Letters to Rebecca
Letters to Rebecca - William B. Moore, Jr.. The author comments, “I am still not sure why Rebecca’s letters grip me as they do, but I read each one with a growing sense of family, of love, and of gratitude that she allowed us an intimate look back more than one hundred seventy-five years into the minds and hearts of her people. There were more than one hundred fifty letters, stained, torn, and faded, but neatly folded and protected in clear plastic envelopes. I can almost see the writers laboring with the sharpened end of a large feather in the dim light of a fire, candle or lantern. They were delivered by post, by hand sometimes through the kindness of a traveler…Spanning about a century, they involve four generations of her family. Most were written from South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi. They speak of daily life, of war and worship, of birth and death. While telling of the Earles and Whittens, they depict typical southern families as they moved south and west to settle the vast wilderness that became these United States.” Rebecca Berry Whitten was the daughter of Silas Reagan Whitten and Eleanor Kee Earle. In the early 1840s, when she was a teenager, she began saving all the mail that came to her home, Pleasant Grove, in Gowensville, South Carolina. This careful preservation became a life-long habit, even after her family had settled in Tippah County, Mississippi, in 1851. In this book, Mr. Moore, a descendant of Rebecca, shares the letters of a lifetime with all who are interested in first hand glimpses of a lost age. Again quoting the author, “More can be learned from old letters than from those we write today. The old ones were longer and covered a broader range of subjects. Aside from intimate personal contact, nothing reveals the thoughts and character of individuals with greater clarity than old letters written to friends and family. Always valuable for genealogical research, they let us peer into the hearts and minds of writer and recipient.” These Whittens and Earles were active Baptists. The letters often refer to persons, ideas, and events that will be of interest to Baptist historians: Rev. John Gill Landrum and Rev. Thomas J. Earle; Dr. Furman of Greenville, South Carolina; old Mercer College of Penfield, Georgia; a Calvinist concept of salvation; Old Side, Hardshell, and Missionary Baptists; Tiger Creek, Crossroads, and other churches of Greenville District, South Carolina are mentioned. Adding to the value of this collection as a research tool are the chapters Mr. Moore has written on the Whitten and Earle families. Here the writers and subjects of most of the letters are introduced, and their relationships to each other can be determined. Two indices enhance the value of this work: one, an every-name index; the other, a list of all the letters and articles included in the collection. (1995), 2012, 5½x8½, paper, index, 378 pp.