The Summer of 1850

The summer of 1850 my father and mother took their northern trip. I don’t know what they would’ve done without our dear aunt who was so efficient in every way. I remember their account of their trip to Saratoga, N.Y. and to Niagara through the Great Lakes to Montreal. I well remember the lovely wax dolls which they brought us. We never had many toys, as children didn’t in those days, and had never seen a wax doll. Our delight was unbounded. Those wax dolls, oh the joy they gave us.

I must have been 13 when Miss Grugg* left. The year 1854 brought us great sorrow. Our dear little sister Ellen had brain fever and died in July. This lovely little thing, so beautiful and sweet, left us, we know to live in heaven, but our hearts ached. I believe if an artist, I could paint the dream or vision. We children to give place to friends who stayed to comfort us in our grief slept on pallets in our school house in the yard. I saw so distinctly in the clouds, the snowy piles we often see passing over the sky. As I looked there was a rift in the snowy mass and just then her dear little face with her golden crown flowing as she smiled, perfect in face and full of health floated through the rift. She had been so pale and emaciated from her severe illness. I was grateful then and have thanked God ever since for this wonderful vision. I see it again in my waking hours and it shows God’s love.

(misspelled, should be Grubb*)

Before I begin on <my> Boarding school experience I will tell of two pleasant inmates of our family. My mother’s niece, Roberta Hansbrough who lived with us for two years while while Miss Grubb was our teacher was a pretty girl and we all loved “Berta”. She grew up very handsome and married Judge William Williams of Orange C.H. Virginia, and died when in mature life. The other inmate was Sallie Coles who rode over Monday morning and back Friday afternoon. She was devoted to us and the families had been firm friends. Her brother Walter grew to be a prominent physician of St. Louis. He was a devoted lover of my sister and a firm friend of mine. He married first Miss Preston and second Miss Pendleton, very attractive women. We deeply regretted their good fortune when an uncle in Albemarle county left them a fine estate and they moved there to live. I have ever retained their friendship, nearly all a family of sic* dead, but my friend Sallie is living, a handsome and attractive old lady of 76.

(perhaps “six”)

Our life on the plantation was as perfect to my mind as this mortal life can be. The house was small at first, but the estate of 1200 acres was beautifully situated on James River, and Kanaw canal connected us with Richmond. A slow mode of travel, but people did not live at lightening speed as now, so we liked the slow transportation. How often I have longed to hear the “toot, toot” of the packet horn and the impatient tramp of the horses. There was a stable on our place where horses were changed.

My father was a fine farmer. His neighbors often chaffed him on his beautiful culture and called Dungeness “Jim Logan’s garden”.  I see now the immense fields of grain, acres of tobacco and corn, oats and rye. The lowlands lying between canal and river were very productive. These needed no fertilizing and were a mine of wealth. The crops yielded well, often the tobacco alone brought in $10,000. Of course it took a vast deal of money to provide for our large family of twelve children and nearly two hundred slaves.

Think of the care and responsibility my parents had. It was like an industrial school, different vocations for them. House servants, cooks, waitresses, butlers, laundresses, carpenters, gardeners, shoe makers, blacksmiths, dairy maids, pastry cooks, dessert cooks and tailoresses. All these things were taught. They were allowed to choose, and most of them chose the field work. My father rode on his fine horse every day to see them at their work and to direct the manager or head man as he was called. Sometimes a white man, sometimes one of the trusted slaves. They preferred the white man, although they were frequently dismissed for injustice and cruelty. Our slaves loved us. My mother was wonderful in her management and executive ability. Every article of clothing passed through her hands, even their socks and shoes, and every particle of food she saw weighed out to the ones of the families who were too young to work. The cook for the family prepared the meals for the field hands. She had as many scullions as she demanded and was boss of that department.

Every garment my mother saw cut out and given to various seamstresses. They were given what they liked to do. Here too was a boss, Lucy Parrish, who never forgot her aristocratic blood, the fact that her old mistress, Mrs. Payne, was granddaughter of Governor Spotswood. She always made the preserves and pickles and I was always called on to help. My aunt, a wonderful housekeeper, headed this department. Such wonderful concoctions of sugar and fruit! Pickles of every variety, wines, cordials and jellies in quantities. There was no stint in those good old times. Will I ever forget the lovely sweetmeats, the citron baskets. We raised the citron in our conservatory.

My aunt abashed my mother greatly in the culture of flowers, of which we possessed every variety. We did not have to county* the pennies. My aunt was also a wonderful seamstress. There were no sewing machines then, no ready made clothes. Everything was made by hand. My aunt taught me to sew. I well remember the first handkerchief I hemmed. Seven times I had to take the stitches out. But I learned to sew.

(perhaps count*)

We children had no toys, only rag dolls, wooden blocks for tables and our china, bits of broken crockersy.* We had split bottom chairs and stools made by Old Uncle Martin. He made us little brooms, and we loved those things. We had our fun, riding to the barn on the ox carts and mule wagon. The servants were always kind. The barn was about a quarter of a mile up the road and in sight of our house and my mother knew we were safe. Those slaves we felt were our protection.


The old time machinery. I remember a contrivance not unlike the “merry-go-round” operated inside where the wheat was threshed. The mules were hitched to beams of the great wheel outside. This was literally our merry-go-round. We would run in between the beams and climb on the beams. On each beam was a little darky to drive the mules and they would always help us. It was great fun. I remember one day our minister drove by on his way to see us. The minister loved to visit us. This was Rev. Francis M. Whittle. He caught sight of my frowsy head and stopped and took me in.

“Come child”, he said. “Your head looks like a “Hoorah’s nest”. I never forgot this and we spoke in after years of it, when he was Bishop of Virginia after his imprisonment by the Federals, which was before he was made Bishop. I loved and reverenced this brave Christian man.

I have another golden memory. Before this, our Rector was Rev. Joseph Wilmer, afterwards Bishop of Louisiana. He presented my sister and me our first prayer books, and the joy of that gift still abides with me. I see now our names, Mary L. Logan and Anna C. Logan on the binding. We thought it was the most elegant thing and each declared hers the most beautiful. It was a treasure which I loved, and it was a sorrow when during one of the Northern Raids it was destroyed. I shed bitter tears.

Our church was seven miles away. It was called St. Pauls. I visited it about 15 years ago. I do not remember its first rector, but he was a great friend of my father.

Our Rectors

Richard Wilmer

Joseph Wilmer, afterwards Bishop of Louisiana

Francis M. Whittle, afterwards Bishop of Virginia

Erskine M. Rodman

George D.E. Mortimer

Mr. Jope

All are now dead.

It is a coincidence that the first three were made Bishops in the same order that they ministered to us. I met Bishops Richard Wilmer and Whittle both in Richmond during the Civil War. Bishop Richard Wilmer lived there several years. During the latter part he used to hold afternoon services at St. Pauls church. He would read in his glorious voice simply the Litany. The church would be crowded with sorrowing women. We arose from our knees as though we had a benediction, such was the wondrous power of his melodious voice and his earnestness.

It was decided that my sister and I must go to boarding school, the house was to be added to, and there could be no governess. Great preparations were made. Napkins, sheets, pillow slips and silver knives, forks and spoons were marked with our names. We thought it all very elegant. So rejoicing, our parents took us. We felt so proud we did not mind leaving home. We had the first trip on the train and arrived in Georgetown. We went to the school, our names were registered, rooms selected, and I did not like the looks of things. Everything was so plain. I was not going to stay. I made up my mind to that so when we went back to the hotel I announced that I was going home the next day with my parents. Somehow my pleading were acceeded* to and the next day we bade my sister goodbye and left. It proved well I was allowed to return, for I had an abcess in my breast, from which I suffered much. After my return my parents engaged a teacher, a Miss Nevins from Boston, a clever, bright woman and faithful instructress. By this time Jennie, George, and John went to school and Sallie Coles. In May 28 of the following year, Edith was born, named Edith Erskine, the Erskine being for our rector of whom we saw a great deal. He was devoted to my parents.

(perhaps “acceded”)








About Dawn Quarles

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

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