|Northampton School at Mitchell, Hilton Head
The Freedmen's Journal
NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL AT MITCHELL, HILTON HEAD.
About the middle of September a lady from Northampton applied at this office for a situation as teacher. Her manner,
appearance, history, and testimonials from those who know her well, left no doubt, on the minds of the Committee,
that they should give her an appointment as early as possible; but, meanwhile, she was asked if she could not serve
the good cause by forming a Branch Society in Northampton, which, after raising the necessary sum, would probably
nominate her as the teacher for their adoption.
With good will for the task, she returned to Connecticut Valley, and wrote us, on the 23d September, that there was
some doubt whether a Branch Society could be formed in Northampton. On the 26th September she writes again; but
this time she says there is no doubt it can be done, and that readily. Between the writing of her letters, another was
getting penned far away by one of our most valued and faithful teachers, stationed at Hilton Head.
Hilton Head, S.C., Sept. 24,1864.
It is a long time since I have written you. My excuse is the debilitating heat of this climate and the overtasking cares of
my position. Neither hope nor courage is lessened; and, having resumed writing, it must be done in such a manner as
shall most benefit this freed people. I must continue to appeal to the charities of enlightened and Christian New
This post is the great gateway of Freedom; and poor destitute fugitives from American oppression come in from every
possible quarter. To furnish them shelter and safety, a " city of refuge" has been built (called Mitchell), over the
marsh, about one mile" distant from Hilton Head. Here is a population of from twelve to fifteen hundred, living in
houses or "huts." Some are made of round poles chinked with oyster-shell lime ; some of slats; and some of boards,
picked up and bought, of every conceivable size, while others are "pieced out" with old canvas on the chimneys and
All are striving -to make a living. Many are profitably employed by the Government; many are soldiers' families
struggling on alone. Some of them dress well, and some are very ragged. They are striving for churches and schools.
It is a fine place for teaching and other missionary' effort. A colored man named Lymas Anders has succeeded in
raising a church and school-house in one. The building is about twenty feet by forty. At present there is no floor, but
he is about putting down one, and will put in a few glass windows. If an addition of twenty feet square could be made
at the end or side for the accommodation of teachers (to live in), it would be an excellent position for a school.
Teachers cannot walk from the Head or the nearest plantation in the heat and rain.
Now, is there not some town which will take this matter in hand, build the addition, and send a teacher? The expense
of a teachers' room has been computed at about $250. With teachers residing in the building, a great opportunity for
evening-schools would be afforded. It seems to me no greater gift could be conferred on this suffering village. I have
read in the papers of the designed enlargement of colleges and other institutions in New England, and have noted
the sums to be expended: having personally visited them and Mitchell, too, I could not but compare the necessities of
the two, to wish that, for the present, till these crushed millions can stand alone, all surplus funds might find their
proper channel. If this black race is really composed of men and women; if they are to live free under our government;
if they are to be rescued from gross ignorance and consequent crime, — then the North must see to it that they are
Perhaps I should say more of Mr. Anders, who erected the house as it stands. He reads and writes, has a library
worth about $100, and is very gentlemanly and unassuming. He came from Key West, was a slave, and has served as
a soldier. He is truly worthy of encouragement. I write thus early because so much time is consumed on preliminaries,
and the field is now white for the harvest. Very respectfully,
A. F. Pillsbury
Before the arrival of Mrs. Pillsbury's letter, the Society at Northampton was organized, and Miss Breck adopted as
their chosen teacher, to be sent to some field of labor when there should be fitting occasion. From the barren sand-
heap of Hilton Head, came up, on that September day, an earnest appeal for help for that long-oppressed people,
striving to fit themselves for freedom, but needing still the guiding hand of the white race. Did that coming letter cast
its persuading shadow before athwart the Connecticut, and light the doubting heart of Northampton on its way?
Northampton, sitting beautiful and glad beneath her myriad elms, and beside her lordly river and fair intervale,
rejoicing in the fulness and glory of her harvest-hour, caught the wail of the dusky dwellers on the sand, and opened
of her treasures for their help ere the written word had come.
The return mail carried an answer from this office to Mrs. Pillsbury's letter, giving assurance that the house should be
paid for when built, in money which somewhere was only waiting to be called for, and that two ladies would arrive as
soon as it was ready for them.
Hopedale has formed a Branch Society and nominated to the Committee on Teachers a lady singularly fitted to be
Miss B.'s companion, and therefore selected to work with her. The letter from Hilton Head was sent to the
Northampton Branch Society. Here is the field for your adopted teacher. Would it be agreeable to you to furnish a
teachers' home at an expense of about $250?
The reply soon came in this eloquent form: —
William ENDICOTT, Jr.
Sir,— Please find inclosed a check on Hide and Leather Bank for $258, which has been collected in Northampton for
a room at Mitchell, as we have provided Miss .
Mary A. Cochrasb, Secretary.
At the same time came these letters from South Carolina: —
Hilton Head, Oct. 19,1864. I have been informed of the contents of Mrs. Pillsbury's letters; and I feel very grateful for
your interest in this object of teaching our poor people. The school-house which I have built by subscriptions from the
white and colored people has cost nearly $350. The colored have given $94, and the Thirty-second colored troops
from Pennsylvania paid $87.35. I have now floored it, and I am going to put in six glass windows. I thank you
very much for yonr willingness to build an addition for teachers to live in. I wish, if it was possible, that the two
teachers might be here soon. I will divide a room in the church or school-building on the end where they could live till
their own house is finished. If the ladies can come soon, they will be sheltered and have a simple home. Mr. Pillsbury
will write more particulars. Accept my thanks and regards. Yours truly,
Lymas A. Anders.
I will endeavor to purchase lumber, and superintend the addition you have proposed to make to Mr. Anders's house,
if you desire it, so that the business may be despatched, and nothing be lost or wasted. I am very busily employed,
but will take time for such a purpose.
Respectfully, Gilbert Pillsbury.
It was not possible for the two ladies to go in the return "Arago" after these letters arrived, as their passes must be
sent to the War Department for approval there; but, on the 6th November, they sailed from New York towards that"
simple home," and those "fields now white for the harvest."
Hilton Head, S.C., Not. 12. On arriving here, we were very cordially welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Pillsbury, with whom we
are now staying. Our house is expected to be done next Tuesday. It will be necessary for us to have a cooking-stove,
and a few other articles, as we expect to do our own cooking. Yours, &c.,
Elizabeth P. Breck.
Hilton Head, Nov. 12.
I am most happy in writing this letter to inform you of the quick success of our plans, in regard to the school at
Mitchell. The teachers have arrived, and are staying with us till their house is completed. Yesterday, we walked over
to visit the place. They are much pleased with house and arrangements; and I am satisfied with the thought that
Massachusetts has built the first home for teachers in that poor city. It stands fifteen feet from the church, as, upon
mature deliberation, we thought best to have them separate. Before arriving at' a final decision as to the size, a very
serious conclave on the subject sat here in our room. Lumber and labor had risen; but the sum asked for must
assume a neat and comfortable shape for a dwelling in some way. After many figures, the size is 12 by 20, with three
glass windows and two doors; a sitting-room 12 by 12, and a bed-room 8 by 12 ; a piazza on the whole front, three
feet in width. The third glass window will cost a few dollars beyond the sum.
Now, they must have a cooking-stove, which will cost about $25. The light is so intense that they propose to put on
blinds at an expense of $10.
And now a few words in favor of finishing Lymas Anders's church. As I have before said, he was a slave till the war;
served in the army till last March ; has expended all his means and time in building this church. He has now begun his
own house, as he is paying five dollars per month for rent. His health is poor, — not strong enough for hard labor; but
what is better, he preaches to this people acceptably. His church has no windows or seats; but he has procured the
lumber, and yesterday we consulted the carpenter. He will build the seats for twenty-three, and put in two glass
windows for sixteen dollars. Mr. Anders has drawn upon this people who are really poor, for as much as possible, at
present. I do not see how the building can be made comfortable for a long time without this additional gift.
I cannot express to you how happy we all are in contemplating this hearty and ready aid, and the consequent blessing
to this dear people. The time since my first application to you for this purpose has been only seven weeks, and the
ladies will commence teaching to-morrow, 14th, and move into their new house on the 16th. Very cordially yours,
Antoinette F. Pillsbury.
By that natural proclivity which sends so many things in this world to just the right place, this letter was forthwith
mailed to Northampton from this office; as its result came the following:— ,
Northampton, Deo. 2.
I am happy to inclose you a check for one
hundred dollars, payable to Mr. Endicott, for the
benefit of the school at Mitchell. Five dollars of
it was given by a small number of colored people.
Yours truly, M. A. C.