Valedictory by William Ross, Leona Male Academy, Leona, Texas

I have tried to copy this as accurately as possible. The penmanship is very good. They made some letters differently, like the double "ss" which looks a lot like a p or f. Plus I think spelling and words may have been different then. I had to guess at many words and some I could not make out. I was not going to change spelling or punctuation, but in some cases I think I did. At least, it will give a little insight into an intelligent young man.
 
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Leona, March the 16th 1864

Valedictory by Mr. William Ross

Ladies and Gentlemen, You not expect one of my age to entertain you with high flown language or eloquent words, nor will you be delighted with the phrases of the Rhetorician nor will your ears be tickled with the concise reasoning of the Logician, those thing I will leave for one of riper years, mine shall be merely the offering of a school boy. The first question which arises is why am I in Leona Why did I leave my parental roof. Why did I deprive myself of those sacred privileges and happiness which are enjoyed only around the hearthstone of my birthplace, the response is, Education alone has brought me to leave my childhood home to spend a few short months in Leona. I am happy to say the kindness of her citizens has render my stay so pleasant, I have met the lovers of Education here. I have found friends here. The hospitalities of Leona have never been withheld from me. The dull monotony of the School room has been converted into pleasant past times. Citizens of Leona I thank you for your kindness and when I am gone from among you and my mind will recur to the past the pleasant reminiscences of Leona will cause my heart to Pulsate with Joyous emotion. And now dear School mates I cannot Forbear without addressing you. I know not how ( word left out?) feel upon occasion, as for myself I feel quite solemn. To know that congenial spirits are about to be separated to know that those happy hours are about to end with us. We will separate this evening, never to be assembled together again under the same roof as School mates. The few short months which we have passed together are gone almost like a dream. Peace and happiness has reigned supreme in our midst. The welkin ( could this mean welcome) has been made to ring with joyous notes emanating from joyous hearts. Yes and as the evening Zephyr floats along the trees. Me thinks it stops and snathes (snatches ?) up the joyous sound from happy hearts and spreads it abroad in soft notes that we are spending the happiest moments of our life. Alas those happy those happy days are gone forever never to be realized by us again and can we truly ask ourselves if we have profited by our assembling. The labors bestís weal upon us are they are bread cast upon waters to be gathered up many days hence. I fear that it is too much like water poured upon the hard limestone rock to pass away without effect. I fear that we have not passed those golden moments in a proper manner. You are aware my dear School Mates that we are living in a momentous age. An age when menís souls are tried, an age in which many black spots are developed. This should prompt us to live up to our duty. The horrors of civil war are distracting our sunny South from center to circumference. The great struggle for liberty is going requiring every man even from the silver head sire down to the tender youth, to support the young tree of liberty planted by our fathers. How well long will it be before we hear the call to aid them. The sweet notes of Liberty and peace will soon be wafted to us by every wind even the lone shepherd in his prairie home will stricke chards upon his tablet and cymbal in union to those given others and the sweet sound will swell to Earth remotest bounds, then the tree of liberty will strike its roots deep. Its boughs will spread and notions depressed will come and enjoy her cool shades. And the young gentlemen of Leona Male Academy our (hour) will come to nurture the principals given to us by our fathers now in the field. Weíll __ be re___ in our duty. Will we let liberty droop and die. No no I see the response depicted in every one of your countenances. You are aware that this government will soon be upon our shoulders. We must educate and prepare for the labors which awaits us if we never meet again while boy let us meet as compeers in our great nations affairs for rest assured these things await us and they will surely come. And in saying you farewell let us pledge ourselves to seek virtue shun levity and vice, and let the teachings of the New Testament be the more of our counsel. And if we are not able to occupy the temples of fame let us drink deep at the fountain which gurgles from its base. Farewell.

Leona is a very small town in Leon County, north of Madisonville.