1843: Virginia to Jane Witherspoon Dunlap

The identity of the woman who wrote this letter and signed her name simply, “Virg” (Virginia?) has not yet been revealed. It seems clear that she lived in Alexandria, Virginia.

Painting of Jane Witherspoon Dunlap, courtesy of R. Hyman and P. Lyles

The letter was written to Jane Witherspoon Dunlap (1826-1861), the orphaned daughter of Samuel Ferguson Dunlap (1799-1834) and Sarah Crawford Witherspoon (1806-1832). Both of Jane’s parents died when she was young and she was raised by her Witherspoon relatives.

Jane lived with her Aunt Nancy in Columbia, South Carolina. Nancy White Witherspoon (1808-1891) was married in 1835 to James Henley Thornwell (1812-1862) who was an American Presbyterian preacher, occasional President of the University of South Carolina, and a religious writer who defended slavery. By 1843 when this letter was written, the Thornwell’s had four children.

It is believed Jane was attending school in Columbia when this letter was written in 1843. Since the University of South Carolina did not admit female students until the 1890’s, Jane must have been attending the Columbia Female Academy, established in 1833. It later became Stephens College.

To see six letters written by Jane W. Dunlap between 1843 and 1848, click here.

Stampless Cover

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Miss Jane Dunlap, Care of Rev’d James Thornwell, Columbia, SC

Cameron [west end of Alexandria, Virginia]
May 7th 1843

Dearest Jane,

Pardon my long silence and let me beg that you will not think I have intended treating your truly acceptable letter with silent contempt. On the contrary, I was delighted to receive it and happy to find I was not forgotten by one whom I so dearly love and hope I ever shall. Indeed, you cannot imagine how delighted I am when I receive a letter from you – as much so as if it was from a gent or from one that I truly loved.

I do not intend to give my heart away until I see your Uncle – the [one] that is now at college, so do send him on to see me. I should be delighted to have you for a niece so you must speak a good word for me and do all that you can for me. I should like very much to live in South Carolina or anywhere to be with you. Oh Jane, when shall we meet again? I often wish I had the wings of a dove. I would have been with you directly as you say fate has ordained that we cannot see each other. I hope it may not always be the case. I should feel very badly indeed if I thought for a moment we never were to meet again. I do wish you would make haste and get married and take your bridal tour in this direction. Do do do.

There is no prospect at present for me getting married although it is reported through our small town Alexandria. Lizzie Howells wrote to me a few weeks ago and wished to know what day it was to be on. I think it that my marriage is so close at hand I do not know anything about it. She says she has written two letters to you and has not received an answer to either of them. I certainly think you have answered them but they have been miss carried.

Sarah Farnum has become pious lately and intends joining the church. And what do you think her mother has come to Philadelphia and is now living with Mr. Farnum. You know they have been parted for a number of years. There is quite a reconciliation taking place. I do not think she will live with him long. I expect Sarah is quite disturbed about it. Do you remember Sarah’s Uncle – the one with corked leg? He is quite an old man [and] married a young girl last winter, and now she expects to be confined very soon. Is it not disgusting for old men to marry – especially them which possess one leg? But I see it does not injure the rest of his body in the least.

Aunt Eliza and Aunt Christiana are still single. I think they ever will be. They are going to Washington this evening to spend several weeks. I shall miss them very much. I had quite a large company this week. I wish you had of been here. I enjoyed myself very much. We had beaux in abundance – neither of them had any charms for me, for I have fallen in love with your Uncle from description. Jane, suppose we make an exchange. I will give you my brother in exchange. Richard has grown to be quite a man. He is so much improved, you would not know him. He has grown very slim and tall. He is still at school and does not intend leaving for a year. I think it is time you had left. I thought the Southern Ladies turned out very young – some at the age of 16 and 14. You have no excuse. You can come on, I know, then to see me.

I suppose you have been to several balls this May. I had a ticket sent me this week but I do not intend to go. I heard you went to a good many. Is it so? I am very fond of attending them. There has been several large ones given here and in Washington. I expect Charles Guma down from Washington this afternoon. Do you remember him? We have had a regular flirtation. I expect you are well versed in it. I heard you were quite a belle rung very loud.

Caroline Duncan, they say, is in very delicate health – so weak that she can scarcely walk – nursing does not agree with her. Lizzie Howell goes to see her quite often. How can you agree with Lizzie by saying old maid’s life is a happy one? I [hear] she does not think so. I do not think you can for if you do, I am very much mistaken in you. I thought you were a girl of too fine a taste for that. Perhaps they are the wisest but not the happiest. That is my opinion on the subject. Lizzie has not told me that [illegible]. I am going to let you know it. I expect it is something about the gents. It would be no secret if it was anything else. I think she is very much in love and I have my suspicions too who it is. But Lizzie thinks no one knows it but herself. I found it out. He is a handsome fellow, I can assure you. I cannot say that he loves in return. I cannot tell you the name for something very particular is connected with it.

Harriet Bennet, they say, has grown very handsome and has a great many beaux of course that must follow where there is beauty but man’s heart is so doubtful I would not trust them but of sight. There has been a great many weddings here lately; young girls – one 16 or 17. How do you like that fashion? I do not admire it much.

Mr. Daingefield’s friend Charles is still living with him and is as handsome as ever. His sister was married a few months ago – only 17 years old and is in the —– way already. So is Aunt Phealy. It is quite discouraging to us, is it not? Mr. Fox is now in Mobile. He expects to visit Alexandria next July. Him and I do not speak. He called to see me the day before he left and I was laying down and would not get up to see him. It offended him very much indeed. Before that he told me he intended calling by to see you, I expect his _____ was very pretty company to you. I have you run the gentleman that was to call on you the day you wrote to me. How do you like him? My friend, Mr. Vinson has gone to the West Indies to stay 4 years. Is it not shocking to my feelings to think we are to be parted so long? I am afraid I shall die with a broken heart during his absence.

I do not know why Miss Brown leaves Miss E unless she is so very disagreeable she cannot live with her. She will not let Miss Brown have one beau and she will not let the gentleman of her acquaintance come to see her. Mr. Pettet come over to see her whilst I was in Westchester and she insulted him. I would not live with her if I was Mary. That is the reason why Sarah Johnson will not live with her. She has a first rate beau on – one of Mr. Ke_______  _______. I think she will marry him. Do not say anything to Lizzie Howell about Miss Brown for I am afraid Miss Edmonds will hear it and ____ know what she is. I do not think she has written to you and Miss E — out of sight, out of mind with her. I see grandmother has written to her some things and has not received an answer yet. She does dislike to write more than any person I ever saw.

I want you to tell me how many offers of marriage you have had since you left Miss Edmond’s. Do tell me — that is if you can numerate them. I do wish you would make haste and get married. I am very much obliged to you for that piece of hair you sent me. I thought you had forgotten to send it to me. I prize it very highly. I have a very handsome locket that I intend to put it in.

Do give my love to your Martha and the rest of your roommates. I should like to see them. Do not let any one see this letter for I am ashamed of it written so badly but I know you will excuse it. I never show one of your letters to any one and hope you will not show mine. You wished to know how many love letters I have received since my return home. Not one! Have I not been very much neglected? I suppose you get them every day, do you not? Write me a long letters for I will never get out of pleasure reading a letter from you. Your attached friend, — Virg


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery

An Honorable Peace

The Civil War Letters of Frank B. Knause, 6th Michigan Infantry & Heavy Artillery

Looking for a Rebel to Give him a Pop

Letters to & from Sgt. John Henry Ward, 93rd PA Inf

Civil War Letters of William H. H. Kinsey

Co. H, 28th Illinois Infantry

Spared & Shared 14

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The 1863 Diary of Thomas Wilbur Manchester

A Rhode Island Soldier in the American Civil War

The Daniels/Stone Digital Archives

A Collection of Family Civil War Era Letters & Ephemera

Spared & Shared 13

Saving Civil War History One Letter At A Time

Spared & Shared 12

Saving history one letter at a time

Dear Nellie

Civil War Letters of Thomas L. Bailey

Homefront Letters to Mark Rankin

Co. B, 27th Massachusetts Vols.

These Troubling Times...

The Civil War Letters of William H. Walton, Co. B, 3rd New Hampshire

Reluctant Yanks

The Civil War Letters of Joseph F. & B. Franklin Orr, Co. F, 76th Ohio Infantry

Hunting rebels as a dog would a fox....

The Civil War Letters of George W. Scott of Co. I, 46th Massachusetts (Militia)

The Civil War Letters of William Hunt Goff

Company H, 24th Massachusetts

The Charles Wetmore Broadfoot Letters

Aide de Camp to Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes

Spared & Shared 11

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Billy Yank & Johnny Reb Letters

Civil War Letters Transcribed by Griff

To the Front

The Civil War Letters of David Brett, 9th Massachusetts Light Artillery

Dear Jack

Letters received by Dr. John William Crapster O'Neal

For the Union

Civil War Letters of William Freeland, Co. F, 132nd New York Infantry

I shall be Willing to Suffer

The Civil War Letters of Marquis Lafayette Holt of the 3rd New Hampshire Infantry

"Shall the Union be Preserved?"

The Civil War Letters of William Henry Hodgkins -- Co. B, 36th Massachusetts

The Civil War Letters of William Busby

A Private in Co H, 20th Iowa Vols

Diary of Henry Knox Danner

The Civil War Experience of a Private in Co. K, 30th Pennsylvania Infantry (1862-1864)

Franklin S. Twitchell

Co. B, 13th Connecticut Infantry

The Civil War Letters of Henry E. Mumford

A Colored Soldier of Co. B, 29th Connecticut Infantry

No Babies Play

Letters of Joseph Hazen, Co. F, 20th New York Cavalry

I Long to See You Again

The Civil War Letters of Willis McDonald, Co. F, 17th Connecticut Infantry

I stood in my tracks

The Civil War Letters of Benjamin F. Hulburd, 7th & 2nd Vermont Infantries

This fight will tell the story

Letters by Harlan P. Martin, Co. E, 123rd N.Y.V.

The Rebecca Breidenstein Collection

Letters addressed to Rebecca by both her first & second husbands during the Civil War

The Smoke of my Rifle

A small collection of letters by Capt. Augustus Alonzo Hoit of Co. G, 8th Maine Infantry

Trumpet of Freedom

Civil War Letters of Cyrus E. Ferguson -- a soldier and bugler of the 15th Iowa Infantry

The Bowdoinham Letters

Civil War Letters addressed to the Brown Family of Bowdoinham, Maine

"I am for war, till slavery is dead"

The Civil War Letters of Jerome Bonaparte Burrows, Captain of the 14th Ohio Independent Battery

"All glory to our flag -- and to those who defend it!"

Seven Civil War Letters by Col. Augustus Abel Gibson

"Mother, don't worry about me"

The Civil War Letters of Caleb & John B. Chase, 3rd & 9th Minnesota Infantries

%d bloggers like this: