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!