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Collection Title:Westerman (William) Document

Collection Number: M110

Dates:1823

Volume:1 Item

Provenance:Donated by Bill Morrow on May 14, 1956.

Copyright:This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Educational opportunities in Mississippi during the early years of the nineteenth century were severely limited. Families who could afford the expense sent their children to New Orleans or to Europe for their education, while others chose to hire private tutors.

In Warren County, Mississippi, public schools did not operate until after 1845. Prior to that time, due to the lack of state-funded educational institutions, many people in the area relied on the services of private tutors such as William Westerman. Tutors regularly advertised their services in local newspapers and then signed contracts with an individual, or group of individuals, effective for a certain period of time. Paid a monthly salary based on the number of children under their care, tutors such as Westerman were required to teach only the basic fundamentals, mainly reading, writing, and arithmetic. In some cases, other subjects such as Latin or French were required, depending on the social status of the employer. People hiring private tutors were usually prominent within the community and sufficiently affluent to afford the expense.

Among the families employing William Westerman as a tutor were the Hyland, Rawls, and Gibson families of Warren County, Mississippi. The Hyland family, one of the first families to settle in the south of Warren county, had resided in the area since the turn of the century. Between 1818-1827, Jacob Hyland served in the county legislature, while James Hyland watched over the family business and plantation. Associates of the Hylands included the Gibson Family and the Rawls Family (who arrived in the area at the same time as the Hylands). David Gibson arrived in Warren County in 1826 and built the family plantation. Following his death, his sons, including Levi R. Gibson, remained in the area until the 1830s when Levi Gibson moved to Le Flore County.

No information is available concerning the life and activities of William Westerman.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains a single sheet document -- a contract agreement between William Westerman and twelve individuals of Warren County, Mississippi. In the contract, Westerman agrees to teach the children of the signers at a rate of $2.50 per child, per month. The contract is for a total of ten months, during which time Westerman agrees to teach reading, writing, grammar, and mercantile arithmetic. Westerman also agrees to make up any time lost due to personal illness or absence from the school. The signers agree to the price of Westerman's services and indicate at the bottom of the printed contract that a total of sixteen children will be under Westerman's tutelage. The document is signed by twelve individuals: Jacob, James, and Christopher Hyland; Claudius Rawls; Levi R. Gibson; Abel Wright; James Clark; Archibald Erwin; Edmund Reeves; Gabriel Burnham; Jesse Wright; and Jackson Downs, all residents of Warren County in the 1820s and 1830s. The signature of William Westerman does not appear on the contract, which became effective on Monday, November 10, 1823.

This item may be of interest to anyone researching the history of education in Mississippi during the early years of the nineteenth century, particularly in Warren County and the Vicksburg area. Also, those studying legal history may find some value in the document.


Created by: Bobs M. Tusa
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Revised: November 10, 2004