PLANS FOR MARRIAGE (Mar. 1854-July 1854)

By March 1854, William and Mary had decided they would be married sometime in June or July and exchanged letters in which they secretly made plans for the wedding. Then on April 4, 1854, William wrote to Mary's parents to ask for her hand in marriage. After he received their consent, they continued to exchange letters in which they express their love for one another. They were married on July 22, 1854.

Sparta, March 7, 1854.

Miss M.M. Carnes,

Having a little leisure this evening, I have an opportunity and the pleasure of addressing you briefly. I am happy to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 24th. It is a very interesting thing. It was interesting to me, intrinsically, particularly the expression of your feelings on visiting your valley home. I trust you have, ere this, enjoyed the felicity of gazing upon those endeared scenes. But apart from any particular sentiment it (your letter) contained, it possessed a charm. It could not be otherwise, when Mary was its author.

You intimate some dislike to Sparta. I do not know what your objections are. I have thought that you would soon become pleased with the place. I am confident that I could be contented were you here. I have been boarding with Mr. Anderson, the Cashier, for the last two weeks. Boarding at a private house in Sparta is worth $1.50 per week.

I am getting quite familiar with the business which I have to perform. I had the old clerk to assist me two weeks - since that I have done the business myself. It does not require my whole time. My presence is required from 9 o'clock A.M. till 3 P.M. I will have considerable time for reading. I have not read any till this week. I have made a start on Blackstone's Commentaries. It is a great undertaking. I must, therefore, be the more diligent.

I learned by a letter from Mr. Gernand that you have a large school again. He thought you would have an agreeable session. I have rented my property to Mr. Pettit. He will commence his school next session. We have two schools going on in Sparta. Mr. Marquis and Mrs. Cummings principals. Some dislike to Mr. Marquis' manner of teaching.

I hope you will not be so busy teaching that you cannot say what you want to. I would be happy to hear from you soon. Are you studying yet? How many classes do you hear? Who is teaching this session? Is there a Mr. Cheatham in College? etc. etc.

Yours Affectionately

W.J. Hill


Burritt College March 27, 1854

Mr. Hill,

As my labors for the day are over I will reply to your last letter. There are so many here that I cannot find an opportunity to write to you until all have retired. We have nine girls boarding with us, and such a thing as having an hour alone till after 9 o'clock is a thing not to be thought of by us. Six of the girls are new students - all nearly grown young ladies - handsome and interesting. They have produced quite a sensation among the boys. We have so far a remarkably pleasant school, and from the signs I have no doubt it will continue so. Mr. Cheatham of whom you inquired came, took out a ticket, but left the next morning. I scarcely know why - he was not pleased I believe. I never saw him to know him. Campbell and Amanda are both teaching this session. I have not so many classes but am doing more in Music than I have heretofore, because it is probable this is the last session I will have such advantages as I receive from Mr. Hacker's instruction in that branch. My classes are all the Arithmetic, two Latin and Geography one & Grammer and the little folks in reading.

One month of the five is gone and the time is drawing near when I shall leave those with whom I have ever lived. I am sure you will not think it any disparagement to you or that I love you the less, when I say I have a feeling of sadness when I think of it. What heart could feel otherwise on leaving a home such as I have been blessed with - such parents, brothers and sisters as have been my guides and companions.

My parents have borne with my waywardness and fully and like guardian angels have called me back from my wanderings and pointed me ever to a high and noble destiny. Here with them have I witnessed many scenes of happiness - many things to awaken our sympathies and unite our hearts; but I have promised, willingly, to leave my home for years - to break asunder the ties of love that bind me to my father's fireside. I ask no basis but the affection of your noble heart - this I am assured I now have. It is growing late, the fire is out and I must quit soon but my letter is longer than yours ever are. Why don't you write more!

Please don't address me "Miss M.M. Carnes" any more - it seems so formal and you do not expect to call me this in future. Don't wait as long to write as I have as I shall want hear sooner. It is not a disposition of neglect or want of time on my part that I have been so long in answering yours. I did not get it for some time after it was written and I have not had an opportunity till now. Write soon long and often to

Your affectionate




Sparta March 29, 1854

Esteemed Mary,

It is with extreme delight that I address you at this time. I received your letter last night which delighted me more than usual. There was a manifestation of a feeling which I have failed to observe in you language before. You have ever manifested a high regard for me but, it seemed to be a kind of intellectual esteem. Never, before did you speak to me in the language of love. It would be impossible for me to tell the effect which this had upon me. After reading it I picked up "Blackstone" for the purpose of reading. But I soon found it impossible to confine my mind upon what I was reading. It was so dry and uninteresting! I laid it aside! I drew out your letter and read it again, and then again. I then leaned back and, by the aid of the imagination, I took a foretaste of the happiness which I anticipate in our union.

My last night's slumbers were happified by dreams of the most pleasant character: in all of which "Mary" was a conspicuous personage.

Saturday April 1, 1854

Finding it not convenient to finish my letter when the above was written and knowing too that it could not go out till to-morrow, I have delayed writing till "this good hour". I hope you will excuse me for the style of the above as it was written while in a state of excitement.

I am happy to hear that you have so favorable an opportunity for studying music; but would be more happy to hear the mellow tones of your instrument, accompanied by your angelic voice. I am glad, also, to learn that you are associated with such "handsome and interesting" young ladies; and very probable, in this case, I would be better pleased to see them with my own eyes. As for the young men, I do sympathise with them. I pity any ardent lover, who is a student.

There was an infare in town yesterday, at the house of Bro. Vass given in behalf of young Vass to a Miss Gracy. Not having an opportunity of going during the daytime, I went last night. I found a considerable collection of young folks. I here met with an opportunity of forming acquaintance, with some of the fair ones of Sparta, for the first time. There are some young ladies here that do right well for some things but no equal for "Mary". While mingling with the merry throng, I often thought of you.

You say one of the five months is gone. I wish it were two. But it makes you sad. Don't be sad "Mary". Truly you have a dear home and loving friends but is it not an ordinance of Heaven that these ties should be severed? I feel that in conformity to this law of your being your happiness will be augmented. Cheer up then. Gladly welcome the day when you shall unite your destiny with one whose chief delight shall be to render you happy and blest.

I expect soon to advise with your parents relative to the above named object, probably next mail. Will they give you up? I'll try them. That consumated, and "Though I be poor" I shall esteem myself rich.

You complain of my manner of address viz "Miss M.M. Carnes". You say "it seems so formal". I confess it does. I have changed it as you have seen. Perhaps it is still objectionable. It seems so to me. But, may I not complain of formality in your address? What do you expect to call me? I will stop here. No, I must first ask you to write oftener. Don't care for those pretty girls seeing you. Tell them you are writing to an old student. At present I will only subscribe myself (if you will allow me the honor of doing so).

Your true lover

W.J. Hill

Sparta, Apl. 4, 1854.

Mr. & Mrs. Carnes,

I received from Mr. Carnes, while gone, a letter of recommendation. He afterwards remarked that if there was anything else that I wished him to state, he would take a pleasure in so doing. I must confess that it seemed to me to be rather defective in ascribing to me too good a character.

At all events, it would seem that no one would ask any higher testimonials of respect and confidence. With my present feelings, however, I must beg leave to ask one other expression of your confidence, more public and convincing in its nature. And that is nothing less than to give to me your daughter Mary in marriage. Doubtless you have not failed to observe, long since, my fervent attachment to her. I trust that attachment is mutual. I deem it wholly unnecessary to say one word to you with regard to my prospects for rendering your daughter happy. With my condition, schemes and purposes of life you are familiar ----------

------- (the rest of this letter has been lost)



Burritt College Apr 7, 1854.

Dear Mr. Hill,

Again at a late hour do I commence a reply to your letter which I received on Sunday. From it I learned more fully the state of your feelings than from any former one. You say I "never spoke to you in the language of love before". Do not actions speak louder than words? The mere fact of my consenting to be yours is enough to convince you of the state of my feelings toward you, for never would I have consented to give you unless you had possessed the affections of my whole heart.

Cousin Lizzie and Mr. Rasco are in correspondence on the subject, and are drawing pretty near the point. This however must be kept sub rosa. I do not know how it will terminate; but hope for the good of both as I esteem them very much. Cousin Liz is as kind, warm hearted a girl as I ever knew, and of a very domestic turn. You know Mr. Rasco better than I do.

We have moved on smothely so far in our session. I believe I love teaching better than ever. I some times feel as if it will be wrong for me to leave it off for I am certain I can do nothing else to so much advantage to my fellow beings.

Tonight as I sat listlessly in the moonlight before I commenced writing, dreaming with a panorama of air castles floating like fairy pictures before me, the familiar tick of the clock arrested my attention - it seemed to say, there is work for you to do - life is not an oriental tale as it is too often regarded in the dreams of youth, but a stern reality - the seedfield of time to be reaped in eternity. Not happiness, dreames, should be the angel to beckon them. And there is in man something higher than love of happiness alone. I wish ever to remember that the balm for healing lifes woes is to be found in doing good to my fellow beings. The girls are making preparations for a May day celebration. Miss I.C. Smith is to be the Queen. Mr. A.P. Seitz will honor us with an address on that occasion. There was a party in anticipation but father put his veto on it. It is late and I will finish tomorrow before the mail goes out.

Apr. 8; I am now enjoying a mossy seat at the root of an old oak. It is again nature's waking spring time - the genial sun has at last won a victory over the frost king and the face of the earth is resonant with conscious and happy existance. The birds, living lutes of heaven, are pouring forth their songs - all nature seems to have united in one anthem of joy. Many have written of this beautiful season and the theme is not yet worn, nor will it be while there is a heart that loves beauty. This world of ours is indeed the abode of beauty. Nature in all her changes goes only from beauty to beauty. How fast it changes - our hearts scarce know the hours are here till they have fled. Autumn scarce closes the flowers with its breezy reign till merry spring has come again to restore the roses and beautiful flowers, than summer winds are soon softy stirring and we have the golden twilight, which is ever a season of enjoyment to me.

Since Amanda has gone in to college and can be with the girls at the Bible class, I have consented to take a class in the Sunday School. I have not been yet, but will go to-morrow. Bro. H. says they have about fifty in the school and have not a sufficiency of teachers. Do you attend the preaching of the other denominations? Do you go to Bethlehem? How often do you go home now? I wish you would come up here some time but I expect it is best you should not. Write soon to your ever true

and loving Mary.


Sparta Apl 25, 1854

Beloved Mary,

You may have been wondering why I did not write. Owing to several circumstances I have not found it convenient. One thing that has tended to keep me busy is that Mr. Gardenhire, who is my instructor, has been at his office for some time back and I have been reciting regularly every night. And another thing, there has been a change in the Cashier causing an additional amount of labor during the day. We have again got straightened out. I hope we may move on smoothly from this time on. You have perhaps heard that Mr. Young was appoint(ed), Mr. Anderson having resigned. Every thing is about right about Sparta so far as I am concerned except, "Mary" is not here. But the weeks and months are gliding by. Does this thought still make you sad?

I received a letter a little while gone, from your father & mother, giving their united consent to our union. They express great reluctance, however, to giving you up. No wonder.

Two of the things necessary to make a legal marriage, according to the teaching of Judge Blackstone, has been performed - "the consent of the parties" and "the consent of parents". One more thing is necessary - the actual celebration in due "form and place". I am anxious to hear some suggestions from you relative to this last finishing act. The precise time, place indeed the whole proceedings must be made out by you. I would like very much to have an interview with you if it could be so arranged. But my duties here will not allow me sufficient time. And as you remarked in your last letter, it is best the way it is I presume. I know that persons are backward in writing things they would not care to talk about. But I want you to lay aside this backwardness. Make out at some time when it suits you the order, as we might say, of the whole proceedings. But do not wait to do this before you write to me again.

You express a dislike to abandoning teaching. I don't want you to teach. Your notions about a person's living to do something are very correct. But can you not do good without teaching? I expect, however, if you were desirous of teaching you might make it profitable at Sparta. There is an effort making to get up a female school here. It is through Methodist influence though. Could you teach for the Methodists? You ask, "do you go to hear the other sects preach?" I attend them, almost, regularly. -- I have not been home within the last month. I want to go soon. --I have attended preaching at Bethlehem once I believe. But why these interrogations, Mary? Have you not some designs not disclosed? If so talk to me confidingly and without reserve.

I would like to talk to you about many things. But I (am) very tired of writing. Excuse me for this time. I would thank you for a letter as soon as convenient. Tell me how "Cousin Liz" and Mr. Rasco are making it - all other things of interest let me have.

Your true lover

W.J. Hill

Sparta May 9, 1854

Sweet Mary,

I have before me your last letter, a welcome messenger, indeed. I shall omit recitation tonight in order to commune with you. I am truly sorrow that you gave up the idea of going to Bethlehem last Sunday. Had you gone, I would, perhaps, have enjoyed the extreme pleasure of speaking that which I may write, and many things which I will not think of. I need not mention the pleasure - the perfect bliss I might almost say, of looking upon your angelic features if you had gone. It is difficult to realize the amount of unexpected joy it would have produced in my mind. But there is one consolation, and that is, all these pleasures and many others are in store for me, I fondly trust. Hasten the time when I can embrace you and call you mine.

Did you say fourth day of July? Perhaps, you want the celebration of our marriage a part of the excercises of that memorable day. Huh? Say yourself. "The quicker the sooner" with me. Bank officers have nothing to do then you know.

Mr. Crutcher, of this place, was married to Miss McKinney on last Thursday. Capt. Mitchell gave a party Friday night in honor of the married couple. There was a general turn out of the young folks. I had the honor of accompanying Miss Eliza Snodgrass. A very amiable girl. I hope, if you are not already acquainted with her, you will be when you come to live at Sparta. She insisted that I should call on her which I promised to do, of course. I shall tell her that it is all for pasttime. Let me not deceive.

Mr. Young has not moved over yet. I am still boarding with Mr. Anderson. I do not know where I shall go when he moves. Perhaps I shall stay with Mr. Young.

I think I am doing pretty well studying. I have read nearly two books of "Blackstone". I have to confine myself very closely to progress much.

I shall not write much more as the main design is to get you to write again. Do not, as you said you would, wait as long as I did before answering your other letter. I will only annex a few verses that I scribbled down for you several weeks since

Dear Mary lovliest sweetest best
To you these verses are addressed
Think not dear Miss in them to find
One thing t' inform or please the mind.

No tale of wonder they will tell
Of events rare - of good or ill
No news from foreign lands they bear
Of Turks and Russians' bloody war.

As birds delight to sing and coo
Their feathered mates to win and woo
May this my song to Mary prove
A token of heart's purest love.

My song of love is simply given
I pray for you the smiles of Heaven
Sweet Mary I must say farewell
And sign my name

Your Willie Hill

P.S. Shall I hereafter direct my letters to you instead of your father? For my part I don't care who knows that we are corresponding. How is it with you?


Sparta May 27,1854

Much esteemed Mary

Allow me to trouble you with another short letter. I love to write to you, not because I have any thing good, but because it gives me grounds to expect an answer from you. You must pardon me for impatience with reference to our marriage. I can't help it. Do not think that I understood you to propose the fourth day of July. I did it because the end of the session seemed so long off. But it will come after awhile. You will pardon me when I tell that I shall be in a great degree unhappy until your hand is secured. Whether I mingle in the merry throng or linger in solitude it is still the same. I feel that I could be extremely happy with you: and, contrasting my present state with what it might be, I am impatient, discontented, miserable. I feel oppressed and bowed down. May I, ere long, lean upon the faithful bosom of Mary? That only can support me amidst the cares of life. But, Mary do not understand me to be begging the time to be shortened. I am simply telling my feelings.

I am very willing to fix the time you proposed. I do not know any suggestions I need make. I will be satisfied with any thing you may direct. Certainly, I will leave at any time to get you. I may come up on the 4th of July. Do you still think of going to Bethlehem? May I not look for a letter next Tuesday? Even a short one will be better than none.

We have but little to do in Bank now. I have not been reading much lately, owing partly to electioneering excitement around me. Next week is court week - we may expect a busy time. I need not write any more now. But will only ask another letter from you soon. Truly

Your lover

William J. Hill


Burritt College May 30, 1854

My dear,

I have a moment or two before the bell wrings this morning which I will devote to you. There was such a spirit of sadness melancholy in your last letter that it cast a gloomy feeling over me. Do you think it is right for a christian to indulge in such feelings? Should he be "miserable" in this bright world of ours? You say you cannot be happy without me. O. remember you are depending upon a poor frail creature of earth, and may you not be in some degree disappointed. I greatly fear you will not realize all you anticipate from me. Tho' it makes me happy to know that you love me yet I do not want this love to render you unhappy. For my sake do not indulge in such feelings.

Seven weeks from tonight you will accomplish the end you so much desire. Then I will give you all I have. My heart and hand tho' poor the offering will be yours. We will be poor in the eyes of the world but light hearts seldom keep company with heavy coffers. With you by my side I can defy the world.

I hope you will not think me fickle minded, when I tell you I have again declined going to Bethlehem. There are some circumstances connected with my going from which I have come to this conclusion. I will explain to you at some future time. I am anxious to see you and would go if my judgment did not dictate otherwise.

My time is out. Believe me.

Your loving


I shall expect a letter by next mail. Do not disappoint me.



Sparta June 8, 1854

Beloved Mary,

I very unexpectedly received your favor of May 30 this morning. I inquired when the mail came in from Pikeville with anxious hope. I could scarcely believe, when the Postmaster announced, "no news for you". I went away almost sad. This morning the McMinnville mail brought the long looked for letter. I will not speak of the pleasure it gave.

I fear that you have already been disgusted at my love sick tales. Doubtless, there has been a want of modesty in my writings. I am persuaded, however, that there is a heart capable of excusing or pardoning any faults. If loving is a crime, then, I beg to be forgiven. But is it wrong to love? If so who can refrain from evil? You reprove me for loving. Well, Mary, if I have done wrong you of course will forgive. That you may excercise forgiveness to a proper degree I hope you will turn to Luke 17:4. Mark what the 4th verse requires. Can you forgive me seven times in a day? Pray for an increase of faith, for your faith will be tested. If my loving you offends you, I will not only offend you seven times in a day but I will offend you all day.

I wish that my circumstances were such as to promise you more pleasure. We shall have poverty to contend with, but I have confidence that a lady of your spirit will not be cast down on account of this but will cheerfully look forward to the better time coming. Give me health and the blessings of God and I fear not the consequences. We may never be rich but we shall have a sufficiency. We may not be honored but we shall be respected.

I have been thinking how we would commence living. I would much prefer to have a home of our own. I have been looking around with that view. I do not now see any chance for making such arrangements. I am unable to buy property; and if I was able it would perhaps be imprudent for me to purchase under the circumstances. There is no property to rent at this time. It rents very high any way. I think it will, perhaps, be as well to board at Capt. Mitchell's for a while. Don't you think so? I want to receive a long letter from you soon. I hope you will take a larger sheet and do away with formalities.

I know what you have been thinking. You deny reproving me for simply loving you. It was, you say, because I was "melancholy". Perhaps I conveyed a wrong idea. I was not more Sad than usual. I was thinking, and wished to tell how largely you entered into my hopes of future happiness. I am not very good at drawing dark pictures. I sometimes think that I err in promising myself too much. I am not "sad" without hope. I am "miserable" only relatively speaking. I am as happy as the circumstances will admit. I am only discontented in view of a more happy state. My sky is clearer of clouds than ever before. I have left behind me difficulties that once reared their heads before me like so many mountains. I have been blessed beyond my expectations. In retrospecting my brief journey I am contrained to glorify God for the success which has been given to my humble efforts. I can also confidently trust in him for the future. You are no doubt wondering what it is that I have accomplished that I esteem great. Well, I'll tell you one thing. I have secured the affections, I trust, of you. O that I were worthy of the love of such a one.

You have not made out the order of the proceedings of our marriage celebration. You have not said where we would be married - whether or not we should have waiters - if so who? - who shall marry us?" etc. etc.

I have been thinking about coming out to your place on the fourth day of July. I desire very much to see you. It may be best for me, however, not to go out till the examination in order that the surprise may be more perfect. Do the people dream of such a thing at Spencer?

I will go or stay according as you think best. Write as soon as convenient. I suppose you are tired of reading my hastily written letter. I will not further test you patience.

As ever

W.J. Hill

Sparta June 17, 1854


Knowing that the mail will go to your "little city" to morrow, and presuming that, inasmuch as you requested an answer from me by that time, you will think hard if I do not write, I cheerfully and happily occupy this saturday evening in complying with your request. I say I do it happily. For, who would not be happy while addressing the person whom he loves above all others? I am sure to lose control of my feelings when I am writing to you. I trust that to this you will attribute that want of modesty some times exhibited in my previous correspondence. I hold, however, that I am entitled to greater freedom of speech than if the circumstances, respecting ourselves, were different. I have sometime intimated that you were cold hearted -- that there was little of that gushing affection which accompanies the writings of a lover seen in your letters to me. I do not say that that is so now. I do not complain on that account at all. But let me tell you what I did with your last letter.

Will Simpson and I went to the office together. Each received a letter from Spencer. I was anxious to know who was the author of his; he, likewise, was anxious to know who wrote mine. I read to him the whole of your letter, except that about "Cousin Lizza" and Amanda's matrimonial prospects. Do you think that it put him into the secret of our engagement? No. He did not think it a love letter at all. If he was to hear that we were engaged he would dispute it. He understood that there was a great falling out between us. I did not correct the impression your letter made upon his mind. There will consquently be one person surprised before long. He had believed before that we were engaged and I think he circulated it in town as his opinion. He will tell another tale now. I will stand some chance to "come in" among the girls as they will learn that my hand is at liberty.

This I offer as illustrative of your nonsentimental style. But I don't complain. I only ask that you write me a letter as soon as convenient filling "two sheets" embracing as they will the subjects which I before submitted to you, and any others you may think proper. The time is drawing nigh. You will not fail to speak of these things at an early day. You did not say whether it would be prudent or not for me to come out on the fourth of July. I want to see you very much and be pleased to witness the excercises, but in order to keep down all unnecessary talking, perhaps, we had better make out by writing. However, I leave this "sub-judice". Mr. Marquis' examination closed yesterday. I attended after 3 o'clock. I can't tell how I was affected. The thoughts of former days rushed upon me at every movement. O! I almost wished to be a schoolboy again. And believe me, Mary, I was not wholly unaffected by things in anticipation.

I will stop and let you talk some. Will you not write next mail? I am impatient as usual.

Peace be with you

W.J. Hill

Sparta June 30, 1854

Beloved Mary

Understanding that there will be no mail passing till next week, I send you a few words. I was very anxious to hear from you having heard that you were very sick. I wanted to read a long letter from you but better have a short one than none. I shall expect another by the next mail that comes.

There was a party given last night by the sons of Temperance. Did you know that I belonged to the order? We had a very pleasant time so far as laughing and talking are concerned, but unpleasant on account of the extreme heat. I wish you could have been there. You could have seen the respectable part of Town and vicinity.

I want you to write me as soon as convenient what the conclusions are about going to the falls of Cain Creek. On what day shall we come to Mother's. I have nothing to add on the subject of going. Do as you please. I do not think of anything, now, connected with that occasion about which it is necessary to speak. I hope you will write at length very soon on that subject.

I am not doing much these times at reading Law. It is too warm to study. We are to have a marriage in the vicinity of Sparta next week, I understand. Or rather, Mr. Brogdon, of this place is to marry a Miss White of the Valley. Daughter of Diah White. I have not time to write more, now.

God bless you


Sparta July 6, 1854

Beloved Mary

I have just finished reading your letter and will send you a few lines in reply. I am, however, in such a state of excitement that I can scarcely write. I need not tell you that the excitement is owing to the reading of your letter. Oh! it was so rich! How thrilling the sentence "Soon will we meet and enjoy each others society, once more". You inquire how I spent the 4th of July. Not very pleasantly. Nothing occurred in Sparta more than usual except that in the evening, we were called to witness the burial and funeral ceremonies of James Brien: aged about 15 years. I often thought of Spencer but I cannot say that I derived any pleasure from thinking. The thought of the joys that reigned there, rather tantalized than pleased me. I could scarcely refrain from going out. Had it not been that you would have been deceived I believe I would have gone.

I have been interupted by some gentlemen on business. Erasmus and Augustus are wanting to start. I wish I had more time. I will write next mail. I do not know when that will be now. Excuse me. Write to me soon.

Yours in love

W.J. Hill

Sparta July 8, 1854

Being prevented from finishing my letter, I will transmit you another. It, however, must be short for it is now after 3 o'clock P.M. and I want to go to Mother's to night. I will, however, speak of such things as I think to be important. You are anxious to know whether we shall go to the falls or no. I am willing to go if I can get permission of my superiors. I suppose the party will return the same day to Spencer. If so, we may come to Mother's on friday.

I think I can get permission. You ask at what time I shall come up? I cannot go till tuesday. The time of the day, you may propose if you please. I suppose I had better come and put up at Mr. Wood's to keep down suspicion. As to other particulars I will leave to you to direct when you shall have learned the order of the examination. I hope you will write at length soon. Excuse

Your devoted

W.J. Hill


Burritt College July 10, 1854

My dearest,

If the mails are as irregular in future as they have been, I will not again address you under the present circumstances. The relations we will sustain will be different from the present. Will not our responsibilities be increased? I dread the labors of the coming week very much. There is a feeling of melancholy connected with all I have to do in connection with the school. I know it is the last time I will be associated with the school as I now am. I am much attached to some of the students. They by their punctual attention to their deauties have won the regard of those less intimately connected with them than I have been. There is perhaps as much talent in college as been at any former time. Among the new students if any deserve the title of genius Messers Betts and Westbrook have it among the boys and Miss E.A. Goodloe among the girls. O you will see all of our pretty girls when you come up and I am shure you will be pleased with them. They quiz me very closely about my letters sometimes, but I have answered causively so far. One of the girls asked me the other day if I was not engaged to be married. I told her yes and had been for a long time, in so jocular a manner that she never suspected anything. There has never been so little talk about any getting married as there has been this session. And when it is spoken of it is in connection with Mr. Ashbruck or Dr. Butis who report says is coming up to the examination. I hope he may not -- not that I have any regard for him more than other good men: but he is sensitive and will feel unpleasant under the circumstances. Rumor says he is coming up to renew his suit, but I can't think so. You say you will not come up till Tuesday. Sister Nan enters into our plans with a great deal of zeal. I told her and Campbell the other day. Nan says you must put up at her house. She will be disappointed if you do not. Shall I not see you till the very time? I must. Perhaps you have heard there is to be a play on Tuesday night which will occupy most of the time. I do not know how we will manage. I want no confusion or show; How will it do for me to be seated in my usual place till the exersises are over and then you come a cross the stair way to me? If you know of a better plan, be shure to suggest it. Perhaps we had better meet at Nan's and come up from there just as you think best.

Do not fail to bring Martha and any others of your friends who may like to come for I am not acquainted with any of them as I am with her. I have never seen your mother. Our relations will be increased in number for I have a large number of relatives. O I will be so dependant upon you when I leave here you will be all to me in Sparta, and I will feel embarassed among your friends till I know them better, for I know they will be forming their opinion of me. I know I shall have Martha and doubt not that I will love all of them. If they are at all like you I shall not try to help it. You have the advantage of me since you are intimately acquainted with every member of our family.

I believe I have not as yet mentioned to you that your letters have been a great means of developing to me your character and every development has served to strengthen my regard for you. I had thought you cool headed and calculating and dignified to a degree that rather awed me -- then inspired love. I supposed your heart was as cold as your head, but I have learned otherwise. Your letters have manifested a warmth of feeling and a depth of sensitivity I had not anticipated at the time of our engagement. You have ever exhibited a degree of excitement somewhat surprising. Your letters never fail to make my heart flutter but it is not a sensation of pain. You have sometimes complained of my letters not being long enough and loving enough. The length I think will compare favorably with yours and if you have not yet found out that I love you "I guess you will some day". I have so many compositions in hands I must not devote any more time to writing now. I expect to hear from you by next mail. Good night! May angels grace thee.

Once more your affectionate


My dear Mary,

I cannot permit you to leave my class where you have been a scholar for nearly five years without some testimony of my sincere affection. For your assiduous efforts to conform to every prescribed rule - - your punctuality at the appointed hours - - your respectful attention to instruction, however imperfect - - you have won my sincere regard. Though I regret that duty oblige me to relinquish the pleasure of seeing your face on each returning sabbath morning - - I rejoice that your absence from us will be the means of good to others. In the capacity of teacher, which you expect to fill, the bond of fellowship is still preserved and we are, in future, co-laborers in the vineyard of Christ. May God bless you ever & make you a blessing is the sincere desire of your friend,

N. D. Estabrook


To continue, go to EARLY MARRIAGE - (July 1854-June 1856)

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