folder 24: Autobiography of Charles A. Hentz, Part I





consequence of a fall from the back of a chair; he had climbed up a chair on which some member of the family was sitting, who, not knowing the little fellar was there, got up and the chair falling backwards, the baby had so violent a blow on the back of the head, that concussion of the brain produced death.

My sister Julia Louisa was born in Chapel Hill, Oct 11th, 1828. My brother Thaddeus William Harris born in Chapel Hill, Jan. 20th, 1830. My sister Caroline Theresa was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 22, 1833.

There is a circumstance connected with the record of sister Callies birth in the old Family Bible, which I still possess, that is incomprehensible to me. In the Bible the entry is recorded in father's peculiar handwriting on Dec. 28th, 1833; whilst sister has an *Autograph letter of father's, of which I have made a facsimile, written by him to grandmother. Mrs. O. Whiting -- (her name was Orpah), dated on Nov. 24th, telling of the birth of Caroline Theresa on the "day before yesterday"; which was the 22d; this must certainly be the correct date.

My father filled the chair of Modern Languages in the University of Chapel Hill until the fall of 1830; when, thinking that the prosperity of the institution was declining; he sought other fields of labor. The college is still flourishing however.

(This appears on the margin on this page.) *See pages 18 - 19.

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Jannyp


Father was a rolling stone; never abiding long in one place -- he occupied his leisure hours in the Study of Natural History -- of insects chiefly; and chiefly of spiders; he took long walks in the woods, armed with a light hatchet for turning up the bark of dead trees, & vials for preserving specimens --

Whilst at Chapel Hill, he took quite extended pedestrian trips, during his vacations, for his health. I will copy here, a letter written whilst on one of these expeditions.

Mason Hall - 10 miles beyond Hillsborough June 1st, 1830 "My very dear Caroline -- You feel my absence, you say, and I am sure you do; but I felt your, as I ever do; though more forcibly, because it was to continue some days -- I felt it before I had travelled many miles -- Yes, Caroline, I felt, I feel more and more, that my happiness is in your hands; that where you are not, I am deprived of those dear feelings which alone can make a man happy, if that state can be experienced in this evanescent world -- I want to see you, and to hear your kind voice, and I want to be in that place, & in no other, when you breathe, & watch over the lives of our dear young ones. The tears come in my eyes as I think of seeing you among them -- I long to see Thaddy & July, and Charly, the last though not the least. I do not feel now as if I could scold him for a day, however, mischievous he might

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be -- But he is a good boy, and is not mischievous. I would not hear anyone say so -- I am a cross-grained one, but I am sure you don't know how I love you all. I walked half the way up to Hillsborough, and then took a seat with a colored man, employed by them November, who had to return. I confess that I was glad to ride then, as we started quite late, and the sun was about to cast off his kindly veil of clouds. I was not fatigued when I reached the little town, and immediately purchased two whole suits, which I need, and the tailor having taken my measure, I took a little nap of three hours, and after dinner was as brisk and merry as a ------- a bee? no, as a June bug, and I buzzed about town until late; I felt so much invigorated by my first Journey, that I thought it my duty to continue nearly the same course, and I rode so far as to see Mr. Mebane; but was disappointed, for he is absent -- I will continue to move about as the wind drives me; in pursuit of health, though not of pleasure; for I am not where you are; indeed I could have returned to you immediately, for all is tedious to me far from you and the little ones, but it would have been wrong not to improve the opportunity of gaining strength and health. The weather has been delightful, and the breeze perfect; but this is a poor country, where not one bug can be seen. I am glad you have Miss Dwight with you. If you are happy in her company, how could I dislike her? But you know I have always entertained feelings of love & respect towards her. If you can get a paper, containing the proceedings of the commencement, I should be glad if you would keep it till I come home -- Oh- - home; that word makes all the chords

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of my heart vibrate -- and you are home -- could you know how much I can love, and how much I do love, you might perhaps understand better, some of my ways. I hope Elizabeth is gaining strength again. She is a girl like whom you find very few in the world. I often think of her, and it is always with feelings of love and esteem for her virtues. Kiss Charles upon one cheek, and Julia, the dear little bewitching one upon the other and tell Master Thaddeus W. Harris Hentz, that if he is a good boy, I will love him as much as Charles & Julia. I will probably return to Hillsborough tomorrow, as I had intended, even when I had intended even when I had expected to have seen Mr J. Mebane. After that I will be guided by circumstances, always naturally led to return to the bosom of the sister of my heart -- and Charly & Julia & Thaddeus. I write from here, because I should not have time to do so in Hillsborough, and if I go, will escort so far, the present scrawl.

Adieu dear Caroline, ever your faithful husband N.M.H."

This letter of father's illustrates, in its peculiar, romantic style of expression something of the peculiarities of his temperament, which was truly extraordinary. He was of a very affectionate, kind disposition, but at the same time, one of the most nervous, jealous, suspicious characters that ever lived, I believe -- From the beginning of their married life, my mother's happiness was contantly crossed

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Jannyp


Appendix No. I -- Letter pasted between pages 18 and 19.

Cincinnati, Nov. 24th, 1833.

Dear Mother You are not prepared, Caroline tells me, for the news which I am going to give you. She likes to surprise people, and I believe never informed you in such cases of the approaching event. I will not keep you long in suspense, and tell you at once that she gave birth the day before yesterday to a most healthy and pretty young lady who gives already great promise in every way. Caroline suffered only a few hours and is already regaining her strength very fast. To give you a proof of this I hear her now laughing with the nurse about some witticism of Miss Caroline Theresa Hentz, that is the name of the young lady. In one word mother and daughter are as well as any one can be in such a circumstance. Charles, Julia and Thaddeus are also in perfect health, particularly Thaddeus who becomes more robustious every day, and consequently a good deal more noisy -- But his loudest noise is really music to our ears, as it reminds us of the first two years of his life which were spent in such pains and debility. Charles is becoming a very interesting companion to me. He reads very fluently and to day spent two or three hours by my side reading loud several chapters of "Harry & Lucy." He remembers what he has read and evidently reflects upon it after. He also displays an uncommon degree of taste for drawing, and one of these days I shall send you some specimen of his

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