Racist Anti-Black Reconstruction letter
Oct. 8, 1866
William James Rukard Norville was 61 years old when this was written.
The recipient, William Thomas Norville, was 37 when it was received.
William James Rukard Norville died 19 years, 10 months, 9 days after writing this.
It was written 156 years, 5 months, 21 days ago.
It was a Monday.
Baltimore, 8th October 1866
Our Dear son Wm T. Norville,
Your most welcome and affectionate letter dated, Navy Cove 29th Sept, came duly to hand on the 6th inst. Truly does it grieve us all to hear that your poor dear brother Edward has been so seriously sick and is not yet out of danger. We sincerely pray that he may soon be restored to health and happiness. We were in hopes that he would get acclimated to his new home and be able, with his industrious wife & her 4 sons to make a good living on his place, & he gave me a full description of it being a splendid place for gardening & thought he would do well on it. But as it has turned out so unhealthy, it is better for him to dispose of it in some way and move to some other locality. As you justly remarked, it was unfortunate for him to have sold their house at Navy Cove as they did not need the money at that time. They would now have a healthy home to return to where they always found some way of making a living, then they would be able to rent out their place. But none of us can know what is to come, if so we would all be better prepared to meet our difficulties. Our God only knows what disposition to make of us for in Him we must place our trust and be contented with our lot. Dear Billie, your expressions of charity towards your brother gives us great pleasure. It convinces us that your heart is I the right place.
We agree with your prudence of remaining at Navy Cove with your family which the better times which you mention of in your letter comes. My son I can now name several persons which you know, & among them Wm Wilson & your brother who moved from your sand beach. Some returned again flat broke & many of those who would have returned but had no house to come to, consequently could not get back. True it is very bad for the dear children to not have school teachers among them, but I think there are inhabitants enough there to pay a teacher.
There is one thing I am certain of, that is all persons who have lived at the Cove have made a respectable living. I am inclined to believe that nature has formed N. Cove to be the true residence to the Pilots and if they move from there, their pleasures & comforts will not be so great. So my son, I advise you by all means to stick to your old home, as you know it costs four times as much to live in the city as it does where you are at now.
You mention Radicals being the cause in a great measure of the dullness of business. I believe the same. I have the honor of informing you that your venerable father is not a Radical, neither is any member of his family. We are all for the reunion of the whole 36 states to be consolidated into one Union to form these great U. S. of America. No North, no South, no East, no West, but to be one united band of brothers the same as the F. A. M.,+: No enemies except foreign & when they make themselves as such, when we will all join together & whip them out of existence.
These my son are my true sentiments, Reconstruction at once, no negro suffrage and if the Yankees do not agree with our terms, let them take the nigs & separate from us as I was born under the white man’s government & I hope to die under the same. The Rads here are using every means here to sustain their Negro worshipping Congress, but I think they lose by all of two-thirds. I am not a politician but shall vote on this occasion for Reconstruction so as to admit our misled southern friends again into the union & representation, so mote it be.
I am sorry to inform you that we still have no home & have already been to the third boardinghouse, of course it has cost considerable to move, but still our expenses are not quite so much as keeping house, of course boarding is not as agreeable as keeping house, bit it lessens the duty of your dear Mother, indeed she is not able to stand hard work any longer. She is now more convinced of that matter. Four weeks ago this day your sister Dukey was taken ill. Cholera morbus, your Mother was called to her assistance & that afternoon she had a premature birth, producing another little Molley with Susan attached. Mother and infant doing well & beautiful babe it is, & all are delighted with it. I have become quite a baby nurser, and I, some future time to come expect to be sent in the kitchen to nurse babies while their parents are dining. Your Mother was the only person with Dukey when confined. It was so unexpected but so well done. So your Mother has been there performing the duty of the house ever since & she is quite worn out. Three days more she will be with me & Lizzie, we miss her much.
I have been trying for several months to buy a small store & dwelling but no success yet. Indeed the prices are so high that as yet none can be found to suit our capital but hope soon to find one. I have no prospects of ever going to sea, so we are compelled to find some other business.
Your sister Lizzie is still teaching school at Canton and she expects to get $400 from the first of October to the next first of October which helps her considerable. Emily and family are well, her husband is home & working at his trade & they are making a living. Mary Ellen & children are all well & her husband also & they are doing well. Aunt Sophia & all their family are well. They all send their love to Anna & yourself & family. Peter Chason is home & I believe on the sick list. His Mother is very sick, all the rest are well & send their love.
Young George Hicks who was policeman died two days ago with cholera and many others, it prevails here to an alarming degree.
We are board now at No. 23, McElderry Street, but it will be better for you to direct your letters to the care of your Emily.
Give our love to our dear son Edward & his wife & family. Tell him that we all sincerely that he may soon recover and gain his again. We hope to see him again in health & prosperity, we shall write to him in a few days.
Give our love to your dear Anna and the children with many kisses to each, not forgetting yourself and Mary Green.
Remember us to all our old friends at the Cove and let us know how they are.
Hoping this to find you all in as good health as it leaves us, and that you will write often.
We remain your affectionate parents,
Wm & M. A. [Mary Anne] Norville