1859 ORIGINAL HANDWRITTEN LETTER PRESENTING A SNAPSHOT OF LIFE IN A TOWN THAT NOW LONGER REMAINS, DESCRIBING STORIES AND OBSERVATIONS FROM ONE SISTER STILL LIVING IN TOWN, TO HER SISTER WHO HAS LEFT LIKE SO MANY OTHERS9107
On offer is a four page letter from L.S. Middleton(?) to her sister from the town of Greensboro, Mississippi. The letter is dated October 21, 1859. The letter speaks of Ms. Middleton’s life in Greensboro, recent goings on in town and her recent trips to a fair in Bankston, Mississippi. “It does me a power of good to hear from you,” she writes. “I returned from Bankston today. I went there yesterday to the Fair, nothing very interesting expected. I was reluctant to go. I was afraid of the ___ as usual I felt brave on my return.” She goes on to speak of friends and family in her life, relating small stories and anecdotes to her sister. Mr. M. is waiting to sell some cotton at the turnpike, then is several trying to fix up for the pike. He thinks he will sell to Sam Morgan....”; “I have not heard from Pa’s in some time I have no idea what they are doing. Wall thinks he is nearly grown. He took supper at Mr. Howe’s some time ago with Mr. Larimore. Mrs. Larimore asked him for the money for his suppe. It annoyed him...” From Ms. Middleton’s letter, it can be seen that the town is already in decline. She speaks of people getting married and moving away, stores closing, and the general attitude of depression that the town seems to engender. “Katherine Ayser married sometime ago. She left the next morning. I have not seen Martha Johnson in some time...” She finishes the letter, “I believe I have written everything to you since you left that has happened I have tried to keep you up with the times and connected all the rest has written as that much throwed in. Your sister as ever. L.S. Middleton. The letter is four pages long. It is in good shape, showing no rips or tears, but a good bit of discoloration from age, especially around the creases. The handwriting is in black ink, slightly faded, but still easily legible and readable. This is a fantastic document, of a small town in decline, shortly before the Civil War would break out and seal its fate. Neither Greensboro nor Bankston exist anymore in Mississippi, making this letter an interesting document of daily life for a young woman in the Antebellum Deep South. (Background: Greensboro was originally the county seat of Choctaw County. The town of Greensboro, which was centrally located and Choctaw County was inhabited by settlers primarily from Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The temporary courthouse and log jail were replaced in 1839 by a brick courthouse and jail. This courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1865 supposedly by an arsonist. Almost all of the early records were destroyed in the fire. Greensboro at one time consisted of several types of stores and shops, saloons, a livery stable, a brick yard, and a newspaper. Greensboro had a Methodist church as early as 1839 and a Baptist church was begun in 1846. The Greensboro Lodge No. 49 of Free and Accepted Masons was chartered in 1842. Greensboro had the reputation of a rough and lawless town, many notorious criminals and murders were located there. John A. Murell, a famed outlaw of the Natchez trace was tried and convicted of horse stealing but on being transported to Columbus MS for incarceration he killed his guard and escaped. The Edwards-Gray feud, which grew out of the settlement of the estate of Edward Dewitt Edwards Jr., exploded in 1861. Three of the brothers (William, James, and Robert) of Mrs. Mary "Molly" Gray Edwards, widow of the deceased, shot and killed judge Edward D. Edwards Sr. and his son Luther Edwards. The Gray brothers were jailed, however a mob stormed the jail shooting two and hanging the third. Political candidates frequently campaigned at Greensboro, including, in 1851 Jefferson Davis who was seeking the office of governor. Seven young men of Greensboro and Choctaw County rushed to enlist at the outbreak of the American Civil War. The first company organized was the Wig Fall Rifles, company D 15th MS infantry C.S.A. This unit was formed in Greensboro in April 1861 and the Captain was William F. Brantley of Greensboro later to be one of the youngest confederate generals. In December 1864 federals raided the town and burned much of it.Greensboro, which had already begun to deteriorate, rapidly declined. Today the only sign left of its existence is the old Greensboro cemetery.
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