Item description: Letter, 19 October 1861, from Jerry Hooper to John DeBerniere Hooper.
Jerry Hooper was a slave who belonged to John DeBerniere Hooper (1811-1886), a professor at the University of North Carolina (1836-1848 and 1875-1885), and at a time of this letter, head of the Fayetteville Female Academy (1860-1866). John was the son of Archibald Maclaine Hooper (1775-1853) and Charlotte DeBerniere Hooper of Wilmington, N.C. Jerry Hooper apparently hired himself out for wages with the permission of his master, a frequent practice in the more urban areas of the South. In this letter to his master, Jerry described working conditions at the University of North Carolina after the students left to fight in the Civil War: “Business is dull. I am just able to live. I have no young men to wait upon and can get into no very profitable business…When the war broke out the Students volunteered and did not pay me for my labor.”
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Oct 19th 1861
All is well but Lucy. She is about but not very well. I am sory I did not have the opportunity of writing sooner. I have a bad chance to write. Business is dull. I am just able to live. I have no young men to wait upon and can get into no very profitable business. If times was like they have been I could have earned good wages. I have done all I could. If you are satisfied please let your humble slave know, so that I can make farther arrangements. I lost about half my last sessions wages. When the war broke out the students volunteered and did not pay me for my labor.
My youngest child is able to sit alone, my wife has generaly kept up pretty well. Provissions is very high.
Please let me know how all are. I remain your faithful obedient an humble slave.
Give my love to all.