In 1837, Virginia’s General Assembly chartered the Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, the first chartered college for women in Virginia. This coincided with the national movement to provide formal academic education for women. The Methodist Church supplied funding for the institute’s 52-room main building. Construction also included the cost of enlisting 42 slaves in 1833 with the number rising to 191 in 1837. Some accounts state that slaves squandered the resources of the institute, imperiling its survival.
Offering a superb letter involving the Buckingham Institute and the hiring out and selling of slaves who were may have been placed at the Institute. Others were undoubtedly part of a family estate. Our writer, who lives at the Institute, and whose name isn’t completely legible, is Benj M. G? apparently operates a store on the grounds. He writes a highly informative letter to his nephew, Josiah Hendrick, Lafayette County, Missouri regarding the hiring out and selling of slaves. Integral address leaf.
“Josiah, I received your letter & was very glad to hear that you & all my friends were well. I am well at this time. I saw John yesterday & he said his family was well...John has sold Caroline & her children. He is living in Amelia...We will stop there. I am living at the Female Institute, merchandizing with a man named S.B.R. Loving, a man in high standing. We have sold a great many goods this fall. You wish to know about Robert & Martha Susan. Martha Susan is boarding with me at Mr. Loving’s & Robert James is living with Sandy Davis this year free of charge for schooling & board. If nothing happens next year I will put him in our store. We have had a division of old Mrs. Hendrick’s Est[ate] & you can conceive how trifling it was. There was a Bond of your Pa’s for 76 dollars unpaid & any bad claims that seem to be just. The decision was I got Edy & 75 dollars valuation, $325 dollars.
“My Dear son, I have done all I can for you all & I am in hopes that you all will be satisfied with me. I will go on to state to you & when you receive this letter you must let me know how you like my proceedings to give me satisfaction. I have hired out Lucy for 50 dollars, Bet for 40 dol., Edy for 42 dol. 50 cts. Mary & children for 10 dol. Chany & child...These things I keep in a book to show. If death don’t take this place I mean to make a lady of Pat. Our chance is good. She learns very fast indeed. If you think you can do better here than there you can come in the spring. I will do all I can for you if you come. I would be glad to see you. Give my love to all my friends & tell them to write to me...Tell Bro Willis if I could lay my arms around his shoulder once more I should feel happy...”
Toning, light soiling. Several archival tape repairs. Address leaf is a bit fragile but intact. Still an extraordinary historic item, pre-Civil War and involving to some extent women’s educational history.
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