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Title: Letter from Alpheus Jones to Peter W. Hairston, October 23, 1837: Electronic Edition.
Author: Jones, Alpheus
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann and Scott Walker
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Sarah Ficke
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 18K
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: Wilson and Hairston Family Papers (#4134), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Alpheus Jones to Peter W. Hairston, October 23, 1837
Author: Alpheus Jones
Description: 3 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 4134 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Enrollments and Finances
Education/UNC Student Associations
Education/UNC Student Life
Examples of Student Writing/Letters and Letter Writing
Editorial practices
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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.
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For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Jones gives former student Hairston a report on enrollment (142 students), changes in the faculty, and the condition of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies.
Letter from Alpheus Jones to Peter W. Hairston , October 23, 18371
Jones, Alpheus

Page 1
Chapel Hill 23rd.2 Octr. 1837.

Dear Peter :

You may think that I have deferred, a long while, to comply with my agreement; after having promised you, last Session, in a sort of indirect manner, though not positively, that I would write to you. But I have been under the impression that you promised to write to me first: and hence, expecting a letter from you by almost every mail, I have postponed till this late period 'expressing my ideas to you through medium of a letter.'
It would appear, (for I very seldom hear from you), that you have fallen in with so many of the noble sons of Old Virginia, that you have almost entirely forgotten your old acquaintances at this University. But probably some of the circumstances herein mentioned may serve to arouse your memory, and, by bringing to your recollection many past scenes, render more perfect those pleasures which I hope you now enjoy.
It may be somewhat cheering to you to learn, by the Catalogue, of the flourishing and still more promising condition of our University at present. The number of Students is 142;3 and, if every "Fresh" Class continue to have as many members as the present one, by the time that my Class graduates, the whole number of Students will amount to 200 or more.4 And I know that it is still more pleasing to you to learn that the number of members of the Dialectic Society has increased so much: but all our rooms are completely filled up. And some5 of our members (as you will see by the Catalogue) have taken rooms in the village. So that

Page 2
every new member, on coming to College, (unless he have a particular friend in the Dialectic Society or unless he be situated in some other peculiar circumstances), is left entirely in the hands of the Phis, none of our members being willing to "screw" him, since they would have no room in which to put him. Hence it is almost certain that the Phis will increase in number.
But so soon as our University rises in one respect, it appears to decline in another; for while the number of Students has been increasing, it seems that other Colleges have been attempting, by offering larger salaries (I suppose) to deprive us of our Professors. Professor W. Hooper has resigned, to become President of a College in South Carolina, (which you may have seen published in the "Raleigh Register", together with a farewell address to him by our Poet, George Horton .)6 Also the Professorship of Mathematics has been offered to Pro. Phillips by a College in Mississippi. But I believe that he takes interest enough in our University not to accept of it.
The Faculty, not long since, granted us Friday night and Saturday morning, for the purpose of the meeting of the two Societies; and still, on account of the increase of members, we are obliged to sit up, every Friday night, until about 12 o'clock. We also continue in Session on Saturday util 12 o'clock or after. The Phis came very near refusing, at the first of the Session, to petition with us, although they had agreed to do so last Session, when the number of members of both Societies was then less than it is at

Page 3
present; and I suppose they would not have petitioned with us at all, had it not been to avoid such a palpable inconsistency as they would have inevitably fallen into by refusing. If I could see you I could tell you of a number of their actions such as those we were frequently criticising last Session. But I suppose it useless to mention them in a letter.
The present "Fresh" Class, is the most pugnacious and wild set that I have seen in some time. They have had no less than three fights in it this Session; and a few mornings ago there was a half-grown steer in the bull-pen in the old chapel,7 at prayers, which I suppose was placed there by the "Fresh". It happened, that he was placed there in the absence of our President, Gov. Swain , or I suppose we would have had a speech from him on the subject.
I have sent you by the same mail with this letter an Address of Judge Strange (4,000 copies of which the Society had printed) and a Catalogue of the University. You may be surprised at finding so many regulars (as the Catalogue would give you to understand), in the Junior Class. But all of those whose names are marked with an (n) are irregulars; also those marke with an (a) are Dies; of course the rest are Phis; it were useless to distinguish any except "newies", however, I have distinguished all. John R. Wilson told me to send you his respects. Accept the same from me.

Envelope page


1. Wilson and Hairston Family Papers, SHC. The letter is addressed "Mr. Peter W. Hairston ,/ Charlottesville/Va." and is stamped with a circular postmark in the upper left corner; "CHAPEL HILL N.C." appears in the circumference of the circle, and "OCT 24" appears in the center of the circle. The amount of postage, "18 3/4" cents, is handwritten in the upper right corner of the envelope.

2. Jones wrote rd on top of th and retraced 3 in the date.

3. Up from eighty-nine students during the previous year.

4. Enrollments remained between 150 and 170 students until 1850, when they shot up to 230 ("Matriculates and Graduates" 14).

5. Jones wrote "filled up. And some" on top of "now completely filled."

6. Horton's poem appeared in the Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Gazette on October 9, 1837 (See poem). The Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Gazette had announced on September 11, 1837, that Hooper would be "President of the [Furman] Theological Seminary at Winnsboro [SC]" (3).

7. A common prank was to tie up animals in the chapel. Though sources do not describe the inside of the old chapel (Person Hall), it evidently was laid out in much the same way as the new chapel (Gerrard Hall), though on a smaller scale: "In the original seating arrangement [of the new chapel], there was located in the centre of the hall a nave about 18 feet square which the students irreverently called the 'bull-pen.' This consisted of a semi-circular row of benches with backs so high that only the heads of the persons seated therein could be seen from the rear. Distinguished guests and speakers were seated in the 'bull-pen,' which accommodated about forty persons. A narrow passageway connected the 'bull-pen' with the speakers' stand, located at the west end of the hall. Occasionally the students would fasten a patient bull yearling in the nave; and perhaps from such incident the nave derived its common name" (Henderson 91).