Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia

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  • "I wish I could tell you what I know."
  • "I wish I could tell you what I know."
  • "I wish I could tell you what I know."
  • "I wish I could tell you what I know."
On January 11, 1860, an unidentified young woman from Senatobia, Mississippi, wrote a gossipy letter to her cousin Callie Anthony, in Bedford County, Virginia.
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My Dear Callie

"I wish I could tell you what I know."

Unidentified cousin to Callie Anthony, January 11, 1860, [last pages are missing], Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.

Callie Anthony says: My cousin in northern Mississippi wrote me soon after Christmas. I do hope she gets a chance to visit me at school. She went to Hollins for a few years, so she is very familiar with the school. I have to agree with her assessment of Dr. Charles Cocke, the principal, and with Professor Pleasants, the Latin instructor. I'm glad that Cousins Bettie and little Henrietta will come to Hollins, but I don't know if I'll be there next year.

Cousin hints at all kinds of scandal but won't come out and tell. I think I know the story behind the break between her and William, and I don't think that Phil is really as bad as she makes him out to be. Oh well, gossip is juicy. I wish she had revealed more.

Unidentified cousin to Callie Anthony, January 11, 1860, [last pages are missing], Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.
Senatobia Missi Jany 11th 1860

Miss Callie Anthony
Dear Cousin
Your more than welcome missive of the 2d Just was handed me this evening and as some circumstances are about to transpire which call me to the Old Dominion and there will be a possibility of my passing Boh Springs either the last of this month or the first of next month; I have concluded to answer you immediately, or I may not have an opportunity ere I return; besides if I should call to see you, I wdnt wish to surprise you & like wise wd prefer your recognizing me, so I give you at least one chance in advance; but I expect I have grown old so fast since you saw me that Cousin Homer's features have well nigh been effaced. So now to the letter. I was much pleased to hear from you all—and that Uncle & Aunt were in better health than usual—That Benj and family were well & that he was adapting himself to the demands of secular business etc—and thus Johnny was doing well at School; I have ever felt a deep interest in him, as much so as if he was my own Bro, and I hope he will not abandon school until he educates himself; as upon that hangs much of the prospects & happiness in life and without it, we are but little qualified to meet the varied positions consequent upon a life in the 19th Century & more anon
I am glad you like the school at the Springs; few are better qualified to conduct a school than Old Charlie. Though I cant say that I ever admired his disposition or that of Mrs C's although I was rather treated as a favourite by them & no one ever endeavoured to assist & forward a student more than did Mr C the 2 years I was under his charge and I have after felt thankful that I was ever taught the importance & the how to study, by his constant and untiring perseverance in behalf of my classes but other branches of your school. (Prof W H Pleasants) I shal ever think a very little man with a very little soul and a mighty heap of pretentions etc I will hate him so long as I live: but enough—
I saw Hallie Hunk Xmas, she gave a fine description of the Corps of Teachers—The most of whom I knew to be men of intelligence & learning. She was regretting having to leave them and I am sorry that she did as Sister Bettie will go there some time next year I judge if Papa does not conclude to keep her back for Henrietta, who is but little behind her although she is but 11 years old. Bettie is 14 but Oh how tall—she is an irregular at College & dislikes very much. I judge your Mama misses you much but was I in your stead & I was advanced by being at School I wd certainly continue another term during Summer any way.
Cous Ann & family are at W.W.G.s & well the last time I saw any of them which was some days before I wrote you last, I was from home Xmas week, returned 2d and have been engaged night & day ever since; so that I have not had an opportunity of seeing any of them. Wm. W.G. lives about 2 miles from me, but was it not for his wife I am very certain my shadow wd never darken his doorway: yet for the sake of his family I will never expose the pusillanimity if his many acts & will envelope memorys tablet in order to shut from sight such things as would cause me so far to forget myself as ever to let him know that I am cognisant of his many secret endeavours to injure an innocent unsuspecting personage, one who had not only reguarded but had in many respects treated him as a brother. How hard is it for us to change our opinions of one we have once loved? but still how much harder is it to dissemble oposite feelings, when they have been generated as mine have to him. I will say to you a little more of his case as you are aware of some of the scurrility which he has used towards myself & which he knew to be as base lies when he did it as the serpent did when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Of this I have been aware this 2 years and how oft has the idea that "one may smile and be a villain" flitted through my mind, in meeting him, and it has been with the utmost difficulty I could control myself at times so as not to let him know my feelings, I have never sought to injure any one White or black & Why he has made me the chosen one for his Ire I cannot conscience. A man from Bedford told me first of how he abused me about business of which he knew nothing & in which he was not the least concerned and he even came home and tried with my friends to make an Impression by the which I gained an insight to the whole affair. Had I the time I would give you the whole affair to a letter, but tis not possible now. I wish him well and so far as I am concerned he certainly will succeed but I will ever cry hands off if You Please. I was never so perfectly handled with gloves on as Ive been by him; but still where ever we've met There had been no one like Cous Homer, so here I will pass him along. Please dont speak of this. If I come to Va I will tell you all, as you know a part. You alluded to Phil it and as your uncertain impressions erroneous, I will say one word in reguards him which may remove some affections against others and place the shoe on the right foot.
It wd take a 12 mo to give you a history of the affairs of that family & a majority of all of it has been caused by Phill during the past 30 years & this I have from out siders who did not even know I was in any respects acquainted with any of the family even him & to say the least for him he has cost his father more trouble &c than all his family together. besides has almost dragged him to penury by his sordid tests for the out side appearances of life &c He is very intelligent I admit but when one uses this gift of Heaven in a way to disparage every one but self and for selfish ends exclusively, better had it been for him had he been an idiot at birth.
I am not interested in any one of the family more than another but as the Children of Israel Know Cains posterity by their mark, so do we judge and appreciate mankind in this day, relatives or not and I am frank to say that I never knew a kinder, more hospitable people than his other brothers & I know they all save Thos have in every way endeavoured to pacify the wild spirit of fanaticism existing between & with them & to heal the wide breach in their family & Phil has been in every instance the provocator of it I am like yourself—I feel sorry for him, I pity him but he deserves but little sympathy. I wish I could tell you what I know. We are often led through pity to misjudge or rather to sustain the one and condemn the other when vice versa should be the case—but enough now—I have no idea of marrying any one Cous Philicia is a Pretty girl & had she improved her opportunities would have been intelligent but as it it she has thought to much of the Beaux and too little of decorating the best of Heavens gifts to mankind a good comprehending faculty
[remainder of letter is missing]