Thursday, August 16, 2007

Josiah Flagg's 1786 letter about Petersburg

Josiah Flagg wrote from Petersburg in 1786 to his “Dear Coz” as follows:

“This is the most dirty place I ever saw. Nine months of the year the mud is half leg deep, it is a very sickly place owning in great measure to its situation, the Streets are very Irregular, and not a Respectable Building in the Borough, it stands upon the River Appomattox, the water thereof is almost Stagnant as it is navigable for ships of 500 tons one hundred and twenty miles, the Vapors arising from it contaminate the air, with the most pestilential disorders. Agues and fevers of every kind prevail.
“What is the reason that so many merchants are induced to Established Houses there and sacrifice their health? Why their own private emolument. As it is in the heart of a rich County, where remittances may be easily made to their correspondents. The soil is peculiar to the culture of Tobacco, Rice, Corn &c. which are staple commodities. The Virginians as a people are given to luxury and dissipation of every kind, ad are supported in their extravagance by Africa’s sable sons, who they consign to the most Abject Slavery.
A young lady is not valued here for her accomplishments or personal charms, but for the number of Negroes and plantations she possesses, so that merit is out of question. I have not seen a handsome figure since I have been in the place, nor indeed one whose rusticity is wholly obliterated. As to the language, they have as many barbarisms as our most countrified market girls…”[1]


Josiah Flagg was born: 24 Jul 1763, Boston MA, the son of Josiah Flagg (1738-1795) and Elizabeth Hawke (1741-1816); died September 16, 1816; buried Cemetery of the Circular Church Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina. Working as a miniaturist in Boston, 1783 and Baltimore, 1784, He was also a musician and practiced dentistry in Boston. He is credited with making in 1790 the first true dental chair, adding a headrest and an extended armrest to a Windsor chair. He apparently had some training in silversmithing with Paul Revere, especially its use in dentistry. A piece of silver with mark attributed to Josiah Flagg has been located in Cutten Collection indicating he may have worked as a silversmith at one time. Whether this is his mark or that of his son, is not known. Listed by other silver authorities. 3 What he did for work while in Petersburg in 1786 is unknown. He married Hannah Collins, about 1788.

[1] New Engaland Hist. & Gen. Register, Vol. 27, 1873, p. 251-2.


Anonymous said...

Marvelous! I was definitely creating a write-up on the identical subject last week. Then the following evening, I found your current page which in turn is far better of piece of content than I wrote.

Anonymous said...

Found this post just when it wasneeded. Thank you very much. It's been really valuable

Anonymous said...

hey there wonderful insight data expressing, expect this can be really helpful for everybody

Anonymous said...

An extremely exceptional and also useful content here. My partner and i seen it and looked over everything again