June 1, 1860
Very warm today. “Speaking” day & composition. Few present [to observe]. Got along pleasantly, but Drucilla Adams showed her manners by tearing up her composition before me. Called on Major Ward. Brought 3 letters for me – one from home saying that Pa had been sick but was quite better when they wrote. I fear he will not live long & if I stay long here I may never see him again. [Also received letters] from [Willoughby] Babcock and from [Henry] Handerson. I wrote 3 letters – one to Johnson, one home, and one to Uncle Elizur [Goodrich].
Talking with Mrs. [Caroline] Adams. She said she thought it an imposition that Major Ward would get a teacher & put him off on her to board, situated as she was alone with her children. She said people would talk.
June 2, 1860
Very warm. Sent the letters up [to] Major Ward [to be mailed]. Took a walk with Bill Denham. Rest of the day sleeping & talking. I have done nothing today. In the evening had a little party with dancing & fiddling here. Such a happy company – most of them my scholars, or will be. Major Ward never asked me to go to town until it was necessary for me to go & I was compelled to ask him how I could go.
[Editor’s Note: Goodrich later wrote of the evening party in a piece he wrote for a Northern newspaper. It read:]
The young people are decidedly a fun loving race. Often there is a small gathering at some of the houses or in the yard beneath the bowers of jasmine and orange, where happy feet patter to the sound of the violin and the sonorous yah, yah of the glistening and laughing ebony who performs the same. Many a night have I spent watching the varying ablutions of joy in the children and the grimaces of unutterable happiness that overspreads the countenance of the blacks. These cool evenings, I sat on the porch watching the last ray of red that illumines the sky and the stars one by one gleaming out and a particular one, clear and bright, just above the southern horizon, which we in the North never see, showing itself a moment and disappearing…
June 3, 1860
Got another letter from home. Pa was worse. Attended church. Bishop [Francis Huger] Rutledge preached at Sunday school. I made an ass of myself reading. It was babyish. I feel badly & little. Went home with the Ward’s. Came home & went to prayer meeting at the school house. It has been very warm today.
June 4, 1860
Very warm. In school. Had a new boy just commencing to read. Major Ward called at the school in the morning & said he was sorry that I had received bad news from home & wished to know whether I had any letters to send. I have felt badly all day. Feel almost sick. Kept George & Mattie [Ward] after school. I gave her a severe scolding. She cried most lustily. Mattie told one of her sisters the other day that she might talk about her “till her mouth was dry.” Evening called on Mr. [Edward] Footman. [He] said that the birds laid their eggs in the sand & let the sun hatch them. In some places they are laid indiscriminately over the ground.
June 5, 1860
Very warm. In school. Have [not] read or done anything. Helped Carrie [Adams] at mid-day & all the evening. Feel tired & sleepy. Received two letters from home. They are dull here indeed. Carrie is the most amiable of the family & most lady-like.
June 6, 1860
Nothing particular, but I have come to the conclusion that if I work as I have done, I will earn my hire.
June 7, 1860
Warm. Cool breeze in the morning. George Ward & Mattie are the stubbornest, dullest things I ever encountered in arithmetic. Read some of [Sir Walter] Scott’s, Lay of the Last Minstrel. Helping them tonight.
June 8, 1860
Warm. Speaking day. A few [observers] present. Mrs. [Julia C.] Croom at Mrs. Adams’s. [I went] over to Major Ward’s.
June 9, 1860
Warm. Went over to Major Ward’s. Got papers from home. Major promised to take me to town today. He and [his son] George had gone. Felt slighted. Annie had the horse gotten up for me & I rode up [to Tallahassee and] bought clothes, about $15.00, & then got nothing scarcely. Saw Major Ward in town [and] rode home with him. Got caught in a shower, wet through & through, goods wet. Got home about 3. Major Ward drove on a gallop home through the storm. He is a gay person. I like him better & better though I think he is very thoughtless as far as I am concerned.
[Editor’s Note: Goodrich described this carriage ride from Tallahassee to Bel Air with Major Ward in a piece that he wrote for a Northern newspaper in 1861. After reading the diary entry, the reader can see that it is a gross embellishment of the truth. It reads:]
I was in a storm… which I cannot easily forget. I had been to Tallahassee with a gentleman [Major Ward] in a carriage behind an active span of horses. We started to return about three o’clock. South of Tallahassee and immediately in leaving the city, you descend a long and steep hill. The valley is narrow and you ascend another higher and more perpendicular, which again descends in a long sloping hill until it reaches the plain which stretches then without scarcely an undulation to the gulf.
Dark clouds had begun to gather but we thought we could reach home before we got wet. We drove down and up those hills as if we had unmanageable flying horses, who were speeding up and down for terror. We had reached the summit of the last hill and the horses were preparing to plunge down it such as never did driver and horse before when the storm broke. A report of thunder short and loud that made the earth almost quake and a flash of lightening that streamed and frittered over the sky and in the woods, until I thought it would never stop.
Before, not a breath of air was stirring, but now the wind rose which we could hear in the distance in low sullen boughs. A tornado in all its wrath was upon us. We reached the base of the hill and a long tract of woods intervened before we could reach home – a woods of tall gum and oak. The wind increased to a deafening roar. The thunder was awful with the streams of fire which flashed before our eyes, gleaming over the heavens, or rushing in mad course to the earth, sometimes upon the track before us, or shivering the oak and driving it crashing to the ground. The forest roared more like wild beasts in agony. The trees were falling with loud clang to the ground.
Our carriage was lifted from the ground and hurled against the road-side fence, but luckily for us without injuries as the horses were plunging forward at an alarming pace. No rain had yet fallen though the sky was covered with black fitful clouds, changing mid day into darkness of night. We were now in the thickest of the forest when the rain began to fall and I would, I think, rather have been under the full pour of a cataract than in that storm. The wind increased in fury, trees bent to the ground, and springing back were uprooted and cast many feet from their place. Behind us we heard the crash of the falling timber and several large trees lay across the path we had just passed, their long and huge branches out above and beneath, over which we could not pass.
The roar of the storm suddenly ceased. Nothing could be heard but the sullen, deadened roar of the wind gushing tremulously through the forest. We knew that was a pause of a battery, silent and still before it thunders forth fire, shell, and death. The trees soon waved and creaked, and it again burst more terrific, more awful than before. The roar of the wind and din of the thunder were blended. A mile more we would reach home. A flash livid and momentary and a deafening crash & there lay a huge oak tree across our track. A moment later we would have been crushed beneath its weight. The horses were trembling and snorting.
We rather had been in an open country, defying the wind than left to the unmerciful forest. We detached the horses from the wagon and leaving it there, we rode them around the fallen tree into the path and hastened along at the top of their speed. The rest of the track was lined with scrub oak and a small growth of pine, from the uprooting of which we apprehended no danger. The darkness only relieved by the great flashes of lightning before seemed now to abate.
We soon reached home completely drenched. The horses were still trembling from fright, and our clothes nearly torn from our bodies. The rain soon ceased, black clouds were flying athwart the sky during the night….. We went with the horses after breakfasting to take out the wagon. Several trees lay across the road before we reached it. It was literally hemmed on, before and behind, by sprawling great trunks of trees. With the assistance of blacks, we cut out the wagon, considerably damaged. I look back to that ride with terror and awe. If there is anything than can terrify the mind, it is such a tornado – one which I never wish to witness in like manner again. Such storms are of seldom occurrence and are generally confined to the coast. Years pass sometimes without producing such a one as it was my fortune to witness. It is truly grand, but it requires more nerves than I possess to relish it.
Had a little blunderbuss with the [Adams] girls in the evening. Sent letters to Handerson & the gentleman in Ohio.
June 10, 1860
Sunday. Major Ward sent over to see if I wanted to go to church. Did not go. Took a walk out to the sink. Attended Sunday school. Read little better than last Sunday. Paid $0.50 for the Sunday school. I have only $0.25 to my name. I do not know what I shall do without money. Though when I have taught a month, I may be able to get some money.
Walked up the track with the Wards & in going up we were talking loudly about the Adams’s & we happened to see Drucilla looking over the bank with her head drawn out like a turkey at which Annie & Sallie [Ward] commenced to laugh immoderately. I felt guilty & do now still. I had a good laugh. Annie mocked & called out to her. Carrie & Drucilla [Adams] are very sober to me tonight – freezing cold. Hurting no-one but themselves. They must submit to me or I will cease trying to do one thing with them.
June 11, 1860
Quite a warm day. [We] had a shower today. George Ward is quite dull. Evening took a walk on the railroad. Came upon Annie Ward [and] walked down the track with her & back. I have not been learning anything for some time back. My time is so much occupied.
Down at Key West, there are innumerable quantities of shells. Prof. Agassiz formed some different new classes. The turtles grow more than 6 feet long.
June 12, 1860
Warm. In school. Tedious time. Recess slept. Got letter from [Victor E.] Manget and one from home. Manget’s [letter] was not a cordial one. I don’t know whether to answer it or not. It was cold & formal. Evening Mr. [Tom] Williams here with some of his poetry. Quite a talker. Said his father would drive him to church & whip him if he didn’t go. He said his father thought this way that he would do his duty & if the boy did not turn out right, he was not to blame for he had done his duty. Let me take his roll of poetry. Helping the children till nearly twelve. The longer I live here, the more vexed with the inhabitants I am. Major Ward had a dinner party yesterday at which some of the children imbibed pretty freely.
June 13, 1860
Very warm. Nothing new. Took a long walk tonight. Went to prayer meeting. Read some. Sometimes when it rains, it’s only in a narrow strip on one plantation & missing its neighbors.
June 14, 1860
Warm intensely. In school. [I] haven’t seen Major Ward to speak to him for a week. Done nothing scarcely today. Read a little of [Sir Walter] Scott. The people here are ignorant, mean, impolite, and unfeeling – in the [Adam’s] house, I mean. They laugh at me & wink to each other. Oh, if I am compelled to stay here & teach a year, it will kill me. Showery at night. The rainy season commences about the middle of June & continues some time.
June 15, 1860
Quite warm. Speaking day. Punished George Ward today. He spoke well in the afternoon. No visitors present except some boys. Evening, took a walk. Rainy. The sky was beautiful, lurid in the west & purple & yellow [in the] east. Lightening [was] gleaming in the south, [and] overhead [were] many black clouds. Company here. Staid rather late.
Mrs. Adams wants to go to see her plantation but she dislikes to leave me here with the children. She says the community will talk about it. There must be some reason why they would talk or she would not be so anxious about the thing.
June 16, 1860
Saturday. Rather warm. Wrote a letter home, one to George Stratton, & one to Mr. Perkins, Camden County, North Carolina. Took a walk in the country & got some specimens – lizard & shell of insect.
Mrs. Adams went down to see her husband this afternoon. She thinks that I would be free with her pretty daughters. I wish she & her whole family were out of this place further than Guinea.
June 17, 1860
Sunday. [Major Ward] has not asked [me] to go to church. At home all day romping with the [Adams] girls. They are wild & would do a great many things which custom only hinders.
I have done nothing today; only study my Bible class lesson. At Sunday school, undertook to be rainy. Annie Ward rather cold [towards me] this evening. If I have offended in any way, I am wholly unconscious of it. I think I am treated coldly & neglected since I came. I hope that my connection will be a happy & prosperous one. There are many vexations and trials which are by no means agreeable. I shall look back on my life in the South as a changed one. When much could have been learned, [instead] one’s insignificance & poverty [has been] keenly felt. The children here are getting altogether too familiar.
June 18, 1860
In school. Major Ward came down just before opening & wanted to see me. He said that Gov. [Thomas] Brown’s grandchildren had gone home & told things [about me] that made the family angry. He [said] that they intended to take the children out from [my] school. He wanted me to go over & see him. Evening, went over & settled it with the Governor. He seems reasonable enough but the mothers of the girls Sue M. Archer & Betty Douglas were quite enraged. He said he would send them in the morning.
Governor [Thomas] Brown said nearly the whole voting people were government men & consequently democratic. The sea-board is so large that the [numerous] posts and other government offices are filled with administration men. The Democratic Party is the strongest but some remnant of the old Whig [Party] exists. The Governor is a Whig.
June 19, 1860
In school. Warm. Sue Archer came [back to school] today. Governor Brown sent a paper getting persons to come & put up an arbor to the school house. Got a letter from Johnson. [Said he] was in Davenport, Iowa. Called over to Major Ward’s in evening. I am provoked at them & I don’t know for what. I feel badly. I wish I was practicing law or at some other profession than teaching. It is hard work & not very lucrative. Major Ward’s people are getting colder every day. I am neglected, insulted & what is worse, disliked. If I am now, I do not know what they will think of me when I come to the French [lessons] about which I have nearly forgotten all I ever knew. Attended church. Mr. [William J.] Ellis preached. Came straight home.
June 20, 1860
Very warm. Bad lessons. Evening took a short walk. Went to prayer meeting. In evening, helped the [Adams] girls study.
June 21, 1860
In school. Warm. Afternoon rained & blew quite hard. Went to school. Evening, went over to Mr. [Green] Chaires [and] staid to tea. [He] talked about the country and crops. Said there were many acres (8,000) of land not taken of yet, only about 8 or 10 thousand inhabitants in the state. Said there was a bug that got in the seed of the corn or bud & destroyed it. Said he would have to use about 3 thousand bushels of corn on place; Major Ward about 8 or 10 thousand. Said Ward was a literary character [and] wrote a poem for the Lady Mount Vernon Society, been in the State Legislature & that is all. Quite a number of factories in this country [that] make course cotton cloth for negroes. In some places, [they] have better advantages for manufacturing than at the North. I do not know how I shall get along when they all come to school. I do not know how I shall get along with them in French. I hope I shall [do] well & pray God to be with me.
June 22, 1860
Somewhat cooler today. Got along miserably in school today. Speaking day. Major Ward present. Called on Colonel [Joseph N.] Whitner tonight. House full of company here tonight. Major Ward called [and was] asked into the parlor. He did not speak to me [and] I was not asked into the parlor & consequently did not see him. The people here are about as impolite as they are ignorant. Mrs. Adams came home tonight. Feel sick and bad. Do not know what to do. I fear I shall not get along well with the French [lessons]. I hope I will.
June 23, 1860
Rather cool in morning. Got quite a bad cold. Went to [Tallahassee] today. Borrowed $5.00 of Mrs. Adams. Went up with George Ward & Dick Footman & John Maxwell. Got hair cut, purchased some books, sent a letter to [Victor E.] Manget, got my watch fixed (left it there). Got books charged, got dollar’s worth of colors charged [and] came home about 2. Went to school house, slept afternoon, called on William Maxwell. Maxwell not at home.
Took a walk on the track. The girls here & the Chaires are impudent and ill-mannered. They – in this house – go ahead of all. I shall be in hot water, I fear, when the advanced French scholars come. I hope I may succeed. If I am compelled to leave this place, I do not know when I can get another. Evening, party over to [Green] Chaires.
June 24, 1860
Got up with quite a bad cold this morning. Did not go to church today. Slept a great part of the day. Evening went to Sunday school. Came home & went with Mrs. [Mariah E.] Black to Major Wards’ [and] staid supper. After tea, the girls got ready for church & come out on the porch where we were & asked if their father was going. He said no. I offered to go with them [but] he said I had better stay with him; [that] they could go alone. I did not know what to make of it. But he wanted to talk some about the school. We came to the conclusion that if in a week from now we thought that a school of a high one could not be established, I would resign. And we also concluded from appearances that a school of the right tone could not easily be established. I know I am not giving satisfaction to Major Ward & I think he is anxious to have me leave the concern. He said that if after a week’s experiment we found that a school of such a character could not be established, I would state to the trustees my reasons for resigning & he would take me as a tutor in his family until I could get another place. I fear my stay is short here. Oh dear, am I to be driven about like an old wreck, not knowing when I will stop? I am forsaken & misfortunate – an unlucky star was over me at my birth. O God, be with me, guide & protect me. And if it my destiny for me to leave, thy will be done, not mine.
June 25, 1860
Rather cool today. In school, had five new scholars. Annie and Sallie Ward, Annie Chaires, & Pattie & Tom Archer. Got along quite well today. Had no French or advanced Latin to hear. Major Ward came & talked with me about their children [and] wished me to call over in the evening & see him. Evening, got a letter from home. Playing with the [Adams] girls. Went over to Major Wards’ [and] made some arrangements about the classes. Stayed till about 12 o’clock. Said that he was mistaken when he thought of getting up a good school here. Said that he should put his children somewhere after this year. Spoke as if I was to stay a year at least. I hope I can. Then I do not care what does take place. Tomorrow will come the tug of war. I hope I may get along well but I have some misgivings & yet am confident. I would if I had a French book. Major Ward said that the people were ignorant & never read. Go to bed about 2.
June 26, 1860
In school. Hard time. Heard Latin classes in Reader & Virgil. Did not do well. Began to think I [shouldn’t have] come here. I shall have to work hard. Asked to go over to Mag Brown’s in evening. Went to Mr. [George A.] Croom’s singing for the picnic tomorrow. Attended church in evening.
June 27, 1860
No school. At pic-nic awhile. Sick. Studied Latin. Made some arrangements of the classes. In afternoon, was called upon to speak but was not there. I am glad I was not for I should have been stumped. In evening, called on Col. [Joseph N.] Whitner. Says that he prefers to have the scholars have the text books they have even if I am obliged to have three times as many classes as scholars. I asked him if I had given any satisfaction. He said he thought that I had made a favorable impression & the people thought I was conscientious & would try to make such a school as should be, that I was diligent & studious. Very well if I can hold out. I could get along well if it wasn’t for Annie Ward. She stumps me on her French. They had quite a large picnic.
Major Ward and Annie have gone to Quincy [and] will not be back until tomorrow. I think I am dead as far as Major Ward is concerned. I can not hold out with him.
June 28, 1860
Very warm today. Did better in Latin Reader than yesterday. Boys bad. Had Drucilla [Adams] stand on the floor today. She is terribly vexed tonight. I am almost sick tonight & tired of this work. I wish I had kept on studying law, but it is too late now, unless I am shipped from this place which I think will be done in less than a month.
June 29, 1860
Very warm in school. Miss Annie Ward not here yet. Speaking day. Some bad pieces. Miss Sallie and Miss Annie [Ward] had compositions. Pretty good. Evening, called on Mr. [Thomas F.] Williams’ – not at home. Staid with company & wife & daughter till dark. Came home to tea.
They said that at the Convention, Major Ward killed himself as far as politics by refusing to identify himself with the [Union] party. He made a bad resolution & several came down on him severely. Went over [to Major Wards’] after tea. The Major had gone to Mr. [Green] Chaires. Sat on the steps with the children talking & laughing about the Adam’s. They told me some of her poetry on a person.
Patrick is a pretty man,
Patrick is a dandy;
Patrick is a pretty man,
Sweet as sugar candy.
Major Ward came home late. Sat up talking about the school & other matters. Said that he would continue as we have for about two weeks to make out a quarter & then if we could not go on we would close up the concern [saying again that] he would take me on [as a private tutor in his family] until I could find another place. I feel bad. I know I am not giving satisfaction to any. Did not get home until nearly one o’clock.
June 30, 1860
Warm day. Called on Mrs. [Betty] Douglas. In Governor Brown’s office. Wrote letter to Lee, home, Babcock, Davis, & to Smith, Woodman & Co. Did no studying today. Tried sleeping…
The following letter from Willoughby Babcock was forwarded to Goodrich from Camden, South Carolina:
May 9, 1860, Owego [New York]
My Dear Ralph. Your letter to Davis & Babcock was received a day or two before I was summoned to Homer by the illness of my wife, as you heard by way of Col. Davis….
We have had ample time to discuss the Charleston Convention – the great prize fight, etc, etc. and have decided the first to be a bore and the second a “sell.” The rules of the ring were equally scorned in both cases and both were decided to be ‘drawn.” They should have been hanged and quartered as well. But peace be with them.
How long before you intend to resume your course of law study? Do you see any members of the South Carolina bar? If so, how do you find them? Our boys returned from Binghamton with much such success as was predicted for them. Austin came through & stood a creditable examination. Johnson made an ass of himself and was rejected. He is much mortified & I feel sorry as I can for him. He has not appeared in town since his return from the fatal spot but is at his boarding house beyond the railroad. He will, I learn, go West soon at any rate. The most of those who failed at Ithaca have now succeeded. The examination is said not to have been very severe. Please write soon. Your friend, — W. Babcock
[Box 1 , Item 44, Ralph L. Goodrich Collection, Arkansas History Commission]
William [“Bill”] Denham, born about 1844, was one of Andrew and Adaline’s nine children.
Episcopal Bishop Francis Huger Rutledge, a native of South Carolina, came to Florida in 1840 and was elected the first Bishop of Florida in 1851. A slave-owner himself, he took a paternalistic view in defending the institution.
Mrs. Julia [Church] Croom was the wife of 38 year-old planter George A. Croom. George and Julia Croom had five children, the oldest being two boys – ages 16 and 14 – who occasionally called on Annie and Sallie Ward. George Croom owned the Casa de Laga plantation which was valued at $15,000 in 1860. He also owned 70 slaves to help him cultivate his 800 acres of cotton and corn.
Over the next few months, Goodrich would take regular walks on the railroad for exercise or just to clear his head. This railroad that linked Tallahassee with the gulf port of St. Mark’s, Florida – a distance of twenty miles. It was completed in 1837 and was a vital lifeline for Leon County planters to get their cotton to market.
Jean Louis Agassiz was a prominent professor of Natural Science who taught at Harvard.
Joseph N. Whitner was a 34 year-old Engineer who lived in Leon County, Florida in 1860 with his wife Mary and three small children.
William Maxwell was a 52 year-old farmer who lived in Leon County, Florida in 1860 with his wife Rebecca and their six children.
Miss Margaret [“Mag”] Brown, born about 1832, was a daughter of Governor Thomas Brown, who lived in an adjacent dwelling according to the 1860 U.S. Census.
Major George T. Ward, with his daughter Annie in tow, attended the state Constitutional Union Party convention at Quincy, Florida on June 27, 1860.
Apparently Tom Williams left a book of his poems for Goodrich to peruse at his leisure. Later in the summer, Goodrich returned the book to Williams accompanied by a verse he’d written himself. See below: