Tuesday, June 18, 2013

#1 - My dear darling Jeannette

This is the 1st in a collection of a dozen letters written by Alice Sandy Marmaduke. I am sure that they are a fragment of what must have been many more letters, but they do give us a glimpse of the Marmaduke family in 1902 & 1903. Because of Alice's vague language, I can only guess at some of the underlying struggles going on within the family. These letters are what first attracted me to the Marmaduke family, and what drew me in to take a deeper look at my ancestors.

Let me first introduce you to Alice May Sandy Marmaduke. Born August 9, 1858 in Essex Co, Virginia, Alice was born to a family who could trace themselves to original settlers of Virginia (more information on that in another letter). I have no records of her childhood aside from the 1860 census. Her father Edward is listed in the 1870 census, but the rest of the family is missing. The 1880 census curiously shows Alice & her sister Mary Jane living with their older brother, Edward M. Sandy, in Washington DC. Alice was 22 at the time, and her mother had passed away several years earlier. 

Alice married James Berkeley Marmaduke in 1881, and their marriage was recorded in the newspaper & can be found in the Washington DC health department marriage records. The interesting thing is that my family has their original marriage certificate, which is in a glass frame. I am trying to find it, and will scan & share it when I do. 

The Marmadukes made their home in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. 

Alice & Berkeley's first child, a son named Andrew Dare, was born nearly 9 months to the day of their marriage! He was followed by 4 daughters, Ada Viola, May Croxton, Bettie Gordon, & Jeannette. 

Alice became a very young widow on December 26, 1892. The circumstances of Berkeley's death are still unknown to me. 

We pick up the story about 10 years later, in 1902. In the 1900 census, 4 of the 5 children were living in Spotsylvania with their mother near the Hilldrup, Wenger, & Mason families (I believe off of Old Plank Road). But things have changed in just 2 years. In late 1902, Alice Marmaduke's children are all living apart from her and apparently all apart from each other. Jeannette was just 10 years old at the time. I cannot imagine what it is that separated this family, and as the coming letters will show, it seems that it is outside of Alice's control. 

Below is the 1st letter in our collection. My hope is to post the entire collection of letters in a set of blog posts over the next few weeks. This one has very little substance, but does provide us some context clues - date, Alice's location, Dare's location... 

Spotsylvania Co. Va,

Oct 27th 1902

My dear darling Jeannette

I am so anxious to hear from you & to know how you are getting along. Please write to me at once Jeannette.

I rec’d a letter from May a few days ago. She is well & doing well.

Dare is in Fredericksburg & is well. Jeannette will you please send me Bettie’s address. I can’t understand why she does not write sometimes.

I cannot write much this time, but if you will ans this right away I will try to write you a long letter & give you all the news.

I am as ever

Your devoted Mother

2nd page: “I will send you Mamma’s letter” – presumably written by Jeannette or Bettie. 

Well, that's all for tonight. More of Alice's letters to come!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dear Lindsay,

May 11, 1898 

Dear Lindsay - I don't believe that I have written to you since I have been here. I reckon you would like to know how I am getting along in Chili. Every thing is very pleasant and nice but I get home-sick some times. I heard that you was taking music lessons from Miss Crawfort. Have you got any organ yet. I am taking lessons on the piano and I am going to get Uncle Eddie to get me an organ when I go back to Pittsburg. Mamma is out at Oakdale and she likes it very much, but she says that she is coming back home in the Fall if she can. I am getting along quite well in school. I haven't got but six more weeks to go. Lindsay have you swept your yard yet. We have already cleaned the big lawn up here. We had arbor day as a holiday and all of the girls had a big time. I had to help make flower beds. Lindsay I room with a very nice little girl. She is eighteen years old but she aint a bit taller than May. How is Johnnie getting along in his store. I suppose he misses us running down there two or three times a day. Has Mrs. Boe (Roe?) got everything fixed nice. I would give any thing if I only could get back home again. I can't write you a long letter this time as it is nearly time for me to go to school. I can get there in five minutes. Lindsay you must write me a long long letter next time. News is very scarce and I will have to close.Write soon to your cousin Viola. Love to all. Excuse writing. 
Chesbro Seminary North Chili Monroe Co New York 
Viola Marmaduke, location unknown. Approx 1898-1900
Viola Marmaduke, Chivis School, 1896, age 13

Viola Marmaduke, Pittsburg, PA - approx 1898-1900
This letter was written by Viola Marmaduke (my 2nd great-grandmother), age 14. She was at school in Chili, New York, almost 450 miles (by modern travel routes) from her home in Spotsylvania, Virginia. I wonder what this means about the Marmaduke family. Was it "normal" in the late 1800s for families to send their children away to school? From what I have gathered from census records, other letters (which I will reveal in future posts), and general family knowledge, the Marmadukes were not wealthy. I do know that Viola's father Berkeley passed away 5 1/2 years earlier (the circumstances of his death are currently a mystery to me). She was 2nd child in a family of 5 children. 

Anyway, this letter was written to Viola's 1st cousin, 1x removed, Mary Lindsay Hilldrup (see the relationship chart between the two girls - above). Above is the only photo I have of Mary Lindsay Hilldrup, and it is snipped from a school photo that also includes all 4 of the Marmaduke sisters. (Chivis School, Spotsylvania, Virginia. 1896.) Interestingly, Lindsay was 7 years older than Viola, so I am curious about the nature of their relationship. Maybe Lindsay was a babysitter or a "big sister" figure to Viola. 

Mrs. Crawfort appears to be the future Mrs. Dare, who married A. John Dare in 1899. She is referred to as "Mrs Dare" in 1902-3 in a letter from Viola's mother to Viola's sister. That's  all I know about her though. The Dares are neighbors of the Hilldrups & Marmadukes in Spotsylvania, and probably related, but I'm not sure how. Alice & Berkeley Marmaduke likely named their first child, Andrew Dare Marmaduke (who went by "Dare") for this family. It would make sense if they were related.

Uncle Eddie... Oh my, Uncle Eddie has quite the reputation. He was Alice Sandy Marmaduke's brother, and his story is certainly not unfolded completely. I will write more about him soon. Let's just say that his reputation is controversial! 

I wish I knew where Oakdale was. Does anyone know? Based on letters written by Alice Marmaduke, she seemed to live in several places (although I believe they were all temporary solutions to a larger problem). This is the only letter that references a place called Oakdale.

I can't figure out who "Johnnie" is, except that he may be Lindsay's brother John. But his occupation on the 1900 census is "Farmer" & "General Farm" on the 1910 census. John Hilldrup later married Gertrude Doggett (Gertie), who shows up very often in postcards, letters, and photos written by Viola & her mother. I hope to learn more about Gertie as time goes on.

Mrs. Boe/Roe... from my searches in the 1900 Spotsylvania census, it looks like her name is Anna Rowe, and she was an elderly widowed woman and a landlord... I guess that would explain Viola's question about everything being fixed nice, but I don't know her role in their lives. 

Sadly, Lindsay Hilldrup died a little over a year after this letter was written, at the age of 23. The newspaper clipping is posted below (Alexandria Gazette. September 06, 1899). I haven't found anything more about her life or death. I would love to know more about this cousin of my 2nd great-grandmother.

Closing for now. So much more to write soon!