21 August 1864: “Yet I have puzzled, and planned, and worried, till my head has grown sick”

Item Description: Letter from Annie to her “Sister-Cousin” Mary. She writes sorrowfully of her difficulties in teaching at Kentucky, where it appears she has recently moved.


Item Citation: Folder 2, Confederate Papers, #172, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

[at top] I direct to Covington, care of Cousin John, not knowing your whereabouts. Is cousin Jep with you? Remember me affectionately to him.

My dearest

Kingstown, [Kentucky] Aug. 21, 1864

My dearest Mary,

You must not chide, — you must kiss me in the mouth, and love me, and believe that though these long months I have been silent only because my heart was so utterly bound down beneath its own and your brethren of perplexity, that I know not what to say.

Would that any capability were but half equal to my desires! You could be to-night my darling, favored quest. I have so much to say to you, so much in the way of sympathy at least, and so much to offer as counsel, if we could talk with each other, and I could thus become acquainted with your wishes and plans.

I struggled on through my session, with an addition of three scholars toward the close. At the expiration of the term, I gave a musical and Literary soiree, with Ira, Benny and my pupils. It was quite a success, and the pupils clamored for its repetition. I accordingly repeated it three weeks later, and the result is that I have every prospect of a class of Senior pupils this fall, to study the full Senor course, including French Latin and Pencil drawing. Ira’s abilities as a Music teacher seem to be happily appreciated, and I trust she will have a full class.

We will have scholars enough I trust and believe, to pay our expenses, and to ? a debt of one hundred dollars which we were obliged to incur last spring; and yet, dear Mary, we have struggled like drowning men, to attain even this foot hold. I have rented the little cottage of Mrs. James H. Daniels (formerly Miss Hanna, and a member of your church.) I have but four rooms, beside the school-rooms, as Mrs. Daniels retains five rooms in the house. I have commenced housekeeping with a few ? plasters in my purse, and am living literally on scraps, with my but dear children and my servants. I have rented the entire premises; Mrs. Daniels merely reserves the specified rooms, and takes her meals with her mother across the ?. Mary Jane and Josephine are my pupils.

If I had had strength of body and breadth of purse sufficient, I should have taken Dr. ? house, and opened a boarding + day-school for pupils of all ages; but I am very, very delicate, and dare not risk my life in such a venture. I had not the money, moreover, to engage in such an enterprise. Yet I have puzzled, and planned, and worried, till my head has grown sick, – trying to devise some plan for us all, for you and Cathy, as well as for myself. Cathy wrote to mother several weeks ago, on the subject of opening a school in Georgetown. I wish we could encourage her to come here; but there are already six primary schools in Georgetown. The best plan, dearest, seems to be to be this: to rent a small house, and in the simplest and most frugal manner to furnish a little school-room, and teach such pupils as you can get, drilling them especially in reading and real music, which will be better to you than advertisements. Make them write dialogues, poems, speeches, + sing the fine little songs contained in the Singing Bird Mason’s Juvenile Harp, ? Harp, and such books. After teaching a month or two, give an Exhibition, or Entertainment in some public hall with you. pupils, and thus, with quick dignity make a name. This once accomplished, you will succeed in making a support, I do believe. When I found I would not get my money, to go to Europe, and that I must teach  for a support, I was foolish enough to think the Kentuckians were like the generous cultivated people of my own dear South-land; and that I had only to say I would teach, -as I did at home,- in order to have as many pupils as I desired. But these people are slow to appreciate anything beyond thorough-bred horses, fat Denhams, and ? sheep; and now that I am better acquainted with them, I am not surprised to find so little literary culture in a state whose wealthiest counties do not average half a dozen private libraries, and not a single public one. All this is written sub rosa, dear Cousin; and with no desire to cause, even between our two selves; but simply to assure us not to expect what we cannot possibly secure. Let us subsist, as particularly as we can, until God in His Mercy shall turn this bloody tide of battle. Then, ho for mine own fair land, my precious brothers and sisters when my heart is healing to-night to see! I have tried to get back, not to ?, my lovely, desolate home, for it’s in foreign hands; but to the brethren of my Leonidas, who are mine for real or no. But they will not let me go without sacrificing the personal valuables I have with me, which thousands of dollars owned not purchase even in ordinary times. Lo I have determined to stay, to save my choice ? and my silver plate for my children. 

My school-room is small, but will seat the twenty pupils I hope to have. I dread the coming winter and long for the soft Italian air of my own ? ?. Can you not come down and spend the last week in this month with me? You shall have any chamber, and on simple Dixie fare; and oh! how much I have to say! Do come, dearest Mary! My school begins the first of Sept- and this is the only opportunity I will have to talk with you. Oh that I could have you with me always, my own dear Sister-Cousin! God bless you and comfort you and give you strength day by day, for each day’s duties and trials. I hold you close in my arms, I kiss you good-night and bless you through these thick-falling tears. Ira + Benny send their whole hearts to their Cousin Mary. 

My best love to Cousin John + family, to Cathy Lucy + all the sweet little ones. Write to me that you will come + spend a week with me. I shall love to hear from you. Remember I have refrained from writing only because I was hoping + praying for something cheerful to tell you. Your affectionate Annie

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