May, Sam[ue]l J., letter, Syracuse, [N.Y.], March 9, 1855, to "Uncle Peter " [Peter Still]


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Mar. 9

Dear Uncle Peter.

I was glad to receive your letter of the 1st and to learn from it that you are well and your family well provided for.

This afternoon Mrs Reynolds came to see me. I read your letter to her. She told me that she had no doubt her daughter Mrs. Pickard would undertake to write the Memoir of your life. The life of Seth Conklin should be embodied in it, or published in the Appendix. — I supposed that Dr Furness intended to complete the sketch he has so well commenced and publish it with his own name upon

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it, which would attract still more the the public attention. I hope he will do so. It now seems to me that the work should be entitled this "Memoirs of the Life of Peter Still, forty two years a Slave; of his remarkable restoration to liberty, and to his aged mother and her children; together with the subsequent liberation of his family. By Mrs. Emily Pickard; to which is added a sketch of the life of Seth Conklin, who was sacrificed himself in an attempt to deliver the family of Mr Still by Rev Wm H. Furness DD." This will intimate to you what I think the book should be and something like the above should be its title.

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Whenever you please to come on, Mrs. Pickard will be happy to make the necessary arrangements with you. But before you come, you had better see Dr. Furness and learn from him what he prefers to do or have done in the matter. His memoir of Seth Conklin is exceedingly interesting. We shall be very glad to see you, and your wife and your children. But if they have got good places, it wouldn't be wise to get them off, and take them from place to place - exhibiting them to your friends and the public. That would get them into unsettled, unthrifty habits.

— Your sincere friend,

Sam. J. May.

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⟨ I will help you all in my power ⟩



May, Sam[ue]l J., letter, Syracuse, [N.Y.], March 9, 1855, to "Uncle Peter " [Peter Still]


The Rev. Samuel J. May acknowledges the receipt of Peter Still’s recent letter, which contained news that Still’s family will be provided for; indicates that Mrs. Reynolds is sure that her daughter, Mrs. Emily Pickard, would write Still’s narrative; opines that information about Seth Conklin’s life should be included in the volume, even if Dr. Furness publishes his own account of Conklin; suggests a title for the work about the Stills; advises Still to talk with the Rev. Furness about his Conklin essay before coming (to New York state) to confer with Mrs. Pickard; and proposes that Still avoid taking his formerly enslaved children from place to place to show them off, as it would not be good for them.


Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries




public domain


3 p.




May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871, “May, Sam[ue]l J., letter, Syracuse, [N.Y.], March 9, 1855, to "Uncle Peter " [Peter Still],” Peter Still Digital Edition, accessed June 22, 2024,

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