Tuesday, August 23, 2016

John Preston Johnston to William Mosely Radford, January 31, 1840

Fincastle, Virginia, circa 1840, from  Howe’s Historical Collection of Virginia
[John Preston Johnston, at United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, to William Mosely Radford at Fincastle, Virginia, February 8, 1841, Box 26, Folder 12, Series X, Sub-series J, Robert Morton Hughes Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529. This is my rough, partial transcription.]

[In the first two paragraphs, John Preston Johnston gives his uncle Radford a description of the snow-covered area around West Point, and mentions his high standing. 

The third paragraph delves into the female seminary ("Uncle Edward's school") disaster of 1839. Due to this, there was at least a temporary falling out between Marie Antoinette Estelle Costar (De Cressac Villagrand) Johnston and her husband Edward William Johnston vs. Harvey Mitchell/Michel and his wife, Edward's sister, Jane Wood Mitchell/Michel. This seems to have been patched up only after John Preston Johnston and Estelle's deaths.]

I am on your account sorry for Lizzy's not returning to Uncle Edward's school, but on hers, I must say that I consider it a commendable thing to do; for I should be most loathe for the influence of "Madame Estelle" to be extended upon her, as it would, in great measure, if not entirely, counterbalance the good effect of Uncle Edward's most excellent example, especially since Aunt Jane has now left: our noble "Madame Estelle Marie Antoine de la Costar," Lizzie has informed me, has rendered herself not able and distinguished in all that Country by her unmistakable fondness for the "Water of life." This then is the secret of Uncle Edward's losing all his scholars. I always knew and always said, even while in Liberty, that the cursed old Hag would ruin him yet: T'would be a blessing to the World if she could be secretly poisoned, a thing, by the way which I would not hesitate to do "pro bon publico." It is really distressing to think that so excellent a man as Uncle Edward must always be clogged by such a "Witch of Hell" and all his fortunes ruined on her account.

I wish most sincerely I could be with you all about this time, feasting on the Glorious fare of Greenfield. I would be rather willing to exchange my tough rations of "corned beef," pickled pork, and "cod fish" for your splendid provisions. I think if you and Aunt Susan intend taking a pleasure trip anywhere next summer, you could not possibly pick upon a more agreeable place than this: during the whole of the Spring and Summer months the place is thronged with visitors, and a now novel and beautiful sight, than the Encampment you will never come across: parties are given by the Corps of Cadets every night and two splendid balls one on the Fourth of July and the other on the 28 August when we strike our tents: the number of visitors is never less than 300 at any time during the Summer and I can show you more Lights than you could find at any place in the Union.

Give my love to Aunt Susan, whom I hope you will prevail upon to write to me, and you, I beg you, follow her example. Remember me also to Aunt Sarah and Uncle Bowyer, and ask them if I can ever expect a letter or news from either of them.

Most Sincerely
J P Johnstone [nod to Sir Walter Scott] 

Tell Aunt Sarah I shall write to her very soon if she will promise to answer my letter. 

[John Preston Johnston (1824-1847)
William Mosely Radford (1810-1873)
Lizzy = Eliza Mary Johnston (1825-1909)
Marie Antoinette Estelle Costar (De Cressac Villagrand) Johnston (circa 1802-1848) 
Edward William Johnston (1799-1867)
Harvey Mitchell/Michel (1799-1866)
Jane Wood Mitchell/Michel (1811-1892)
Aunt Susan = Susanna Smith Preston Radford (circa 1805-1857)
Greenfield plantation = Fincastle vicinity, manor at the time of William and Susanna Preston Radford
Aunt Sarah = Sarah Radford Preston Bowyer (1806-1848)
Uncle Bowyer = Henry M. Bowyer (1802-1893)].

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Death of Charles Clement Johnston (1795-1832): Take II

[Thomas Tyler Bouldin at Washington City to Joseph Eggleston Johnston at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, June 18, 1832, folder 59, Trigg-Floyd Collection, Special Collections, John Cook Wyllie Library, The University of Virginia's College at Wise -- formerly Clinch Valley College -- Wise, Virginia. This is my rough transcription].

Dear Sir

It is my painful duty to inform you that your Brother my friend Charles C. Johnston is no more; he left us on yesterday evening and went to Alexandria on a visit and this evening a note from the coroner there informed the speaker that he was found drowned by the side of the warf [wharf], he left Newton's about half after eight o'clock in the evening intending to take the steam boat from Fredericksburg that touched at Alexandria about that time and he was no more heard of until about six o'clock this evening when the body was found floating in the water, the supposition is that in attempting to get from the warf [wharf] to the boat in the dark and perhaps as the boat was moving off he fell in and in the bustle and confusion was not observed by any one. I fain would now say something that would pour oil over the wounds my letter gives but that I need to be ministered unto, more than I have power to minister, I found and lost in him a friend whose kindly feelings and constant acts of friendship to me were mixed as little with the alloy of any selfish principle as is allowed to govern the purest of human soul that lives or ever did live, I will not attempt the decription of the shock which the intelligence gave me and all our mess and other friends to tell you we feel with and for you and for one another is all I can do.

yrs truly
Thomas T. Bouldin

P.S. His watch & pocket book were in his pocket so there is no reason to believe that the matter occurred otherwise than in some such way as is conjectured  above. Govr. Preston is here and almost entirely unnerved at present I expect he will write to you and to your brothers as soon as he can. I have locked up his papers & taken possession of his trunk. 

[As asked in an earlier post: Was the death of Charles Clement Johnston an accident, suicide, or murder? Joseph Draper (1794-1834) had narrowly lost to Johnston in a contested election in 1830; final victory had been awarded to the latter (who was already seated in Congress) after review by the House of Representatives in June 1832. Draper gained his seat after Johnston's death, but then prematurely died himself in 1834.

As for Thomas Tyler Bouldin (1781-1834), he served in the House of Representatives with Charles as a fellow Jacksonian Democrat. He was succeeded by John Randolph (1773-1833) of Roanoke Plantation, Charlotte County, Virginia, and was then appointed to fill the latter's vacancy upon his death. Weirdly, Bouldin dropped dead while giving a eulogy for Randolph in Congress and was then superceded in Congress by his own brother James.] 

[Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States during the First Session of the Twenty-second Congress Begun and Held at the City of Washington, December 5, 1831, and in the Fifty-sixth Year of the Independence of the United States (Washington: Printed by Duff Green, [1832]), page 900]:

TUESDAY, June 19, 1832. Mr. Bouldin announced the death of Charles C. Johnston, one of the Representatives of the State of Virginia, which took place at Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, on the 17th instant, by drowning: whereupon, The following resolutions were passed unanimously, viz

1. Resolved, That the members of this House will attend the funeral of the late Charles C. Johnston, this day, at 4 o'clock P.M. 

2. Resolved, That a committee be appointed to take order for superintending the funeral of Charles C. Johnston, deceased, late a member of this House from the State [Commonwealth] of Virginia. And Mr. Bouldin, Mr. Clayton, Mr. Polk, Mr. Dearborn, Mr. Nuckolls, Mr. Conno, and Mr. Daniel, were appointed the said committee. 

3. Resolved, That the members of this House will testify their respect to the memory of Charles C. Johnston, by wearing crape on the left arm for the remainder of the present session of Congress. 

Ordered, That a message be sent to the Senate to notify that body of the death of Charles C. Johnston, late one of the Representatives from the State of Virginia, and that his funeral will take place this day at 4 o'clock P.M. And then the House adjourned until to-morrow, 10 o'clock A. M.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Jane Mary Wood Johnston Mitchell/Michel to John Preston Johnston, February 8, 1841

[Jane Mary Wood Johnston Mitchell/Michel at Lilliput, Abingdon, Virginia, to John Preston Johnston, at United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, February 8, 1841, Box 26, Folder 12, Series X, Sub-series J, Robert Morton Hughes Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529. This is my rough transcription.] 

My dear boy,

I received your letter to-day, & assure you that I was highly gratified to perceive that you still remember and love your unworthy aunt. I have frequently promised myself that I would write to you, but as I have heard of you very often without any direct correspondence, I suffered my daily round of household duties, and petty cares, to engross my time, and prevent the fulfillment of my purpose. I am truly glad that you, my beloved nephew, have opened a correspondence which will afford me so much pleasure. I was sure that your uncle Beverly was in the habit of writing to you frequently, as he often told me of letters received from you. I shall take him to task for his negligence, the first time I lay eyes on him. I have an idea, however, that he is engaged in a correspondence of a most interesting nature, with a young lady (of course) & doubt not that you will excuse his being remiss in attending to the claims of less fair writers. He is still in pursuit of Miss Daniel -- and, I am told by one of his friends, with a good prospect of success. He himself is perfectly impenetrable on the subject. I suppose you know that his quondam flame, Miss Erskine, is married -- to an ordinary, & somewhat aged man, a Mr. Gay.

You give the first intelligence I have had of brother Joseph's love affair. I do most sincerely wish that he may gain the heart & hand of his lady love, if she be such as he paints her. I should like to have a sister-in-law that I could love & esteem rather more highly than her of Hayti. I never know where to direct a letter to Joseph. I therefore entreat that you will write to him, in my name, and urge him most strongly to pay us a visit the ensuing spring or summer. We hope to have you, & Liz, & brother Sydney, with us. Our dear Joseph's presence would make us almost too happy. Do beg him, in every way you can think of, to come, & tell him that we all love him as dearly as ever. I should not be surprised if mamma were to visit us next summer, & sister Louisa is pledged to give us her company. They both mention you most affectionately when they write to me.

You ask where we are living? Do you remember where Spiker used to live, on the main road, half a mile west of Abingdon? His house has been pulled down & ours built on the same lot; (though further from the road) by Mr. Railey. It is a neat little cottage -- the situation is beautiful, & the distance from town so short that our friends there can conveniently come to breakfast or tea with us. We have a small circle of very agreeable associates, with whom we are on the most friendly terms, indeed as intimate as near kindred, and your two uncles are often with us. So I have every reason to be pleased with our place of abode. Your aunt Preston breaks us house every fall, and spends the winter in Carolina, with Margaret. She is there now, & will, in all probability, remain until Thomas's return, which is fixed for April or May.

Your little playmate, Louisa, still thinks of you with undiminished affection. She talks of you every day, & mentions your kindness to her. She has grown a great deal since you saw her, & is much prettier. But my boy is my beauty, He is certainly (partiality aside) the sweetest little fellow that I ever saw, and your uncle Harvey thinks he bids fair to be as clever & smart as his cousin Preston.

Your uncle Harvey has been in Lynchburg all the winter closely occupied in painting. His success there was totally unlooked for. He started from home to spend the winter in Petersburg, but, being accidentally detained in Lynchburg got to painting there, & has had an extraordinary run of business. He expects to return home next month, I know he will be delighted to see you here -- he always speaks of you with the affection of almost a father. I must now lay this aside until I see your uncle Beverly who is from home just now.

I have kept this a week, waiting to see your uncle Beverly. He needed no persuasion, I assure you, to give his consent to your coming home  in the next summer. He says he wants you, by all means, to come, & that he will send you, shortly, a permit to get a furlough. I would have you bear in mind, my dear boy, that I shall expect you to spend nearly all the time with us here. A few days in Botetourt, and the rest here, with Eliza. Lou sends her love. Pray do not let it be long before you write again to your affectionate aunt.

Jane W. Michel

[Lilliput = cute name for the cottage that must have been inspired by Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726, 1735). 
Jane Mary Wood Johnston Mitchell/Michel (1811-1892)
John Preston Johnston (1824-1847) and Liz/Eliza = Eliza Mary Johnston (1825-1909), children of Charles Clement Johnston (1795-1832) and Eliza Madison Preston Johnston (1803-1828)
Bev = Beverly Randolph Johnston (1803-1876)
Joseph = Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891)
"Her of Hayti" Marie Antoinette Estelle Costar (De Cressac Villagrand) Johnston (ca. 1802-December 15, 1848)
Mamma = probably Ann Nancy Bernard Johnston (1775-1865)
Louisa = Louisa Smith Bowen Johnston (1800-1873)
Margaret = probably Margaret Buchanan Frances Preston Hampton (1818-1852)
Thomas = possibly Thomas Lewis Preston (1812-1903)
Lou = Mary Louisa Mitchell/Michel (1838-1930)
"My boy" = William Manning Mitchell/Michel (1839-1908)
Harvey Mitchell/Michel (1799-1866)
Sydney = Algernon Sidney Johnston (1801-1852)]