Item Description: A letter from John Henderson while he was at the University of North Carolina to his young siblings. He went on to become a member of Congress.
Chapel Hill. October 26, 1864
Richard and Mary,
Brother John is very sorry to hear that mama has been sick and also that Father has received such a severe injury but he was still very glad to hear from his little brother and sister, who he hopes, will always endeavor to be good little children. Don’t make a bit of noise while mama is sick, it makes her restless and peevish. Aren’t you both mighty sorry mama is sick; what would you little children do if she were to leave us now. Bubber John is most a man, but he had to cry a little when he read your little letter the first you ever wrote him. You must try to be good little children in order to please Papa and Mama for you are very dear to them even more so than your bubber John and I am mighty glad to hear you are going to have a school teacher at home. You must study hard and try to be good; for learning and piety is what makes people truly great. I think mima soon will come; he would not have waited so long to answer mama’s letter if he had not been thinking about it. You say mama will write to me in a few days; I hope she will; I like to read her letters so dearly. You must learn how to write and to write well. When I was a little boy I thought it made no matter whether I learned how to write a pretty hand or not so it was a plain one. But I see my error now and if ever I have an opportunity I mean to go to one of these commercial schools (you don’t know what they are but papa will tell you) in order learn how to write a new and better hand. I am getting along very well or as Cicero the great Roman orator whom you will read about one of these days, has it “If you are well, it is well, I indeed am well.” You heard bubber John was a great ladies man, that’s a mistake, he went to see them at one time very frequently, but they soon disgusted him. They are not as truthful, and of as spotless character in thought, word and action as I want my little sister to be. I know more about them than I could wish to know. You may rest assured that I will never lose my heart among the “college lasses.” They fall below bubber John’s standard of female propriety. He has not been to see anybody in several weeks and does not go at all, unless he is unable to borrow or to buy a candle. He is not afraid either to the ladies whom he visits that his only object in coming is to keep out of the dark. Have you been down the factory to see the prisoners? I am mighty sorry they sent so many of the rascals to Salisbury. They will eat out the bread and meat in the country. I hear they don’t give them any meat over molasses. I hope so. See my neckties are worn out. I was thinking about buying one and giving ten dollars for it but if my cousins have made me one I wont do any such thing. Where is it and where am I to get it. I would like to know all about it. I will be very thankful to my cousins for their kindness. Bubber John is out of candles; can’t buy any here; can’t get any from home. What is he to do. I reckon he will have to go and mix with the ladies again. However much he may dislike such a step. He much prefers the companionship of Cicero. Love to mama and papa – Brother John