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Guide to the George W. McNear Letters
Wyles SC 144  
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Seventeen letters (ALS) from George William McNear to his wife Maria. In late 1865, McNear left his pregnant wife and two young daughters in Brooklyn, New York and traveled to New Orleans in search of business opportunities. Apparently, the steamer McNear took to Louisiana sank en route, and he lost all of his luggage. Nevertheless, he and his business partner opened Hallowell & McNear, a ship chandlery and grocery store on the New Orleans waterfront. He began writing home on 8 November 1865. Initially, McNear was excited and hopeful about his prospects, but soon came to view the move as a mistake. As the store's bookkeeper, he was very aware of their struggle to stay financially solvent while the city recovered from the Civil War. The hot climate had weakened him and made him prone to illness, which he complained about frequently. He also worried about epidemics of cholera and yellow fever which were in the news, especially since he had frequent contact with sailors. Within a month, McNear had decided to sell his share of the business and seek his fortune elsewhere, although his resolve would come and go as he waited for an opportunity. In the early weeks of 1866, he shifted his attention to his wife's anxieties about going through childbirth again, writing several letters trying to allay her fears and reassure her about the future. In his last letter, dated 22 January 1866, McNear wrote that he received a telegram announcing the birth of healthy girl. He also promised that he would soon decide whether to stay in New Orleans or return to New York.
.05 linear feet (1 folder)
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