Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rebecca Wallace

Ocracoke is a wonderful community, but it is not perfect...and never has been, of course. The following letter, written in 1811 about the situation on nearby Shell Castle island, illustrates the "humanness" of the folks who lived on these outer islands two hundred years ago. Shell Castle Island was owned by John Gray Blount and John Wallace. After John Wallace died in 1810, Solomon Joseph, one of the tenants, wrote to John Blount about Rebecca Wallace, widow of Shell Castle's "Governor."

Solomon M . Joseph to John Gray Blount
Shell Castle March 7 1811
Jn° G. Blount Esq r


It seems the avaricious, and over grasping woman, who is daily pleading distress and poverty, and her lonely distress'd situation, will not leave me undisturbed, on this small piece of ground which I hold at so high a price, her conduct appears like she'd wish to have the rent, and the place, She being without the least feeling of gratitude to any person but herself, I have no doubt She must disturb you among the rest, as I discover by a Letter you sent down respecting a Small piece of ground I have for a garden; during Mr Wallaces life time he promised me the use of that piece of Garden rent free, which I told you and Mrs Wallace when you were here; which I can avow to you to be true, when I agreed with you for the present year, you never mention 'd any thing respecting the Garden, I took it for granted it was no object to you, as it is impossible to live here without Vegetables, It is only a power which Mrs Wallace wishes to monopolys, that others may humble to her for a few Greens, it is well Known that She has as much Garden Joining that of mine Exclusive of a piece as large as the whole of the pieces together, and does not improve that which she has, It is only Envy at seeing that little improved by Mrs Joseph, which is her only amusement in this little piece of garden, neither Mrs Wallace or Mr Bradey mention'd any thing about the garden untill a few days past, which was after Mrs Joseph has been at the trouble of Sewing Seed, and having the whole in order for the Spring and Summer, Yesterday Mrs Wallace call'd on Mrs Joseph and told her She could not think of her having the garden without pay as she was a poor women and had a Large family to Support, if She had the garden She could raise and Sell out of it, which would help in maintaining of her, why has She not done it before, and why does She not commence with what She has to cultivate, it is only Envy, there is no doubt Mrs Wallace has, and Knows how to take care of herself without the production of the Garden, However I do not wish to trouble you with any thing more of the Kind, this is the first, I only wish to have one Land lord and under your direction, do not let me be under the controul & Whims of any other person, as I have but a few months to occupy this place, and am wishfull to live in peace that Short time, I am willing to Satisfy you Mr Blount in any thing that is within reason, I shall be up at Washington in a Short time, I Expect you have not been inform 'd that no repairs has been made Excepting a little plastering round one Chimeny, and that only Two or three weeks past, I remain with respect — y r Ob  Ser  S. M. Joseph

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke's Agnes Scott, direct descendant of Agnes Scott for whom the women's college in Decatur, Georgia is named. You can read the Newsletter here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Until I reread this bit of correspondence a second time did it occur to me, that paper, pen and ink were necessary, Also, . a command of the English language and a little less righteous indignation by the author can go a long way. ( not to mention slander and libel) Landlord tenant issues are still the bane of existence on OI I dare say.