Letters From Alabama

| 9/8/2014 11:37:00 AM

Tags: Philip Henry Gosse, Anne Royall, Letters From Alabama, The Historic Foodie,

The Historic FoodieWhen asked to choose a name for this GRIT blog, I chose “Letters from Alabama” because after all, I am from Alabama, and one could say I am following in the footsteps of two esteemed writers who each penned books filled with accounts of daily life here, ranging from mundane to surprisingly unexpected. Both were published during the antebellum period. The title of the two books is the same (Letters From Alabama), but the authors were quite different. The first, written by Anne Royall, chronicles her experiences having moved to North Alabama about 1820. The second, written by Philip Henry Gosse, an Englishman, tells of his journey to Alabama from Philadelphia, about his work, the family he worked for as a tutor in Pleasant Hill, Alabama, and situations he encountered in 1838.

rural scenery near Pleasant Hill, AL

Pleasant Hill, AL 

Gosse’s information appeared in the form of letters from the area, an early writing style. He spent almost a year on the plantation of Judge Reuben Saffold working as a teacher before returning to England. He was a naturalist and went into great depth describing the flora and fauna of south-central Alabama and also kept copious notes concerning social and political issues he encountered. Some of the information was first published in a magazine in England (The Home Friend) after which the articles, or letters, were compiled into book form, thus was born the second Letters from Alabama

Gosse was a prolific writer, penning in total some 40 books and 270 articles of a scientific or religious nature, and is noted as the inventor of the salt water aquarium. 

We traveled to what is left of Pleasant Hill in search of some remaining visage of Gosse and did find the home Judge Saffold built later to replace the log house described by Gosse while he lived and worked on the plantation. We found two nearby churches with cemeteries, and there were some other houses from the period we chose not to pursue for fear of trespassing. Pleasant Hill is in the country, far off the beaten path, but then Gosse did say that Southerners, though sometimes wealthy, still lived in log houses so that when the urge to move on became overpowering the family could do so leaving the log structures behind without a great deal of financial loss. 

9/9/2014 10:14:10 AM

HF, I like to read journals about life from early pioneering days. It's especially intriguing to me how they managed to get things done without any electric or gas powered implements. I often wonder just how future generations will react to all of our blogging journals 100 years from now. Well, that is if the human race is still alive. I have to wonder about that with current world situations. ***** Have a great Alabama journaling day.

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