• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

footer

Romancoke

May 5th 1866

 

Looking over, dear Agnes, my pigeon hole label (l?)ed “letters unanswered,” I come across two with “Robt E. Lee Jr. Romancoke” very big & grand, & they turn out to be from my charming sister A___ who writes to her brother constantly & gives him always good advice. One written from Norfolk I answered in person, you remember, in R_d, when you kept me waiting half an hour & then appeared dressed within an inch of your life & seemed disappointed that I & F were not some one else; being, our own ourselves & your brothers we could not help it so you must excuse us.

The other written from “Hickory Hill” reached me not long ago, & I proceed now with the alacrity common to our family in such matters to answer it.

I thank you heartily for writing any letters I may chance to receive, especially from any one of the family, have as good an effect on my mental frame, as a bottle of “cholagogue” does on my physical. I never appreciated receiving or writing letters until I came here. So you see there is one benefit received. I have written to every one, at Lexington including Fitzhugh & still no answer & I am afraid I am becoming homesick again, after a partially successful struggle of four months to overcome it; so do you please write & make all of the Lees you meet with do the same.

How I should have liked to have been with you at “H-H” Mr W__ generally is refreshing from the singularity of his ideas & his peculiar way of giving them. I have heard him on the subject you spoke of & I think he puts himself out to his best now when-ever the “Yankee” is started.

I suppose Annie is approaching past that age when her young gentlemen cousins must cease kissing her; I think it is very unreasonable for the world to allow us to taste the fruit when green & forbid us touch it when ripe.

I have been up to Cheracoke1 twice since I saw you & enjoyed myself very much. They were all very kind & really seemed glad to see me which made it very pleasant to me & I hope I made some return. I certainly tried. Met there Miss Harriet Caperton a dear schoolmate of your own. She says, & for a long time a correspondent spoke of you a great deal & thinks of commencing again the interchange of thought so refreshing to young women, & between her & you for so long a time broken off. She is not strikingly handsome but quite pretty & very smart & agreable, has read every thing, light & heavy & quotes unmercafully [sic]. Slightly touched with the romantic, though not enough to hurt her. Spoke longingly of Custis though never saw him. And I tried to persuade her to go right straight to Lexington & seize upon him & carry him off, convinced that will have to be the course pursued by the female, who is so fortunate as to get our eldest brother.

She was engaged to Capt Dick Ashby brother to the famous Genl & went in mourning for him when he was killed.2 Took kindly to me for yours & custis’ sake. So I opened the box in which I keep my good nature & drove her & Miss Lucy over to Hampstead to call on Mrs. Col Gordon & they both said when they returned safe & sound, that they enjoyed every thing, roads (which were awful) scenery, Hampstead, (which is perfectly beautiful inside & out), the horses, your brothers conversation (which couldn’t be helped) & last but not least George Kaler, late of Heidleburg, Gy. at present “stud Groom” (wry Butler) to Robt E. Lee Jr “Romancoke,” who handled the Ribbons with his accustomed grace & elegance

The day before (Sunday) went to church at “The Quenlen” with Miss Lucy saw the family from Pampitike3 consisting of old “Muscow” (who looked very pale & sad) & a comrade ditto who drew the family coach, Cousins Tom & Sue Tom Jr & Julie the Governess & her daughter & the overseer & the driver; that’s the style the “FF’s”4 of King Wm attend driven worship. They were all well & asked when I had heard from Lexington, which question every one, white & black, allways [sic] ask me as soon as we meet & my ready answer is “about two months [ago] they were all well” Tell F___ I returned from the W. H. yesterday the wheat is looking very fine & nothing is troubling it. The fishermen have built a hut where they had it last year & they have orders as coming from him to keep every thing off the crop, as long as they stay there which will be until the middle of next month; but I’ll go up again before long & cunsult [sic] with Mr Mason & if necessary arrange a guard over it. The crop is just about heading & looks beautiful, there is a very little joint-worm in it, in one place only, I hope it wont spread.

I spent the night at Mr Garlich’s. Jimmie the young & promising physician was in Richmond but the house was full of visitors. Dr. Curtis & his wife his nephew & a widow & a blooming damsel Mrs Williamson & Miss Ellen Johnson (the two latter Fitz knows) besides the family which is a host in themselves. I had my doubts about staying, but was over persuaded, & stayed, walked Mr Garlick down, admiring his farm & then accompanied three of the ladies & the nephew on a tour to see the hous, consisting of a mill & a cascade. Your brother all the time very attentive to Miss Dora Garlick a blushing maiden of sixteen taking briars out of her skirts (I couldn’t find out whether she wore a “Duplex Eliptic” or an “Empress Tail” but it caught briars awful) while the nephew, who had the honor of serving in the “locals” during the late war, escorted his aunt & miss Osborn the Governess. I asked Miss Dora (who had a very pretty plaid on I think the “Stuart”) whose plaid she wore, she answered indignantly “my own” trying to explain I asked which plaid whither. when she interrupted me with “it is Alapacca” & I said no more on that subject but enquired tenderly what was good for the “gaps” in young chickens. Answer “wild onions & pepper” & she gave me next morning a pair scissors to cut up the onions but with a blue shrug

I have given you a sketch of high life in which I being present faithfully report in King Wm & New Kent, the homes now of your two brothers Wm in New Kent & Bob in King Wm. The weather is perfectly charming & the country here is in full bloom yellow Jasmine carnation honey suckle Jonaquils & star of Bethlehem grow wild here in profusion on the bluffs of Romancoke. I took a long walk amongst them enjoyed them – thought of you all. I cant think much or I became so dreadfully lonely when I do so my life is principally action after writing a letter home. I go to bed & imagine I have been talking face to face instead of being hundreds of miles off. I saw several beautiful places to day in my walk for building & chose one & am now waiting for the approval of my entire family to erect a handsome residence (water furnace & gas) to invite you all down to see me. Love to all & write or I’ll perish

ever your brother Bob

 

 

 

Source: Checked against original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 g 61-67, Section 12, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 June 26         

   

 

 

1. Chericoke plantation in King William County, Virginia. It was the home of the Braxton family.

2. General Turner Ashby (1828-1862) and his brother Richard Ashby (1831-1861).

3. Plantation in King William County, Virginia, not far from Shirley plantation.4.

4. "First Families" of Virginia.

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved