Title: Excerpts from the Diary of James L. Dusenbery, August 14, 1841, February 27 and June 1842: Electronic Edition.
Author: Dusenberry, James Lawrence, b. 1821
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann and Brian Hanley
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Risa Mulligan
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 65K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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:
2005-04-20 Risa Mulligan 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: James Lawrence Dusenbery Papers (#2561), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Excerpts from the Diary of James L. Dusenbery, August 14, 1841, February 27 and June 1842
Author: James Lawrence Dusenberry
Description: 7 pages, 7 page images
Note: Call number 2561 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Examples of Student Writing/Diary and Notebook Excerpts
Chapel Hill and Vicinity
Travel and Entertainment/Celebrations and Holidays
Health and Disease/General
Education/UNC Student Life
Education/UNC Curriculum
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.
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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

Dusenbery's diary entry narrates the story of Gooly, who set out to visit a harlot and was chased back to his dormitory. A second entry reports on George Washington's birthday celebrations, the dismissal of several students, and his adventures while drunk.
Excerpts from the Diary of James L. Dusenbery , August 14, 1841, February 27, 1842, and June 18421
First Chronicles
Chap. 1st
Dusenberry, James Lawrence, b. 1821

Page 69

Now it came to pass in the eigth month, even the month August & in the thirteenth day of the month, that Gooly 2 surnamed the drummer arose & went forth into the wilderness of Sin. And there were with him in the wilderness, certain mighty men of valour of the tribe of Freshmen, worshippers of Baal who had not the fear of God before their eyes. Now there were harlots in those parts, who enticed the men of the land & were stumbling-blocks before Gooly & the men who were with him. For they were moved in their hearts to go in unto them; so they arose & went forth by night, bearing in their hands, gifts of raiment & precious metal. But the intents of their hearts were evil before the Lord continually & it was forbidden that this great wickedness should come to pass. For behold as they went the very trees cried out at their approach & put forth their arms to forbid their passage. But Gooly & the men of might who were with him, were hardened in their hearts & pressed forward to give battle to the giants of the forest. And lo! one of the giants pressed sore upon Gooly & smote him between the eyes & he fell upon his face to the earth. Then Gooly arose & fled to his own house & the men, when they saw what was done, turned & fled after him. Thus was Gooly & the worshippers of of Baal discomfited before the giants of the wilderness of Sin.
Done on Saturday the 14th of August 1841.

Page 116

Sunday 27th [February 1842]. Tuesday was the 22nd—the birthday of Washington. The day was celebrated by the delivery of a speech by Morrisey 3. The procession formed in front of the S. B. [South Building] & marched round by Caldwell's monument, to the chapel. Mears was Marshall of the day. The amount of liquor drank by the students was tremendous. More than 2/3ds of college were intoxicated. Pink & I went over to the [Old] East & were gloriously tight before breakfast. We kept the thing hot throughout the day. Nutall had an excellent dinner. Parson Green dined with us for the purpose, of preserving order & preventing us from drinking too much wine. A member of the Faculty dined at each of the boarding houses for the same purpose.4 In the evening Mike [Elisha Mitchell] was passing through the "Campus" & some drunken fellow cursed him from Mc'Nairy's window. He came up & found the room full of drunken students, while the sugar was scattered about & the floor was drenched with the brandy which had been spilled. He sat down & gave them a long talk & went away, after giving them to understand that he would report none of them. On Thursday, however, Dick , McNairy Williamson , were called before the Faculty, at Mike's instigation, & dismissed for three weeks. The two Polk's were dismissed finally.5 Moral Jessie Irvine was sent off the next day, for refusing to go up to Mr [Manuel] Fetter's table, to recite.6 On Friday Yance & Gooly set out on foot, for Moring's—8 miles from the Hill on the Raleigh road, with the intention of spending their three weeks there. About a dozen of us

Page 117
accompanied them as far on their way as "Piny Prospect". When they reached Moring's, the looks of the place were not agreeable & an opportunity offering itself, they returned to the Hill on the same day. At night Yance rode out to Johnson's 4 miles on the Hillsboro road & procured a very convenient place, for a student to rusticate.7 They moved out on yesterday. I went out with their baggage & helped them to fix up their room. I was so well pleased with the place that I almost wished that I were also dismissed. Their room is upon the stage road, but they eat at Johnson's , whose house is 3/4ths of a mile distant. They have a gun with them & plenty of books,—old Charley has 3 very comely daughters & in hunting, fishing reading & keeping company with the ladies, no doubt their 3 weeks will pass away very pleasantly. Dick has gone home. Our 3d passage looks gloomy & desolate since they are all gone. On the night of the 22nd while I was yet high in the wind, I started out to the Depót8 to see Miss Redness. On the way I met Clinch , who had been to the Borough [Hillsborough]. He was so tight that he could hardly sit in his sulkey. He pulled out a small black juuk & I took a few swallows & went on my way rejoicing. I staid at the Depót all night. Last night I went again & staid until after 3. o.c. this morning. A few nights ago I wrote a Temperance pledge for myself—signed it & nailed it up against the wall. In it I pledge myself to drink no liquor before Senior reports are read out. Yance & Alfred9 have also signed it. Laura wrote to me this week.
Feb. 27th 1842.

Page 131

On Saturday the 28th of May [1842] I set out on my return to the Hill to attend commencement & receive my diploma. Laura accompanied me, & Fayette also, as far as Greensboro, where he is at school. We passed the night in G. [Greensboro] at Mrs Moring's, & after breakfast the next morning Jacob drove us down to Mr Holt's & we spent the remainder of the Sabbath & the night following with Miss Eliza Holt . There we found the Dr . & Miss Elizabeth , at Edwin Holt's . About 10 on Monday morning we all set out again, the Dr . having prevailed upon his brother Edwin to go with him to the Hill. We travelled in company, about 6 miles, to Dr Mike Holt's , where we found Dr Saml Holt who had also agreed to go to the Hill. There Laura & I seperated from the rest, & went on direct to the Hill, while the Dr & his company went on by Hillsboro, where he had some business to transact. Laura was invited to Prof. [James] Phillip's , but she remained there for only a short time on account of the severe sickness of Miss Jane Wilson ,10 who was staying there. Dr [Elisha] Mitchell invited her to his house & there she remained during our stay at C. Hill. On Monday evening Prof. [William] Green , who had been solicited by our class to deliver to us a parting sermon, preached to us in the new chapel, from this text,=="Remember this & prove yourselves men".==. On Tuesday morning our class was examined on Law by Gov. Swain in the presence of Charles Manly , D. M. Barringer & several other highly intelligent gentlemen. In the evening Dr Mitchell who wished to have some amusement, called together the Seniors & proposed that some of the class should take the

Page 132
"Nitrous Oxide" or exilarating gas. It was administered in the grove just behind the S. B. [South Building] & students & visitors were all, there assembled. Those of my class who took it were Ashe , Morrisey , Mullins , Quince & Summerell . All showed a disposition to fight but Morrisey & Summerell —the former did nothing but walk about & look as if he were searching for a stump upon which to mount to make a speech, & the other jumped up, smacked his feet together & said he felt glorious. Ashe was the most pugnacious man of them all—he first jumped upon J. P. Irwin & tore the skirt of his coat nearly off & he then threw himself upon me so suddenly that I could not get out of his way & was obliged to fight in self-defense. Neither of us were hurt for Dick's gas soon "–frez–z out" & then of course the scuffle ended. That night the Fresh competitors declaimed. Also about 4 that evening Miss Wilson died. Dr Holt reached the Hill also on that eve. Wednesday morning was set apart for the delivery of Mr Mason's address but as that gentleman, on account of urgent business, could not be present Dr Mitchell devoted the time to a lecture & the exhibition of some experiments, on Electro Magnetism. The evening of that day was devoted to the interment of the body of Miss Wilson . It was brought to the chapel where a long & very solemn & impressive sermon was preached by Prof. Phillips . Thence it was carried to the college burial place & there interred. A numerous

Page 133
concourse of people attended the body to the grave—the students behaved with becoming solemnity & both they & the strangers who were present appeared to sympathise deeply with the bereaved father & sister by11 the solemn & respectful manner in which they performed the last sad rites to the body of their beloved relative.
On Wed. night the Soph. compets. declaimed— Fauks was one of them. On Thursday morning the speakers were Bryan , who spoke the Latin, Summerell , Barringer Haigh & Lewis —in the evening Bell spoke first, a French speech—"Elogé Louis Phillipe." After him Mullins & Marten 12 & then the degrees were conferred. A very neat bible was given to each member of the class together with his diploma.13 R. Campbell , Dusenbery & Green were called up & received their diploma's together. The reports were read out before degrees were conferred— Alfred Foster & Bellanfant received 3d in the Soph. Morrisey then delivered his valedictory & Mr Green closed the exercises with prayer after a short speech14 from Gov. Morehead . At night the ball came off. Very few young ladies attended. I went over & danced the first cotillion with Augusta Rounsaville who also was at Commencement. I paid very little attention to the ladies. Once I walked with Elizabeth Holt & once with Miss Jackson from Pittsboro. On Friday morning I left the Hill

Page 134
bringing with me McBee & Foster . Laura was very kindly treated at Dr Mitchell's & on leaving I gave Miss Ellen all my plants. Mr [Charles] Phillips kept my horses during my stay. [. . .]15


1. James Lawrence Dusenbery Papers, SHC. The diary is bound in cardboard with leather tips and spine. It measures 8 by 9 1/4 inches and is inscribed on the front flyleaf "James Lawrence Dusenbery / Lexington/ N. Carolina/ Liber Carminum et Fragmentorum." A second hand has numbered the first 141 pages of the volume in pencil. The first fifty pages contain poems copied from other sources, "Extracts from Byron," and excerpts from Scott's "Lady of the Lake." Page 57 begins Dusenbery's "Records/Of My Senior Year at the University of NC a," which he claims is "a weekly record of all the leading events of my our life during our Senior year in College, together with our thoughts & reflections at the time." The earliest entry is dated July 13, 1841; the latest, June 7, 1842. The remainder of the diary gives a brief account of Dusenbery's career in "after life" and copies seven letters to him from "Mary S.," whom Dusenbery evidently intended to marry until, for some reason, she was compelled to break off the engagement.

2. Dusenbery refers to John Lea Williamson (d. 1904) as "Gooly" throughout the diary.

3. Probably Thomas Junius Morisey (b. 1818). Some sources follow Dusenbery in spelling Morisey's name with two rs, but Morisey signs his own name to a composition written while he was a junior with only one r.

4. The faculty agreed in a meeting on February 18, 1842, "That Profs Green & Mitchell should see the boarding housekeepers and urge upon them the necessity of caution and moderation in regard to the kind and amount of intoxicating liquors furnished their boarders on the 22nd Inst." (Faculty Minutes 4:41, UA).

5. Faculty minutes for February 24, 1842, confirm that Allen Jones Polk and Thomas G. Polk , both from Tennessee, were dismissed (4:43, UA). Though Allen Polk subsequently was readmitted, he was involved in additional misbehavior—blowing a trumpet during a "spree" and answering for absent individuals at prayers—and was dismissed again on September 20, 1842 (4:78, UA). Neither student received a degree. Both were members of the Dialectic Society and became planters.

6. On February 25, 1842, "Jesse Irvine of the Sophomore Class was called before the Faculty, for persisting in his refusal to comply with Prof Fetter's requisition that he should come to the table whenever he called upon him to recite, and this too after an interview with Prof Hooper (See proceedings Feb. 18) and one with the President , the object of which was to induce his compliance with the regulation, the said Irvine was therefore unanimously dismissed" (Faculty Minutes 4:44, UA).

7. Charles Johnson operated a mill at New Hope Creek, east of present-day Blackwood Station and west of Patterson's mill.

8. Possibly the stagecoach depot on the road to Hillsborough, NC. Dusenbery and some of his classmates frequently visited the Depôt, despite regulations that confined students to their rooms after curfew, prohibited their drinking, and legislated against keeping company "with persons of publicly bad character" (Acts 16).

9. Probably Alfred Gaither Foster (1826-66).

10. When Jane contracted cholera on a trip she was making with her father from Raleigh to Greensboro, they stopped in Chapel Hill. Rev. Wilson's June 1, 1842, letter to his wife in Greensboro informs her of their daughter's death:
What reason we have at all times to submit to the will of a Father of infinite wisdom. It has pleased him to take to himself our dear Jane . She departed this life yesterday the 31st May at fifteen minutes past 4 O'c P. M. in peace, composure, self-possession, literally fast asleep in the arms of Jesus. For several hours before her death she was perfectly sensible of the approach of the King of terrors, but he had no terrors for her, she was trusting in the Lord Jehovah as her everlasting help & Saviour. [. . .] I thought it best to inter her here in the public burying ground in a pleasant place by the side of a daughter of Rev Dr Chapman & a Mr [Charles A.] Brewster a pious man from N. York. Her funeral sermon was preached by Bro. Phillips in the College Chapel to an immense congregation who gave breathless attention. I shall ask Bro. Ph. to write out a copy for you. Alice has been enabled by the blessing of God to sustain the shock beyond expectation—There were a great many of our old friends present at the funeral. The body was carried to the graveyard by Bro. Ps two sons Mr Strazzi, & several of the old students of the Cald. Institute. Every one seemed to sympathise with us & oh Bro. P. has prayd so fervently that you and all the family might be sustained in this trial of our faith. (Heartt and Wilson Papers, SHC)

11. Dusenbery wrote b on top of &.

12. William Sidney Mullins spoke on the "Reverence for the Past"; William Francis Martin (d. 1880), on "The Middle Ages."

13. The commencement of 1842 was the first at which Bibles autographed by Gov. Swain were presented to each graduate (Battle 1:475).

14. Dusenbery wrote speech on top of pra.

15. The rest of the entry describes Dusenbery's trip home. He spent the first night at Edwin Holt's , traveled on Saturday to Brummel's, near present-day High Point, NC, and arrived at his home in Lexington, NC, in time for breakfast on Sunday morning.