1846: William Holmes to Robert Davidson Holmes

What Schoolteacher William Holmes might have looked like

This letter was written by William Holmes (1815-18xx) to his brother, Robert Davidson Holmes (1814-1890). They were sons of William Holmes (1780-1835) and Elizabeth Davidson (1774-1830) of West Alexander, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Their paternal grandfather, Henry Holmes (1738-1810) was a native of Ireland.

We learn from this letter that William Holmes taught a select school in Port Gibson, Mississippi in the mid-1840s. We also learn the stiff penalty for stealing negroes in frontier Mississippi.

Stampless Letter

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to R. D. Holmes, West Alexander, Pennsylvania

Port Gibson, Mississippi
January 16, 1846

R. D. Holmes, Dear Brother,

The year eighteen hundred and forty-six still finds me a teacher though I must confess somewhat against my wishes. If I could have succeeded in collecting all my money, I would most certainly have abandoned the labor of teaching. I do not apprehend that there is any danger of my eventually loosing any of my money; yet collecting is rather a slow business. Yet after all, perhaps there is nothing at which I could do much better than I am now doing.

Our winter has been extremely severe; the ice upon the ponds was strong enough to bear the weight of a man. I was at New Orleans on the 25th of last month. I remained only two days in that city. My chief object in going there was to see that great commercial city.

A drunken fellow committed suicide in this county a few days ago and another worthless drunken wretch was found with his head cut off. Report says that he was stealing negroes.

Please inform me how you are coming on in the affairs of the world. Are you diminishing the amount of your liabilities? I feel certain that you will not take it amiss if I should urge upon you the necessity of care, diligence, and economy until you are entirely free from debt. I give you this advice not because I believe you to be prodigal or inattentive but because I wish you to become free from all pecuniary liabilities as soon as possible.

My health is good. Write soon and give me all the particulars.

— Wm. Holmes


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