Hall, Charlotte C.
Autograph Letter Signed, New York, December 16, 1840, to her future husband, Willis M. Sherwood, Hamburg, North Carolina

quarto, 4 pages, including stamp-less address leaf, formerly folded, neatly inscribed in blue and black ink, very good legible condition.

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Sherwood, whom Hall had known for three years, had just visited her before taking passage for Charleston, “about to embark upon the tempestuous Seas, to seek a land of heartless strangers and a home of iniquity and moral degradation…” She would welcome his letters, “… so long as you maintain that integrity of character which you now possess, are firm and unwavering in Christian principles and devote your time to laudable and useful employments and your leisure moments to mental improvements…”

     She was sorry about the type of passenger he had met on the boat:

     “I could have wished for your sake the passengers have been of a different class but I know that you must meet such and am only surprised that there were two such as you mention and their Christian principles must have been weakened by the influence of Southern examples, these latter act upon the former in the same manner as Quicksilver does upon those employed and its vicinity it operates externally infusing itself slowly into the system until its poisonous influence reaches the seat of life and the vital principal becomes extinct. I will here relate the history of one who has fallen a victim to such influences… he was a young man, a distant connection of mine… he was tall, handsome and the pride of the family and so eminent for piety that he was chosen to attend church service and read sermons. He was a teacher and universally beloved, his health failed and he went South, was employed at one of the colleges and for a long time kept up a correspondence with his family… at length his letters grew more rare and for the last 8 years they have heard nothing from him… while in conversation with our Frenchman the inquiry was made if he had seen such a person  ‘I know him well in Charleston in New Orleans and in Mobile, he is a large red face man, very pleasant but noted Gambler and a Tippler.’ It seems that he follows the races from place to place and lives by gambling and betting, and should you hear of Frederick Morrell familiarly called Yankee Dick, you may know that he was once the flower of my grandmother’s sister’s family… I trust from your account and from the advertisements of Southern papers that you will soon find employment at least for the winter and should your health continue to be benefited I hope you may be successful in securing a good situation to which you may return another season… If you would please the southerners you must be or appear to be independent, high spirited, gay and lively, you must bow genteelly, touch your hat and kiss your hand gracefully to the Ladies and on no account acknowledge yourself a Yankee for of them they have a mortal dislike. But I hope you will not be discouraged by trifles nor look too often with a longing eye to the happy home you have left… I am not now in what you rightly term ‘that school of vanity and fashion’. I became tired of its heartless formalities nor did I dare longer to trust myself within its influence. My half quarter was up and I left last week … Mr. Hubbard did not go south but is engaged in school Uptown as a classical teacher, he comes down frequently and used to accompany me back to my school. Last Sabbath he attended church with me and in the evening we went to the Tabernacle to hear the missionary from China…”

 

Charlotte Hall was a 23 year-old teacher in New York. Her correspondent, Mr. Sherwood, was a few years younger, descended from Minutemen in the American Revolution and the son of a farmer. He had studied Medicine, but apparently had no intention of practicing in the South, where he had gone for his health. He soon returned to New York to continue courting Charlotte Hall. They were married in 1844 and together moved South again. Sherwood started a medical practice in North Carolina, where he and his wife remained for 15 years – but not happily. An 1845 letter to Sherwood from his brother, a Presbyterian minister in New York (now held by Brock University in Canada) speaks of the Doctor’s “desire to move north” because of “the prejudice that you feel operating against you because you are a northern man …” Before the Civil War, the Sherwoods, with their five children, relocated to St. Joseph Missouri, where he became a popular Justice of the Peace. When the war began, he served in the Union Army, meanwhile buying a share of a newspaper in which he wrote a strong defense of the Union cause. After the war, he was elected Clerk of the County court and was rewarded with a license to practice law.