framed, etc. I now have, including the three chimneys at the old house, 18 brick chimneys here, 16 of which I have had built. The village if I may so call it contains 100 souls about 40 or 42 black. They are all in a great measure dependent or looking to me for something to eat, and in my employment. It has caused me to kill a good many beaves perhaps 20 or upwards one of which weighed about 900 lbs. I have fattened 90 or more hogs generally pretty good, several upwards of 300. I have yet about 30 to kill. Have bought about 3500 lbs. at $4, don't know whether I will have bacon enough or not. Suppose I will have corn enough.
On Christmas morning by far the valuablest horse that I owned died with bots. Have near 30 head left in all. Have a tolerable good stock of cattle, middling of hogs, some sheep, etc. Betsy has about 50 geese, 40 turkies, ducks, chickens, etc. You will guess that we don't want to starve. I could name a heap of out-goings that I have, some of them (hiring hands) perhaps unnecessary and unprofitable. But says you where are the incomings? That rather stumps me; but some how or another we get along and honestly too. My factory I consider a source of profit, but only half what it ought to be from the quantity of machinery, which not being of the first order, makes more waste, takes more hands, and does less work than it should. Had I 500 good spindles and other good machinery in proportion to my house and water power I could make from 75 to 100 dollars clear money a week. But I don't expect to be so fixed shortly. It would cost me too much and I must get along the best I can with what I have got and add to it as I find convenient. My factory was very near being burnt down a few weeks ago, by the greatest negligence (to say the least of it) by the machine maker who at that time was the manager, in leaving an ash box on the floor at the head of the stairs.
About a week ago I received a letter from brother Walter. I suppose he wrote to some of you at the same time. I was pleased to think he was so well accommodated for the present, but suppose it is too much in the heart of the country for him to settle permanently there. He left with me a lame gray horse which he said he got of Mr. Patterson. He is very little better and probably will never be of much value. I let him have one which I hope answered him a good purpose. Report says Selina is married to Samuel Pickens. Young Fletcher from Buffalo a few days ago confirmed the report, etc. How happens that such an occurrence should take place and no one write about it for so long a time? I hope was not so unpleasant a thing that each and every one hated to communicate it. Surely by Monday mornings mail we will hear all about it. I have written about a number of little things, but such as will not be entirely uninteresting to you. I feel stronger and in better health than through the summer and fall. My hearing is considerably impaired. You may count on hearing from me again in four weeks.
|P. S. Not one of my relatives must think that because I have said nothing about them I and mine think nothing about them. It isn't so.|
|To Gen William Lenoir, Fort Defiance, N. C.|
|Note: These letters are from pp. 106-111 of the book. More will follow shortly.|
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