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





college buildings &c &c. In those days I picked blackberries in the summer, & hunted rabbits & robins in the winter over this ground.

Father & mother established the Locust Dell Female Academy here, and for a number of years maintained a flourishing, and widely patronized school. Scholars came from Northern Alabama & Mississippi, Tennessee-; Texas &c &c. There were generally about 25 to 30 boarders, & over 100 day scholars-; many boarded in other families. Some pretty rude specimens were sent to the school, to be polished up. I remember one very hard case-; a wild Texas girl, by the name of Jane Taylor who was sent to be trained into something like propriety & lady like manners-; at her first dinner at our table, she astonished everyone by her voracity and uncouth behavior-; she wrung the meat from a large chicken drum stick at one bite-; called out to father "Mister Hentz -- shove the taters"-; and within a few days after her initiation into the school, she had a fight with one of the boarders name Elizabeth Weyman, which left long, bloody gouges from her finger nails across Miss W's hands.

A few boy pupils were allowed in the school. I and brother Thaddy of course-; there were Bill Coffee & Joshua Coffee; sons of Mrs. Gen. Coffee,- whose husband had been Genl. Jackson's right hand man at the battle of New Orleans-; the Coffee family lived on a grand old plantation 2 miles north of Florence-; a large, roomy, fine old dwelling house, with great wide piazzas around it-; with avenues of shade trees

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Jannyp


about it -- and wide meadows, through which meandered a creek that was called Cox's creek-, teeming with fish-; father & mother often took numbers of the pupils out there fishing-; they were trips greatly enjoyed by me-; although I had too much baiting of the hooks to do for the girls, & taking off the fish from their hooks -- Well two of the Coffee boys went to our school -- Bill and Joshua-; Bill was a great big clever hulk of a boy, without super-abundant smartness-; Joshua was a pale, puny boy, humpbacked & delicate-; a great contrast to his brother-; a sister of theirs -- Miss Rachel, was a grown young lady-; in the higher classes-; Tom Brahan, a relative of the Coffees, was a dashing, handsome little fellow-; he was another scholar -- and John & Bill Simpson -about my age-; Sons of John Simpson, the wealthiest merchant in the place-; they were my class mates.

My first sweetheart was a girl of 16 -- Matilda Kernachan. I was only ten -- I idolized her -- I have a large scar in the palm of my right hand, made whilst I was cutting gymnastic capers to attract her admiration-; I got a bad fall, and a piece of glass penetrated my hand -- I got over this infatuation by & bye -- and had another sweetheart, nearer my own age-; a sweet little girl named Emma Leftwick -- Adelia Emma Leftwick was her entire name-; she used to wear, alternately a red and a green merino dress to school-; and wore her hair in a long pleat down her back. She wrote some verses for her composition, on Winter the first verse of which I still remember.

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Jannyp


I love the Winter's ice and snow -I love the blazing fire -I love the winds that coldly blow -Yes -- Winter I desire --

I worshipped little Emma-; used to watch her coming to and going from school-; her red or green dress from afar as it came nearer, was a dear sight to me -- I was so excessively bashful though that I could not speak to her-; my tongue seemed paralyzed -- and I had to worship from afar-; she died young-; before she grew up. There was a plump dark skinned brunette of a girl, and good looking, save for a bad squint in one eye, who boarded with us, who was a bad piece-; very reckless, always trying to get me into mischief named Betty Baugh. A family by name of Kernachan, lived on a grand old plantation on what was called Colbert's Reserve, in the rich Tennessee River Bottom, ten miles from town-; a family of Scotch descent-; the old gentleman sent four daughters to us -the eldest Maria -- grown -- Ann Eliza -- Matilda & Mollie-; I have mentioned my infatuation for Matilda. These four girls came in a carriage every Monday morning and returned on Friday evenings-; the carriage coming for them.

On one occasion brother Thaddie went home with them for a visit-; and on his return told such marvellous, Munchausen like stories of his adventures there-; in the way of fishing -hunting-; going into a great cave &c &c, that I was all impatience to go myself-; and by & bye I did go myself, and found,

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Jannyp


to my infinite astonishment that my good brother had gulled me with stories "made out of wholecloth" -- But I had a fine time of it-; eating apples from the trees, & frolicking with Tom -- the only son-; burning yellow jackets out of the garden, at night -- &c &c. Whilst I was there, I witnessed an old fashioned barbacue given to the negroes by their owner. There was a camp meeting going on in the neighborhood amongst the colored people; and old man Kernachan, who was an irreligious man, did not wish his slaves to go-; he was a kindhearted man, & wishing to see them enjoy themselves, he bribed them with this babacue-; giving it to all who did not go to the meeting. It was gotten up on a grand scale-; "a feast of fat things sure enough-; the negro cabins were in rows through a beautiful grove-; barrels of cider were stationed here & there -and the happy darkies given unlimited license to drink as much as they could-; free to all-; and vast wooden trenches filled with barbacued pork were laid out on the green grass with piles of bread & potatoes, in the greatest profusion. I saw lots of little nigger "picaninnies" here & there literally in these trays-; up to their knees & elbows in the savory pottage, cramming it down by the handful.

Those of older growth got happy on the cider -- One old African darky, who claimed to have been a king in his native country got gloriously drunk-; and danced and shuffled on the green sward, to music made by the young ladies, by singing through a paper & comb -- a jolly scene of purely animal enjoyment.

Last edit almost 4 years ago by Jannyp


In 1850, when I was pracising medicine in Cincinnati-; some 15 years later than this, I met Tom Kernachan, on his return from attending Lectures in New York-; he came to my office to see me. We had a lively talk about old times-; I believe that a son of his - (Dr. W. J. Kernachan) is now practising in Florence.

I was a bright scholar. It was never any trouble to me to learn -- father taught me French when I was very young. I could read the language quite fluently when I was not more than 12 years old -- Father used to employ me to help the girls & young ladies at their French lessons-; but my extreme bashfulness stood in the way of my usefulness. A pretty girl, named Bettie Pope was dull at her French exercises, and father one day asked her why she did not get "Charles" to help her -- She said that she was not acquainted with me-; whereupon father called out aloud "Charles -- come here Sir" -When I came, wondering what he wanted, he had Miss Bettie by him, and said aloud, before the whole laughing school -"Charles, this is Bettie Pope." "Bettie Pope, this is Charles" -now sit down and help her withher lesson, -- sir --" In after years, when I had out grown my diffidence, I met Miss Bettie in Louisville, Ky., a grown and handsome lady, & we had a merry laugh over this -- and other memories of the past.

A Miss Rosannah Grey -- a large, masculine Irish lady, a near relative of the Simpson family, who afterwards married

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