Monday, October 26, 2009

5. & 6. Ann and Penelope Albertson

Sisters, again. Ann and Penelope Albertson attended the Mordecai school together for two years, 1815 and 1816; then Penelope was also enrolled for part of 1817 and part of 1818. They're listed as being from Elizabeth City NC, and the ledger connects them to a William Albertson.

Searching around online for more details.... roughly chronological:
*Their parents: William Albertson married Penelope Sutton in August 1800, in Pasquotank Co., NC.

*Miss Ann R. Albertson married James S. Relfe on 13 June 1819, and Ann is listed as "the eldest daughter of William Albertson Esq of this city," in the Pasquotank County records. Assuming she was born within two years after her parents' wedding, that makes her 17-19 years old. It also means she was a teenager when she attended the Mordecai school.

*I also find William Albertson as the publisher of a newspaper in Elizabeth City, 1821-1825.

*From the Digital Library on American Slavery, we find petitions from Ann Albertson Relfe, Penelope Albertson, William Albertson, and James S. Relfe, all filed in North Carolina in 1826. The petitions could be any kind of legal request made in court--perhaps all four inherited or sold slaves that year, and the paperwork turns up for that event. (Additionally, an Emeline Albertson and a Benjamin Albertson are also found in 1826 NC filings.)

*Miss Penelope S. Albertson and a Mrs. Priscilla E. Bailey, both of Elizabeth City, are both listed as subscribers to a book, Miscellaneous Poems by Eliza Crawley Murden, published in Charleston in 1827. Mrs. Priscilla E. Bailey was the former Priscilla Brownrigg, and a fellow Mordecai student. (Much more on her when we get to the Bs.) So Penelope was still single in 1827.
More as I find it, but these details paint the beginnings of a picture--Ann was a teen, and Penelope was a bit younger, when they attended the Mordecai school. Two-and-a-half years after she finished school there, Ann married; Penelope waited at least nine years after leaving school to wed, if she ever did. Penelope was interested in the work of a Southern woman poet, enough to subscribe to the publication of her verses. And both young women were involved in a court petition involving slaves in 1826--probably an inheritance, or a sale on their behalf.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

4. Susan Adams

Some of the students on the roster don't have much detail to work from. The fourth name, Susan Adams, is one of the sketchier figures. What we know: Susan Adams was enrolled at the Mordecai school for two terms in 1811; the name "Dr. Robert Moore" is attached to her account, and the town of Hicksford VA may be related to her as well.

Hicksford is in Greensville County, Virginia, a little north of the North Carolina border. It's now called Emporia, but there's still a Hicksford Avenue and Hicksford Historic District there.

Checking with the genealogical resources online: There was a Susan Adams born to Jeremiah Adams and Elizabeth Grigg of Bedford Co. VA, sometime after 1798 (both parents were born in 1776 in Virginia, and Elizabeth was born in Hicksford). That Susan was one of ten children. A bit slim a connection, though, for such a common name. So Susan Adams may not be someone we can track down definitively, at this point. But she was a Mordecai student in 1811, so she was probably born around 1800, and she may have had an uncle or guardian named Dr. Robert Moore.

Friday, October 2, 2009

3. Margaret Jane Adam

This week's student is the sister of last week's: Margaret Jane followed Eliza Ann Adam to the Mordecai school beginning in 1812... and stayed for eleven sessions, or five-and-a-half years, which makes her one of the longest-enrolled students at the school.

Recapping the story, now from Margaret's perspective--she was just a baby when her father, Scottish-born merchant Robert Adam, died in 1801. An older brother was eventually made guardian of the young Adam girls. After Margaret finished her days at the Mordecai school, she returned in 1818 to see the school's final examination, as a spectator. By then, she was mourning the death of her sister Eliza Adam Cameron.

In 1821 Margaret married Dr. William Moffat (or Moffitt, or Maffitt) of Fayetteville, against her family's wishes. Her first baby, Eliza*--maybe named for Margaret's late sister?--was born in 1823, and the pregnancy left Margaret in delicate health. She was in Wilmington seeking restoration later that year. In the early years of their marriage, William adopted a five-year-old nephew, John Newland Maffitt; a lively little boy added to her duties and probably didn't improve Margaret's health situation. (The nephew was sent to school in the north after a few years, and became a successful naval officer, serving in both the US Navy and the Confederate navy.)

By the end of 1827 Margaret Adam Moffat was feeling even worse. Another confinement resulted in a throat infection that required part of her palate to be removed (ouch), and Margaret was left speechless by the surgery. Margaret's inheritance seems to have been spent by Dr. Moffat, who may also have been cruel towards her, according to comments in the Mordecai letters.

*Eliza Maffitt became Mrs. Thomas Lewis Hybart in 1843. Eliza was a close correspondent of John Newland Maffitt when the two were young adults. Eliza was widowed within a few years of marrying Thomas, just long enough to have two sons with him (William in 1844 and Thomas in 1847). Both her sons fought for the Confederacy, and Thomas died from typhoid fever during the war, in 1864, when he was only 17. Eliza died after 1880.