Jane Briggs Smith to Friend Fuller Fiske, January 18, 1867

Sumter, S. C.
Jan. 18, 1867

Dear Fuller:--

In my letter box lies a heap of letters from you only partly answered because I could not stop, and now it is too cold to hunt them up. Such terribly cold weather, as we do have, I am tired of the Southern winters. I can stand the summers, and the springs and fall are delightful. But to return; I want to tell you about my affairs [?].

I told you that I have a class of young men who come here every day to read and recite. Two of them are local preachers, one is an ordained minister, named Ben Lawson. One day I was talking with them about temperance, and trying to urge it upon them to establish a total abstinence society. Ben Lewson, to point some remarks, said, "Well now, mum, I spose you'se a church member." "No, Ben."

(Up to this point I wrote in the dark, which accounts for the independence I exhibit of all lines.) [?]You should have seen the astonishment of the party. Why, one of them said "I tout you'se a Metterdis, sure, miss." Then began earnest entreaties and affectionate pleadings to join with them. I almost wish I could. Ben, especially, is very urgent, and repeats his persuasive logic at every interview. Said he yesterday while I was elucidating a point in our Bible reciting pertaining to the Fatherhood of God: "Seems like you'se got the strongest mind, Miss Janey, I ever saw. Nothing can't move you from your belief. You obeys every command of God but one, and you seems to live so near to God, and to love Him so, and yet that one thing you won't do." Ben is a very intelligent man, and I enjoy talking with him exceedingly. One other of my pupils is very interesting to me. His name is Burrell James, and he is about thirty years old. He wants very much to get an education, and studies nights after working hard during the day to support his family. He too feels badly because I do not belong to any church. They cannot bear to think that I am not a Christian, and yet the two things are inseparable to them.

I am very glad to hear from Charlotte by you, and wish I could hear more directly from her own dear self. Did she mention having received an unmercifully long letter from me? Or perhaps she has not had courage to read it yet. I don't think she does right to deny herself all literary enjoyment. I hope you told her so.

Oh dear, I wish I could see you. I want somebody to talk to. You asked me once about my companion. She is good and true but far from convivial. She never reads, and knows no more of literature than my colored friends--has less appreciation of the beautiful.

We have miserably cold weather. Today one of my little boys was so cold he could not help crying. I went up to him, and he said through his tears; "I have to walk four miles Miss Janey, an I specs dats what makes I get cold so quick." I told him I "spected" it was.

It is I am impatient now. I am waiting for your reply to my letter of last week. Please give my love to Mrs. Fisk and the rest. You--may have what you will.

Your friend as ever

Janie B. Smith

Box 88.


F. Fuller Fisk
Mast Yard, ??

I couldn't write for want of time but like the minister who forgot his sermon, "I give you a chapter of Job [God?] worth ten of it."


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