Tag Archives: 19th century

Dad, send money. I need pantaloons. (1846)

[Our final installment of our "welcome back" series.]

Ah, it’s a phenomenon old as time:  college-age sons and daughters contacting home to ask for more money.  The following letter was sent from James Johnston Pettigrew to his father Ebenezer Pettigrew on 8 February 1846.  J.J. needed some money for some new duds.  (This letter comes from the Pettigrew Family Papers, SHC #592):

James Johnston Pettigrew, circa 1855

James Johnston Pettigrew, circa 1855 (from the 1898 book "Lives of distinguished North Carolinians")

Although it is early in the session, I presume it will not be out of place to make a statement of the clothes I shall want, more especially since my wardrobe is nearly exhausted.  The present underclothes are the ones I had when I left Hillsboro [sic], with the exception of four bosoms and collars, which I bought two years ago.  Most of these, that is to say, shirts, drawers, stockings, collars, handkerchiefs, & cravats, are either worn out or have become too small.  The same is the case with my outer clothes, with the exception the two pairs of pantaloons, which were purchased at Raleigh last summer, and are bothe [sic] too small by this time.  In the article of shirts, I am almost certainly deficient.  My present cap has lasted two winters, and Sister Mary can inform you with regard to its shabby appearance during the vacation.  This I mention, merely to show, that I am not diposed to be extravagant in my dress.  The following is a list which I have made out of my probable wants.  I have only one coat for this winter, so that it will be better to get another for Commencement.

  • One Coat.
  • One pair of Pantaloons.
  • Two vests. (I am entirely out of vests, also.)
  • One hat.
  • Shirts.
  • Drawers.
  • Stockings.
  • Two or three handkerchiefs.
  • One or two cravats.
  • Shoes.

There is in addition to these another want, which may appear trifling, but which in my situation is absolutely necessary as a Marshal for Commencement, namely, a cane.  Judging the price of these articles from my clothes last summer and the summers before, the amount will probably be $70 or $80, a very large sum, but I do not see how it is to be avoided, without an appearance which I wouldn’t wish to show.

An illusionist comes to town, gunplay ensues (1845)

(Part 3 of our “welcome back students” series…)  It seems that Chapel Hill has seen quite a parade of entertainers and other characters come through town over the years.  One such visit from an intriguing 19th-century illusionist named the “Fakir of Ava” is described in the letter below.

[detail] William Bagley to Mose G. Pierce (from William Bagley Letter Books, SHC #863-z)

(detail) William Bagley to Mose G. Pierce, from William Bagley Letter Books, SHC #863-z.

William Bagley to Mose G. Pierce, 13 February 1845 (from William Bagley Letter Books, SHC #863-z)

A fellow, calling himself the “Fakir of Ava” came through here the other day with a boy & girl proposing to give a grand scientific entertainment to the inhabitants of Chapel Hill; after procuring a house & getting in readiness about a hundred of the students went down & the house I understood was crowded to such an extent that the “Fakir” had very little opportunity for “showing off” & the students being rather noisy he dismissed the assembly, gave them tickets & told them that on the next night he would have a better place & consiquently a better chance for exhibition, but the next morning he left having made some forty or fifty dollars at the expense of the students, several of them followed him to Hillsboro [sic] & I expected that an engagement would have taken place there but as he was exhibiting he let the students go in which I supposed pacified them one of them however, while there became intoxicated & with some other fellows went to one of the taverns & began to be rather noisy & the landlord came out & ordered them off & to enfore his command raised a chair at one of them & this fellow immediately shot him, the ball went into his arm near the shoulder but they say his life is not endangered; the name of the fellow that shot him is Ruffin, he was a member of the sophomore class & lives in Alabama, I believe he has not been heard of since the occurrence.

A freshman stands up to being hazed

In our second installment of our “welcome back” series, we feature a letter from Neil A. Sinclair (a freshman) to his mother, 9 September 1882, in which he recounts his experiences with being hazed by the older boys at Carolina. Hazing was frequent during the early years of the University.  In Kemp Plummer Battle’s “History of the University of North Carolina. Volume II: From 1868 to 1912,” available online through DocSouth, you’ll find a lot of description about these hazing practices (starts around page 294 of the electronic version), including descriptions of the “blacking parties” mentioned in Sinclair’s letter below:

There has been [a] good deal of “freshing,” but I’ve been troubled but very little.  The first of the week, while going to supper one evening, a fellow thought he would be smart & stepped up in my path & drew his fist as if he were going to knock me down.  He came meeting me, but I deliberately walked on till we met & ran up against each other, but instead of backing off I stood firm & looked him square in the eyes.  He seemed rather disappointed & after a while asked what I was looking at him so hard for, thinking he would create a laugh, but I said, “I was just going to keel you about 10 ft. out there on the grass if you had touched me,” & I would have done it too.  He saw I was in earnest & he got mighty small & slunk around to one side of me & passed on leaving me in possession of the field.  Then I started on without even looking back & the crowd first yelled at the Sophomore about allowing a Freshman to bully him.  I was not troubled any more till Wednesday night.  About 25 boys came around & told me I had to make them a bow, but I told them I would do nothing of the kind.  They also tried to make me get on the table & speak & to dance but I would not. They said they would black me then.  Ransom & 2 others about drunk were going to do the blacking.  I told them that was one thing I did not propose to allow & that I would not be blacked alive & that the first man that attempted to black me would get that. I told them there was but one thing they could make me do & that was to trot[?], that I would not think of fighting a man for such a thing as that, & I knew they could carry me by force.  So they gave out their blacking notion & we started out & just as we got to the door, Pres. Battle met us & said, “Gentlemen, this devilment has got to stop.”  In five minutes the whole campus was quiet, & for 3 hours before you could have heard the noise for 5 miles….

Video of “Hearthside Cooking,” a lecture by Nancy Carter Crump

Today we share with you video of a lecture, “Hearthside Cooking,” given by Nancy Carter Crump on March 24, 2009 at Wilson Library, as part of the Southern Historical Collection Book Series. For those who were not able to attend the presentation, we hope this gives you an opportunity to enjoy the talk.  For those of you who did hear Ms. Crump speak, we hope you’ll enjoy it all over again.

[Note:  Due to YouTube's file size limitations, the lecture is divided into six parts.  The video embedded here is included as a "playlist."  You can toggle through the six parts individually, or simply hit play and let the six parts run through as a whole.]