1858: James Hart Norwood to Albertus Chambers Spain

This letter was written by Major James Hart Norwood (1825-1897), a lawyer residing in Darlington, South Carolina. In 1854 he was editor of the Darlington Flag in Darlington, South Carolina. He married (December 1853) Mary Roberts Brooks (1835-1900), the daughter of Capt. J. W. Brooks of Greenville, S.C.

Norwood wrote the letter to Major Albertus Chambers Spain (1821-1881), an 1841 graduate of the South Carolina College who practiced law in Columbia and then Sumter, South Carolina. With the outbreak of the war with Mexico he volunteered, and was assigned as a 1st Lieutenant to a company from Sumter with the Palmetto Regiment. After the war Major Spain represented the Sumter District in the Legislature for several terms. He was a delegate to the Convention of 1860 in Charleston and a signer of the Ordinance of Secession. At the direction of the Convention Major Spain traveled to Arkansas to confer with representatives of that state regarding secession. In 1861 Major Spain moved to Darlington where he lived out the rest of his life.

Addressed to A. C. Spain, Esqr., Sumter, South Carolina

Darlington, South Carolina
May 1st 1858

Dear Spain,

Janney's Hotel in Columbia

Janney’s Hotel in Columbia

I am much obliged to you for attending to printing that brief. I will go over to Columbia on Monday night, I think, & will be much obliged to Mr. Richardson for help if I need it. Send the brief to Columbia by him. The point in Wilson vs. Huggins ¹ is whether Sol Wilson could furnish the negroes of Huggins’ testator with necessaries, clothing, shoes, bacon, &c., before probate of will & hold Huggins liable for it. You took particular interest in this case & may recollect it from what is here said. I think the authorities on this point are plain & easily found. However, make such suggestions as you think proper by letter to me at Janney’s Hotel, Columbia.²

Bob Kelly’s wife ³ — a daughter of B. Shirley — killed old Mrs. Hill, mother of Icy on Wednesday night. Cause — jealousy of Icy.

Our old friend J. P. Brown is recovering from the wound received from the gun of Bob Kelly’s negro. Is not this a h- -l of a set?

Yours truly, — J. H. Norwood

P. S. Is it possible that in my haste I had almost neglected to tell you that Mitchell is lost. Bill dismissed. News came yesterday. Decree in Jule Daigan’s hands, not yet read by me.

¹ The 19 May 1858 edition of the Charleston Courier (Charleston, SC), reported that in the case of “Sol B. Wilson vs. John S. Huggins, executor, Glover, J., delivered opinion. Appeal dismissed.”

² James C. Janney was the proprietor of the Congaree Hotel in Columbia, SC.

Purportedly a picture of Prudence Kelly

Purportedly a picture of Prudence (Shirley) Kelly

³ Robert (“Bob”) Kelly (1820-1871) was married to Prudence Aleen Shirley (1827-1910) in 1847. Prudence was the daughter of Burrell Shirley (1797-1863) and Mariah Gatlin (1805-1852). The 30 October 1858 issue of the Charleston Mercury (Charleston, SC) reported on the trial in which “Mrs. Prudence Kelly [was] charged with the murder of Susan Hill. The State was ably represented by Mr. Solicitor McIver; the prisoner was defended by Messrs. Dargans, Spain, and Norwood, and Inglis and Warley. The case was given to the jury (which was composed of men of worth, virtue, and ability, being second to but one jury which we have ever seen impanelled) at night fall on Saturday; after a short absence a verdict of ‘not guilty’ was rendered. This is a most astonishing case, and, without desiring to seem presumptuous, we would suggest to the State’s officer that his duty in the premises is not yet ended. The verdict of the jury will suggest to him what yet remains to be done.” [Reprinted from Darlington Flag].


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