Saturday, November 6, 2010

Publication of Betty's Diary

This is to announce that The Civil War Diary of Betty Herndon Maury will be published by the journal Fredericksburg History and Biography. The entire diary, together with annotations, will be available in early 2011.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mrs. Gwin

This is a photo of Mrs. Gwin, she who gave the famous costume ball described in Virginia Clopton Clay's memoir, A Belle of the Fifties. I wrote about this ball in an earlier post, which you can read by clicking here. In the earlier post there is a link to a New York Times article describing the ball.

A Southern Girl in '61 [1861]

Publisher's Weekly, Volume 68, page 567
Review of A Southern Girl in '61 by Louise Wigfall Wright

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four Remarkable Biographies

Confederate Veteran, Volume 28, 1920, page 420
Four Remarkable Biographies

Reviews of the books of four southern women of the 1860s who have written biographies and memoirs:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lincoln in Richmond in 1865

The President Enters the Confederate Capital
Part II of With Lincoln From Washington to Richmond in 1865
by John S. Barnes
Appleton's Magazine, Volume 9, January - June 1907, page 742,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Matthew Fontaine Maury's war work

The work done by Matthew Fontaine Maury, Betty's father, during the American Civil War is chronicled in this book by his son, Richard L. Maury, the brother referred to as Dick in Betty's diary.

A Brief Sketch of the Work of Matthew Fontaine Maury During the War 1861-1865
by Richard L. Maury
Richmond, Whittet & Shepperson, 1915

Clicking on the link in the book's title will take you to Google Books where the book may be downloaded (free).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Charles and Ann Hite McGruder

Finally I have found the McGruders' graves at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. I went looking for them once before but without success. I was hoping to get more information about the McGruders from the gravestones, but unfortunately the stone(s) were so worn I could not read a word. I know I found the right place, for I had the Section and Lot identifiers (Section K, Lot 44) from the cemetery's web site; and there was another McGruder buried in the same lot whose name I could read.

Charles and Ann Hite (Maury) McGruder were relatives with whom Betty and Will Maury stayed in 1861-2. They lived in Henrico County, Virginia, which is next to Richmond. In February 1862 the McGruders told Betty and Will that they must leave and live somewhere else. According to Betty, the McGruders offered no explanation for the eviction.

I have not had much success in learning more about the McGruders. They apparently had no children, so genealogical research has yielded no results other than to tell me the names of Charles McGruder's parents. I know more about Ann, as she was a Maury by birth, but that doesn't tell me anything about what happened to her and her husband after the Civil War.

I'm not quite sure who this Mary L. McGruder is. The dates of birth and death are wrong for it to be Charles' mother, Mary Mallory (Woolfolk), who was born in 1799 and who died in 1833.
Perhaps Charles' father, Sublett B. McGruder (1781-1853) married again after the death of Charles' mother. It won't have much, if any, impact on the Maury family history, but my curiosity is aroused and I will try to track it down at some point.

And I want to express my gratitude to the man and woman at Hollywood Cemetery today who took the time to help me locate the McGruders' graves. Thank you!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sarah Mytton Maury

Tombstone of Sarah Mytton Maury,
her husband and son.

City Cemetery
Fredericksburg VA

Inscription transcribed below.

BORN Feb. 5, 1799,
DIED OCT. 15, 1849
BORN NOV. 1, 1801.
DIED SETP. 21, 1849
BORN DEC. 8, 1837.
DIED OCT. 30, 1857;
There remaineth therefore a rest,
To the people of God.
"And the sea gave up the dead
Which were in it."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A New Blog - Fredericksburg Remembered

A new blog called Fredericksburg Remembered has been created. The first two posts concern the slave auction block at the corner of Charles and William Streets in Fredericksburg and present a fascinating discussion of the disputes over this stone. This blog will surely become a valuable resource for preserving and disseminating the history of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mrs. Hart Identified

I have been working on annotating the Civil War Diary of Betty Herndon Maury, and as an aid to that effort I have been compiling genealogical charts in an effort to identify various people Betty mentions. It is a difficult task, as so many names are repeated through the generations; and Betty sometimes uses the words cousin, aunt, uncle and so on in ways other than those I am familiar with.

Betty several times refers to a Mrs. Hart in Fredericksburg, and I had not been able to figure out who she was until I discovered Betty had given a clue as to her identity: Mrs. Hart was Susan Crutchfield's cousin. Using this clue and the genealogy charts I was finally able to identify Mrs. Hart as Jane Blake (Minor) Hart (1830-1900), wife of William Timothy Hart (1822-1885). Susan's father (Oscar Minor Crutchfield) and Janes mother (Malvina (Crutchfield) Minor) were brother and sister.

Susan, who later married Betty's brother Richard was staying with Jane and William Hart at the time Betty was writing her diary there.

As small a matter as is the identity of Mrs. Hart in the grand scheme of things, it has given me a great sense of satisfaction to be able to pin down her identity. I wish I knew more about her!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Civil War Graffiti

Today's posting at the Mysteries and Conundrum's blog addresses graffiti created by Civil War soldiers. I have noticed such graffiti in many locations I have visited in Virginia. The author of today's post has asked: ". . . there must be many antebellum structures in the Fredericksburg area that still retain names, messages, and drawings from soldiers who visited them so long ago. If you are aware of any surviving graffiti in the area, and would like to share it, please let us know." I, for one, will now start collecting such information to relay to the National Park Service historians.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ashes of Glory - Richmond at War

I am reading Ashes of Glory - Richmond at War by Ernest B. Furguson. It is a fascinating view of how Richmond and her citizens fared during the American Civil War. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fredericksburg Battlefield blog

Mysteries and Conundrums, "exploring the Civil War-era landscape at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP in an unofficial sort of way."

This is a wonderful resource!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Betty's Brother Matthew

As I continue work on annotating the Civil War diary of Betty Herndon Maury, I continue to encounter wonderfully helpful people in libraries. The Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg VA has helped me on several occasions. And now the Cincinnati Library is helping me in my quest to learn about the death of Betty's brother, the one she refers to as Matsy in her diary, more formally known as Matthew Fontaine Maury. Some people have appended Junior to his name, as his name is the same as his father's, but I'm not sure that is correct. There have been so many of that very same name that it's hard to keep them straight.

Here's what I know about Matsy. He was born January 9, 1849. His father called him Matsy, Boy, and Brave. On December 18, 1877 Matsy married Rose Robinson (1856-1937). Matsy was a cartographer, and the Library of Congress web site displays at least one of his maps. Matsy died on December 31, 1886, just short of his 38th birthday. I found one reference which said he is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

And this is where the wonderful people at the Cincinnati Library come into the picture. They are searching to see if they can find Matsy's obituary for me. Thirty eight is young to die, and I would like to know what the cause of death was. So far I have not been able to learn anything more about his death, and it might be that no obituary was ever published. The help of the Cincinnati Library is much appreciated, whatever the outcome.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ink in the Civil War

I went to the Virginia Historical Society library today to look at a fragmentary diary kept by Betty Herndon Maury's sister-in-law, Susan Crutchfield Maury. The library's record for this diary says it was written in 1864. By chance, I had read the following extract from Virginia Clay-Clopton's memoirs, A Belle of the Fifties, where she describes how women in the south during the American Civil War had to make their own ink. Reading that was fortuitous, for when I saw Susan's diary, the "ink" was so faded that I could not read the words. The kind reference librarians at the Virginia Historical Society copied the diary pages for me on a copy machine which darkened the letters somewhat. I am going to scan the copied pages and see if I can darken the written words even more so that I can transcribe Susan's diary. I don't know what Susan used to make the "ink" she used to write the diary. What is left of it is a light brown color.

A Belle of the Fifties
Virginia Clay-Clopton
London, Wm. Heinemann, 1905

Page 227: "We made our own writing fluids, our commonest resource being the oak ball, a parasite, which, next to the walnut burr, is the blackest thing in the vegetable world. Or, this failing us, soot was scooped from the chimney, and, after a careful sifting, was mixed with water and 'fixed' with a few drops of vinegar. Sometimes we used poke-berries, manufacturing a kind of red ink, or, made thin with water, some bit of miraculously saved shoe polish provided us with an adhesive black fluid."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Richmond - Hollywood Cemetery

The weather was not particularly cooperative today - cold and overcast (raining now). Nevertheless I decided to see if I could find Hollywood Cemetery again. It is 7.5 miles from where I live, and I got there with no difficulty. I stopped to purchase a map of the cemetery for $1. A map is absolutely necessary for this 135 acre cemetery. I've gotten lost there in the past when I did not have a map. I stopped at the iron dog to say hello. There was snow on the ground which showed dog footprints of a size to match the iron dog walking away from the grave. It was too cold to get out and walk around, but this will be a frequent destination for me once the weather warms up. I have found another place I am excited about visiting once spring arrives: Belle Isle. Both of these places will be good for walking and getting some exercise.

I had my camera with me, but the pictures were out of focus. I discovered that a button on the lens had been moved from its autofocus spot. I have now put it back in the correct place, so hopefully my return trips will yield focused photos. I wish I wish the photo of the dog footprints had turned out.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Richmond - Maupin-Maury House

Having moved to Richmond, I have been excited about the prospect of exploring this historic city. My first excursion was today. I set out armed with the address of the Maupin-Maury House, the house where Betty Herndon Maury's father, Matthew Fontaine Maury, stayed when he was in Richmond during the Civil War. I found the address, 1105 East Clay Street, in Mary Wingfield Scott's book, Houses of Old Richmond. It's location was near the White House of the Confederacy (1201 East Clay Street) which I had visited in the past. I don't remember when I was there, but I had in my mind a vision of the location.

It turns out that there has been a lot of construction in the area since I was last there, and I did not recognize the area at all. Furthermore, the Maupin-Maury House was not there. I did some research after I got back home and discovered that the house was moved in 1992 to 1016 East Clay Street to make way for the construction of new Virginia Commonwealth University and Medical College of Virginia buildings, which now dwarf the White House of the Confederacy. There has been talk of moving the White House of the Confederacy as well, although the experience of moving the Maupin-Maury House seems to have given pause to this idea. The Maupin-Maury House could not be moved intact. It was disassembled and then reassembled in its new location. As a result the house was removed from the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. It left me feeling sad.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mrs Senator Gwin's Fancy Ball

On April 12, 1858, Mrs. Senator Gwin, wife of Senator William Gwin of California, gave a fancy ball which was the talk of Washington Society for decades afterwards. This ball is mentioned in many memoirs of the era. Most recently I have read a wonderful account in Virginia Clay-Clopton's memoir, A Belle of the Fifties (available for free download from Google Books in pdf and epub formats). The New York Times for April 13, 1858 also gives a comprehensive account of the ball.

Of note in the New York Times article is the following account of Mrs. Greenhow's costume and character at the ball: "Mrs. Greenhow, of Washington, as a Housekeeper of the Old School, was an admirable representative of a gossiping, agreeable person, acquainted with everyone present, and with everything that was going on." Presumably this is the same Mrs. Greenhow who was later a Confederate spy.