1857 Letter Concerning Slaves in Tennessee
1857 LETTER CONCERNING SLAVES IN THE SOUTH AND JESSE McCALLUM HAY DEALING BUSINESS TRIP TO TENNESSEE
(Letter trascribed as written)
Memphis July 27 / 57
My Dear Wife,
Now is it not too bad to be absent from you and receive no letters to inform me, of part, about your affares, where you are, or how you get along, without some one about my Size, to tease and keep you from getting in those moody abstractions indeed if I was present with you to day I would tease you about not writing me oftener to be one month about from thee and we hate So Dear and receive but one letter, is enough to make one feel the extream anziety caused by delays and bad management of the mails.
I hope you have not been so unfortunate as I have been in not receiving my letters as I have not yet failed to write twice a week Sundays and wednesdays.
Ellen if you Should be taken very ill you must send me the news by lightning, as there is no certainty about the mail now that the river is so low and navigation difficult you have no idea how ancious I feel about you I wish Some time That I had taken you down with me where I could watch over you and be your guardian my own Self but I know you well enough to know that you will not give up to any whimscal dispanding that might injure your health, So keep up your spirits and let your joyous laugh be heard to be admired by Editors and to cause them to stop and learn from whence came Those joyous Sounds. A treat that I would like myself to have this very evening I would resign all those fine peaches that I have now before me and agree not to taste for one week for one half hour of your joyous Company to know and See that you was well and in good health would be fare more Sweet than to taste those fine peaches that would tempt an epicure.
E.A. Jack left yesterday for New orleans and well be absent two or three weeks when he returns I will leave in a short time for Cincinnati if nothing occurs to prevent me more than I know of now. I think we will do well on this load of hay the prospect is good as hay was advancing, the last account from the City and wanted the weather here is warm and dry. The thermometer on A.B. Shaws warf Boat and the 25th it stood at 108 deg..in the shade 3/00 pm at the same time I do not think that it would have rase higher than 10 deg – in my store as I did not feel the heat oprefive I feel no difference here when in the shade in the heat from our sumer up there indeed I some time think that it is in general more plesent here But the Sun is scorching hot from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. The difference is very perceptable I think the heat is greater on account of the drought the ground is so parched up and dry that it reffects the heat more than if it was moist I seldam walk out in the heat of the day, the streets are deserted during the middle of the day, but the darkies will be down in the hottest part of the day in the sun and sleep with the Sun shining full in their face and appear to enjoy it as much as a white man would in the Shade. What a difference Collar makes in this respect the south could not get along well without its black population one months work sun of the south would cure the bitterest abolitionest of the north of his bitter oposition to institutions of slavery and come over without a groan to be a slave owner if compelled to earn his living by cultivating the Soil.
Memphis at this season is a dull monotonous place no place to amuse one self or pafs a few pleasant hours all seem to hunt some cool place to pafs time in Slumber or lounge about wishing for time to pafs by months instead of moments as we do when enjoying the present I think that I could enjoy Myself if you were present on Sunday to pafs it with me, This is my dull time hangs heavely and the day apears long and lonseome you Can see this from the length of my Sunday letters that occupies every Corner of the Sheet indeed I have Came to the Conclution to pafs no more long lonesome summer months alone but to make my busenefs arrangements so that I Can pafs them where my wife Can be my companion and when Tired of one place to take a ride or walk to amuse our selves in the cool shades of the mountain Sides Then my Sundays will as previous be Short and agreeable in agreeable Company away with Single Blefsednefs and bachelor husband it has no Charm for me. Compared with times pafsed with my own Sweet wife one week is worth one year of this lonlinefs and batchlorism. The only true enjoyment I have had was when I red your letter since I left you, and now Elly if you wish me to enjoy myself write often if it is not more than three lines so that I can hear how you get along your health & C. I think I can survive the short time I have to stay away from you.
My health has been excellent since I left you with a good prospect of Cantinuing so I take great care of this husband of yours and want you to be very Carefull of my Wife or we will have some Sharp words when we meet if she complains of neglect dont spare anything for her comfort I’ll foot the bill, all of mine must be watched closely Give my respect to your mother father & sister and for your own benefit you have got a husband. J. McCallum
The 4 page letter is very legible and interesting concerning race and slavery. McCallum, while writing this letter was a hay dealer from Cincinnati, Ohio who traveled on various business forays, this being to Tennessee. Jesse McCallum (frequently spelled Mc Collum in historical records) was born in Ohio in 1819. By 1850 he was working as a stone cutter. By 1860 he was living with his wife, Eleanor Welsh and their six children in Marysville, Yuba, California. He fought in the Civil as a Union Corporal, 81st Illinois Infantry, Company A. In 1870 he was producing “gas machines”. He died in Marysville in 1880.
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