[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 … Continue reading →
[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 (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.
- Two vests. (I am entirely out of vests, also.)
- Two or three handkerchiefs.
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.
(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 … Continue reading →
(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.
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.
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. … Continue reading →
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….
As our way of welcoming Carolina students back to campus, this week we’ll share a few reflections and experiences of bygone Tar Heels. These letters and diary entries are rich, funny, often surprising accounts of student life in Chapel Hill. … Continue reading →
As our way of welcoming Carolina students back to campus, this week we’ll share a few reflections and experiences of bygone Tar Heels. These letters and diary entries are rich, funny, often surprising accounts of student life in Chapel Hill.
Take, for example, this 21 January 1834 letter from Charles L. Pettigrew to his father in which junior writes of the challenges in finding (and keeping) a good roommate.
Letter from Charles L. Pettigrew to his father, 21 January 1834 (from Pettigrew Family Papers, #592)
The business of the session has again commenced and I am in a very neat and warm room with out a room-mate, nor do I intend to take a room-mate because good ones are so hard to find; I had one last session, I was compelled to take him his brother wrote to me to take him in my room and there by he would be under some restraint, his brother had just graduated, and had left me his room one of the best rooms and some say the best in college and therefore I felt myself under some sort of obliation [sic] to him, for the first two months he made no noise studied hard and behaved himself well and properly and I liked him very much, the affection was reciprocated, but after a while he got a fiddle and of course got among the fiddlers in college idle and worthless fellows, then he began somewhat to absent himself from his room and finally he went and staid [sic] with one altogether although his trunk was in my room, so we parted and and [sic] very seldom see each other, after he left me he began to drink considerably and to have wines and brandy continually, and boy of about 15, I am afraid he will not do much good in this world…