1842: Alonzo Flack to Nathan Henry Bitely

This letter was transcribed directly from the internet where I found it offered for sale on e-bay in October 2011.

Delia Webster (lower left) and her sisters

The author of this letter was 21 year-old Alonzo Flack (1823-1885) whose parents were James H. Flack (1791-1873) and Jane Randle (1798-1828). After teaching select schools such as this one in Fincastle, Virginia, Flack attended Union College in New York State and graduated in 1849. By 1850, Alonzo had become affiliated with the Methodist church and in 1854 he was appointed the Principal of Claverack College and Hudson River Institute in Claverack, New York.

The recipient of the letter was Nathan Henry Bitely (1822-1884), the son of Joseph Loadman Bitely (1785-1858) and Laurilla Durkee (1801-1882). He was a graduate of the Balleston Springs Law School who came to Paw Paw, Michigan in 1851 and later Lawton, Michigan. He served in the State Senate as a Republican, but devoted most of his career to horticulture.

In his letter, Flack mentions the case of Delia Webster, the preceptress of the Lexington Female Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky who was arrested in the fall of 1844 for aiding in the escape of a black family into the Ohio underground railroad.

TRANSCRIPTION

[Addressed to Mr. N. H. Bitely, Argyle, New York]

Fincastle, Va.
July 26th 1842

Dear Friend,

A few days since I received yours of the 13th & with pleasure take the early opportunity to answer it. I expected you would never find a soft seat unless you got it in a law office. But human nature is such that no seat suits long. I imagine next you will think the Judge’s bench better cushioned than your own. His office not being popular enough, you will then want to cross around those marble pillars at Washington. And who knows, but take the consort with you & reside in the white house. Friend, all I care to say is in the language of Col. [Davy] Crocket, “[Be sure that you are right, and then] Go Ahead.”

I was not a little pleased with your laconic description of old Argyle. You even went so far as to say there was some gossiping in town. For my life I cannot see what need you had of telling that. When you told me there had been three or four lawyers come in the town, the only consequent that could result would be in the first place gossiping & before I shall reach home, there should be “suit of slander in every family” it would not appear strange to me. The lawyers now in town exceed the preachers & I expect the law suits will exceed the sermons.

But let us to the business of this letter. You wish to know what would be your chance for making a living in this part of the country. In my opinion, you can get a school any place you have a mind to go south. After one term, if you do well, you can get almost any wages you wish to ask. At first you may have to put up with nearly the same wages you would get in N. York. As for myself, this term I clear thirty dollars per month & only teach twenty days for a month. I told them last spring if they did not make me up a school worth that, I would not stay and they soon made it up. My school will not average more than 23 schollars. You know it is not as hard labour to us if there were fifty.

The Southern people are kind & hospitable. I have not been homesick since I have been here. I would not advise you to come where I am. The people are generally more wealthy east of the Blue Ridge [Mountains] and among the wealthy is the best chance for schools. I shall leave here as soon as this term closes for home & if I should return south again, I would not come here. This is a difficult place to get to or from. I am surrounded by mountains. I would advise you by all means to go far back into the south & not to settle yourself near the free states. In such places there is so much injury carried on by abolitionists that all Northerners are suspected & you [have] seen what suspicion does to Miss [Delia] Webster away back in Lexington, Kentucky. I would advise any one coming South to come to East Virginia, Tennessee, or North Carolina. If you feel an inclination to come when I am , I will do all in my power (I must say it (for there is no one to say for me), that I am quite popular here as a teacher.

I close this in haste as I have an opportunity now for sending  it to the office. Any further information you may want, write and I will give it to you. Remember me to all my fellow students & that worthy teacher. Also those worthy citizens who may enquire. I remain, your friend, — A. Flack


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Spared & Shared 20

Saving history one letter at a time

Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

%d bloggers like this: