Al Malpa Ephemera


1846 Teacher's Letter from Mississippi

1846 Teacher's Letter from Mississippi


This is a very interesting letter from a woman teacher back to a friend - we assume - in Vermont. We have transcribed it here.

Feb 14 1846


My dear Mrs. Slade

Now don’t be astonished at receiving this letter from me although so far off, for when I found that I could not visit you before I left, I consoled myself that I would write to you when I was far away to prove to you that I had not forgotten you or your kindness to me whilst at your house. I hope that I always shall remember those who showed me kindness whilst attending school, and whilst I do so you and your family will not be forgotten.

            I have a pleasant situation, one that I am very well pleased with. I have a school of near thirty scholars all girls and good girls too. The people are kind and friendly and if I give satisfaction I can have the place as long as I please. And I do not wish to change it while I remain South. I don’t mean to stay here always, although people here do not know but what I shall, neither do I, but I am quite sure that I don‘t intend too. I like teaching here better than in the North my school is more certain and then three hundred dollars a year is no small item to one who is as needy as I am. Did you suppose when your son George was talking about going to South America that I should get there first? Tell him when you see him that I am the newest there, I got tired of waiting for him, but I would like that Philopoenca?? present if he pleases. If it is my lot to make the present I will send him a cotton boll. I have a right to that, as perhaps a big sweet potato would be acceptable. Does Mr. Slade have the plethoric as bad as ever? Tell him that I may have forgotten some of the young men but I have not forgotten him. I would like to have a hearty laugh with him now as well as when Crawford had the Shiners. But I had rather teach school in Mississippi than to marry him. People say that I come here on purpose to get married, I own it for I may do so but I don’t like it much. I have sanity enough to believe that if I had wanted to commit matrimony I need not to have gone to Miss. to have done so. I live in a big long house and one too where the latch string is never pulled in and we have lots of servants and good ones too, the whip may be used on the plantation, indeed I know it is but I never know anything about it. The servants here on this place are as well off, and better perhaps than if they were free for they are well clothed and fed and do not have to work harder than the  laborers of the North but then, it is slavery and there are a thousand evils attending it but how are we to be rid of the curse is the question, and who shall answer it? The people here would be glad to get rid of it but they can not sacrifice their property. “What … to do.” My school house is in a pleasant grove and has a good large play ground. It is a log house and consists of two rooms with a passage between, the larger is my school room, the other the music room. It looks quite comfortable to see a good big fire kindled in the fire place made of big logs such as our fathers used to burn and then to get the smiling, and I think pretty faces of my scholars there, I believe it the pleasantest place on earth. The weather has been the most disagreeable since school commencing that it was possible, the changes were great and sudden, we would go to school in the morning it would be perhaps warm enough without a fire before noon we could not get fire enough. Then again some “freezing” cold  morning we would bundle up in the thickest warmest clothing we could find, before night they might be a burden . We have had snow and somebody gave the girls a ride on a thing, it was neither sled nor sleigh or “______” as we Yankees say. He did not ask one to ride, would not you cry? I don’t think it was nice riding for the snow was only two or three inches deep and the ground was not over smooth, “________.”

What has become of John? Has he been sick again? If he has probably he wished me back again to make him  sage tea stramonium. I hope he has no idea of getting married, if he has, tell him I say he had better not. I don’t want to go back and find every body that I formerly knew married and settled down into old folks, and John surely can wait awhile yet. I suppose Dr. Severence still remains with you as Dr. I would like much to have a chat with him and his wife. You know how much I used to dislike Mr Burbour’s style of preaching yet he is one of the best men living. But here bland alas the preaching here is worse than anything that I ever heard. Why some preachers here can hardly read so I am told. I have not heard such  but I have heard horrid reading and worse singing than I ever heard before in my life.  I wish that you could see the girls ride horseback. A good many of them ride horseback and most always two on a horse, through the words, up hill and down, and fording creeks, traveling in all sorts of roads. Some of the horses at school being hairy and curvy.  I saw two boys and two girls on a little pony. I can ride famously, the first ride that I had was from Grenada here which is four miles. I had a pretty nice young man for a time but he was afraid to go after me. I really believe he thought I should be so bad about riding. But I never trembled off nor tried to. Neither have I ever committed any such blunders as when I rode with Crawford. I rote a long letter to the Hitchworks but who knows whether they ever got it. Uncle Sam don’t carry letters safe. I have not received an answer yet. But I don’t mind it if I don’t get letters for I think well, they probably have written, who knows where has it gone to! Now if you think that this is worth a dime, and will answer it I would be very much pleased. And if Mr. Slade would remember me so much as to write a line with you it would please me so much better. Give my love to all my good friends old and young who inquire for me, reserving a good big share for self and husband. And believe me I have lots of ink on my paper, please excuse.

 Yours Elinor Wright

Condition: Written on a light blue paper, it has traditional folds for mailing. Size 8 x 10 inches.Half inch tear at top edge of front page and tiny holes at the crossing of the folds on the back page.


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