• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Shirley Jany 18/64


Dear Cousin Mary,

Constantly thinking Mama would be well enough for me to leave for Richmond, & hoping then to see you, I have delayed writing the sorrow I so keenly feel for you all in your recent heavy loss. Our thoughts too so painfully turn to poor Fitzhugh in his weary captivity, & now this terrible calamity much more crushing because preceded by the long separation. We can only pray for him. Dear Charlotte! I had learned to love her so well during the past year. We were together in grief & this brought us near.

The last time I saw her was only a few days before I came down here. When I entered her room she was sitting in the bright fire light, looking so pretty but sad. She spoke then more seriously of her sickness than ever before to me even attended to the possibility of never seeing her husband again. Before I left, her usual gay manner came back. Little did I dream as we lingered in saying good-bye that it was forever. Was it a foreshadowing impulse that made me turn after parting that my eyes might rest upon her once more, & for the last time in this Life. The two little graves look less lonely now, but we her relatives and friends shall miss her sadly for many a long day.

Mama joins me in much love & sympathy to you all. She thanks you warmly for your kind messages.

Very sincerely & affectionately





1. Lavinia “Binnie” Randolph Deas Mason Jackson (1836-1898) was the daughter of Fitz Allen Deas (1800-1846) and Lavinia Heth Randolph (1815-1850). She was born in New York, though her family later moved to the South. Her mother died at Shirley plantation in 1850. In 1859, she married Randolph Mason (1823-1862). He died in August of 1862 in North Carolina. At the time of her husband’s death, she was pregnant with her first child, Randolph Fitzhugh Mason, who was born in March of 1863 in Richmond. He lived until 1952.  




Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 g 25, Virginia Museum of History and Culture

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 May 26



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