In this letter, 26 year-old school teacher Charles C. Armstrong writes to his 32 year-old brother, Henry Armstrong, who resides in Franklin County, Ohio. In the fall of 1845, Charles was teaching a select school in a settlement he claimed was eight miles south of Memphis and less than four miles from the Mississippi State Line. Charles and his brother were born in Franklin, New London, Connecticut, the sons of Charles Armstrong (1787-1861) and Phebe Hyde (1794-1841). Two others sons were born of this couple, Obediah in 1814 and Stephen in 1822.
In April 1847, Charles married Lucy Ann Dawson (1820-1893) of Virginia and the 1850 US Census shows him teaching in New Salem, Fairfield, Ohio. Sometime shortly thereafter, Charles and Lucy moved to Clarence, Cedar County, Iowa where they farmed and raised their seven children. They also lived in Mt. Vernon, and Marion, Iowa.
Henry married Sarah Ann Tone (1829-?) in January 1848 and farmed in Perry, Franklin County, Ohio.
The letter also mentions the Haynie brothers who were living in Tennessee at the time. These three brothers, John, William, and Thornton were natives of Virginia. It appears that William Haynie and his family came to Tennessee from Rushville, Ohio in 1843-4 but moved back to Ohio in 1844-5. John Haynie, born about 1805, worked as a clerk on a Mississippi steamboat, but spent time ashore in the vicinity. And Thornton Haynie, born in 1813, lived in Tennessee with a widow Haynie when this letter wa written. Thornton Haynie moved to Marion County, Missouri before 1850 and became a farmer.
Mr. Henry A. Armstrong
Eight miles South of Memphis
September 7, 1845
Your letter dated April 25th I received May 17th. You beg to be excused for your delay in answering my letter. I readily pardon your negligence provided you will pardon me for not writing to you for nearly 4 months. I thought when I got your letter, I would not write until the new Post Office here come into effect. But as you see by my date, I have waited more than two months. Your letter by a second reading (for I had forgotten its contents) was very interesting.
My health is good. I weigh 138 ½ lbs. When I wrote last, I was teaching 6 miles east of Memphis. I taught there two sessions and two months which makes just 12 months. Between the last two sessions, I did not lose a day. My school being out one day and I began the next session the next day. I did not make as much money there as I expected to but I lost us time. Before my school was out there, I engaged where I now am.
The circumstances are these. William Haynie, who lived in Rushville [Ohio], and I came to Tennessee together. He moved down here where I now am and went to teaching for he has a brother living here about 33 years of age, not married, and with him lives a widow Haynie with a family of five children. Well William Haynie and his family all got sick and disliked the country, and after staying here about 9 months, started back to Ohio. But before he left, he sent for me to visit him and I did so, and he recommended the school to me, and his Brother made up a school for me. I had then about three months to teach.
Mr. John Haynie is another Brother of William Haynie. He is about 40 years old and is a bachelor. He spends most of his time on the river. He is clerk on a steamboat. He has $100 per month. When he is not on the boat, he is down here at his brothers. Well these two – John and Thornton Haynie – agree to give me $180 for five months sure. I have that number now and I think I will make out about twenty scholars and if I should continue another term, I could get 25 scholars.
I board with Mr. Haynie and I find the family a very pleasant one. I give six dollars per month for my board. I am becoming quite miserly. I do not buy many clothes and I begin to think about laying up against a wet day. I think some of getting me a horse but do not know certain whether I will or not yet. I lost no time or but little between my last session and the present one. My school being out the 17th of July and began down here on 25th of the same. So you see I have but little time. My school is a very pleasant one. I have a class in Algebra of three.
I do wish you could see the country. It is a newly settled neighborhood down here eight miles south of Memphis. It is within 4 miles of Mississippi. I have not been down yet but shall soon to the [state] line. It is a great place for hunting. I have been once. There is deer, wolves. Wild-cats, and bears. The manner in which they hunt is this. Several start out in the morning – say six – on horse back and meet at a certain place. They then conclude upon the best place to start a deer or wolf. The company then separate. One man has a horse and he takes the hounds, generally about 12 or 16 in number, and goes through the woods. Presently they get on a track and then they make the woods ring again. The others take their stands at certain points that the deer is apt to pass in his flight. The day that I went a hunting we expected to start a wolf but we started a deer and some of the standers got impatient and moved and the deer more after passed where he stood. But we were not altogether unsuccessful for the dogs got a track of a wild-cat in the cane-brakes and they even treed him and one of the huntsmen shot him. It was quite a curiosity to me. It was about as large as Mr. Barker’s dog that tried to run mad and could not, only more long legged and very large legs. The cane that I speak of is the same that is sold for fishing rods at the north and east. They look very pretty growing.
A few days since there was a man fishing on a small stream not far from here. He being alone, was very still, and there was a bear with her two cubs came down to the water to drink. The bear did not see the man at first, but on making a noise, she saw him and came at him with open mouth. The man, having no gun, had to retreat.
You thought that 360 bushels of corn on 13 ½ acres of ground was very little. Well so it is. But the farther south you go, the poorer the corn crop but the price is better. Corn is worth 40 cents per bushel.
Your letter, although written with an old pen and on your chest, is better than this. You know letters do not cost but 10 cts now. We can afford to write much oftener. I have not had any letter father since I wrote to you. Write as soon as you receive this and I will answer it. Tell all the news. I suppose you live with Uncle Jo.
Mr. John Haynie is a man that is good about getting people in business. I asked him if you would have a chance to get employment if you would come here as second clerk on a steamboat and he thought you could. They generally give from 30 to 50 dollars per month and board. That would be very good living and I think you could do it. I hope you will write soon and tell me what has become of P. B. Jun.
I must close. Come down here. – C. C. Armstrong