Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854
Reunion of Slaves

The letter writer observes the reunion of slaves who apparently have not seen each other for some time. She is surprised and amused at the affection between the slaves. Cecelia Beall wrote this letter to Mrs Ross, March 14, 1854.

I believe Cecelia is in the 1850 Claiborne County, MS, household of Smith Coffee Daniell, future builder of Windsor Plantation. She is listed as Celia Bell, 17 years old female. Celia married Thomas Freeland, cousin of Smith Coffee Daniell, 20 Jul 1854, in Claiborne County, MS.

Dear Mrs Ross,

I write to acquaint you with the safe arrival of Aunt Eliza. They had a very pleasant trip down the river and arrived in Rodney about 10 o’clock Wednesday the 8th of this month. Cousin Smith came out home in the night and Aunt Eliza remained in Rodney with a friend until the next day. Cousin Kate went in for her early on Thursday, and they came out to dinner. I do not see any change in Aunt E. since the last time I saw her. She scarcely recognized (sic) me. I have grown a great deal – and exchanged my sallow complexion for a very ruddy one.

We are all glad to have Dear Aunt Lize with us. But she says everything is changed from what she knew. The old hills hardly look like the same to her and those friends that she knew here are nearly all gone.

Mrs Ross, I wish you could see our forest and gardens. The spring is very far advanced. Nearly all the trees are putting out, and many are already covered with foliage. The peach and plum trees are dropping their blooms. Our garden is very backward, but we have peas several inches high. All the roses are putting out. At Aunt Freeland’s about two miles from here, several rose bushes are in full bloom. Aunt Lize reminded me of a promise I once made you - of sending up some rose cuttings. So few of my acquaintances ever go to St. Louis that I have not had opportunities for sending anything. The boats do not land at Rodney unless taking in passengers, which is very seldom. When Cousin Smith went up I might easily have sent them, and it was just the right season – but indeed it never occurred to my mind atall. I am really sorry to have let such an opportunity slip. I will keep "a strict look out" now, and will not fail to improve the first opportunity.

The servants all seem glad to revisit their friends, but Old Uncle Clinton says “the eatin is different here from what it is there.” There, there are few to eat, and plenty of good food. Here it is quite the opposite. Poor Abe cries until his eyes were nearly put out, the first night he stayed here. I told him if I was him I would’nt (sic) cry for a mother that didn’t care a grot for me.

They all look very familia (sic) to me. You would have ben (sic) highly amused to have seen the meeting between Aunt Letty and our cook – a woman larger than Aunt Letty. They rushed into each other’s arms and hugged and kissed most earnestly. Aunt Letty gave me a very affectionate hug.

I was very sorry to hear of your ill health. It seems that we are never free from some clog to our happiness. Susan Ann used to be the invalid. You must give my love to all of them. Tell Susan & Susan Ann they must write to me sometimes.

Aunt Eliza wished me to say that she was in no hurry to have the things send down, but could wait until the roads are better. She wished you to keep the knives and the castor, as she will have no use for them. She says she will write soon.

Please give my best regards to Mr. Ross and accept for yourself the love and best wishes of

Your sincere friend
Cecilia Beall

Here are additional Windsor posts:
The Magnificent House ~ Windsor
The Brick Makers of Windsor
E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860 Go Without a Servant
E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867 All Our House Servants Left Us
E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867 No One to Protect Us

Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letters found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.


  1. The only strange thing is that she thought it was strange.

    1. It was easier to split families if you thought the attachment wasn't strong...Poor Abe would learn his mother had no power to say where he could or couldn't go.

  2. It's all very convenient to express surprise at such demonstrated affection, criticize a slave mother for not enough affection and wrap it all in such a "civilized" letter.

  3. I fully agree with all of the above comments. The writer and people with similar opinions are more to be "pitied than scorned", as my father would often respond. The nerve of them!