1849: Dr. William M. Boling to Margaret McKee

Transylvania University, Lexington, KY

This letter was written by Dr. William M. Boling in 1849 as he was getting ready to leave his home in Montgomery, Alabama, to temporarily occupy the chair of Obstetrics for one session at the University of Transylvania in Lexington, Kentucky. Doctor Boling had taught in the Memphis Medical School of Tennessee, and was “favorably known in the South as a good practitioner, an able medical writer, and an excellent teacher.”

William addressed the letter to Mrs. Margaret McKee whom he called “mother.”

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Addressed to Mrs. Margaret McKee, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Montgomery [Alabama]
September 4, 1849

My Dear Mother,

I failed to fulfill my promise to write to you immediately on my return home as I was so pressed with hundreds of little matters that required my attention. But I instructed Mary to write which I believe she did. I got home on the 13th just in time though I was detained a day in Louisville. There was cholera to be met with all the way and I was a little sick in New Orleans. The summer here has been more than usually healthy. However both Helen & the Babe are now sick. The former with high fever & a bad cough which have continued without abatement for five days. The latter with a chronic bowel complaint. She is reduced to a perfect skeleton. I hope the change of climate which they are to have will be of service to them – and all of us — though I fear the cold weather. Mary and myself are as well as usual.

Advertisement in the Arkansas Weekly Gazette, 9 August 1849

I have accepted a Professorship in the Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky, and we are now making preparations for our journey there. We will leave here about the middle of October so as to reach there by the first of November and will remain there till March when we will return to Montgomery. We are selling out our furniture & will rent out our house & hire the negroes as we could not afford to loose the rent & hire during the time we would have to be absent. And we have to hire & rent for a year. This will make it necessary for us to board out the remainder of the year after we return.

I thought at first that I would be able to save some money out of my winter’s pay but since I have calculated more closely our traveling & boarding expenses, and taking into consideration the sacrifice we have to make in the sale of our furniture &c., I fear I shall make nothing. Our boarding for the winter & traveling expenses will be over $600 by taking a nurse with us.

I do not know whether I will return to Lexington anymore after this winter or not. I should like to do so, but the annoyances of traveling & boarding among strangers to me are so great that I think it likely I shall settle down on my return and fix myself for life at home with the intention of being satisfied, laying aside all schemes of ambition. I am sure I could lead a happier & more contented life — at least an easier one.

Remember me to the boys & to Lydia. I sent them some papers & pamphlets to Kittanning. I have written to Emily.

I sent some time ago a draft for $50 to a M. Kinney for payment of another old claim in favor of his father’s estate against me. There was a trifle over what would pay him & I desire him to send it to you. I suppose you have received it.

Your affectionate son, — Wm M. Boling

Write soon or your letter will not reach me before we leave for Lexington. Mary & Helen send their love.


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