Title: Letter from Rufus L. Patterson to Phoebe C. Patterson, May 8, 1849: Electronic Edition.
Author: Patterson, Rufus Lenoir, 1830-1879
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann and Neil Watson
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Amanda Page
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 22K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

No Copyright in US

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:
2005-05-26, Amanda Page 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: Jones and Patterson Family Papers (#578), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Rufus L. Patterson to Phoebe C. Patterson, May 8, 1849
Author: Patterson, Rufus Lenoir, 1830-1879
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 578 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Student Life
Examples of Student Writing/Letters and letter writing
Social and Moral Issues/Women and Women's Roles
Personal Relationships/With Students and Friends
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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Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
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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

Patterson describes for his mother his room and several friends. Senior orations have ended; he has been selected as one of the commencement declaimers; and he would like his father to attend commencement.
Letter from Rufus L. Patterson to Phoebe C. Patterson, May 8, 18491
Patterson, Rufus Lenoir, 1830-1879

Page 1
C. Hill, May 8th 1849.

My dear Mother,

Last sabbath's mail brought me another of your very welcome letters, the perusal of which, I assure you, gave me, as it always does, much pleasure. For the last few minutes I have been sitting in one of the large windows of my room, listening to the conversation of my little "chum"2 and one of our neighbours; but as I feel am in rather a musing mood, and like communeing with my own dear Mother, I have vacated my pleasant seat, for this most pleasing3 duty. I wish very much that you could [[unrecovered]] only have as delightful a room, as I occupy. I think that you would not complain of it, as being close, inconvenient, &c But as I have but little else to fill up a letter, you must excuse me for giving you a short description of it, though I cannot promise that you will be much edified by my descriptive powers. In the first place then, it is some 20 by 18 feet, with a ceiling 12 feet high; three very large windows, with long green curtains; and furnished with a neat centre-table covered with green baize, a neat toilette table, two beds, a good wardrobe, washstand, cedar bucket, cocoa nut dipper, and a large cupboard for candles, candlesticks, &c On the mantel-piece we have a pictures of Genl. Taylor and Genl. Scott, and between them the picture of a very pretty lady. I had almost forgotten the chairs, sofa, easy chair &c which we have. So, if this you will forgive me for tiring you

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with the description so far, I will drop it, hoping that before long, you may have an opportunity of judging for yourself. I wish also that you [could] see the crowd which are is now congregated in here. On the other side of the table sits my "chum" a nice little fellow, all life and spirit, and is at present chatting away as usual, little conscious of what an important part he occupies in what I am now writing. He thinks there is no one like " Rufe ", and were it necessary, would go to any lengths for me. He has just returned from a visit home, and brings with him a large quantity of cakes, candies, &c the largest of the former (a good sized one, I assure you) being sent, as he says, especially to his roommate by a young lady in Pittsboro. Sitting farther off, is a round faced jolly fellow, my friend Shober , who is a fi perfect gentleman in every sense of the word, of ready wit, fine disposition, kind heart, and with almost an inexhaustible fund of jokes, witticisms, &c Beyond him, talking as if he were on board a steamboat, is my friend Seawell . Always in a good humor, ever ready to do a kind act, fond of fun, and an excellent mimic, he is universally liked. Behind me, is a quiet sedate looking youth, Peter Hale , who is everything comprehended in the two words, gentleman and friend. Beside him sits a very handsome boy, Benj. Kittrell , who is likewise all that a friend could wish him to be. Last but not least, is the handsome, generous, and noble Settle , who is a friend alike under all circumstances,
"With heart never changing and brow never cold."4
But I fear I have long since tired you out with my nonsense; so I will endeavour to speak of something

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which may be more interesting. Wednesday morning. I have just finished my morning's recitation to Prof. Phillips , and have concluded that as it is raining quite hard, not to go to breakfast, but spend the time in writing to you. I have just been thinking that probably at this very moment you are engaged in writing to me. Would that we had a magnetic telegraph between us, so that we could converse constantly, and as much as we wished, instead of our present slow mode of communication. Yet if this is denied us, yet there is a magnetic influence existing between us, which nothing can destroy; my thoughts wander homeward, with the rapidity of lightning, whenever my time is not otherwise occupied; and although I cannot know exactly what is transpiring there, yet imagination has full play.
On last wednesday commenced the Senior Orations, and continued until friday night. We had [some] first-rate speeches, and fine music, and the h three holidays passed off delightfully. The Senior vacation has now commenced, and most of that class, who do not get speeches at Commencement, have left the Hill. On saturday morning, the "Declaimers for Commencement were read out, myself being among the number.5 I have had the fortune or misfortune rather to draw No 1, and will therefore be the first speaker on the list. I have chosen an Extract from Gov. McDowell's speech,6 which perhaps you have read. It is a beautiful thing, although I fear it will be rather hard to declaim. I will however endeavour to do my best.
For the last day or two, quite a gloom has fallen on some of the students, on account of the departure of Miss Bryan. She was accompanied by Miss Martha Mason,

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who has also been here for the last week, on a visit to Mrs. Hubbard.7 Miss Bryan has been a perfect "lion" hero, receiving more attention than any young lady who has been here, in a great while. I do not admire her very much myself, though I do not pretend to be a judge of beauty. When you write again tell me certainly whether you have concluded on going to Virginia or not. That is, if you have come to any determination as yet. It is now just four weeks until Commencement and I assure you, I never was more anxious to see m both of you and my dear of old home,8 than I am at present. Give my best love to Father , and tell him, that as he is one of the "Visiting committee," I hope he at least will come to Commencement, if it is out of your power. Tell him also that I notice, he has had the thanks of a large meeting in Polk County returned to him for his efforts to save that county. I have been told several times here, that if I ever learn to wield the pen as ably as my Father, that I w may look forward to9 high distinction in this life. That however, I never aspire to, nor do I hope ever to be the man he is, in scarcely any respect. And now, my dear Mother, again "Farewell." Write very soon. As ever,

Your affectionate Son,

Rufus .

Young Mr. Davis is still quite unpopular. As we scarcely ever meet, I have but little to do with him, though I of course, treat him with due respect.10


1. Jones and Patterson Papers, SHC. The letter is addressed to "Mrs. P.C. Patterson./ Fort Defiance ./Caldwell Co./N.C."A circular postmark has been stamped in the upper left corner; "CHAPEL HILL N.C" appears inside the circumference of the stamp, and "MAY 9" in the center. The amount of postage, "5" cents, has been written in the upper right corner. Fort Defiance is the home of Ann Lenoir .

2. "chum": roommate. Patterson's roommate probably was Frederick Armand Toomer .

3. Patterson wrote ing on top of ant.

4. Thomas Moore, "Lalla Rookh: Light of the Haram"(1817).

5. "The Declaimers from the Sophomore class were Bartholomew Fuller , Malcolm J. McDuffie, Neill McKay, Thomas J. Norcom, Rufus L. Patterson , James A. Patton , Claudius B. Sanders, Francis E. Shober and Charles C. Terry" (Battle 1:521).

6. James McDowell , Speech of Mr. James McDowell, of Virginia, on the formation of governments for New Mexico and California. Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 23, 1849 (Washington, DC: Globe Office, 1849). Professor Green's grade book records that Patterson intended to declaim "McDowell on California Bill."

8. Palmyra, the Caldwell County, NC, home of Rufus' maternal grandfather, General Edmund Jones.

9. Reaching the end of the last page of his letter, Patterson placed an x after to, directing his mother back to page one, where the letter continues alongside the left margin.

10. The postscript is written up the centerfold of Patterson's two-page letter.