1840: Mary Phoebe Mitchell to Eunice P. Mitchell

This letter was written by Mary Phoebe Mitchell (1822-1903), the daughter of Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857) and Maria S. North (1800-1877). She married Richard James Ash (1821-1899) in October 1845 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Sixteen years later, Richard enlisted as Captain of Company D. 1st North Carolina Infantry in the Confederate Service.

Mary’s sister, Ellen Mitchell (1824-1918), added a note at the end of the letter.

Mary wrote the letter to her cousin, Eunice P. Mitchell (1819-1858), the daughter of Elnathan Mitchell (1797-1867) and Harriet Wheeler (1798-1867), of Washington, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Eunice married Daniel S. Lemmon (1817-1886) in February 1844.


Addressed to Miss Eunice P. Mitchell, Care of Elnathan Mitchell, Washington, Litchfield County, Connecticut

Chapel Hill [North Carolina]
April 1840

My dear Eunice,

Page 1

I received your letter a few days since and dilatory as you had been I assure you it was very welcome. I wish you would make me a promise that you will answer my letters within a month after you receive them. We are all well and in full expectation of Commencement in about six weeks. You have been here and know the fuss which always takes place. Some of our young ones have already fixed what they are to wear for four consecutive days six weeks hence. Would not you like to be with us now — seven girls — Anne North, Ellen, Mary Owen and myself — are the found ladies, and Maggie, Anne Whitaker and Jane Downey are still little girls. We enjoy ourselves very much tho’ I look forward with a feeling of relief to the summer vacation as my pupil then takes her departure for six weeks. Mary Owen and Jane Downey both go, and we shall have a real cosy time for a while. Anna and myself think some of going from here after Commencement to attend one at Randolph Macon, which comes the week after ours.

So having discussed home matters, I’ll turn to village news — one thing tho! Pa expects to go on with Grandma the first of June. Miss Eliza Bullock was married last winter to Carr, the merchant. The family have all gone to Granville except herself and husband. Miss Nancy is well and we tease her abundantly about the attentions of certain students by the name of Johnston Huckabee. Miss Nancy blushes like a girl and vows she will make Johnston tell me before long that it is myself and not her that he is so loth to leave. Poor Johnston goes in a day or two and we have agreed to have a real cry together before he does leave.

Page 2

Mrs. Philips’ school has entirely failed and Cornelia is going on to the North this summer to spend six months at least. Mary Hooper is very well. So are her husband and her sweet little Helen. Ellen is taking more music lessons of her this spring. I have not forgotten Tom Meares’ black eyes yet but I suppose you know that he and I did not gee very well some time before he left. I know a pair of eyes now that I think quite as handsome, tho’ not so dark, and I like ten times better for they are not such saucy ones. Really, I don’t know what I shall do for all my favorites are going away with the present senior class. Charles Phillips and Samuel McPheeters are the only ones I can endure in the next. Charles and Sam Phillips have grown up to be tall, fine looking boys — are nearly thro’ the Junior year. Marcellus McPheeters graduated in the Medical College at Philadelphia last month and has now gone back to spend a year in the  Alan’s house. He made us a visit before he returned and is the same fine little fellow that he always was.

Mr. Summerville is still teaching school in Alabama. He writes sometimes to us. Dr. Hooper has received some appointments — I forgot what — at Columbia College, South Carolina. Their children are scattered all round — Betty in Hillboro with Mrs. Caldwell; William in Hillsboro, I believe; Edward teaching school in South Carolina; and Joe at college in Columbia. Mr. Erwin is still devoted to Ellen tho’ she begins to hate him as outrageously as I do. Judy Owen and I do consider my feelings toward him as the very acme of detestation. Human dislike can go no further.

I have become quite intimate with Mrs. Fetter this session. She boards at Dr. Caves and I find her a very pleasant, sociable little woman. Mary Schaw Mitchell goes to school in Hillsboro to Mrs. Burwell and has no more idea of being married than I have but I hear there is a certain gentleman who is extremely attentive. I have heard nothing about Long lately but I think that he is practicing law somewhere.

Page 3

Mr. ____’s family are well. Jane is no young lady but a _____ little girl. The Miss Barley’s are not yet married or like to be. I am on terms of tolerable into money with them, but they do tattle almost too much for my notions and when I am talking to them I bite my tongue and keep in many a thing. We have had two parties this session — one given by the Senior Class complimentary to the Ladies of Chapel Hill at Miss Nancy’s — a very pleasant one. Mrs. Phillips had one last Friday whereat were forty-five persons. Sos-so, I think. Some enjoyed themselves and some did not. We are to have one this week before Johnston goes away and Betsey is busy cooking for it. I thought I would write to you before hand, while I was in a good humor, for I know something will happen to make me mad before it’s all over and done with.

What does Ursula call her little one? Tell her I expect her to name the next daughter after me — and I fear she is not keeping up to her promise but there is no hurry for it will be a good twelve years yet before I set my foot in New England again unless you get married and then I’ll try and come. Give my best love to Ursula and Silena too. Remember me also to Mrs. Ford. You tell me about William Bronson when I never heard of the fellow before in my life. Where was it that Sarah and Abner went to school? Tell Abner he had better finish off by coming here and going through college. I am glad to hear Aunt Plumb is so well. Give my love to her and Frances Hicock when you see her. But if I begin to send love to them all, I shall never get through so you may give my compliments to the rest en masses and tell them that I am alive and well and hope they enjoy the same blessing.

Tell Sarah that I hope that my two Britain cousins will visit us before many years and that I could not with a safe conscience asseverate the exact number of letters that I have written her without having received an answer. I wish you could see our woods now. The grape is in all its glory. I rave at Ann not admiring them as I do.

Page 4

So I have got back to the first page of my letter and must begin to compress my ideas into a smaller space. I have not stopped once since I commenced as you may judge by the writing but you know also that it is one of my greatest abhorances to copy a letter after ’tis once written so that my correspondents must take it all as it comes and thank their  stars  if they can read it. When I begin to write to you , I always want to make it a double letter for I can’t bear to cross my letters and I do hate most consumedly to stop when I am in this vein. I’ve a notion Anne will open her eyes as wide as a turnip when she comes up and sees my letter for I am not in the habit of spending quite so much ink and paper. I take solid comfort with her and Ellen this spring have not been so well…

You ask if I am coming North. The only way you have of getting me there is to get married with all speed for if you put it off much longer, maybe ‘____ be’ as I say about go. Ever yours, Mary P. Mitchell

[Ellen has added the following note]

When you write Mary, ask her about those fine eyes and how often she receives letters from the owner of them, for sad to tell, he will soon be off and away. The owner of the dark eyes, Eunice, I am afraid will persuade Mary to go West with him before long and if you want to know more, write two me. He is a [friend?] of Tom Meares’ and you was in his company two or three times while you were here. [His] name is J. A. L.  — Ellen

The Grave Markers of Eunice P. Mitchell and Daniel S. Lemmon


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