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Title: Letter from John Pettigrew to Charles Pettigrew, June 27, 1797: Electronic Edition.
Author: Pettigrew, John, 1779-1799
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Natalia Smith
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:
2005-03-14, Natalia Smith, project manager, 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: Pettigrew Family Papers (#592), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from John Pettigrew to Charles Pettigrew, June 27, 1797
Author: John Pettigrew
Description: 3 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 592 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Curriculum
Education/UNC Faculty, Staff, and Servants
Education/UNC Student Life
Health and Disease/Bedbugs
Health and Disease/Diseases
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.
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Document Summary

Pettigrew reports to his father on battling bedbugs, recovering from the mumps, the students' habit of swearing, and the steward's being reprimanded for bad food.
Letter from John Pettigrew to Charles Pettigrew , June 27, 17971
Pettigrew, John, 1779-1799

Page 1
Orange County, University, June 27th, 1797.

Revd Father

I was very much surprised to find by your letter which came to hand by the last post that you had upon deliberating on your late resolution (with respect to removing us from this) differed in opinion from what you first wrote me; & which I am very sorry for as it will breed great confusion in my studies, unless you should act up with your first resolution or what you first wrote me; for upon hearing that I was to leave this on July and not expecting that I should go to school anywhere else after I left here; I quit the study of Geography in order to get a sufficient knowledge of Arithmetic, which I knew would be out of my power if I continued the study of Geography, which I could study full as well at home; but if you should persist in sending us here after July I do not suppose it would be impracticable to enter the same class again as it went but a few lessons after I left it, before it began to revise,2 but it will be much against both my brothers & my will to stay any longer than than the time you proposed, as I can assure you the place has become very disagreeable from the many inconveniences with which we are burthened. The Chinches3 or what we call Sabines have increased & multiplied, & become so numrous, that in the late engagements which they have had with us, they have qutite defeated us, & obliged us to retreat from our rooms which they hold the entire possession of at night; none of the room-mates have been able to sleep in my room for upwards of three weeks, & it is nearly the case with respect to all the rest; as for my part I generally spead the tables in the passage & pour water around their feet, by which means I escape them as they are in general bad swimers. The steward has provided very poorly untill lately, when the Trustees gave him a severe overhall, and I believe threatened him severely.4

Page 2
You desired me to give you a full & just statement of the management of affairs, & also with regard to the conduct of the Students in general; with such allowances as might be thought proper, with regard to the conduct of students in general wi performance of this request I can assure you that I feel myself quite inadiquate to the performance of it, but in compliance with your request I shall give you as true an account a possible. The Students in general have nothing very criminal in their conduct excep a vile, & detestable practice of cursing, & swearing, which has become very fashionable here, there can be hardly a sentence spoken without some of those highflown word which sailors commonly use to divert on each other. As to study I believe those who are in the senior classes, & far enough advanced in years to study their own interest aply themselves perty clocely, but on the contrary there are here a great many small boys the half of whom do little or nothing with regard to improvment; those are the ones that make the greatest proficiency in the art of swearing. I have given you as true a statement as I could, but as for making allowances I know of none that could be made in those two cases, & I shall leave that matter to be desided on according to your judgment. This I hope you will relate to no person, as I should be sorry to be the means of spreading a report which might injure the University; I doubt not but its character will be known soon enough to its own disadvantage, & confusion.5
My brother & myself have both had the mumps, he had them midling severely, & has been unwell ever since, untill within this few days; I had the[m]

Page 3
very slightly. The students in general have had them, but none have been injured by them excep one who had the misfortune to be [unrecovered] rejicula.
If you should conclude upon sending us here the remainder of this year we must endeavour to boar d in the village, as I cannot bare the thaughts of staying in colledge, where, there is no chanse of sleeping, & there is no hause in the village which that is fit to take in boarders except Mr Puckets & I do not know whether they intend doing doing it.
According to your request I write this letter but at the same time I hardly think it worth while as you will certainly have determined on one or the [oth]er before this can possibly reach you, & I question [w]hether it ever will or not if it meets with as good [su]ccess as its predecessors however it is quite likely that they are in the mail at Edenton, if you have not inquired for them that being the place to which they were directed.
The examination commences on the 14th of next month. I have nothing more to relate at present. Please to present my duty to my Mother.

I remain your Dutiful Son

J Pettigrew 6

In haste)

Envelope page


1. Pettigrew Family Papers, SHC. The letter is addressed "Revd Chas Pettigrew / Tyrrell County./To the care of/Colonel Blount." The letter previously has been published in Connor 2:176-78 and in Lemmon 1:211-13.

2. "it began to revise": students began to review material previously studied in the course.

3. "Chinches": foul-smelling bugs that damage wheat, corn, and other grains; bedbugs.

4. On December 7, 1797, Pleasant Henderson was appointed steward. His contract with the University obliged him "to furnish each Student and other person living at commons at the said University for Breakfast on each and every day, a sufficient quantity of good milk or good Coffee, and Tea, or Chocolate and Tea, together with a warm Roll or loaf of Wheat or Corn Flour, at the option of each student, and a sufficient quantity of butter: For Dinner a Dish or Cover of Bacon and Greens, or Beef and Turnips, together with a sufficient quantity of fresh Meats or Fowls or Puddings and Tarts, with a sufficiency of Wheat or Corn Bread; and for Supper a sufficiency of Coffee Tea or Milk at his option, together with the necessary quantity of Bread or Biscuit—And to furnish also Potatoes and all other kinds of vegetable food usually served up in Carolina, in sufficient quantities—And to cause that the Tables be covered every other day with clean Cloths" (Connor 2:243). Breakfast was to be on the table at 8:00 a.m.; dinner, at 1:00 p.m.; and supper, "before or after Candle light as the Faculty shall direct" (Connor 2:244).

5. The July 31, 1797, Report on the Semiannual Examinations is positive. "The Students, in general, supported the examination with great credit to themselves, and high honour to the Professors and Tutors." "Rosy health appeared in the countenances of the Students, a few boys excepted who came from the eastern parts of the state. The complaints which had existed some short time past, against the Steward , had entirely subsided, and all was well" (Connor 2:193).

6. John received from the Philanthropic Society a diploma dated November 10, 1797, and did not return to the University. It appears that Ebenezer also went home. On September 29, 1798, Ebenezer wrote to his friend John London , then at the University: "I wish I was at the University again. But I beleive my farther was affraid that without strict Discipline the morals of the students would become so depraved and vitiated that the useful knowledge they might acquire would probably be of very little service to them or the world" (Connor 2:355).