1845 – Letter from a wealthy Missouri landowner informing a boarding school headmaster that he will have one of his enslaved workers pick up his daughters for Christmas vacation by carriage or sleigh
Envelope or Cover.
This one-page stampless folded-letter measures 15½ x 9¾” unfolded. It is datelined “Glasgow [Missouri] Dec 16th 1845 and bears a circular postmark dated “Dec 91” (sic) and a manuscript “5” rate mark. It was sent by John [Strother] Harrison to “J. L. [Joshua Lazelle] Tracy” in Boonsville, Missouri.
The letter reads in part:
“I will set the 24th . . . to meet you and the Children at 10 Oclock A/M. on this side of the Missouri River either with a Sleigh or carriage as the roads may best suit. I think most likely that I will send a black Boy, & on that account as well as others I wish you to come with the Girls I will direct the Driver to hold up a red Hankachief for the signal of his areval. . .. Say to the girls to bring with them a garment of their Mothers & such clothing of there own as will be suitable for visiting.”
He also informs Tracy about his daughters return to school after the holiday.
“Mr. John Y Stam will send one of his daughters down with mine after Christmas . . . they will all be ready to start with you by the time you get round to see your Patrons & make a few other visits. . ..”. Very good. Item #010025
John Harrison, who owned several grist mills and a 400-acre farm, was one of the wealthiest men in Chariton County. As a prosperous slave-owning Unionist, he would later be harassed by both Southern bushwhackers and Union troops during the Civil War.
Despite his success, Harrison, who had no formal education, always felt he could have done better in life if he been able to attend school. So, he enrolled at least two of his children, Sarah Elizabeth and Mary Fanny, in Missouri boarding schools; first at Monticello, a little town north of Glasgow, and later at Tracy’s academy in Booneville.
Professor Joshua Tracy was the headmaster of Boonville’s Female Collegiate Institute, an important boarding school founded in 1840 that earned a reputation as a distinguished female educational institution. Although most of its students came from Missouri, a number matriculated frm other states including Texas, Virginia, and Vermont. Its curriculum included study in the arts, sciences, mathematics, music, medicine, and moral philosophy. In 1855, the Institute was renamed Adelphai College, which remained in operation until at least 1869.
(For more information, see Denny’s “Personal Memoirs of Ida Shackelford Hemenway” in Boone’s Lick Heritage Quarterly Vol 18, No 3 Fall 2019, Stack’s “A Memorial to Scholarly Sisterhood” in Missouri Life March 2021, and “Adelphai College - Boonville, Mo” at Waymarking.com.).