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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

139, 140, 141. The Easthams (Anne, Eliza, and Mildred)

There are three girls named Eastham in my student rolls for the Mordecai school.  Anne, Eliza, and Mildred Eastham are almost certainly sisters, all from Halifax County, Virginia, all with James Eastham as the adult on their account.  I have Anne and Mildred (Milly) arrived in mid-1814; Anne left after just one session; Mildred stayed for most of the next two years, with their sister Eliza joining her.  Mildred and Eliza both finished at the school at the end of 1816.  James appears in the school ledger through during sessions.

Either Milly or Eliza was ill during August 1816, requiring a visit from their talkative father:  "Miss Eastham I hope has recovered before her father's anecdotes are exhausted.  And I congratulate you on having a visitor that could talk." (Solomon to Ellen, 23 August 1816, Southern Historical Collection)  Julia wrote about the same visit to Samuel Mordecai:  "The best news I can give you is that Miss Eastham, her talkative & goodhumoured father & mother left us on Friday.  She was much better & will I hope soon recover.  Her father must I think be a good man, he has at any rate a very tender heart, he bid us farewell with tears in his eyes & was so much affected that he could hardly speak." (Julia to Samuel, August 1816 [und.], Southern Historical Collection)

A James Eastham was deputy sheriff of Halifax County in 1815; there are a lot of Easthams in Halifax County, but he seems like a good candidate for starters.  The same man was also the county surveyor in 1810.  But his name mostly turns up in legal documents, no family history I can see.

I see a Mildred Hardeman Eastham (1805-1857), who was born in Virginia, married Alfred Hicks Rose (a fellow Virginian) in 1828, had seven children, and died in 1857 in Tennessee (here's her grave).  Her dates are perfect, and we know that a lot of Mordecai-connected families moved west to Tennessee in the 1820s. 

Now, here's a thought:  What if Ann and Eliza are the same person? Their times at the school don't overlap, and if anything it makes more sense if she's one person--it means two sisters, Ann Eliza and Mildred, who were at the school simultaneously, arriving in mid-1814 and finishing in 1816.   I found an Ann Eliza Eastham (1803-1881) who was born in Halifax Co. Virginia, married Thomas J. Spencer in about 1819, had two children, was widowed very young, and died in 1881.  Her dates are perfect for a Mordecai student.

I have no evidence at hand that Mildred and Ann Eliza were sisters, or were Mordecai students--only their dates and place of birth, really.  But I'm intrigued at merging Ann and Eliza Eastham into one student.  Makes more and more sense as I think of it.... any clues from Virginia family historians out there?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

138. John Dye

Placeholder for this name on the roster. I'll come back to this one when I can.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

137. Elvira W. Dupuy Eggleston (1805-1878)

There's a student named Elvira W. Dupuy in the list of Mordecai school students, compiled by me in about twenty years ago.  I'm seeing her listed as a resident of Virginia, at the school for its last three sessions (mid-1817 to the end of 1818), and with Captain James Dupuy as the adult on the account, appearing in the school ledger in June 1817, November 1817, January 1818, and June 1818.  That seems like a lot to go on!  And Elvira is an unusual enough name, there should be more to find.

And there is.  Elvira Dupuy was born in Nottoway County, Virginia, in October 1805, the youngest child born to Captain James Dupuy (1753-1828) and Mary Purnell Dupuy (1758-1828).   Her father's military rank came from his service during the American Revolution. Her mother was 47 when Elvira was born, and Elvira's only sister Elizabeth (b. 1803) died young--so a girls' school might have seemed like a good idea for a lot of reasons when Elvira was twelve years old.  At age 22, Elvira married fellow Virginian Richard Beverly Eggleston (1797-1853) as his second wife, and the following year both her parents died.  The Egglestons had six children. Her last child was born in 1839, when Elvira was 34; and all of them were born in Virginia.  She was widowed in 1853, age 48; she lived through the Civil War and died in 1878, a few weeks before her 73rd birthday.

Her grandson Joseph Dupuy Eggleston (1867-1953) was a noted educator, president of Virginia Tech and Hampden-Sydney College, as well as Virginia's state superintendent of public schools (1906-1912).

The Eggleston papers at the Virginia Historical Society Library may have more about Elvira and her family.