Augusta County: Diary of Sarah Cordelia Wright (1853-1854)
Born in Guyandotte1 on the Ohio River, the 12th day of May, 1837. At the age of five, we removed to Charleston2, Kanawha Co. (on the Ka. river, 50 miles above the mouth of the Ohio) where I remained until April, 1850, when I left C. for the Sweet Springs3 Monroe Co. I remained here until September of the same yr. when I left my friends bound for the Va. Female Institute4, Staunton. Where I have spent the last three years, except the months of July and August, which have been spent with my dear parents & friends at home [Charleston].
The first year of my stay in S. I lived with my aunt5, but the next, I boarded at the V. F. I.6 The first part of the session, my roommates7 were, S. A. Crawford, M. P. Bailey, & M. Robertson. I changed my room towards the last of the session, my roommates were then L. Gray, B. Harrison, Julia Clagett, B. Stuart. The next session my roommates were M. Custis, E. Browne, S. Patrick. No. 3, Fannie Smith, Sallie Stephenson roomed with us the other part of the session. I could enjoy myself very much here if I did not get any marks, (but good ones) but it makes me feel unhappy on account of my parents for I know that their greatest wish is to see me grow up intelligent, & beloved by all.
Jan. 1st 1853
We have been spending our holy-days8 down town & I have had a very nice though quiet time; but now I am obliged to return to the V. F. I. to again prepare for our daily labour. It is a solemn thought when we look back and see another year has fled, & we are one year older than we were the last, we should inquire of our hearts to know if we are any better than we were the last. How many of our friends & acquaintances have passed from this world, & yet we have been spared. How thankful should we be that we have been spared, and should we not show that we are thankful.
I was down town a short while this evening. I called to see Aunt and from there went to the dagerian9 gallery to have my likeness taken: It is not thought to be very good, & I do not expect to keep it. When I got back to the V. F. I. I found the girls looking out for my coming, & eager to hear from their friends. I found all my friends laid up with bad colds, but could not stay long with them, but promised to call again soon.
I left the Institute about eleven o'clock, to make another attempt for my Dagero. I first called at Aunt's, but could find no one to go with me but Sallie, but I met M. K. on the street, & she went with me down there, & finding cousin Bec10 there left me. After making several unsuccessful attempts, Mr. K. at last got one to suit.11 I then returned to Aunt's and finding dinner ready staid of course, & enjoyed myself very much until three when I begun to think of returning home. Accordingly I started & cousin T.12 insisted on accompaning me, although I refused to let him, yet he vowed he would, so I gave up, before I reached the yard I saw the girls looking out for me, to see what I had brought back with me & each one I met wanted to know if I had been down street, & who I saw, & many other questions of a similer kind. As soon as I reached my room, my roommates had the greatest curiosity to know what I had in my bundle; but I would not satisfy their curiosity until after tea.
Thursday Jan. 20th
After school we were told by our teacher that we were going to attend a lecture on electro biology13 delivered by Prof. Hall at the town hall: accordingly after tea we started, 21 of us in number, besides Mr. and Mrs. P.14 & Mr. Wheat.15 The lecture was very interesting indeed, as most of the experiments. After staying about two hours, we turned reluctantly homewards, & had a very pleasant walk, for it was a lovely night, & the moon was shining as bright as day, & the air was very pleasant.
This morning we asked Mrs. P. if we could go down town, but she refused us on the plea that she did not know what our reports were. I did not care much about going so that I was very well satisfied, but the other two, were nearly crasy to go; they sent to ask Mrs. P. again, & told her she had given others permission, & so she finally let us go. Fannie went with us to see Aunt, & after dinner Sallie & I went to see Mrs. Points.16 Adel was spending the day at home, with three of her schoolmates; we staid a little while & then went with the girls to the degarian gallery where we met Mr. Wheat, Miss Lizzy17, & Ellen G.18 Sallie & I did not stay long, but left the girls there & went back to Aunts & staid a little while, & then came back home just about dark.
This is the first day of a new mounth, the old month has passed away, & it seems to me but yesterday, since the first of that
the reports are being made off. I wonder what mine is? Nothing good I am sure; I fear it is not as good as the last, & oh! how sorry I am for that will make Pa feel badly. I think Mrs. P. might have taken those marks19 off, but I ought not to have expected it, for I do not believe she ever took one off for me. If she did I beg her pardon for I do not remember. The day has passed very well cousin V. & E. called to see us this evening & staid about half hour, after which I had to take a music lesson & the others had to walk.
We got up this morning, & it was raining. Fannie is very much provoked that she cannot go to the D. gallery. After prayers we heard that we were going to have study hours in the morning instead of evening; upon the strength of which most of the girls got their curiosity raised to the highest pitch to know what was to be done, although they tried to keep it a seacret, yet it was known to more than two therefore it was obliged to be told to others. We found out though that they intended to celebrate A. G. P.'s20 birthday, in the midst of the bustle, Sallie S. received a box of eatibles from home; of course the girls in our room had much rejoycing; we were eating from the time that dinner was over, until supper was ready. After supper we all repaired to the school-room where we had tableau's & sherades, & after they were over we had eatibles handed round & then we had a dance, & danced until the bell rung for us to retire.
Feb. the 6th
This is the first Sunday in the mounth, an the one for us to attend the church21, but we could not on account of the rain. Mr. Phillips attended with the communicants, & of course we poor sinners did not have any service, but we left to do what we pleased: for my part I took my book & sit down to read, but did not progress very rapidly, on account of the other girls making so much noise. I was reading in a book called Christian Ornaments, a story of Love, Joy, & Peace, and found them very interesting indeed. We had service up here at night but Fannie & I did not attend, so therefore I cannot say any about the sermon.
Feb. 7th Monday
This is the beginning of a new week. I hope that I will improve more this week than I did last week. Miss Weaber (our French teacher) left this morning; I feel sorry for her, for I think the girls treated her very unkindly indeed, for most of them left her and I am sure they were more to blame than her; she came and bid us (last night in our room & Miss F's) goodbye, & when we told the girls this morning, they made quite a fuss. The day has passed off very well. I had all my lessons prepared in time. I took one of my new pieces this evening "Old folks at home"22 it is a very pretty little piece. We had biscuits for supper tonight, & Miss J. got very angry because she could not get any. My week begins today, to clean up the room, much to my sorrow.
Wednesday, Feb. 9th
This is Ash W' and at prayers, Mr. P. informed us that we would attend church, which we heard with pleasure. We recited our lessons until 10[:30] oclock & then prepared for church. Where we heard a very fine sermon by the Rev. T. T. Castleman23 from Romans 2 chapter & 4 verse. Depisest thou the riches of his goodness & forbearance & long suffering; not (knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance. He spoke in strong terms of Gods goodness to us & exhorted us to return his kindness by forsaking all worldly things, & turning to him, for his door is open for the sinner; there is no sin so great, no heart so black that he cannot cure all. We had school again in the evening; after school Miss Lizzie took the girls to walk on the plank road24, but I did not go as I had to take a music lesson. F. ran into see Mrs. P. and staid until the girls returned, & Mrs. P. was there but I do not believe she saw her.
Friday Feb. 11th 1853
Nothing has happened today worth relating, everything has gone on as usual. Tonight we had a note soree25 but I do not think that any of us displayed much knowledge of the rudiments of music. Mr. E.26 divided the music class into two divisions, & these into sections & grades. I am now in the 3rd section 4th grade, but I hope a least to be in the 2nd sec. before the end of the section, as Mr. E. says we can all be promoted if we will practise & I intend to Try.
I practised an hour & a half this morning, & after dinner I received a letter from Nony27 & a paper, & Sallie got one from H. N. in which we received the joyful news of the return of William Cox from California.28 I answered Ma letter today that I received last week, in which Ma said that Cousin B's29 health was rapidly declining.
Sunday Feb. 13th
Last Sunday was our day to attend the church, but we could not on account of the weather, but we attended today because Mr. Phillip's throat was two sore to preach to us. We heard a very good sermon by Mr. Castleman from 2d King's 7 chap. 3d-4th verses. In the evening Mr. Wheat preached to us, but I did not attend, as I was not ready but F., M. & I staid up here on the bed, waiting to be called every moment but no one came & we staid up here until service was over.
I have not written in my journal regularly as I had intended, but there is so much sameness about the way in which our time is spent, that one day is almost a picture of the hole. We renewed our scripture reading30 this morning, as it has been broaken up for some time past. We meet Mr. P. now in the study hall at 6[:30] oclock, when he calls over the roll to see if we are all present. I have been reading a sunday school book called Grace Dermott, and I think that it is beautiful. I wish that I could overcome my faults as she did, & above all possess her forgiving disposition & christian spirit, for then I could go to Christ as my friend in time of trouble & be always sure of finding relief.
Miss V. McClung was married last night to Mr. A. Waddell, and I heard that they had a very large wedding about 550 persons being invited. I was up here studying & writeing letters to Nony which I hope that she intends ans. soon, but this is telling about last night. I had a nice run on the terrace before scripture reading, (riding some of the girls in the push cart) & while we were out there the bell rung to call us in, after scripture reading, Mr. P. gave us a little lecture on the manner of reading our bibles to which I listened with interest.
Only five of us attended church this afternoon, but I was one of the number. We had an elegant sermon from Mark 13th & 37th v. What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch
The weather has changed very suddenly, yesterday was a beautiful day, but it is snowing very hard this morning, and I am very glad, as we can have the evening to ourselves. I went in the study to see Mr. Phillips and had a long chat with him, he was advising me how to study31 so as to give an accurate idea when reciting. He advised me to try his method and come again next saturday and tell him how I succeeded, and he would give me more advice. I would do anything in the world to please him, for I love him to distraction. Oh! how I wish that I could recite my lessons beautifully, as well as retain them after I had recited them. Fannie Stribling & Margie & Ellen C. K. have been in here tonight. The other girls have been dancing in the recitation room. I am afraid that the light bell32 will ring and catch me so I must stop.
It is still snowing. I did not get a book out of the library this morning, for I borrowed one from Mr. P. yesterday and I have been reading that all morning it is Layards Nineveh33 a very interesting work. Mr. Phillips preached to us this morning from Psalm 33-5 "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord". I slept a little while this evening, but felt worse after I awoke than I did before. We did not have any service this evening but prayers. after which I read a good deal before retireing to rest
The day has passed as usual, and I was going down stairs, to take my music lesson, when aunt Sarah34 told me that there was a lady in the parlour that wished to see me. As Mrs. P. was not at home I got my permission from Miss Lizzy. I went in an there was Miss Mary Whitcomb (come to bid us good bye) and Miss Ella Stribling. Fannie came in after a while but Mary T and Sallie P. were sick and could not come down. The ladies took a notion to go up to their room. I wanted them to wait and let me ask Miss Lizzy but they were in too great a hurry so I followed on after them. Just before we got to our door, Miss Sallie came out and saw me taking a lady to my room, and of course reported me, and I got two centures. I do not intend to say anything to Mrs. P. but will explain to Mr. P. and if he does not see fit to take them off I will write to Pa and tell him for what I got them (and perhaps) ask him to let me board down street. Although I prefer boarding in the Institute for a great many reasons, not only because I have a great many more advantages for improvement (which is the greatest) but I also have some dear friends of whose company I would be deprived.
This morning after finishing a letter to Ma and Brother35, & practiceing & doing my other duties, as so many of the girls were going, I finally made up my mind to go two, so after a great deal of fussing, we started between 12 and 1 oclock. Rose Oliver went with us. We stoped at the shoe store on our way, and Mr. P. came in while we were there, and asked us what we were doing there. I asked him if I could not stay at aunts to tea, he said that we might, provided we could get in time to come home before dark. I knew that it was of no use to ask more so left. We staid so late that aunt had given us out. I spent a very pleasant though as usual a very quiet day. We did not get back home until after tea, and the girls had tableau's, and some of the scenes were very pretty & others failled because the girls were so unorderly.
I cannot say much for this holy day, for it has not been spent as profitably as it might have been. We had no service this morning, for Mr. Phillips did not feel well enough to preach, & Mr. Wheat was not here, and I am sorry to say that I idled away my time very unprofitably (at least I did not do anything very improving). I read through a little sunday school book in the morning and read a few pages in a work on Neneveh in the evening. We expected to hear a sermon from brother Wheat in the evening, but we were very agreeably disappointed when Mr. P. came in. His text was Acts 14 cha. 17 verse. God hath not left himself without witness.
It was a very good sermon as his always are. I believe that I like going to church at home, as much as at the church, althou. I confess that I did not at first. I think that we are kept entirely two close, although I know it is not right for us to go out too much (& besides I do not want to) as we are only fitting ourselves for society now, but I think that we might go out more & out hurt us.36
Well this is the last day of Feb. and a beautiful day it is. The teachers have changed several of the classes & practice hours & mine is among the number. My old hour was from ten to eleven but it has been changed to 7[:30] to 8[:30] at night. We went to walk this evening, and as we were returning, we met Louisa going for the Dr. & she told us that it was thought Mrs. Lowry was dying (this was the only child of our matron37), and sure enough we had not been at home long before she breathed her last. She was her mother's idol, for she almost worshiped her, and I expect that was why God saw fit to remove her from this world and take her to dwell with him.
Thursday March 3d
We had no school today on account of the burial. The corps was laid out in the back parlour, they have kept her out of the ground four days38, waiting for the arrival of her husband. who did not arrive until this morning. The day scholars and some of the ladies & gentlemen from down town assembled here about ten, and about eleven we all proceeded to the church, where Mr. Castleman delivered an elegant sermon39, and warned us of putting off until our dying hour to repent of our past sins. and giving our hearts to God, & then went on enumerate the many good qualities of the departed friend who now layed-stretched before a lifeless corps. We girls after service were obilged to return to the V. F. I. but the others went on to the cemetery. I felt as if I could not hold out get home for my throat was very sore, & my head was aching very badly. After I got up here I went to sleep but that did me no good: after dinner I went to sleep again, and did not go to supper, and Mrs. P. sent up for Miss Sallie to mark me, but she came in & found that I was sick. But that was not all, for after a while, Miss Lizzy came around with her paper & pencil to see who had eaten in their rooms during the mounth, & there went down a centure for most every girl. I think that they might have waited a day at any rate & not have a funeral in the morning & centureing at night.40
I have been very lowspirited all day, all on account of my marks & have wished repeatedly to go home. I tried to practice but could not, as I cried so much that I could not see the notes, & thus it was that I idled away all the morning, & did not succeed in accomplishing anything. After dinner I received a letter from Pa, and this cheered me up a little. After this I scarcely know how I spent the rest of the evening, but it passed off somehow. Aunt Suey41 brought us a basket of cakes, and 17 or 18 of the girls had a party down stairs but we (all except Sallie P.) prefered enjoying our eatibles to ourselves.
This Holyday is here again & a beautiful day it is. We attended the church today and heard a very fine sermon by Rev. T. T. Castleman from Romans 8 chap. 9 verse "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." At night we had service up here. Mr. Englebrecht came up and played for us, as they had no service at the church.42 Mr. Wheat read the service after which Mr. Phillips made some very solemn remarks. He spoke of the death we had in our family the last week, and he said that he thought it was sent as a warning to us, that a perfect stranger should come and make a visit to us & stay 6 or 7 months & be taken sick & die amoung us could be nothing but a warning to us. He said that he had never had amoung so many young ladies so few that had made religion their study & I agree with him, for we have only 3 that are members of the church & most of the others are as bad as bad can be in that respect. He told us to ask ourselves the question am I prepared to die? and to fix upon some definite period when we would begin to prepare, even if it should extend beyond the time allotted to us to live, let it be definite. I will try and fix mine Now & not defer it until a more convenient season, for that may never come. God hath said "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation."
My week has begun for me to clean how much I dislike it particularly sweeping. Our subject of Composition this week is Dress.43 I wonder what Mr. W. thinks of mine. I guess that he thinks it is quit short, for it is only two pages. I went to walk this evening, the first time that I have been for I don't know when.
The Methodists were just before us, and that made quite a long string, but they turned off from us at the end of the plank walk & we walked out towards the institution, & they turned down towards the hospital.44 We had a very nice walk, for as we returned we came down main street at far as the bank where we crossed over again to back st. Soon after study hours began this evening Agnes P. came around & told us that her ma said that we must come down stairs at the ringing of the bell as Mrs. Lowry's child way going to be baptised. Accordingly the bell rung in a little while & we all took our lights & went down to the school room. Mrs. P. & its Father stood for it, and Mr. P. christened her Francais Caroline.45
This is a beautiful spring morning. After I had finished cleaning I went out & had a run on the terrace, and felt quite refreshed after which the scripture bell rang and we all repared to the school room, for our usual silent perusal of the scriptures. This did not occupy more than 20 minutes, & then came breakfast, after this was over we had three quarters of an hour before school to study our lessons (or do anything that we wished) school opens at a quarter of 9 & closes at one, opens at 2 & closes at 4 for the day. We had study hours from 4 to 5 so that we could go to the concert. We dressed after study hours and after supper we all collected in the hall. Mr. P. came in & told us that it was raining & we could not go (to tease us) but we started at last & got there before the company had assembled & got very good seats. I was much pleased indeed. They had a very large picture (oil painting) representing the Prophet Jeremiah rehearsing a lamentation to the Jews in captivity at Babylon. There were the principle persons connected with the Hebrew exilement clustered together in such a manner as to illustrate the sentiment of hope; the most natural looking immages that I ever beheld. After the exhibition of the picture, we had some very fine singing from Madam Rosalie Durand & Signor Norvelli. I enjoyed myself more after the concert was over than any other time.
This morning after prayers. I finished writing a letter to Pa & Ma & then Mr. P. sent us word that all who wanted to go down & see the picture by day light could do so. Of course I was among the number & we all started off. There were very few persons in the room, & we had a fair opportunity of seeing it. I scarcely know in what light it is prettiest artificial or natural, but of course nature is to be preferred to anything that is artificial. We did not have study hours until night, & I took up all my time writing my composition, after which I had the room to clean up, & prepare for bed. Fannie & sewed & fixed my dress & read some, & then retired for the night.
Sunday March 13th
I ask myself the question, am I any better this Sabbath than last? I fear not but rather the contrary. I fear that my heart is turning back to its old course, but O Father? be thou my guide & perserve me from temptation & lead me in the right path. Mr. P. sent us word that we could go to the church as he felt too unwell to preach to us. Accordingly we got ready & went heard a sermon from Rev. T. T. Castleman from Luke 21 chap. 34 verse "And so that day come upon you unawares" He charged us to be upon our guard, least that day should come when we least expected it. At night Mr. Wheat preached up here, Matt 12 ch 42 & 43 verses.
This morning after prayers Mr. P. told us that all of us that wished could go down & see the Aztec Children, accordingly about 43 of us went. I expected to see them looking more like children than they did, for in my eye they bordered on the monkey tribe. There were two Bartola & Maximo, & real funny looking creatures to be human beings with all their organs as perfect as ours. They seemed very much attached to each other, & although they had arrived at the ages of 10 & 20, they were just learning to talk. After we left the Hall, I went down to aunt Sarah's & took dinner, after which I went down to cousin Jane's,46 as I wanted to get some money from the bank for which pa had sent me a check.47 I staid down town untill between three & four & cousin F. walked up with me & carried my basket of eatibles. We had study hours at night, but I did not study much, as I practised.
We went to the church today & heard Mr. C. preach his text was Luke 19th chap 43 verse. "When he came near unto the city he wept over it."
This is Good Friday, & we have had holy day. We attended church today & we heard a very fine sermon from Luke 24 chap. 26 verse. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things & to enter into glory." He spoke of God's kindness in giving his only begotten son to die for sinners. this was true Benevolence for he gave him for his enemies & the punishment instead of resting on our heads rested on that innocent creature. As it was friday, we could not visit each others rooms, at night a good many of the girls went down to the resitation room, & played but I stayed in my room (and Maria & Mary Bailey came in & spent the evening with me) and wrote three letters; one to Nony, Mary Van & Miss Fannie and Mary wrote one to Mrs. B. The girls kept running in here to borrow things for the dance they expect to have tomorrow night, but the nine oclock bell48 rung & then such a scattering.
This is our regular day to go down street. We had study hours in the morning as we wanted to have some fun at night. After study hours were over, Fannie Smith, Sallie Patrick & myself went down to aunt Sarah's to spend the day. I went down with Fannie Stribling & left Fannie & Sallie to come after me. After dinner Fannie & I went up to Mrs. Points & Sallie P. & K. went up to aunt Mary Anns.49 After we came back it was time for the girls to go back home, so they only stopped a little while at aunts & then departed for the V. F. I. but I had no idea of going back yet for I had permission to stay to tea, for a wonder. Aunt beged me to stay all night but I was afraid50 but I wish that I had now. I left there soon after eight, but stoped in at uncle William's51 a little while to see all the folks. I got home at nine o'clock, just in time to see the dancers before they broke up for the evening.
Early this morning it looked as if it would rain but before church time the sun shone out very brightly, and as it was communion Sunday, of course we went to the church. Mr. C. took his text Matt. 27th chap. 42d verse, "He saved others;"
This was a real spring morning, and I feel very much like putting on my spring clothes. I do not know what is the matter with me, for my face is very much flushed & broken out. Some of the girls think that I am taking the scarlet fever but I do not feel sick but only drowsy. After dinner I laid down and went to sleep & did not awake until school was nearly over, and just as I awoke there was a loud peel of thunder followed by a streak of lightning. There were 20 or more April fool letters52 given out tonight, 18 of which were written by the Hon. M. J. Jesse.53 After supper we all collected in Maria Goodwin's room to see (as we thought) the burning of Mr. Imboden's house but then we came to find out it was only the woods on fire. This is the night for the first section to play, & Mrs. Drery & Miss Parks are up here. I did not want to stay down there as it was not my night to play so Mr. E. excused me. Maria is staying with me as she is not well enough to go down. We have had quite a little feast by ourselves over tarkey bones & biscuits & cakes for dessert. Margie & Fannie Stribling have been in here all dressed up, Margie as a boy. She make a very handsome one indeed for she has so many of their ways.
Today is very cloudy. I read before church a book called "Julia Changed Oh that my heart could be changed like hers and I could be made a child of God's & feel as she did. Oh Heavenly Father, change my heart & make a follower of the cross of thy dear son, who gave his precious blood as a ransom for our sins. We attended the church today, the new organ has come, & a splendid one it is. Just before the sermon begun, a piece of the organ fell down & came very near hurting some of the ladies very badly. Mr. C. took his text from Romans 8 - 34th verse. "Who is he that condemeth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Tonight Mr. Phillips preached to us, & his text was from Hosea 4th chap. 17th verse. Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone." Oh! what did he not tell us, he warned us not to fix our heart on the things of this world but to give our hearts to God, for he is a jealous God & visits the sins of the fathers upon the children. I cannot tell why but the girls this session (a great many of them) are so wicked, that is they use such wicked language, it makes me shudder to hear them. I expect that Mr. P. has heard some of their sayings for he spoke as if he had. He said that a great many of the young gents of the V. M. I.54 had experienced a change of heart & asked us if in a school of 56 young ladies some would not turn to God. I saw the error of my ways, my eyes filled with tears, and I was compelled to say "What lack I yet."
Monday the 4th.
I can scarcely tell how the day has passed but just as I had begun to practise, Mary Caperton55 came in and told me that Mrs. P. said that some one wanted to see me in the study. Accordingly I went down expecting to see a visitor but as soon as I entered the truth flashed across my mind directly. I was frightened at first, but resolved not to show it. I feared not for myself so much as for Ellen, but I knew that I had been the means of getting her into trouble when I could have prevented it: but it was all done thoughtlessly, not thinking for one minute of the consequences, but I have pledged my word not to do the like again, & oh God will thou enable me to keep it. I have always loved Mr. P.56 since I have been under his care but now & forevermore I will love him like a father. Oh! how kind he was to me, he did not scold, but only told me how wrong I had done, & talked to me as kindly as if he had been my father. I will never forget him no never, and I will make all at home love him two. We all & E & M staid up until one & had fine time.
Oh how times does fly (for it is only little more than 2 months before we go home) two weeks have passed since I last wrote here. I was down street on the evening of the 6th & 9th & got me two very pretty dresses.57 On the morning of the 14th Miss Rebekah Kinney was married to Mr. S. A. Richardson. She did not have a large wedding (only her relatives & intimate friends) as they were married at eleven & left here at one, on their bridal tour. On last Sunday the 17th Bishop Boone of China & Mr. Tong, a native of China delivered an address at the church.58 Mr. T. first arose and made his simple though affecting address. He told us of the different religions of his country, & spoke of their great wickedness before the missionaries went to dwell amoung them. He told us that his people had three religions & at the corner of most every street were small temples filled with idols & that one of their religions permitted them to go into these temples once a month and bow to these images. "Six years ago said he I was the one that bowed to these images, but it pleased God to send your missionaries to us & my eyes were opened & I was made to see the error of my ways. Schools were established. I learned your language & I with six of my companions were admitted into the church. It is now my wish to study for the ministry that I may return & teach my countrymen." He then ended his simple address by saying "Christian brethren, pity China, pray for China, pray for me." The Bishop then arose & spoke of the progress they were making in China he spoke of those who had left this little place. He said that they reached China last Christmas a year ago, & that seven months after there arrival Mr. Nealson read the service to the satisfaction of the natives, & Mr. John Points addressed a sabbath school so that they could understand everything that he said. He told the number of school that they had established, & how they obtained their scholars. In a boys school the parents bring their children & place them under his care; they are taken on trial for a month & if they like him he is then bound to them for ten years. If his parents attempt to get him away they are fined $30 a year for as many years as he has been with them. If they have had him 2 years they pay $60 & if three $90 & so on (for his board & cloathing) so that after they have had him for three years they do not fear of his being taken. With the females it is different they are thought so much beneath the mails, that they never go out until after they are married, & it is with difficulty that the teachers can get them but by promising them a nice meal & cloths they induce them to come to school, they only keep them seven months as their parents do not think their education of as much importance as their sons. Mr. T. was up here last night & went around to the rooms, when they came in here, Mr. P. asked us how many pounds of candy we were willing to give & told Mr. Tong that we spent a good deal in candy & he replied that he thought that we had better establish a school there. Mr. P. sent around a collector & got $37.25. for which he seemed very thankful. Mrs. Points had all our names put down & sent them to John. Fannie & I staid up from half past one to four.
This has been a real spring day: we had scripture reading earlier this morning, as we are trying to be more industrious. We have only two more months to stay here and I must try and improve as much as I can. There is so much less ambition in school this session than there was last. Last year the girls seemed to try to keep the rules & there was a great desire to excell; but this year they do not mind the rules & try how many marks they can get. I try to keep from them, but the more I try the more I get, but so my conscience is clear that is all I want. Mr. P. says that it is his opinion that the marks never go down, unless for some cause, but I beg leave to differ with him there, for were there are so many of us together they might through mistake put one girls marks to another name, for I have seen it done.
This is Saturday morning, and I wanted to go down street, but Mrs. P. would not let us, as she said that it was two damp. Cousin Tom left town yesterday morning with the engineer company59 & does not expect to return until Sept. Eliza Smart left here the same day for home,60 and cousin Bec returned on Monday last from her bridal tour. After the letters were given out, as I did not get one, I was very much disappointed & consequently felt very low spirited for the rest of the day (as I had not gotten one for 3 weeks) & not much like doing anything.
Wednesday night May 11th
I have not written in my journal for three weeks and many things have happened that I could have recorded. Last Thursday morning Margie Custis left here for home. I do not think that she wanted to leave much (of course she wanted to see all at home) but she had some very dear friends here that she did not like to part with. Friday 6th we had oranges61 for dinner and at night the Misses Tebbs62 had a party. We had a great deal of fun, although we could not go into the parlour, but we peeped around and managed to see some way. After the light bell rung, we opened our windows (at least No. 2) & we could see as well as hear everything that was going on. We could hear the ladies singing & see them promenading on the poarch. Indeed we were flying around in every direction & did not go to bed until after one, i. e. after the company had left. I had just retired when I heard a rap at my door & found that it was Mary B63 & Lizzie M.64 come to light their candle. They begged me to come & see what was the matter with Ellen. I heard her crying as soon as I opened my door & when I entered her room I soon perceived that her thoughts were wandering, for she was talking about all manner of things. It was some time before I could persuade her to hush as she had taken it into her head that some one was going to kill her & she said that she was not ready to go. She would not let us leave her, but held our hands so we could not move & she could not bear to look at the door, as she imagined that some one was coming after her. Saturday 7th I spent the day down town & had a very pleasant though quiet day. Sunday we could not attend church on account of the rain & at night Mr. Phillips preached to us. Today has been a very pleasant day. Miss Sallie took us to walk out by the cemetery with the sun shining full in our faces, as disagreeable as it could be. I walked with Sallie Drewry65 (she is a sweet girl if there ever was one) this evening, and just as we were turning Mr. Clark's corner, we met about half dozen boys. F. M., W. J., J. G., B. H., & they make a regular business of walking by here as if any one cared to see them, but I wish they would stay away, for if we happen to go to the window, oh yes, we go to see the boys & nothing else. Mr. P. has bought a very gentle horse (as his other one died) & sometimes Charlie & Henry let us ride around the yard, but I do not think that their father likes it much for us to ride.
What a beautiful morning this is the sun is shining in all its loveliness, the little birds are singing & all nature seems to prais the maker of all for their existence and shall I forget to praise him also. He who has spared my parents and friends while many others have been deprived of them. evening Oh how sad I have felt today, just as if I did not have a friend on earth. This evening I have been reading the history of little Jane S. Oh how I wish that I could feel as she did and have God for my friend to go in time of need. Who can read those beautiful lines & not feel a pleasant emotion arise in their bosom. To think of a young girl becoming pious, & dying the death of the righteous. Oh Lord bless me and let my last end be like hers.
"This lovely bud, so young and fair,
Call'd hence by early doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise would bloom."
I have now taken my seat once to write in my journal. It has been so warm that it has made me quite lazy and I have neglected to write this week. Last Saturday evening Archie67 came up here to bring Sallie P.'s cape that his Mother had borrowed, we were in the parlour, & a gentleman came in & we went into the hall. Mr. P. came by and asked us what bell that was rung, & we told him the study bell, & I thought that was a hint68 for Archie to leave so I bid him goodbye & left. Sunday we went to church an Mr. P. preached (as Mr. C. was absent). His text was in John Chap 5 6 verse. Wilt thou be made whole? It was a very fine sermon. He said that we should ask ourselves the question and then say with the P. "Here Lord I give myself away tis all I can do" We attended also at night (something new for us since Christmas) and Mr. Wheat preached. His Text was from John 1 - 29th "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." He doesn't preach as well as Mr. Phillips for his delivery is not good, at least he says that whenever he preaches at the church or up here he knows what would be crittics the girls are) he becomes embarassed. The weather has been oppressively warm for the last week, but this evening there was a very sudden change. Ellen has been in here almost all evening, trying how many smart remarks she could make. My lessons were over at 3 o'clock & I laid down on the bed & took a nap and awoke just as school closed.
This is a very warm day, and the dedication of the Cemetery took place the morning. The Masons, Sons of Temperance (& it seemed to me) everybody else in town marched out there. After this was over all the people assembled in the Methodist Church, and heard an address from the Hon. Dr. McGuffy.69 As I didn't attend of course I cannot tell anything about it but as all the rulers left our establishment (of course when the rats are away the mice will play) F. S. & I thought that we would cut some novel capers, so we tok it into our heads (Last night we attended the Panoram representing from the Creation to the Deluge or after. I was very much pleased as it was the first I had ever seen one before, but those who had seen finer ones in the cities said that was not good) I have not done scarcely anything today: I wasted most of the morning (except the time that I was writing my composition) in looking at the people, for I believe that I saw more than I have ever seen assembled together here at any other time; unless it was at Mr. Points, or little Frankie Stribling funeral.
This morning I went to Mrs. Phillip & asked her to let us go down street that is all in my room, she refused at first of course I told her that aunt wanted the girls to spend the day with her, but she said that aunt would have to write a note to Mr. P. but after a while Sallie R. came up & asked her & finally she consented to let us go. Sallies P. & K. went down before us but after so long a time we started also. We had not been down there long when Bettie B. came over & after a while Miss. Lizzie T. & cousin Eliza.70 The other girls were roaming all over the place but I staid mostly with Bettie & we had a very nice time: after a while dinner was announced & I do not remember when I ate such a harty one. About 4 o'clock Aunt Lucy called all of us girls out in her room & gave us some warm biscuits & straw-bury preserves & we ate those to our heart's content then we went to Mr. H. J. Crawford's store & spent nearly an hour & Fannie & Sallie S. got their travelling dresses. Sallie S. & I went up to Mrs. Staffords & Fannie & other two Sallies went home. We had a good deal of fun before supper & after that was over I was compelled to leave earlier than I would have done in order to get off my dress, for it had gotten so tight all at once that I could not stand it, so that I bid them goodbye & left. I brought Ellen & Maria something to eat but they were not very hungry, as Sophia had been up here with her eatibles.
Aug. 1st 1853
This is the first day of Aug. nearly two months have passed since I wrote last here; and what changes too. On the 24th of June our sessions closed (at least school duties) and I went down to aunts on Saturday morning. Sunday I went back to V. F. I. to get another dress and the girls told me how much fuss Mr. P. had made about some of the girls staying out & I did not go back that day, but I did the next. On the morn of the 28th Fannie Smith came down to aunts & after she had been there a while Ellen King & Rosa Oliver came in. They did not stay more than an hour but the others stayed to dinner after which Fannie & I went up to bid Mrs Points goodbye. Just after we got back to aunts the hardest rain came up that I most ever saw & we were detained there nearly an hour & as soon as it cleared up we went back to the Institute to prepare for the exhibition. We had then but a few hours to spend together; all the girls looked very happy but I felt sad. After the performances were over the Rev. H. Stringfellow delivered an address to us which was very affecting. After everybody had left Ellen K. introduced me to her father & I liked him very much. I talked with him until Maria Goodwyn's called him to go down to the hotel. The girls in our room & in Ellens & Maria's room did not go to sleep that night, as they all expected to leave early next morning. At five o'clock all the girls most had left but I was disappointed in getting off as I had expected & as I had written to Pa that we would meet him at the White71 he did not come for us & we were detained until the next Monday. Sallie P. & I staid with aunt Sarah & we had a very pleasant time, but I was very anxious to get home. Pa did not get there until 11 oclock Sunday night & we left the next morning about five. When we got to the post office corner we meet Mr. P. who had come down to see us start. We had a little chat with him while they were getting the mail & when we were all ready, we bid him goodbye & left town homeward bound. We travelled on & nothing occurred worth relating until we arrived at the dinner stand. Just as the stage stoped, a gentleman came to the stage door & asked the passengers if they would not walk out to the barbaque grounds & get their dinner. We turned off a little from the main road and entered a grove & there were collected together about 200 persons to celebrate the forth of July. They seemed to enjoy it very much as it was the first thing of that sort that they ever had in the county. We spent about half hour with them & then took our departure. Mr. Cook of Richmond made himself known to Pa & he introduced him to us. When we again reached our coach we found that four new passengers had gotten there before us & taken their seats. Not knowing who they were or where they came from, we of course had to dispute about our seats, & when Pa & the other gentlemen saw that there was a young looking gent inside they were for making him get outside but the ladies said that he had been suffering with reumatis, & that they came over that morning in the Rockbridge Alum stage, & the people promised them they should go on that evening we said no more but we were very much crowded. Just as we were starting, one of the ladies turned around (who had been talking with some one outside) & we recognised an old acquaintance that we had traveled with going on last summer. Mrs. John Lewis from Lewisburg, & her aunt old Mrs. Stuart. We did not reach the Warm72 that night until nine o'clock, & we concluded to take our supper there, as it would be so late before we reached Jackson's river, which was to be our night stand. At the Warm, We lost most of our company: the chartered coach stoped & two of our passengers, Mr. Clark & Wade.) At the Hot we lost two more so that our party was now reduced to five, & we traveled on, on, on, until one that night, when we at last reached our night stand. Mrs. Lewis & I laid down to get a little rest, & the other Sallie & Mrs. S. sat up to keep watch so they said, but Mrs. Stuart kept making so many funny remarks that she made us laugh so much that it was a long time before we could get to sleep. Finally we got to sleep & slept until four next morning when we left there for the White, which we reached about eleven that day. This was the day for the stage to rest there, but we prefered going on to Lewisburg as part of our company lived there, & we had some friends there that we wished to see. There were three or four gentlemen already at the White, that wished to go over that evening, so we joined with them, & got a coach & left the White at four that evening, & in two hours after arrived in Lewisburg. We took supper at the hotel, after which Sallie & I went over to Mr. Novels to spend the evening. I did not enjoy myself very much for they kept making puns on my name until I got sick and tired of them. There was Charly & Mary Norvell, & a Mr. Mayo, & Sally Patrick & myself. I joined them in their play of words for a while, but they soon over did the thing as Wright was quite easy to pun on, & I got weary of it & proposed returning to the hotel.
Wednesday June 27, 1854
Left Staunton 6 oclock reached Alexandria at 2 took passage on the steamer George Page over to Washington, put up at Brown's Hotel. It was then between 3 & 4 we ordered our dinner, after which it being quite late & we very much fatigued with our days ride retired to rest. After breakfast next day we hired a hack to visit the places of note in the city We visited the President's house, Jackson's statue, The Washington monument, Smithsonian Institute Patent office, and Capitol.
Smithsonian Institute, this is a beautiful building under the charge of the Government. We went into the entrance hall which contains a very fine library. & hung on every side with paintings of the different tribes of Indians, showing their different stile of dress. The only white man that we saw amoung these numerous paintings was that of John Ross, who has done so much towards civilizing the Indian. The Smithsonian Institute was founded by James Smithson an eminent Englishman. He died in 1828 & left the sum of $515,169 to the U. S. for the purpose of founding this institution - so in 1846 Congress passed an act to establish it, & in May 1847 the cornerstone was laid with Masonic ceremonies in the presence of President Polk & an immense concourse of strangers.
Patent Office. This building occupies two
Left Washington 5 oclock P. M. reached Baltimore at 7. The next evening pa & I walked out to do some shopping & see as much of the city as we would have time. We intended going to visit the Washington monument, but found it was almost time to leave the city before we completed our shoping. We left in the 7 oclock train, when we had gone about 9 or 10 miles, we ran over a cow, & ran off the track. This detained us about two hours. Finally we started again, & papa was taken quite sick & I sat & held his head all night while Sally P. & Alex slept We were obliged to get off at Cumberland as Papa was too sick to go on, & he had a real spell of Cholera we spent our 4th there, at the Revere House & also the week following.
Sarah Cordelia Wright was the daughter of John Grant Wright and Catherine Price Holloway Wright. John Wright went to Guyandotte, Va., about 1830 to take charge of the terminal office and inn of the James River and Kanawha Turnpike. The Turnpike followed the Kanawha or Buffalo Trail across the Allegheny Mountains into the Greenbrier Valley east of Marlinton, crossed Gauley Mountain and followed the Great Kanawha Valley to Charleston. Here the trail divided, one branch following the Great Kanawha to the Ohio at Point Pleasant, and the other crossing the Teays Valley to Guyandotte. The Turnpike ended here, but the old trail crossed the Big Sandy River into eastern Kentucky. Guyandotte was also an important point of steamboat embarkation. It lost its identity when C. P. Huntington established a railroad center bearing his name a few miles west of the old stagecoach - steamboat center.
In the spring of 1842 John Wright moved his family to Charleston where he took charge of the Kanawha House.
Sweetsprings opened as a watering place in 1792 but reached the height of its popularity after 1833. The first hotel was built by William Lewis, son of John Lewis, and contained 72 rooms, 72 fireplaces, no baths. A later building was based upon a design of Thomas Jefferson.
Virginia Female Institute was founded in 1843 as a small day school. It was renamed Stuart Hall in 1907 in honor of Mrs. J. E. B. Stuart, who became principal in 1880. The school is owned and operated by the three Episcopal dioceses of Virginia. The "Register of 1853" says: "The Institute is beautifully located on one of the heights in Staunton, Va., and enjoys the most salubrious and invigorating atmosphere. Occupying a central position, easy of access, commanding beautiful views of mountain scenery and remote from the peculiar temptations incident to cities - this Institution presents important considerations to every Parent, who desires a Home-school for his daughters."
Mrs. Jefferson Kinney, nee Sarah Robert Holloway.
"The Building was designed by a skillful Architect, and in 1846, was erected and furnished in handsome style, at an expense of more than fifteen thousand dollars. Its dormitories designed for four pupils each, are large and airy, and can comfortably accommodate fifty Boarders. The Principal and his family reside in the Institute, and the rooms of the Female Assistants are adjacent those of the pupils."
"Roommates" listed in the 1853 Register are: Mary P. Bailey, Buckingham County Mary J. Robertson, Salt Sul. Springs Alice B. Harrison, Leesburg Julia A. Clagett, Leesburg Isabella V. Stuart, Fairfax County M. A. W. Custis, Norfolk Ella Brown, King William County Sarah A. Patrick, Charleston Fannie Smith, Parkersburg Sallie Stephenson, Parkersburg.
Throughout, this archaic form of holiday is used.
Daguerre announced the perfection of his process in 1839, and in November of that year the process was first used in this country by a silversmith in Zanesville, O.
Now in the possession of the diarist's daughter, Sallie Kerr Hoge Lockett.
The scientific advances in the natural sciences were the most intellectually stimulating news of the nineteenth century. In 1850 Cohn's theories on protoplasm were announced. The Register says: "Natural Sciences. The Botany classes are taught to analyze the living specimens in their season; and, under the direction of the Professor, have access to an extensive and beautifully arranged Herbarium, consisting of nearly ten thousand specimens."
Rev. R. H. Phillips, A. M., Principal and Head of the Family, and Mrs. Phillips.
Rev. J. C. Wheat, A. M., Vice-Principal.
Mrs. James Points, wife of a Trustee of the Institute.
Probably Miss E. P. Tebbs, Assistant Teacher.
Probably Eleanor R. Goodwin, Fredericksburg.
"A regular record is kept of the Diligence, Neatness, Deportment and Scholarship of each pupil. To this end, each teacher makes a monthly report to the Principal, an abstract of which he renders monthly to the Parents. At the end of the Academic year, a certificate is given to each pupil, according to her grade in the four particulars above mentioned."
Agnes G. Phillips, Staunton.
Probably old Trinity Church. The present edifice, the third on this site, was built in 1855. The first church of Trinity Parish, organized in Augusta County in 1747, was erected in 1760-63 on land acquired from William Beverley for 6. The Virginia Assembly met in this building in 1781, after crossing the mountains to escape the British.
Stephen Collins Foster published "Old Folks at Home" in 1851.
Rev. T. T. Castleman, Vice President of the Board of Trustees and Instructor of Moral Philosophy and Evidences of Christianity.
During the 50's, many planked roads - such as the Jerusalem, Orange and Boydton - appeared in Virginia.
"The Music class is divided into several sections, one of which performs at a weekly soiree, conducted by a Professor, in the presence of the class."
Prof. J. C. Engelbrecht, Music and Botany.
Probably Lenora Ruffner of Charleston.
The California Gold Rush occurred in 1849.
"Three quarters of an hour after the rising bell, the Boarders assemble with the Principal, for the silent study of the Scriptures."
"Collegiate Department. In the study of this course, the great aim is to teach the pupil to think, to acquire the control of her attention in the discipline of her mind, and to evolve and expand its powers. Much use is made of analysis, to enable the pupil to acquire a practical knowledge of principles and illustrative facts, that she may give, in her own language, at recitations, a connected outline of the subject."
"The light bell rings at ten o'clock, when the lights are extinguished."
"Nineveh and its Remains" by Sir Austen Henry Layard, English traveler and diplomatist, was published in 1849.
This "aunt Sarah" must have been a servant.
George A. Wright who later served in the Army of the Confederacy, took his degree in medicine from Washington and Jefferson College, married Helen Ruffner of Charleston, W. Va. and moved to Deport, Texas.
"It is a leading object to enlighten the mind with the instruction of Holy Writ; and present to the Pupil considerations derived from the moral relations she sustains, and the important influences of her present pursuits on her future destiny. Her moral and social position is constantly referred to, and the principles which should govern the one, and the decorum which should distinguish the other, are daily inculcated."
Mrs. M. L. Rodgers, Matron.
This was unusual at the time and was probably possible because of the cold weather.
The Episcopal Church burial service makes no provision for a sermon.
March 4, 1853, Franklin Pierce was inaugurated President of the United States.
Probably a servant of the Kinney's.
Apparently Mr. Englebrecht was church organist as well as professor at V. F. I.
"Every pupil is required to write, weekly, a composition on a subject previously selected for her, and to read the same before the Teacher in charge of the section of which she is a member."
Probably Western State Hospital, asylum for the white insane establlshed in 1825 as the Western Lunatic Asylum.
March 7, 1853, Jefferson Davis was appointed Secretary of War.
"Store bills are not allowed unless expressly authorized. Letters and parcels for the pupils should be directed to the care of the Principal. Jewelry and pocket money must be left in the care of a Teacher."
" ** the silence bell announces the hour for retiring." This preceded the light bell.
Mary Ann Henry Holloway Lane.
"Pupils will not be allowed, under any circumstances, to spend the night out of the Institute."
William Henley who married Betsy Ann Holloway.
I have not been able to find anything on the custom of an April fool letter. It must have been something like a comic Valentine.
Mary J. Jessie, Lancaster County, Va., in the Junior Section.
Virginia Military Institute opened in 1839. One of the students in 1853 was Sarah Wright's friend and neighbor from the Kanawha Valley, John McCausland, who was graduated from VMI in 1857. McCausland served as a General in the Army of the Confederacy and is known as "The Man who Burnt Chambersburg". A formal invitation from Cadet McCausland to Miss Wright to attend a ball at VMI was found among her papers and given to General McCausland's daughter who lives in the old homeplace on the Winfield - Point Pleasant road a few miles northwest of the diarist's Putnam County residence.
Mary Caperton of Monroe County, Va.
"The Teachers are all exclusively connected with the Institute, and are Officers of Government in their several Departments; but cases of discipline are submitted to the Principal. The discipline is Parental, firm, prompt and uniform."
Apparently Staunton had ready made dresses available.
Interest in the Orient was particularly high at this time because of Commodore Perry's expedition to Japan. He presented his credentials to the Emperor 15 July 1853.
Since the Central Railroad completed its tracks west as far as Staunton in 1854, it would seem Tom was "working on the railroad".
This must have been a real event.
Mary P. Bailey, Buckingham County, Va.
Elizabeth T. Meade, Dinwiddie County, Va.
Sally R. Drewry, Richmond, Va.
This is the diarist's sixteenth birthday anniversary.
"The calls of gentlemen, who may be strangers to the Principal, and not specified by the parents, are not received by the pupils, unless authorized by letters of introduction. From 4 o'clock to 5 P. M., is the most convenient hours for such calls."
William Holmes McGuffey, at that time Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Virginia, but best known for the McGuffey Readers. Schools in western Virginia commonly used the McGuffey Readers, and no doubt they were part of the diarist's early instructional material.
Probably Eliza Lane who married Tom Reese of Huntington, W. Va.
White Sulphur Springs.