Tuesday, July 7, 2015

153, 154. Jane Evans and Lydia Anna Evans

Two Evans girls were with the Mordecai school when it opened in 1809: Jane Evans was there from 1809 until mid-1811, and her sister Lydia Anna Evans (sometimes written as Lydianna, which might reflect how it was pronounced) was there until the end of 1810.  They came from Oakland, an estate near Petersburg, Virginia, and had Dr. George Evans as the name attached to their accounts in the school ledger.  The Mordecai family discussed the Evans girls in letters, beginning even before their arrival:
"The house is full of girls and... in a few weeks Lidyanna & Jane Evans will come Mrs. Johnson is now at Oakland and they will return with her." (Ellen to Samuel, 16 April 1809, Jacob Mordecai Papers at Duke)
The family were, obviously from their name, Welsh in ancestry. The girls' father Dr. George Evans (c1755-1822).  He moved South from Pennsylvania to Virginia after the Revolutionary War, in which he served as a surgeon.  Their mother was the former Mary Peyton (d. 1818).  The girls' much older sister Mary Evans married William R. Johnson, a notable Warrenton resident, in 1803. (That's the Mrs. Johnson mentioned above and below.)

Marriage announcement, Governor William Miller and Lydiana Evans (1816).
The marriage announcement of Governor William Miller and Lydiana Evans
Weekly Raleigh Register (June 7, 1816): 3.
From Newspapers.com

Lydia Anna Evans (d. 1818) left the Mordecai school at the end of 1810; she married almost six years later, to William Miller, at Chesterfield, Virginia, in May 1816 (see announcement above). William Miller was a Warrenton man, well known to the Mordecais, but at the time of the wedding he was well-known throughout the state--because he was the Governor of North Carolina from 1814 to 1817. (So a Mordecai girl became the first lady of North Carolina while the school was still running.)  Sadly for Lydia Anna, the glamor was very short-lived: she was soon pregnant, had her son William Jr., and she died in March 1818.  (William Jr. soon joined his mother; he only lived to be five years old.) Her widower Governor Miller died in 1825, traveling through Florida on a diplomatic mission to Guatemala.

The Mordecais commented on Lydia Anna's death, of course: 
"We have just received intelligence of the death of Mrs. Miller (Lydia Anna Evans)--So young, so sweet, & so lovely, who can think without pain of her being this early nipped in her bloom. The last letter from Mrs. Johnson mentioned her being much better, & her husband had come out to prepare for her removal to their intended place of residence. Her last illness must have been short for her had not received intelligence of it, & was still absent, when the final event took place." (Rachel to Samuel, 22 February 1818, Jacob Mordecai Papers at Duke)

"The last visitation on the Evans family is a most melancholy one and you are so prone to feel another's woe, that exclusive of the attachment you had for Mrs. M., your sympathy for them must be strongly excited..." (Samuel to Rachel, 1 March 1818, same as above)

"A letter from Mrs. Johnson to Mary mentions that the amiable deceased had left to her the care of her infant, from this I conclude that she was sensible of her approaching fate." (Rachel to Samuel, 1 March 1818, same as above)
Jane Maria Evans:  No sooner had Lydia Anna died, than her sister Jane Evans, also a Mordecai alumna, followed; the Mordecais shared the news:
"You will unite with me in deep & sincere concern when I acquaint you with the new misfortune of the devoted family of poor Dr. Evans--Jane is no more, she expired on the 12th of this month, Lydia on the 13th of last.  Her health had for some time been delicate, and the shock proved too severe for her to bear. Poor Mrs. Johnson appears, as she must be, overwhelmed with grief. Does it not seem indeed too much for human nature to support? I fear it will be impossible for her poor mother to strugle against such an accumulated load of sorrow. When I think of that family as we knew it a few years ago, so cheerful, so happy, so pleased with one another, the girls so gentle, so lovely, and blooming..." (Rachel to Samuel, 22 March 1818, same as above)

"The succession of misfortune in the Evans' family is enough to excite commiseration even in those who feel less interest in their happiness than we do. I had not heard of Jane's death until you mentioned it." (Samuel to Rachel, 29 March 1818, same as above)
But there was still more tragedy for the Evans family in 1818.  That summer, the mother of Lydia and Jane, Mary Peyton Evans, also died. "The unfortunate old lady had never left her chamber since the death of Jane, but has borne her own severe sufferings with entire patience & resignation. She may indeed be said to have fallen victim of a broken heart." (Rachel to Samuel, 26 July 1818, same as above)

Death dates and circumstances are thus well-established; I still don't know when either student was born, or where they might have been buried (I assume a private family plot near the family home at Oakland?).  Does anyone know?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

151, 152. Catharine Williams Epes Green (1802-1887) and Elizabeth Campbell Epes Jones (1803-1880)

There are two girls named "Epes" in the rolls of the Mordecai school.  Catharine/Catherine Epes was at the school for two years, 1813 and 1814; Elizabeth was there for all of 1817.  There's a Thomas Epes associated with Catharine's account, and a William B. Cowan might have been acting as guardian for Elizabeth.  They're from Virginia, from my notes.

Note that the common Virginia surname Epes can also appear as Epps or Eppes.  We've already met one Mordecai girl with the name Eppes as her middle name, Sarah Eppes Doswell Cabell -- so she's a possible school connection to Catherine and Elizabeth Epes too.

So this was maybe easier than I expected:  Catherine Williams Epes Green (1802-1887), daughter of Thomas Epes and Catherine Williams, married William B. Green in 1827.  Catherine's uncle John Epes had daughters Catherine Grace Epes Cowan (who married William Bowie Cowan) and Elizabeth Campbell Epes Jones (1803-1880), who married Richard Jones in 1818.  So Mordecai students Catherine and Elizabeth were first cousins.  Fellow student Sarah Eppes Doswell was another cousin; Sarah and Catherine had their Williams grandparents in common. Elizabeth's mother was John Epes' second wife, so she wasn't truly first cousins to Sarah Doswell, but these families were all very much entangled.  Congressman Sydney Parham Epes (1865-1900) was one of the Epes' girls' distant nephews, and Congressman James F. Epes (1842-1910) seems to be from the same extended family.

How does William B. Cowan come into the story? Elizabeth Epes's father John died in 1816, so it makes sense that her older half-sister's husband, Cowan, paid Elizabeth's accounts at the Mordecai school the following year.

Catherine Epes Green doesn't seem to have had any children in her long life; Elizabeth Epes Jones had about eight children, maybe more.  Both women lived through the Civil War and into old age, and as far as I can tell neither ever lived away from Virginia--except for during their schooldays in North Carolina.

150. Catherine Elliott

There was a student at the Mordecai school named Catherine Elliott.  She attended for two-and-a-half years, from mid-1813 to the end of 1815; I don't have an adult name attached to the account, or a hometown, or any much else to go on, so hmmmm.  Probably not going to find this one out there.  There was a Catherine Elliott born in Orange County NC in 1797, died 1860, so she'd be about the right age, but with no other identification I'm not thinking it's a strong enough match.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

149. Elizabeth Elcan (1805-1823)

A student named Elizabeth Elcan is listed in the student rolls for the Mordecai school.  She was there from mid-1815 to September 1818, when she left the school in ill-health.  The adult names attached to her account are Lionel (or Lion) Elcan and Christopher Hunt.  The Elcans and Mordecais were friends even before 10-year-old "Betsey" appeared in Warrenton.  Elizabeth Elcan is also the first Mordecai student whose story reached her present-day kin through me.  In the early 1990s when I was working on my dissertation, Carl Coleman Rosen got in touch by letter (remember, this was before most folks had email).  He had heard of my interest in the school and wondered if I knew anything about Betsey.  I did!  He included a page about her in his family history, 244 Years of Elcan Family History (self-published, 1994).

So here are some details about Betsey Elcan.  She was born in 1805, the daughter of Lion Elcan (1750-1833) and Elizabeth Hooper Elcan.  She was the second-youngest of their nine children, born between 1788 and 1811. Their father was born in Prussia, and the family lived in Buckingham County, Virginia.  When she was ten, she was brought to the Mordecai school by her sister Sally (Ellen to Samuel, 25 June 1815, Mordecai Family Papers at the Southern Historical Collection), where she stayed until she was 13. 

In 1821, Betsey visited the Mordecais at Spring Farm with her sister Sally, Mrs. Christopher Hunt. The report of her health wasn't good:  "Betsey has grown, and is very pretty.  She is in deep decline, and looks almost as delicate as her amiable sister...I never felt anything so touching as her manner on Sunday night.  She had a spasm, and lay perfectly insensible on the bed, and while her hands were forcibly contracted, with a countenance as mild as an angel, in the softest tone of voice, she repeated those lines from the Universal prayer beginning 'teach me to feel'...Betsey came out her and stayed several days, she does not like a city life much..." (Ellen to Caroline, 20 September 1821, Jacob Mordecai Papers at Duke)

Two years later, she died, age 18, after a long illness; four of her siblings also died before age 30, and none of the nine Elcans lived to see age 55 (Their parents lived to be 88 and 68.)  Presumably some of them occupy the unmarked graves at the family's cemetery, at their former estate, Elk Hall.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

148. Rebecca Edwards Banks (1797-1869)

There's a student named Rebecca Edwards in the rolls of the Mordecai school that I compiled almost twenty years ago.  She seems to have been at the school for three sessions (mid-1813 to the end of 1814), and the name Benjamin Williamson may be attached to her account. A W. N. Edwards is also mentioned with Rebecca Edwards in the ledgers--sometimes Williamson is paying the Mordecais on behalf of both Edwardses. 

W. N. Edwards looks like he must be Weldon Nathaniel Edwards (1788-1873), a Congressman from Warren County whose papers are in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.  He married a Mordecai student, Lucy Norfleet; and from correspondence in his papers between Benjamin Williamson and Mr. Robert Park, we know that he was a student at the Warrenton Academy and so was his brother Isaac.  So, local family. In 1814 W. N. was serving his first term in the North Carolina state legislature, having passed the state bar in 1810. 

Weldon N. Edwards had a younger sister Rebecca Edwards (1797-1869).  As "Mrs. Rebecca E. Banks" she's buried in the family cemetery at Poplar Mount, about twelve miles from Warrenton.   Their parents were Priscilla Williamson and Benjamin Edwards.  She married Edmund Banks in July 1819.  And fifty years later she died.  But I don't have much luck finding anything about her life in between.  If anyone knows her details, leave me a note in the comments.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

147. Lucy Edmonds/Edmunds

There's a student named Lucy Edmonds in the rolls of the Mordecai school, attending from mid-1814 to the end of 1816--five sessions, a relatively long stay.  She seems to be from Northampton County, NC, and the adult attached to her tuition payments in the ledger (1814 was named Howel Edmonds.  She must have been ill during her stay; a letter from Rachel to Samuel Mordecai dated 23 January 1816 notes "Miss Edmunds dangerously ill upstairs (she is now convalescing)" among the many "glooms" of the school that winter (letter in the Mordecai Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Chapel Hill).

In the later Mordecai correspondence, she turns up in a letter from Caroline to Ellen, April 1822, because some of her younger cousins (Mary and Lucy) are attending Caroline's school in Warrenton that season.  (Caroline Plunkett to Ellen Mordecai, 22 April 1822, Jacob Mordecai Papers at Duke; "little Mary Edmonds" mentioned again in a letter dated 18 January 1823, still a student.) 

One man named Howell Edmunds (with this spelling) is relatively easy to identify:  he was a colonel during the War for Independence, served in the Colonial Assembly, and in the Provincial Congress, and in the North Carolina House of Commons after statehood.  He was also sheriff of Northampton County, North Carolina.  He was born about 1730, married his cousin Lucy Nicholson (1737-1811) in 1757, and died.... in May 1814, just before the student Lucy appeared at the Mordecai school.  (It seems Col. Edmunds had a sister, wife, daughter, a daughter-in-law, and at least one granddaughter all called "Lucy Edmunds," and probably some nieces too.)

The Col. Howell Edmunds seems to be the student Lucy Edmunds' grandfather.  Her father was the Colonel's son, also named Howell Edmunds; her mother was Elizabeth.  She was one of eight children. 

And that's where the trail ends--I can't find a mention of this Lucy Edmunds (or Lucy Edmonds) beyond the 1810s, except the mention in Caroline's 1822 letter.   Anyone know her fate?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

142, 143, 144, 145, 146: The Eatons (Eliza, Julia, Rebecca, Temperance, and Thomas)

There are five students named Eaton in the Mordecai school rolls I compiled in the early 1990s:

Eliza Eaton was at the school in 1813, both sessions.
Julia Eaton was at the school from early 1814 to the end of 1815.
Rebecca Eaton was at the school in 1815, both sessions.
Temperance B. (Tempy) Eaton was at the school from early 1812 the end of 1813.
And Thomas Eaton was there for one session, early 1813.

The presence of a male student named Eaton is a clue that this is a local family.  Or families.... there were a lot of Eatons in Warren County!

William A. Eaton shows up in the ledger paying for Temperance Eaton in 1812 and 1813, so that's a good set of names to start with:
Temperance B. Eaton (b. 1803) has the most distinctive name of the bunch, and she turns out to be relatively easy to find online:  She was the daughter of William Allen Eaton (d. 1818) and Mary Williams, and turned 10 the year she was at Warrenton.  Temperance B. Eaton married a lawyer named Lunsford Long Alsobrook in Alabama in 1826, and had one son, Jacob Eaton Alsobrook, born the following year.   She probably died by 1834, when her husband married his second wife, Dorothea Stone.  The Mordecais mentioned her marriage to Alsobrook, in a letter from Caroline to Ellen (29 October 1826, in the Jacob Mordecai Papers at Duke): "Mr. Alsobrook came the father of the one that married Tempy Eaton, he came for Peggy & you never saw anyone more reluctant to go than she was"--so apparently a younger in-law of Tempy's was sent to Caroline's school, too.

The other Eatons are probably not all sisters to Temperance. Julia Eaton's bills were paid by a Thomas Jenkins at the end of her time there, in December 1815.  The next month, John Rust Eaton was paying the bill for Miss Dortch (Betty Dortch, we met her already).   Temperance B. had an older sister Rebecca C. Eaton (1797-1840)--but she would have been 18 during her year at the school, and would it make sense to send the older sister to school after the younger one, without any overlap?  So I don't think this is the right Rebecca Eaton.  But it's not impossible.  (But just in case she's our student, she married in 1820 to John Howson Fenner (1798-1871), and had two children, and died at forty-three, in Halifax NC.)

And Tom Eaton was nobody's sister, of course.  Definitely local, he turns up in Caroline Plunkett's reports from Warrenton after the rest of the family has moved away, in the last 1820s; "Did I tell you Tom Eaton has left his father's again he has been in town several weeks I heard he was exceedingly disrespectful to Mrs. Eaton," she tells Ellen in 1828.  In another 1828 letter (Ellen to Caroline), there's mention of Tom Eaton's poor health, but that might be another Thomas Eaton?

There were a lot of Eatons in Warren County.  But I'm really not having much luck finding the one specific ones who attended the Mordecai school, except Temperance.  Hmmmm.