1846: Hector McNeill to Malcom McNeill

This letter was written by Hector McNeill (1809-18xx). Hector entered Yale College from Natchez, Mississippi, in February of the Sophomore year. He graduated in 1831. On September 30, sixteen days after graduation, he was married to Ann Caroline Frere (1813-1880), of New Haven and New Orleans. He became a cotton planter in the vicinity of Natchez, and later in Coahoma County, Mississippi, where he was enumerated in the 1850 census. I feel certain this is the same Hector McNeill who resided and owned property in Dallas County, Arkansas, in 1860.

Hector McNeill wrote the letter to his Uncle Malcom McNeill (1796-1875), who was born in Person County, North Carolina but moved to Christian County, Kentucky, one mile south of the Sinking Fork bridge on the road from Hopkinsville to Princeton, in 1817. He began accumulating property at an early age, first near his home in Kentucky, but later he bought thousands of acres in Mississippi and within the city of Natchez, which greatly increased in value. He made his first investments in Chicago in 1842, at a time when travel there required carriages or horseback. He became a man of great wealth, described in an 1884 history of Christian and Trigg counties as “perhaps the richest man in the county, with a large estate and many negroes both there and in Mississippi.”

1846 Letter

1846 Letter

Addressed to Maj. Malcom McNeill, Care of Payne & Harrison, New Orleans
By Steamboat “Old Hickory”

On Board Old Hickory from Memphis to L___
March 23, 1846

Dear Uncle,

I am just returning from Memphis where I accompanied cousin Elizabeth two days ago. Uncle Nat. & family were delighted to see her. Doct. Avery died there very suddenly a few days since. I today drew on Payne & Harrison for one hundred & two  95/100 dollars at “Ten days after sight” & requested them to place it to your debt. This was for necessaries for my family. I sent off McDonald a few days ago with all the money I had to buy plank. Cates will leave for the Madrid Bend, probably, in two weeks & I owe him one hundred & forty odd dollars. To pay this, I write by this boat to Payne & Harrison to send me as soon as possible, one hundred & fifty dollars & place this also to your debit. Should you be in the city, please have this money forwarded instantly for I would not allow him to be detained one day on my account for any reasonable consideration. I shall be compelled to borrow from you money to buy my meat & pay off McDonald’s hands when they finish my job.

My health is pretty good. I have not entirely regained my strength. Uncle Nat. says he wishes to visit Coahoma while you are there so he will be down about the 15th April as I supposed you ought to be there by that time. I am in hope you may purchase the half of the Carpenter land. Doct. Porter & myself rode over an immense body of fine land on that tract. He thought 800 acres or more land, where the water n___ comes. He was perfectly delighted with it. The boat rocks very badly.

Your nephew, H. McNeill

3 responses to “1846: Hector McNeill to Malcom McNeill

  • Jim McCafferty

    Griff, I am very much interested in Hector McNeill — especially his time in Coahoma County, Mississippi. Would you mind contacting me by e-mail so that I can ask you some questions about the letter?

    Also, if anyone else knows anything about Hector McNeill and/or his wife, Ann Caroline Frere, please let me know. I am also especially interested in a slave who served as their family cook, a Creole lady named Rochere.

    Thanks much.

    • Griff

      Jim, I’m afraid I cannot add anything to your body of knowledge. I have transcribed a fairly large number of McNeill letters for an acquaintance of mine who has been selling them on e-bay. In exchange for the transcriptions and some background biographical research that I supply him, he authorizes me to publish the letters on my Spared & Shared blogsites. If you search my blogs, you will find several McNeill letters that may help you in your investigations. I do not ever recall coming across a Creole lady named Rochere, however. — Griff

  • Jim McCafferty


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