ALD, My Little School

Oh, that was a trying year. I arranged with Roanoke College that John and Joe go there and Dr. Bittle and Dr. Davis sent me their daughters in exchange. We worked very hard. My dear mother at home, Jeanie and I at school. We taught all day until 4 p.m. and gave music lessons in the afternoon. This year I took boys and my father assisted with them. My mother had three young men for meals, Henry Fairfax, Fairfax Irving and a Mr. Snowden. She had a cook. Servants were reasonable then in price, so she had time to sew and see to things, but our life was very hard.

We did not know from day to day how we could live. My father had $30,000 due him and never could collect one cent but was forced to pay the $10,000 he owed on that untimely purchase. So our home had to be sold at less than half its value. It was heart breaking to them and to me who voluntarily undertook the responsibility. Jeannie was supposed to assume it also, but in 1869 in December the 31st she married Mr. Samuel White, and then I had an assistant to pay, not only her board but her salary. Of course this increased my obligations and everything was so uncertain. I had one boarder, Alice Smith, afterwards Mrs. Joshua Brown. Her board was paid by groceries and the sale of feather beds. We had more than we needed. And my mother had to sell old silver spoons that had belonged to Aunt Polly, the granddaughter of Governor Spotswood. My little brother Mercer always a brave boy, used to carry a spoon or fork every morning to Mr. Page, the jeweler and he would give him ninety cents and my mother used it to the best advantage. Flour was $14 a barrel but eggs, butter, meat, chickens, nor labor was so high.

My school proved a success. I did not visit, but helped in all church affairs. I remember an old folks concert in which I sang old fashioned songs and encored repeatedly. I had no practicing to do and nothing to woory* over as I wore a simple black silk (borrowed) and white kerchief and cap, also borrowed. We made over a hundred dollars for our little chapel which was then in progress of building. I went to the Wedding of Mary Griffin, a beautiful girl, and actually made a white overskirt and wore flowers in my hair. A cousin, Margie Logan, was married a few weeks thereafter and I wore the same dress. Jeannie was invited to be her bridesmaid. Margie made a lovely bride, but the poor child had a sad life.


I met this winter a cousin who was very kind to me, Robert H. Logan, a lawyer, trying to make his way too in the world. I thought him clever and handsome. He was so generous hearted and kind. He attracted me more than any man I had ever seen, not in any point of marriage, for such a possibility never entered my mind. I had too much else to think of. In December 1869 Jeannie was married in our little chapel. It was finished and decorated for Christmas, the first marriage and first decoration. I forget the details of the marriage. We could only give her $200 for the wedding. I had then an assistant, A Miss Lilla Boyden, daughter of Rev. Boydon of Cobham Albermarle County, Va. A Truly christian woman and satisfactory in every way, a delightful member of the family. We were devoted to her and much grieved at her death several years after of typhoid fever.

Another trouble, our house, the one we rented was sold to Dr. Oscar Wiley of Craig county who proved to be a steadfast lifelong friend, as did his wife. It was hard to find a house in Salem to rent and the expense of moving was an item to us poor things. We finally moved over the drug store in connection with a small house that was once owned by Mr. Penick. Here we were uncomfortably crowded and often hungry, our future impenetrable. My school was flourishing. There was great rivalry between schools, kept up by the pupils. A great deal was said of me by the puritans of the school, but I had friends among Presbyterians, although they did not patronize me.

John came and spent the summer. We stayed two years, and our school was quite an accomplished fact. I paid the rent, bought all the wood, paid the servants, doctor’s bills, had washing and sewing done. etc., so I felt glad and hoped to stay in Salem where so many were kind. Jeanie lived four miles in the country and came when she could. In December Jeanie’s oldest son was born. He was named Alexander after Sam White’s father. This was an event and we thought the little fellow fine.

This brings us to 1871. The public Schools were now instituted in Virginia so of course my school, like all others were decreased in numbers. Miss Boyden, I could not afford so I engaged Miss Bittle for half a day and we got along beautifully. She was a clever girl.

This summer my friend Mrs. James Andrews paid me a short visit and I returned with her for the rest of the summer. I enjoyed the time she was entertained once or twice in Salem. I remember a beautiful lunch given by Marion Hansbrough which Mrs. Andrews appreciated. She and her husband bothe* were faithful friends. When school was over I was completely broken down and as Mrs. Andrews gave me the trip. I was glad to go to gain rest and strength for the coming session. We went to Richmond. Mrs. Andrews wished to visit the battlefields around Richmond and Petersburg. When I arrived at the Exchange I heard of the death of a friend, Willie Worthington, who after the war went to New York City to live. I knew him well, he had visited intimately at our home Dungeness. He died of tuberculosis. Although I did not admire him altogether, he was too worldly, yet I liked him and regretted his death. I was feeling so badly I could not go around Mrs. Andrews and stayed in bed while she went alone.


Though feeling so badly, I enjoyed my visit for I loved her whole family, her husband especially was the soul of honor and generosity. Her boy Jimmie was very attractive and her mother was a fine type of woman. Now the whole family are dead, not one left. I know they were offended with me because I refused to marry Mr. Andrews nephew Robert Ripley.

This summer Joe and Mercer went to Tennessee to work with Mr. W.E. Brown John came from New York for a month. He was in the law office of Lord, Day and Lord. where he received a small salary. Our friend Rev. Wendell Prime got him the place. George came also and we enjoyed them. George was always a handsome fellow. John developed into an elegant young man and very clever. I could say more abount* them but have little strength or time. I get very tired. I must not forget the Valley Railroad which gave us all such hope for Salem’s future. The president, Robert Garrett of Baltimore visited us and the engineers we knew and strange to say we were all related, Dick Randolph, chief engineer, Richard Bolling, Ward, Buchanan, were to see us whenever in town. They worded* near Hollins. We enjoyed them and they did us. A great deal was done between Salem and Lexington. It was a woeful disappointment when the project was abandoned.

(about*, worked*)

Mr. Garrett, the president, was very nice to us. They all were. Mr. Garrett gave me a position playfully one evening and said I should have a trip to Baltimore the first trip. That I never had but the position I got for Mercer. It was asked for for* Joe but he had decided to teach so I got it transferred for Mercer. They had come from Tennessee. George went out to fill Williams place who came home with typhoid fever. I had the best doctor in town. Aunt Martha and my mother did the nursing. Jeannie had a home now and Edith Nellie and Strother went with her. Her boy was a delight to them and Sam was always so kind they felt at home, and Jeannie is such bright company. Mercer recovered but could not go back to Tennessee. After he got strong I applied to Mr. Garrett and he gave the promised place. Jimmie got a clerkship at Yellow Sulphur Springs while he was there I went up on a visit to Cousin Elsie, my cousin Bob’s mother. I stayed three weeks. She was very kind and introduced me to very pleasant people. My cousin was there and added to my pleasure. He very kindly took me to Mountain, Va. a trip through the mountainous country. As we drove up the mountain there was a thunder storm. We had to drive on. In that unsettled region there was no place to stop. We drove up and up until we drove through the clouds unto the sun which was shining beyound*. Mountain Lake is a remarkable formation which in the memory of man had formed there and had no visible outlet. My cousin was very agreeable, bright and clever. He was educated at West Point Military Academy and would have graduated in July 1861 but deserted in April. All Virginians deserted where the call was made to arms by President Lincoln.


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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