Peter Birdsall letters  1848-1849 (bulk 1848)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of 7 letters written by Peter Birdsall to his wife Hester from New Orleans, where he stayed with friends while seeking a steady job to support his wife and child. In his first letter, dated May 11, 1848, he described his rough voyage from Clinton, Mississippi, where his wife remained, to New Orleans. The other letters, though optimistic, reflect his difficulty finding reliable job. Throughout the summer of 1848, he described his efforts to find steady employment; his schemes included work in Texas and a position at a dry goods business in New York. The couple had several acquaintances in New Orleans, about whom Birdsall frequently reported. His letters reveal a consistent desire to be with his new wife and his regret over their current separation. Several of the letters mention African American "servants" owned by couple; on May 31, 1848, for example, Birdsall reported that "Tompkins returned from Texas Yesterday, and brought over the black girl [Harves] bought for me, for which he paid $450…," and revealed his intentions to use her as a nurse. In his final letter, written on August 8, 1849, he reported on the health of his baby, as well as on the health of his African American slave.

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