This letter was written by Augustus Henry Gibson (Jr.) (1823-1854), the son of Augustus Henry Gibson, Sr. (1792-1837) and Ellinor Moore (1798-Aft1850) who were married in Wilkinson County, Georgia in June 1814. Augustus was born in Poplar Corner, a Federal Style mansion built in 1810 in Washington, Georgia. His father sold the property in 1825 and moved to Atlanta where he engaged in business and acquired several land holdings that were sold following his death in 1837. In 1839, when this letter was written to his hometown chum, Henry A. Jones, the 16 year-old Augustus was residing in Milledgeville and attending the Midway Male and Female Academy (established at Midway in Baldwin County, Georgia in 1833). In 1850, he is enumerated in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia, in the household of his mother, where he had a plantation and over 30 slaves. Augustus married Sarah Louise Crawford (1830-1895) in October 1852 and they had one child named Margaret A. Gibson (b. 1854), before Augustus died.
An obituary for Augustus H. Gibson was posted in the 29 August 1854 issue of the Macon Weekly Telegraph, which read:
Death of Augustus H. Gibson, Esq.
It is with pain and sorrow that we announce to the community the death of Augustus H. Gibson, Esq., who died in this place [Americus] on the 22d inst. This sad bereavement has cast a gloom upon our town. We have no words to express our admiration of the many virtues of the departed. His modest and gentlemanly deportment, his kind and benevolent disposition, his honesty and truthfulness, his sound mind and fine literary accomplishments, all crowd upon our memory and cause us to mourn the untimely death of our friend and fellow-citizen. He was cut down by the hand of the ruthless destroyer scarcely in the median of life, and surrounded by opulence and a large circle of friends and relatives who had their hopes centered upon him, and who predicted for him a long and bright career of usefulness and distinction but death is no respecter of persons; the great and the small, the poor and the rich, the talented and the ignorant, are swept indiscriminately by its resistless tide to the charnel house and the tomb. We tender to the family and relatives of the deceased our warmest sympathies and condolence for the sad bereavement they have sustained. — Americus News
Augustus wrote the letter to his hometown chum, Henry A. Jones.
Joseph Semmes of Washington, Georgia is mentioned in this letter as having just returned to Washington from Virginia where he had been attending school at the University of Virginia. It appears he remained uncertain as to whether he would return to school again in the fall. According to school records, Joseph G. Semmes matriculated in 1840, listing his birthplace as Washington, Georgia. In November 1840, Semmes fired his pistol at Professor A. G. Davis, mortally wounding him. Semmes was arrested, released on $25,000 bond, disappeared and was rumored a suicide.
Addressed to Mr. Henry A. Jones, Warrenton, Warren County, Georgia [postmarked Milledgeville, Georgia]
September 29, 1839
With feelings indescribable I received a letter from my old and much esteemed friend. I should certainly have attended to it more promptly had I not as soon (as I had finished a letter to cousin Owen) been called off on business and since have not had time to write. So you must not think twas neglect on my part, or want of respect to you as I esteem no one more highly than yourself. Cousin Owen has not returned an answer to my last, or if he has, I have not received it. It has been so long a time since I have seen or heard of you that I had almost forgotten you.
I was in Washington in May some time. All our old friends were doing well. Joseph Semmes had just returned from Virginia. He was not going to school then and was uncertain where he should go, but I believe had some idea of [going] to Athens. Do you go to school now, or are you in business? If you go to school next year, I would advise you to come to Midway. It is a very pleasant place and the instructors are very capable in their offices. I have only been here this term, which commenced in June. I should be very glad if I could get one of my old acquaintances here to work with me.
Do you like Warrenton as well as Washington? I myself thought Warrenton a pleasant, little village. You ought to visit Washington pretty often….[illegible]
…and I suppose you are not altogether indifferent towards them. I saw some very handsome fellow creatures when I was there. You mentioned something about Old Lewis. He has left Washington and gone to Lexington [?] The scenes of his school often recur to memory especially one circumstance which was his seating us on a bench before him and being taken suddenly sick, which we thought – or pretended to think – was a judgment on him for using us so ungentlemanly and in a manner so unbecoming of our honorable persons. I many a time wished that those pleasant hours we have so happily spent together could be passed over again.
The time for Legislature is very near approaching. They say that that present set of candidates for legislature are the majority the greatest set of drunkards that could be found to oppose the fifteen gallon law.
Tell cousin to answer my letter if he has received it. Give my respects to your father and believe me,
With the respect, your humble servant, — A. H. Gibson
P.S. Direct your letters to Milledgeville as your last was missent by being direct to Midway. Is there another Midway about 30 miles from this place? Write soon.