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Letter from Mordecai Collins to Solomon Henkel

Collins, Mordecai
Place Made:
Davidson County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
paper –ink
Closed = HOA 12 1/2; WOA 7 7/8″
Open = HOA 12 1/2″; WOA 15 3/4″
Accession Number:
A letter from the Davidson County, North Carolina, cabinetmaker Mordecai Collins to Solomon Henkel dated January 30, 1803.

TRANSCRIPTION: Ink on paper, letter written by Mordecai Collins. The letter reads: “(front) Dr Solom 25 Henckel N_ / Virginia Shanado / County New / Market; (inside) North Carolina Rowan County Goldenspring January/ The 30 1803 misster Henry Rubbert / and his family are all well / and harty and i hope that this / letter will find you so and / your family i hope that you / will come and see us for i / think that your shop dont / woant much locken for i think / that the fire has lock it so more / you can come and see us / all bet you are too proud / for to come and see us but / you think that it is not worth / while to come and see us be cause / we live in the woods but the / peopel that lives in the woods / can live better than the / town jocky for if thay cant / git nothing els thay can git / possom baken a plenty and / squarel too and seed tick baken / too and you must p__thes / a lod of good for us and / we will driv a drov out / of possoms and seed tickes too / and we will re tale them / cheap at to dollars a 100 and / if you cant no good we / will take schips and whetsome / and if you cant pay it / in that we will lake salts for peny must hav a / purg for peny must / be fisic id for he must / run so much that he must / have a purg or he will / dry and then we cant / ketch no more possoms / then we cant live / if tall – Mordecai Collins; (back) Send and answer / to match this / Mordecai Collins / Jan. 30 1803.”

*Note – incorrect spellings have been copied from actual letter.

AUTHOR: Mordecai Collins was born in Shenandoah County, VA, but nothing of his parentage or early life is known. In October of 1802 he accompanied Henry Rupert, the son-in-law of Reverend Paul Henkel (1754-1825), the well known Lutheran minister from New Market, Virginia, to Davidson County, North Carolina. Collins presumably came to work as an apprentice in Rupert’s carpentry/cabinetmaking shop. (Reverend Henkel, his wife, and the youngest members of their family lived in Davidson County from 1800 to 1805 while Reverend Henkel acted as a Lutheran missionary.) The master craftsman Collins trained with prior to this move is uncertain. He may have trained with Rupert, or he may have trained with another woodworker in Shenandoah County. An 1803 letter (Acc. 5040) written by Collins, then in Davidson County, to Solomon Henkel, Rev. Henkel’s son living in New Market, suggests that Collins was very friendly with the entire Henkel family.

REFERENCES: For a detailed study of the Clodfelter-Collins-Swisegood-Clodfelter school of cabinetmaking see: June Lucas, “Piedmont North Carolina’s Swisegood School of Cabinetmaking: Expanding the Narrative, 1770–1858” in The 2015 MESDA Journal.

RELATED OBJECTS: MESDA owns a chest of drawers (acc. 5887) by Mordecai Collins.

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Catherine Miller