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.

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