November 1860

November 1, 1860

Cold. In school. Flogged Jones. Went down street.

November 2, 1860

Rather cold & windy. In school. Reading [Stephen A.] Douglas’ paper in Harper’s [Weekly] on Popular Sovereignty.  [I was] introduced to Mr. Plattenburg, the Campbellite preacher at school. Took a walk down street. I shall study & try to be something. I want to get some book that I can learn something by heart everyday [so as to gain] a better command of language & improve my memory.

November 3, 1860

Went down the street with Henry Watkins. No letters for me. Went up to the parade ground [at the Federal Arsenal]. He spoke of going to California in the summer or fall [and] I said I would go with him. Helped put up a stove here [at the boarding house]. Afternoon, went down the street with Captain Syberg & got a hat [which] cost $4.00. Drunk lager with him. The old lady & Captain had hot times. Evening, went to hear a speech in favor of [Stephen] Douglas. [Got] home about ten.

November 4, 1860

Sunday. Mr. Mathews wanted me to go over to the school house [as] there was a dead hen down the well. I went down & got it out. At church, [had] communion [and a] funeral. Afternoon, Mrs. [Edith] Syberg is personal in her remarks to me, impudent & saucy. Finished a letter to Austin. Got a cold. Writing. I can’t do much [due to] the eternal gibbering of this hussy old woman.

November 5, 1860

In school. Afternoon, went down [to the State Capitol] expecting to hear speaking [but] did not. After school, went [down and] heard Sutton [and] Fellows once till evening [and then] joined a torch light procession. Today, I moved to a room upstairs at [my] boarding place. Sat at the school house after the parade & talked with Mr. Mathews. Got a nice vest at Henry’s [that] cost me five dollars.

November 6, 1860

Election. They think the State will go for Breckinridge. Went down the street [and] put letter in [post] office to Austin. Called on Mr. Mathews. [We] have 33 scholars in all now.

November 7, 1860

In school. Rainy & cold. Got a bad cold. The folks here are impudent, but good-hearted I think. They thought today that I would have to pay them 3 dollars a month for wood. They are exacting as the Devil. I had some of Fred’s [toy building] blocks & in placing them up, [Captain] Syberg said that I had no taste nor invention, no idea of the beautiful or of utility. I gave him a sharp answer. Yesterday, he called me a salamander. I have not yet heard from home & I do not know what to think. It is strange. I shall hope & trust in God. I fear something is wrong at home, but do not wish to believe my fears.

November 8, 1860

Cold & cloudy. In school. My cold is no better. Stillwell has left school [leaving] only 32 in number. Took a walk down the street. I can not make much here in this school. I will make just about enough to pay my way & that’s all. It is bad. Terrible. And I am disappointed.

November 9, 1860

Went to school. Gave a holiday [to the scholars]. Went down the street [and] heard that [my home state of] New York had gone for Lincoln. Went to the fair, took Fred [Syberg]. Had a tournament. Went over to Mr. Mathews [and] had a long talk with him. He does not like Mrs. Syberg. He thinks she is awful.

November 10, 1860

Wrote a letter to Major Ward & one home. Sent them. Received two from home. Went to the [State Capitol to hear the] Legislature awhile. Reading & feel sick [with a] headache.

November 11, 1860

Sunday. Sick all day. Cam Watkins came in the morning & staid awhile. Reading some [Lord] Byron & Greek History. Went to bed early.

November 12, 1860

Monday. Mr. Mathews came early & said that Mrs. Thomson was dead & he would not be in school in the morning. I took charge. [He] was there in the afternoon. Evening, went over & we made out the school bills for this month. I get $57.50.  He wants me to go over & room with him. He thinks it will be cheaper. Reading & studying. I do not know what to do. I am freer where I am than over there.

November 13, 1860

In school. Mr. Mathews not there in the morning [but] came after a time. I told Mrs. Syberg about leaving [her boarding house]. Tonight Mr. Mathews came over & settled with Captain [Syberg] & paid his bill, crediting to me $26.20. I gave him a receipt. Mr. Mathews gave me 0.25 from Sunday school class for the missionary society. Evening, went to church & heard a lecture from Dr. [John T.] Wheat on the early history of the church. He says the Gentiles had not only traditional, but also written testimony of the coming of Christ. The sybilism pophisus at Rome related to the coming of Christ. Reading and studying.

November 14, 1860

Rainy in morning. Afternoon, two new boys came [to our school]. Down the street. Got a paper from J. J. Belknap. Took a short walk.

November 15, 1860

Rainy in morning. [Henry M.] Rector was inaugurated [Governor of Arkansas] today & we let the boys go for the forenoon. The military were out. Went [to see the festivities]. Henry Watkins went last night down in the country to teach. Evening, reading to Captain Syberg. Today, Mr. Mathews paid me $31.30 for my month’s work.

November 16, 1860

Cold. In school. Nothing very unusual. Captain [Syberg is] sick. Went down the street. In evening, studying, reading, & writing. I have to work hard & shall have to when we get farther advanced in the books. But when I get over them once, I can get along better. Going along at a good rate in Geometry & Algebra, and Latin. Not so far in Greek yet.

November 17, 1860

Saturday. While shaving, Mr. Mathews came over & wanted to sell me a pair of boots. [They were] heavy new [ones] that did not fit him. I gave $5.00 for them. Went down the street & bought a fine pair of boots for $8.50.  Got a letter & paper from home. Came up & wrote a letter to Manget & [cousin] Jim Fiddis at Alexandria, Louisiana. Went down the street in the forenoon with Captain [Syberg]. Went to [hear the] Legislature [at the State Capitol]. Afternoon, went down again with Captain [Syberg]. He bought me a cane. Got an Eclectic Magazine (25 cents). Evening, [spent] reading to Captain [Syberg]. Went down the street with Mrs. Syberg & got a dollar’s worth of stamps.

November 18, 1860

Sunday. Prepared for church. Two excellent sermons. The afternoon one was on the Proverbs, 1 chapter, verse 6. At Sunday school. Reading Eclectic [Magazine]. Evening, had a hot discussion with the Captain on the negro. Mrs. Syberg [was] rather insulting.

November 19, 1860

In school. Went down the street. Got another pair of boots & exchanged the others. (Bought undershirts for $2.70.) Went down after supper & got some lager for the Captain. Mr. Mathews came up about 8 & staid till nine. Had a long talk with him. He wants me to come over & room with him & I think I shall. Reading.

November 20, 1860

In school. Cold. Another new scholar [has joined our school] & probably one [more] tomorrow. Went down the street & took a letter for Graham for stuff for whiskers. The [Syberg’s] have said if I went over to Mr. Mathews’ room, they could not board me for less than $20 a month. It will not be cheaper than now. Evening, went to hear Dr. [John T.] Wheat lecture.

November 21, 1860

In school. Mr. Syberg’s assistant here. Received a letter from Handerson, forwarded from Florida, saying that he had written that I could get a place in Alexandria, Louisiana. Wrote to him in New Orleans & also to Dr. Weems – the person [Henry Handerson said was looking for a teacher].  In evening, Mr. Mathews asked Captain [Syberg] and I over to his room. We had oysters & whiskey, and played dominoes. Mrs. Syberg stormed [at us] when we came home about eleven.

November 22, 1860

Rainy. In school. I asked one of the Jones’ today what was the difference between a raccoon & a coon. He said the coon was she one, the raccoon was the he one. Sent off my letters; one to Handerson, the other to Dr. Weems [in Alexandria, Louisiana]. Got one from [cousin] Lucy Stratton. Played cards with Captain & Mrs. Syberg. Went over to Mr. Mathews. He said that I had better stay here if they were going to charge me twenty dollars a month [for board] if I went over to room with him. I rather think he would like to have me get that place in Louisiana as there is a relative of his acquaintance coming here & his friends have applied to him [for a teaching position]. Whatever, or however this matter may turn, I hope for the best.

November 23, 1860

Snowing in morning. In school. Not many there. Very cold. Mr. Linda, Captain [Syberg’s] assistant here. Evening, went down street & got some whiskey for Captain [Syberg]. [Mr.] Linda was here. Had some punch & played cards. I beat with the Captain. They say here that [Mr.] Linda is not a refined person; that he is not well versed in the code chivalry. If they do not think so of him, they [must] think less of me in that respect; but I do not call them good judges. Feel the effects of liquor somewhat.

November 24, 1860

Cold.  Here [at the boarding house] helping all day. Mr. & Mrs. Syberg got into a quarrel [and] both swore. She gave [their son] Fred an awful whipping this morning. She calls him [an] oaf & a confounded rascal, & fool, etc. Went to [Mt. Holly] cemetery to see if I could find the grave of Charles Goodrich. Could not. Went down the street. Got a paper from home & a letter from [my sister] Augusta. Evening, wrote a letter home.

November 25, 1860

Sunday. At church. Reading & studying.

November 26, 1860

In school. Rainy. One session [only today]. Put letter [I wrote yesterday] in [post] office; got one from home, [and] got [an] Eclectic [Magazine].

November 27, 1860

In school. Rainy. One session. Went down the street. Mrs. Syberg & the Captain do not think that Mathews uses me like a gentleman. They think he might ask me out to see some of the ladies. I do not see why he does not. If the feminine do not want to see me, well & good. I am content to forgo the pleasure of their acquaintance. And if Mathews is ashamed to take me, so be it. I am content. Reading. There is a party at Johnson’s; Mathews has gone. Captain [Syberg] said tonight that probably he could let me do some work during vacation by which I could make a hundred dollars. I wish he could.

November 28, 1860

In school. Boys bad. Captain [Syberg] went away today. In school till five. Mrs. Syberg said that I was the Captain’s favorite. [John R.] Fellows spoke at the capitol tonight. I went. He is in favor of Union. Good speech but big & highfalutin. Mr. & Mrs. Syberg rant against Mr. Mathews considerably. Got a paper from home. Mr. Mathews does not treat me very well. I thought he would introduce me [to others], but I think he is ashamed to. If he is no gentleman, I am sorry I came here. I may be in a family where I can do something, but they are ravenous as the wolves, it seems, for all I have.

November 29, 1860

In school. Pleasant day. Whipped one of the Jones’ – a boarder here. Evening, went down the street. Went over to Mr. Mathews’ [and] told him that Captain Syberg did not like to have [his son] Fred cut wood or carry it in. Came back & told Mrs. Syberg that I had spoken to Mr. Mathews & he said that he did not require the boys to cut or bring in the wood, but it was their wish. She told me I had mentioned what had been said & Mr. Mathews would vent his spite on Fred & she would take him out of the school. She brought up the hole in the wall being nailed up & said I was a spy. Both called me no gentleman, etc. I rose up & if ever a man was mad, I was. I gave it to them. Told them they had not sense enough to understand the matter & that it was a great insult to call me a tight, close, stingy fellow, & [even] worse to call me a spy, until both were black in the face. [The] Captain apologized and we consented to let it drop. Sat & talked with them till nine o’clock as if nothing had happened. When I was speaking, Mrs. Syberg looked as if she thought I was going to leave, and she would lose her money. I may have been hasty, but to receive such epithets is too much. I hope the thing will drop but I hope also they will know not to insult me.

November 30, 1860

In school. Had a talk with Mathews. Went down the street with him after school. He came over for me in the evening. Went over & played dominoes. He asked me if I wanted to deliver a lecture in the Church. He was [going to do it.] I wish I could & make a good impression.


The [Little Rock] Weekly Arkansas Gazette dated 17 November 1860 reported that, “The closing of the Fair with a tournament was looked forward to with great interest… In our imagination we had pictured a contest between grim knights in armor, with visors drawn and lances poised, ready to disarm or unhorse an opponent. Instead we saw a ring about two inches in diameter, hung some eight feet from the ground, and a lot of gay equestrians trying to pick it off with the point of a wooden lance – the one taking the ring oftenest in five trials to be the victor. Though the Fair was a success, we confess to disappointment at the tournament…”

Henry Massey Rector “was born at Fountain Ferry near Louisville, Kentucky on 1 May 1816. He received his primary education from his mother and attended school in Louisville Kentucky for one year. He studied law for several years and was admitted to the bar in 1854. After moving to Arkansas in 1835, Rector became interested in politics and served as the U.S. Marshall for the district of Arkansas. He served in the Arkansas Senate from 1848 to 1850, and was the U.S. surveyor-general of Arkansas for four years. Rector also served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1855 to 1859, and he served on the bench for the Arkansas Supreme Court for one year. On 16 November 1860, Rector was elected Arkansas’s sixth governor…”

The letter Ralph received from Henry E. Handerson read:

November 6, 1860   New Orleans, Louisiana

Dear Ralph.  Before leaving Alexandria [Louisiana], I wrote to you that Dr. [N. C.] Weems – a gentleman residing near that place – was wanting a teacher and would be glad to hear from you. Today I received a letter from him stating that he had not heard a word from you. Why do you not write? The instruction is worth from 600 to 800 dollars and Dr. Weems is a perfect gentleman. If you wish the place, write at once. If I was at [that place], I should be tempted to take it myself, but I am attending medical lectures at present & cannot do so. Come by New Orleans if you can, and I shall be very glad to see you. I write in the greatest haste and will write again as a soon as I hear from you. Address [your application] to Dr. N.C. Weems, Alexandria, La. & write immediately.  Fraternally, — Henry E. Handerson

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