This letter was written by Stephen Duncan (1787-1867), son of John Thomas Duncan (1762-1793) and Sarah Postlethwaite (1763-1849). Stephen’s father was killed in a duel with James Lambertson in 1793 when Stephen was only 6 years old. Stephen left Pennsylvania in 1808 at the age of 21 for the Natchez District of Mississippi where he began a medical practice. He married Margaret Ellis in 1811 and soon after gave up medicine for plantation life. Stephen Duncan’s oldest son, John Ellis Duncan, was born in August 1812 and died in September 1829 while a member of the junior class at Yale College. Their second child was Sarah Jane Duncan, born in July 1814, but died in 1839 not long after her marriage to Dr. William Armstrong Irvine. In March 1815, Stephen’s wife died during a yellow fever outbreak, and Stephen relied on relatives to raise John and Sarah, apparently never making any arrangements for them to ever live with him again even after remarrying in 1819 to a woman from Natchez named Catharine A. Bingaman.
Stephen’s handwriting is difficult to decipher but the content clearly regards the subject of the education of a young man named John whom Stephen feels needs to be placed into a different school where the discipline will be much greater.
Addressed to C. P. Leverich, Esqr., New York
November 30th 1848
My Dear Sir,
Have just received a letter from Mr. Bartus bringing the unpleasant intelligence that John L_____ has been directed to be sequestered for the ____, to bad ____ ____ ______.
I have concluded to have him placed at No. 13 ____ schools at West Chester, New Philadelphia. The boy wants nothing but rigid & strict discipline to secure him a clear mind & I think he will be more likely to be with such discipline with Mr. Bolender than with anybody else.
I therefore must ask the favor of you to pay his bills at Mr. Bacturs & employ some person & without regard to the express to take him to West Chester at once to see that Mr. Parnell — his $20 would take him one — his expenses going & returning being paid. You might say to Mr. P. confidentially & with a request that would not let John know it, that the object of placing him with Mr. Bolmar is to bring him under a stricter discipline that he now is with Mr. Bactus.
I enclose a letter for John & one for Mr. Bolmar. The latter authorizes him to ____ __ you at sight for the same requested in advance for his ____ for him and requests him to let his settled accounts accompany his bill.
If Mr. P. will not do it, try to get somebody else. Dispatch is important.
John’s sisters are almost heart broken — particularly his oldest sister, for she had great confidence in John’s principles & his claim to gratify her.
I have no ____ to add.
I go to the _____ _____ to be absent 2 weeks. All well. I hope soon to hear confirmation of the favorable reports contained in Margaret’s letter to Mr. Duncan.
The crop of the U. S. will not exceed that of last year & you will be certainly safe, I think, in predicting sales on that fact.
The whole country is becoming obsessed in the the subject of sugar-making — converting cotton plantations into sugar estates. The success last year & this in Felican has run people mad.
Yours, — S. Duncan