Thursday, February 2, 2017

"Edward William Johnston And Roanoke Female Seminary" (1969), Part I

Botetourt Springs early 1840s. A digital copy can be found at the Hollins University
[Notes from studying Margaret P. Scott and Rachel Wilson, "Edward William Johnston And Roanoke Female Seminary," Journal of the Roanoke Historical Society. Roanoke, Virginia. Volume 5, Number 2 (Winter 1969), pages 15-25. Scott and Wilson, Hollins Class of 1912, were emeritus professors at the time of publication.]

"Responsibility" for Bedford Female Academy in Liberty (Bedford), Virginia, was passed from the Reverend Mr. Jacob Mitchell to Edward William Johnston "we think" in 1837 (page 16). 

Johnston moved the school to Botetourt Springs in March of 1839 (page 16). He officially bought the deed from Hezekiah Daggs on April 20, 1839 (page 24). 

Students at both locations included:

Elizabeth Steptoe

and her first cousin, Frances "Fanny" Mennis

There was a Christmas party, apparently at Bedford, probably in December of 1838.

At Roanoke Female Academy, students included:

Eliza Mary Johnston, later Hughes (1825-1909)
Miss Lewis (Charleston, Kanawha)
Miss Bowyer (Fincastle)  
Miss Allen (Fincastle) [Probably Mary Jane Allen, later Watts (1825-1855)]
Miss Dabney (Lynchburg)
Sally Langhorne
Sally Steptoe (page 17).

[From other notes we know that the following were students there, also:

Mrs. Sorrel = Letitia "Letty" Gamble Watts Rives Sorrel (1829-1900), whose second husband was Dr. Francis Sorrel (1827-1916), a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Her first husband had been Landon Rives (1825-1862). 
Mrs. Washington = [?].
Sue and Lizzie Peyton = probably related (daughters or nieces) to William Madison Peyton (1814-1868).

For the first 1839 term, apparently, teachers and handlers included Harvey Mitchell, Jane Mitchell, Mr. Bozzaotra, "Cousin Sue," and Edward and Estelle.

For the 1839-1840 term, Harvey and Jane departed. Estelle to continue and be joined by her mother. Mr. Bozzaotra [spelled Bozkaotra in other notes] evidently remained. Mr. Goodsicki of Richmond would be added to teach dancing in 1840. (page 17).

Picnic at Mrs. General Edward Watts of "Oaklands" on Roanoke County, drinking mint juleps (page 20).

By early 1841 the school was finished as such. So it seems there were two (or three) sessions at Bedford and two sessions at Botetourt Springs, all between 1837 and 1841.

In the endnotes on page 24, there are references to "Hollins Archives: Letters written to and by Mrs. Elizabeth Steptoe of 'Fairview,' Bedford County: 1838, two letters on the same stationary. Nov. 24th, 1839, May 8th and June 24th. These original letters were given to Joseph A. Turner of Hollins College by Annie Lowry of Bedford. Mr. Turner notes that Miss Lowry is related to the Johnston family." Also: "Copies of Letters from Students and Others Connected with the Roanoke Female Seminary at Botetourt Springs, 1931. Unpublished typescript. Unpaged."

Part 2 will follow this article's postscript about Edward's career and life after the closing of Roanoke Female Seminary, with additional documentation. 

[Edward William Johnston (1799-1867)
Jacob D. Mitchell (1806-1877)
Estelle's mother = Joséphine Labarrière (1776-1858). Her first husband was Dr. Paul Valentine Costar (d. by 1805); her second, Jerome De Cressac Villagrand (1776-1845). Jerome joined them at some point, too. 
Estelle = Marie Antoinette Estelle Costar (De Cressac Villagrand) Johnston (circa 1802-1848).

Harvey Mitchell/Michel (1799-1866)
Jane = Jane Mary Wood Johnston Mitchell/Michel (1811-1892)
General Edward Watts (1779-1859)
Mrs. General = Elizabeth Breckenridge Watts (1794-1862), mother of Letitia Gamble Watts (1829-1900)]

[Many thanks to William Myers, Mary Davy, Sally Young and Sue Davis for their ongoing research collaboration.]

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