|My Dear Father and Mother
Housed in the North Carolina Office of Archives and History in Raleigh, North Carolina are the L. N. Clinard Papers, a collection of letters written in the mid-1800’s to Livingston Clinard of Salem, North Carolina by family, friends and business associates. The letters, surviving for over half a century, were donated in the early 1930’s to the Archives where they are officially known and described as the:
“Papers of Livingston N. Clinard, storekeeper for Patterson and Company, Salem, especially letters from son Francis A. Clinard, employee of J. G. Hall and R. L. Patterson (later Hall Brothers) in Hickory, dealers in merchandise and produce. Letters describe purchase of produce from Watauga Co. area and its shipment from Hickory; towns of Hickory, Lenoir and Statesville; funeral procession of Gov Tod R Caldwell; elections of 1874-1876; and fairs, balls, temperance meetings, Sunday school and Masonic picnics, concerts and other entertainment in Hickory. Other letters concern the hotel business in Athens, Ga.; the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (1876); and medications from World’s Dispensary Medical Association (1879-1880).”
But these letters are much more than the above suggests, and were destined for a larger audience than those who by chance or through research might discover them in Raleigh. The mid to late 1800’s was a time when the written word was the primary mode of long distance communication. For those adventurous men and women who left to pioneer a new life and for those who remained “home”, receiving a letter was a highly anticipated event.
The letters they received were where the stories of their lives would unfold. They provide an eyewitness account of living in the post-Civil War era, describe beginning business practices of a small town, and reveal the personal relationships of a close knit family. They depict a life of hard work, of realized and unrealized dreams, of triumphs and defeats, the joy of birth and the sorrow of death.
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