Documenting the American South Logo

Title: Letter from Solomon Lea to William Lea, September 14, 1832: Electronic Edition.
Author: Lea, Solomon, 1807-97
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann and Chad Trevitte
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Sarah Ficke
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 20K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-03-15, Sarah Ficke finished TEI/XML encoding.
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Title of collection: Lea Family Papers (#419), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Solomon Lea to William Lea, September 14, 1832
Author: Solomon Lea
Description: 3 pages, 3 page images
Note: Call number 419 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Student Associations
Health and Disease/Deaths of Students and Faculty
Examples of Student Writing/Letters
Religion and Philosophy/Worship
Travel and Entertainment/Travel
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the personal correspondence. Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
DocSouth staff created a 600 dpi uncompressed TIFF file for each image. The TIFF images were then saved as JPEG images at 100 dpi for web access.
Page images can be viewed and compared in parallel with the text.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Lea describes for his brother the journey from Leasburg, NC, to Chapel Hill, NC, and reports on the death of student James N. Neal.
Letter from Solomon Lea to William Lea , September 14, 18321
Lea, Solomon, 1807-97

Page 1
Sept 14 1832

Dear Brother

I sit down to write you a few lines in haste—I write with a pencil, because I can write faster with it—On monday morning (as you know) I left home about 8 o,clock, I drove very pert. I got a little sprinkled notwithstanding— Miss Magarets Band box was not so little in my way—I however protected it from the rain as well as I could, until it got so wet as to begin to fall to pieces. I then took out the contents & threw the bandbox overboard—Glad I assure you to have lightened the ship of such a weighty & troublesome load—Every body must not know this—I reached Hillsborough about half after twelve—I had not proceded very far along the streets when I met Mr Kittrell,2 who asked me if I had heard the news—What news said I? Why he replied that Mr Neill is dead—you cannot immagine my feelings & astonishment upon hearing it—I stoped I concluded to stop at Hillsborough a while, got my dinner, had my horse fed, & went to see Major Blount3 & Miss Ann Lane—not so well pleased & entertained as I had anticipated—I reached the Hill about dark,4 enquired particulary concerning Mr Neills death, found that he had died monday morning near sun up—He died with composure & said that he was willing to go—nearly His last words were something like the following "5 Lord I have trusted in Thee in times past, forsake me not in my time of affliction & trouble—Though he was in great distress both in body & mind during the greater part of his sickness—yet we have the comfortable hope that he has ceased from trouble & gone to the place of rest—

Page 2
Yes in grieving for him, we lament not as for one of whom we have no hopes—I trust I shall meet him in that place where the weary are at rest, & where the wicked cease from troubling—His father & mother can scarcely bear the loss—nothing but religion supports them—Both societies wear mourning6—we shall erect a monument over his grave7—Tuesday at 10 o,clock Dr Caldwell gave a most interesting & pathetic sermons—nothing but solemnity & seriousness pervaded every mind—But I am fearful that all the serious impressions that may have been made will soon die away—So prom[pt], so easy are we to resume our former manner of living—I have heard a little respecting the campmeeting—upward of fifty converts—Among them Miss Mary KittrellHarmont was there & preached with universal admiration—He came to the Hill Wensday evening, but I did not get acquainted with him, in as much as he did not remain here but a little while—I received a letter from Addison a few days ago—All well—School not so large as before,—Buildings are going on in a rapid state rate—I have my hands full now—I have not read thought or written any thing respecting my senior speech—I have come to the conclusion that I must study more closely than I have ever done—If I do not, & none of the rest on the Phi side do not spur up, every thing will be swept by the Dis 8—Poor chance if it depends on me!—I could mention other things which you might wish to know of—but I have not time at present

Page 3
Give my respects to J C Dobbin & Let me hear all the news from the campmeeting—

your Dear Brother



1. Lea Family Papers, SHC. The letter is written in pencil. The address, written in ink, reads "Mr William Lea / Leasburg Caswell/County NC." In the upper left corner, a circular stamped postmark appears. "CHAPLHILL NC" appears inside the circumference of the circle; "SEPT 15," in the center. Above the address, to the right, Lea wrote the word "Junior" to identify the addressee as his brother, not his father, William Lea senior. The amount of postage, "10" cents, has been superimposed on "Junior." See another letter by Solomon Lea included in this project.

2. Probably Bryant Kittrell , who managed a farm two miles southeast of the University and often took in student boarders. According to Battle , Kittrell bought the first cotton gin in the area. He moved to Alabama in 1833 (1:312).

4. From Leasburg south to Hillsborough is a distance of approximately thirty miles; Chapel Hill is twelve miles south of Hillsborough.

5. The quotation marks appear on the line, not above it.

6. Solomon Lea was president of the Philanthropic Society at the time he wrote this letter. Neal had been admitted to the Philanthropic Society in 1831. The Philanthropic Society Minutes record that on September 10, 1832, a motion was passed that "the members of the P Society wear crape on their left arms for the space of 30 days in testimony of their respect for their fellow member James Neal " (Vol. S-8, UA). On the same date, the Dialectic Society passed a resolution "that the members should wear Crape for 30 days as a token of respect to their fellow student James N Neal who died this morning" (Vol. 7, UA).

7. On September 10, 1832, the members of the Philanthropic Society approved the following motion: "that a committee of three be appointed to request M. Neal's permission to allow the remains of his son our late fellow member to be interred in this place, and that the management of the burial be in the hands of the aforesaid committee" (Vol. S-8, UA). The following day the Society voted to erect a monument over Neal's grave. Neal's father gave his permission. The cemetery, located in a grove of trees on University land, was intended as a burial place for University faculty and students and their servants. A nineteen-year-old student George Clarke was the first person to be buried in the cemetery, in 1798 ( A Backward Glance 17); however, Neal's grave is the first plot purchased by the Society. Today it is surrounded by a black iron fence set in a stone foundation. The monument is a large three-by-five-foot slab of marble supported horizontally by six square, stone pillars, each approximately three feet high. The inscription reads as follows: SACRED/TO THE MEMORY OF/JAMES N. NEAL /WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE/SEPR 10TH 1832/AET. 23/—/ALIKE DISTINGUISHED FOR LOVE OF LEARNING,/FOR PIETY & AMIABLE MEEKNESS OF MANNERS,/HE ATTAINED A HIGH PLACE IN THE ESTEEM/AND AFFECTIONS OF HIS TEACHERS/AND FELLOW STUDENTS./BY UNCOMMON ARDOUR & DILIGENCE IN STUDY/HE SURMOUNTED MANY OBSTACLES,/AND HAD NEARLY REACHED THE GOAL OF/HIS ACADEMICAL CAREER/WHEN BY AN INSCRUTABLE BUT WISE PROVIDENCE/HE WAS SNATCHED AWAY/FROM HIS FAIR PROSPECTS ON EARTH/TO BRIGHTER REWARDS IN THE SKIES./—/THE MEMBERS OF THE PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETY/ERECT THIS MARBLE/IN THE MEMORY OF THEIR REGARD AND REGRET.

8. Lea refers to the annual competition for commencement honors, a source of pride for both societies. By June 1833 the first honor had been awarded to John Gray Bynum; second honors went to Junius B. King and William N. Mebane; Solomon Lea earned third honors. King and Mebane were members of the Dialectic Society; Bynum and Lea , of the Philanthropic Society.