As I said previously we decided to leave the beloved home, my father, mother, and children to go to Ashland, the boys, Jim and Joe to go to Randolph Macon college, Edith, Mercer and Nellie to go to a private school. Strother was only five years old, George rented the farm, John went to teach with Mr. Dabney, Jeanie and I to go to Salem to teach. We were to meet at Dungeness and decide again what was best to do. So with sad yet glad hearts we started to make our fortunes. I had no money. My cousin loaned me some on my pioneer trip to Salem. My friend Rev. G.W. Prime rented the house in Ashland. If we failed in Salem we were to go to Ashland. I had no southern friend that (had) a penny more than I did, so being obliged to fulfil my engagement I went to Richmond to see my father’s commissioner and found him out of town. What to do then. I must have expressed my feelings, for Mr. Cardaza’s partner said, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Read more
This summer we had crowds for weeks and passersby, once for three weeks a regiment, all that was left off Colonel Stevensons Kentucky regiment. Our very great friend Major John Reeve was in this command. We had the horses and servants to feed and were glad to do it. Our friends were completely nonplussed. They could not go home. An old cousin, Dr. James from Lancaster, Virginia stopped by to see us and stayed several months. He came to Petersburg in search of his son, who was wounded at the Battle of the Crater and he could hear nothing. He could not find him at Petersburg, so came to us. Poor man, he asked anxiously of every passing soldier they could tell him of his son. After many weeks he had the news that he had died of his wound. There was no communication and nobody had any money, so he stayed on until finally my father let him have the money, $40, with which he bought a horse and left for home. We were sorry to see him go. He was my father’s first cousin, a clever mn*, highly educated, and an old fashioned Virginia gentleman. We met him afterwards in Salem where we both lived and our families were very intimate. Read more
But I have again digressed. George was still in the 4th Virginia cavalry, and John was crazy to go. A friend of Jeanie’s came on a visit and offered to take John as his aid. He was colonel of a regiment, so finally our parents consented. John was a fine horseman and a good shot, so he was allowed to go. Colonel Bolton let him take a servant, George Nicholas, one of our dining room boys. There was great excitement in the family, white and black, when they left. Read more
Well, we lived anxious and sad. We went to Richmond to see friends. I stayed often with our cousins the Bookers who lived on Clay street just opposite of Jefferson Davis, so I saw the Davis’ a good deal in their domestic life. Mrs. Davis and her sister Miss Margaret Howell, I admired them physically. They, especially Mrs. Davis, were very clever and brilliant in society, but her lack of innate refinement was too evident. President Davis was greatly her superior. He was as refined as he looked, always the gentleman. The children were very attractive. I saw them very often–Maggie, Jeff and Joe. Read more
We had no hope and wrote to our friends in New York who set to work to find him in the Northern prisons. For four months we thought he must be dead and our home was very sad. In my absence in Richmond trying to get news, George’s horse was sent home by the Captain. I was not at home but the family told me how the horse seemed to know his rider was gone. He would turn his head toward the saddle and neigh. The servants, always emotional, cried and gave evidence of distress, When the saddle bags were opened and all his belongings so neatly packed, they cried out, “Oh Lord, why did Marse George go to fight them Yankees!” Read more
It is with GREAT excitement that I am able to give each one of my students in all of my American history classes their very own printed manuscript of the new book, Witness to the American Century (formerly titled “Where Do We Get Such Men?” and also formerly titled “Accidental Odyssey”). They are totally devouring it, and already they want to meet Pops, they want to see the planes at the Pensacola NAS Museum, they want to learn the prisoner tap code (we’re doing that on Monday) and they want to know more about why I hate Communism so much. (Oh…and do I plan to tell them!) It is such an invigorating way to teach the history I love so much.
What more in the world could I ask for?