ALD, I Married Robert

I enjoyed my cousin’s many West Point stories. He loved to tell of his experiences there to the day of his death. He was placed in charge of camps at Lynchburg to train soldiers and afterwards was at Fort Donalson with General Floyd, and was there when it was captured. He escaped as the prisoners were brough* over the Mississippi River, was a fine swimmer, and though shot at several times escaped and stayed in the bushes for three days without food. He finally found friends, returned to the army and was in command of a regiment. He fought in many battles. In the Battle of Winchester he was promoted for gallantry. He had two horses killed from under him but he was not wounded. He wrote me a full history of his was* record but that, and all my valuable papers, letters, pictures, books, manuscripts were destroyed in the Atlanta fire.

(brought*, war*)

I returned to my work. I had a dear little girl, Nellie Dimmock to board with me. She and my sister Nellie were two dear children together. Nellie had a lovely voice and was quite clever. She was always satisfactory and so dependable.

Our family now began to scatter. John, struggling in a law office in New York City, George in Atlanta, Ga. as clerk in Chamberlain and Johnsons, Jimmie teaching in the family of Mrs. Cook in Greenville, Va. Oh, Jimmie, my beautiful brother, so everything that is lovely, clever, and good. I love th* think of you dear, so attractive and beautiful.


Emmie is still a devoted friend, married and lives in Baltimore. She and her husband visited me  and I went twice to see her. She had had what seemed her misfortunes like all have. Emmie’s stepmother and I have been faithful friends from our schooldays. We have corresponded since 1859. That year I visited her at her home, Sherwood, in Gloucester, Va. I had a most delightful visit, enjoying every member of her family and the hospitality of her charming neighbors. From her home Mrs. Selden carried us to visit relatives in Norfolk and to Old Point. This was my very first visit to a watering place*. There I met friends and it was joyous. But in our life the bitter and sweet come together. When I went home in about three weeks the typhoid fever developed and I suffered greatly–ill unto death. There were no trained nurses and my family and friends were worn out. All expected me to die, the communion administered. I was in a state of coma, but conscious, but could not speak. If I could feel it necessary I could tell a great deal more of this illness, but I haven’t time or strength. I was six months recuperating and my friends welcomed me as a return from a far country.

(*a place that serves alcohol)

I must not dwell on days gone by, but come back to my story, our struggles and trials in Salem. Each summer the boys came home, the school went on. I had to borrow money to buy a piano. I borrowed from my friend Colonel George P. Taylor. Rev. Mr. Ingle purchased a Steinway in Washington D.C. This hampered me but I could not go on giving lessons on the old one, and my sister Nellie and Edith had to be instructed. Music was thought a necessary party* of Education. My cousin proposed marriage but I could not desert my family not marry in debt. And we had the misfortune to have my little brother fall from a tree and injured his back. He was in bed for weeks. Of course this added to our expense. The spoons, feather beds, cut glass and china were all sold, so demands on me were to* great to think of matrimony. But I gave him my promise. He was doing fairly well in his profession and gaining favor among older lawyers, Judge Staples, Mr. Johnson and others. That year, 1871, and the next were very hard on my*. I was broken down in health, in debt and had no help. Jeannie was married and I had to pay board for a teacher and a salary, Mercer’s attack of pneumonia, Strother’s fall — both Doctor’s bills to meet.

(part*, too*, me*)

But my determination to help my mother and father never flagged*, though I was often tired and wondered how it would end. There were so many of us, it was a trying ordeal. My cousin persisted and I resisted. The public school had reduced my school. Some of my best paying scholars went to boarding school. My cousin begged that I would let him help. He prescribed his case that I would add to his comfort, that he could pay his board and mine and that this would greatly aid my poor tired mother, and as the family were all in favor I was no longer obdurate and agreed. So we were married on a very cold December morning in 1871, and went to Lotheringgay, the ancestral home of his mother’s people, the Edmundsons. Here we spent a week and then turned to work.


I will mention in passing that I spent $100 on my trousseau, had a few presents from my nothern* friends and my dear mother gave me one dozen cut glass tumblers and a counterpane, and old fashioned Marseilles, inherited from the grand daughter of Governor Spottswoods. Some of my family have thought and said that I had all that was left. I wish to say that I haven’t one article from Dungeness that I did not pay for in cash. The pieces of silver, my husband bought for $300, the price my mother offered it to strangers for. I could not see it go, so we borrowed money and saved it so it is my very own. I do not wish to be misunderstood by those I love so well. I had receipts but like other valuables they were burned in the Atlanta fire.


1872 was a much happier and more restful year. We felt the comfort of a strong arm to lean on, and I saw Bob happy and improved, more serious and thoughtful. Others remarked on it. I remember at a church festival given by Lutheran Church Dr. Biddle, president of Roanoke came to me and said, “Ah, madam. I consider you a greater reformer than Martin Luther.”

“How?” I asked wonderingly.

“Why you have made a tame man out of a wild one.”

“Ah, Dr. the material was there or I could not have brought it out.”

“Yes, yes, that is true. Robert is a fine fellow.”

In the spring Jeannie had a second son, James Logan. He grew to be a favorite of mine and is still. This year I only taught half a day in the morning. We had two sessions, Miss Julia Bittle taking afternoons. In the summer we had our reunion. We still lived over the drugstore, but we crowded in and enjoyed it, at least I did.

On September 9th, 1872 a dear little girl came to us. My mother named her for my dear sister Mary Louisa, which pleased me, though I wanted her named Sarah for my mother. She was a joy to the household.

I taught school in the afternoon and gave music lessons. We had a visit from Cousin Elsie, Bob’s mother, a dear old lady whom we all enjoyed. She sent the Baby Mollie a cow after she left, which was a pleasure to the family. We had been limited in our supply of milk since we left Dungeness. We got on pretty well. Bob was a great help, and was always so bright and cheerful. My father and mother and family were devoted to him.

I played the organ in church and Sunday school. In the summer I paid Jeannie a visit. She had two boys, so the babies kept us busy. In the fall my duties began, the boys went to the vocations, John to N.Y. city, George to Atlanta. Jim and Joe were teaching. Joe got a position as tutor in the family of Mrs. George Willis, Jim taught in the family of Mrs. Cook. Both gave satisfaction.

Mollie walked then at 13 months and talked very clearly. She was a very attractive little thing with lovely eyes and hair. A very winsome child, everyone spoiled her, the family and schoolchildren. When 13 months old she had a nurse, a girl about 16 years old who lived with us eight years and nursed all my children, a faithful, efficient girl.


About Dawn Quarles

Dawn Quarles is a high school political science and American history teacher who moonlights as a blogger and writer. She lives on Pensacola Beach, Florida.

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