July 13, 1859

Transcribed by Kenzie Potter and annotated by Scott Stegall

I reckon you have heard all about the “College Rake” & the row we were near having. Dr Gibbon carried off Dru’s copy, make him show it to you.1 There are some smart things in it and some good hits, but there are others that are perfectly outrageous and their putting the names of the young men with unpleasant remarks about their personal defects & so on, was enough to excite the Juniors & Freshman. The pamphlet was gotten up by the Sophs & handed round on Weds evening by the Marshalls who were all Sophs but one. When the two aggrieved classes heard of it, they were angry enough & on Weds moving when your Father was on the stage, he for the first time got a hint of what was



[going on. He hurried off & got the Junior & Fresh class together & made them a speech & rather got them quieted down. Many of them were armed with dirks & pistols & some with eggs to pelt the Sophs all had sticks or clubs. They had taken off their best clothes and put on their worst & were all ready to make an attack on the Sophmore class. Nothing quieted them, but having the Board of Trustees called together, they appointed a Committee who brought up the Sophmore class & they retracted & apologized so the others let the matter drop. John Burwell2 said he never saw a college before where such a circumstance would not have created a row that no Faculty or Trustees could stop. If one blow had been




struck, blood would have been shed, so we are very thankful to our overuling Providence that all things ended so peacefully. There is a strong religious in-fluence here that can be brought to bear of such a time.

I fully expected a blowup in the Board of Trustees, but they never had so harmonious a meeting. We expected “Fallstaff” as your Father calls him, to apply for Major Hill’s3 place, & had he done so, there would have been a storm, but he never opened his lips & Capt Kingsbury now stationed at Richmond has elected, on Major Hills recommen-dation.4 Major Hill told the Board that Cap Kingsbury was as competent to teach him (Major Hill) as he was to teach his classes. I hear that Mrs Kingsbury




is a fashionable lady & a beauty. I am sorry for that, she wont like it here and she wont be a help to us. Mr McCoy said he & some others had made up their minds to vote for your Father for Prof at Union Sem but when he saw how the boys loved him & what a great work he was doing here, he thought it would be a pity to remove him. I told him if he would find him a place to preach he would be glad to go.

I was very much grieved to hear of Mrs Burwell’s recent afflic-tion.5 I know it is one they feel deeply. What a fine looking young man John Burwell is. I liked him very much. They didn’t raise your Fathers salary as some of them were very anxious to do, for the want of means. they are borrowing to finish this big house.



  1. John Heysham Gibbon (1795-1868) was born in Philadelphia and  married Catherine Lardner Gibbon, with whom he had 6 children. He died in Charlotte in 1868. For more information, see “Dr. John Gibbon,” Find a Gravehttps://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=150868223 (accessed November 3, 2017).
  2. John Bott Burwell (1834-1904) was the eldest son of Robert Armistead Burwell and Margaret Anna Robertson. He became joint principal of the Charlotte Female Institute with his father in 1859. He later moved to Raleigh and served as President of Peace Institute until 1890. For more information, see “A Son’s Memories,” Burwell School Historic Site, http://www.burwellschool.org/voices-from-the-past (accessed October 31, 2017).
  3. Daniel Harvey Hill (1821-1889) studied at West Point and fought in the Mexican-American War. In 1849, Hill accepted a position as professor of Mathematics at Washington College. He  married Isabella Morrison, daughter of Robert Hall Morrison, the first president of Davidson College. Later, Hill chaired the mathematics department at Davidson College until 1859 when he accepted the superintendency of the Charlotte Military Institute. Hill served with distinction during the Civil War and attained the rank of Lieutenant General. For more information, see John G. Barrett, “Daniel Harvey Hill”  NCPediahttps://www.ncpedia.org/biography/hill-daniel-harvey (accessed October 19, 2017); Dan L. Morrill, “Daniel Harvey Hill,” Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commissionhttp://www.cmhpf.org/personalities/dhhill.html (accessed October 19, 2017).
  4. Charles Peeble Kingsbury (1816-1875) attended the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1836-1840. He served during the Mexican-American War and assumed command of various arsenals throughout the United States after that conflict. In 1859, he was elected by the Board of Trustees at Davidson College to serve as professor of Mathematics and Civil Engineering, but he declined. Kingsbury fought for the Union during the Civil War and commanded forces during the Seven Days Campaign. He died in 1875 and is buried in Brooklyn, New York. For more information, see Bill Thayer, “Charles P. Kingsbury,” Cullum’s Register  http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/Army/USMA/Cullums_Register/1018*.html (accessed October 31, 2017).
  5. This likely refers to Margaret Ann Roberts Burwell, wife of Robert Armistead Burwell, or Rebecca Irene Spragins Burwell, wife of Margaret and Robert’s eldest son, John Bott Burwell.