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!