“...promise me darling to destroy my letters, I cannot endure the thought of having my letters read by any one but my own dear husband - and they might get misplaced or lost and the Yankees get them in that way,” Sallie Fair Rutherford wrote on the 22nd of April 1862 from Newberry, S.C., to her newlywed husband, Confederate Army officer William Drayton Rutherford, who was deployed to a far-away battlefield in Virginia. Loathe to destroy such an intimate link with home and hearth, Rutherford disobeyed Sallie and in so doing preserved not only his wife’s correspondence but her memory, a decision that provides an opportunity for new understanding of the activities of this upstate South Carolina family and their wide circle friends and relatives.
This unit of one hundred forty-eight items added to the papers of William Drayton “Drayt” Rutherford (1837-1864) provides more insight into the people and themes represented elsewhere in personal papers relating to the family at the Library. The bulk of the collection dates to 1860-1869 and documents the Civil War years of Rutherford, his wife, and other family members in the years following his death in battle.
Further supporting the study of Rutherford’s life prior to his military service, these papers include travel letters from Great Britain and Europe and other items reflecting leisure activities in the Palmetto State during the late antebellum period. Letters of Sallie Fair shed light upon the lives of her family and school friends with whom she became acquainted while enrolled at South Carolina Female Collegiate Institute at Barhamville near Columbia, S.C. Wide ranging in theme, the new addition covers such subjects as Rutherford’s Civil War service; the presence of African American slaves in Confederate encampments, including the travels of Rutherford’s manservant, Jim, between Virginia and South Carolina; the controversy over the presentation of a regimental flag to the Third South Carolina Infantry Regiment; outbreaks of smallpox and yellow fever; women’s opinions about secession, war, and the postbellum social order; and social activities of college students in South Carolina and Maryland during the 1890s.
As a young man, Rutherford enrolled in The Citadel and attended South Carolina College, but he completed his education in Germany. Prior to his departure for Europe later that year, Rutherford wrote a letter, 18 January 1860, from Union to Sallie Fair, enrolled then in her final year at South Carolina Female Collegiate Institute. Explaining that his removal to Union, S.C., was an effort to avoid the ever present reminders of her in Newberry, S.C., the pining young man told of hunting, billiards, and time in the presence of a young woman who planned to join Sallie at school: “I have been Heaven only knows how lonely since you left Newberry.... In weariness of heart I have fled... but alas! How can I flee from that which is ever present! Even now when I am in the exercise of my present employment (fox hunting) in the company of a charming young lady (Miss Carrie Gist) memory is busy with the past and I but half enjoy the present.”
Rutherford documented his subsequent overseas travels of 1860 in enthusiastic detail, relaying impressions of Edinburgh, Scotland, and sites associated with the works of Sir Walter Scott, a favorite author, as well as of the continent during his time touring Germany and the Rhine River valley. In an incomplete letter dated 8 September 1860, Rutherford noted the charms of Scotland and its relatively quiet Edinburgh, which he preferred to the tumult of London. Comparing the buildings of the University of Edinburgh to the campus of South Carolina College, he reported: “It was quite a relief to escape from the incessant din of so populous a city as London, to the more relaxed but no less distinguished Queen of Scottish towns, the famous Edinburgh or -boro! Of course I visited the College where genius has been alike created, developed & nurtured. It is a square block of buildings in the heart of town, not half as Classic as old S.C. College Campus.” This letter also reflects Rutherford’s affinity for the works of Sir Walter Scott, particularly in his descriptions of locations associated with Scott’s Lady of the Lake and Rob Roy.
After arriving on the continent, Rutherford met with other touring South Carolinians in Paris, including Richard I. Manning, Alfred English Doby, and Willie Taylor, all of whom traveled with him to Berlin. While sojourning there, Rutherford updated Sallie on 8 November 1860 about travels with his friendly cohorts, their romantic attachments or lack thereof, and his unfavorable impressions of the people of the German states, although he admired the landscapes of the region during a cruise on the Rhine. Rutherford also commented on the local population and his lodging in Berlin, where he stayed “with an old woman who rejoices that I can’t speak a word of german, allowing her the full use of her only unfaded faculty, her tongue, since she has to discuss the ‘pro & con’ of all her propositions. I can’t say that I fancy the Dutch people. They are insufferably ugly, dirty & careless, but kind & rather agreeable. The female portion have fine complexions, but dress badly, walk badly, have bad teeth & therefore look badly. They are eminent in that last defect—defective teeth! Half that you meet in the street have ‘to gum it’ they never think of having a false one! They are honest; preferring ugliness to deception, and the men are oh! Horrible! So that my dearest friend you need not fear my falling in love with either sex, men or women! Well a thought of you has made me forget all my misery solitude & home sickness....The Romance of being in Europe is all humbug!” Rutherford intended to remain in Europe through 1861, although his travel plans were contingent in part upon the cessation of hostilities between warring regions in Italy.
Had her family approved, Sallie Fair might also have enjoyed a grand tour in Europe thanks to her uncle Elisha Young Fair who served as U.S. Minister to Belgium, 1858-1861. In a letter of 26 July, dating perhaps to 1859, Sallie’s aunt Martha W. Fair, who had just returned to Brussels, lamented the absence of Sallie’s company: “I deeply regret, for your own good, as well as for my own pleasure, that your Mama and Grand Mama lacked the courage to give you up at least for one year.” Perhaps the increasing sectional tensions of the late antebellum years contributed to the reluctance of Sallie’s family to allow her to travel.
In the months following the secession of South Carolina in December of 1860, optimistic Confederates celebrated in various ways. A letter of 21 February 1861, written by one of Sallie’s friends, is the first of several missives revealing women’s views of the upcoming conflict. Columbia resident Charlotte “Lottie” Reynolds regretfully declined Sallie’s offer of a visit, as “the times are now exciting” and her parents did not want her to travel “until there is certainly no prospect of War. There seems to be every possibility of some fighting.” She discussed the contemporary political situation at Fort Sumter and described celebrations at South Carolina College: “we all feel anxious and are kept in a state of continual suspense. I long to hear that the Fort has been given up sans fighting and I think that if they can not [be] taken peaceably, they should be taken by force of arm immediately. Tis shameful to allow [Major Robert] Anderson ‘the noble hearted Southerner’ to occupy the Fort so snugly. We had quite a rejoicing in celebrating the joining of the ‘Southern Confederacy.’ The Students illuminated their buildings and fired off quantities of combustibles and as usual made more noise than any one else.... I feel so delighted to think that we are entirely different from the Yankees now. We have always (I am thankful to say) been opposite as a people; but now we have another government and will have no more to do with the blessed creatures.”
During the first half of 1861, many in uniform shared that optimism. Writing on 24 April 1861, after mustering in Columbia, S.C., with the Third South Carolina Infantry Regiment, following a day of “that ‘imposing spectacle’” of a “Dress Parade,” Rutherford predicted, “I doubt if any one goes to Washington or Virginia. Our Regt may be disbanded very soon.” This letter also represents the first of a number mentioning one of several enslaved African-American men working for soldiers in camp, in this case a slave named Harvey. Sad at his being separated from Sallie, Rutherford described his mood: “I should never smile again, But here comes the immortal Harvey to ask if I ‘am writing to Miss Sallie,’ and frowns fade always before his impertinence.” Harvey asks Rutherford “to write to his wife, for whom... he seems to have a genuine attachment,” an arrangement to which Rutherford agrees and Sallie would “have the honor of perusing & communicating it.”
Some four months later, in a letter of 8 August 1861, Mary Butler Fair relayed news to her son William of the death of a house servant and asked him to “tell Harvey Lela was sick about a month. Dr Mayer attending her all the time. I took her in the house and nursed her all the time myself, but her disease was so stubborn there could be nothing done to relieve her....I miss her very much and think now I will never get another little Negro.”
The Third Regiment arrived in Virginia in June with Rutherford serving as adjutant and several weeks later fought at First Bull Run, 21 July 1861. News of the battle quickly reached Newberry, where Sallie remained busy with other women in the community collecting food and clothing for soldiers and planning a concert as a fundraiser. Nonetheless, she complained in a letter of 24 July that “Miss Montgomery consoled me this evening by informing me that ‘They always aimed at the Officers & tried to kill as many of them as possible.”
Rutherford survived that first major engagement and with his regiment moved from place to place in Virginia during 1861, even as many families had already lost loved ones. Sallie Fair received a letter from Harriet “Hattie” Powe in Cheraw, S.C., that mentions mutual friends visiting with her in late December 1861 and also reflects upon the first Christmas of the war. Hattie’s letter refers to the tradition on some plantations of allowing slaves time off from regular duties and obligations during the holiday. “We all have our trials, and this year has been an eventful one for us all,” she wrote on 27 December 1861. “Many hearts have been saddened and homes darkened by this terrible war. We have lived ages since last Christmas. So very many changes have taken place and I fear many are yet to occur.” What will we all do when peace shall have been declared? I fear I shall be a fit subject for the asylum so overjoyed will I be... .My Christmas has been much more pleasant than I had any right to hope for. Tis true we have had to wait on ourselves, for the holidays are given up entirely to the negroes.”
With the loss of her brother Robert in September 1861, Sallie Fair’s home became one of those darkened by loss. Younger brother Billy had enlisted in the Confederate Army at age fourteen in June 1861, but was sent home after several months due to illness, and had returned to school at Arsenal Academy in Columbia, S.C., although he hoped soon to be back in the field. In an attempt to avoid another young casualty, Rutherford, Capt. James D. Nance, and other allies of Sallie’s cause encouraged the young man to remain in school.
Nance’s interest in Billy’s future was only natural given the kinship between the Nances and Fairs. In a letter from Nance to Mrs. Mary Butler Fair, 14 August 1861, written from Vienna, Virginia, he assured her that he would encourage Billy to remain in school and expressed appreciation for her letter while at the same time alluding to his sorrow at the loss of his own mother at an early age: “I am touched by your tenderness in offering to supply, as far as you can, a mother’s care and counsel. It has been many long years, amounting almost to my whole life, since I experienced the blessing of a mother’s love & instruction. Times without number, in my life, have I deeply and bitterly mourned my great loss in being deprived of a good & affectionate mother’s training, at so early an age.”
This familial relationship may also explain the involvement of Sallie’s mother, Mary Butler Fair, and several other Newberry women in the sewing of a flag for the regiment. Mention of this flag and the seamstresses’ progress appears in several letters during 1861, including that of 7 November 1861, in which Sallie tells Drayt that Mr. Pratt had visited her mother about a flag for the regiment. Unfortunately, Mrs. Fair’s involvement became something of an embarrassment due to the behavior of the relative stranger chosen to deliver the flag to the regiment in Virginia. This young grifter collected three hundred dollars from the soldiers, promising to purchase supplies in Richmond, but he never returned and was apprehended in Charlottesville, Virginia.
By orders dated 14 May 1862, Rutherford was “constitutionally elected” major of the Third Regiment while the unit was stationed in New Kent County, Virginia. Even with his promotion and despite his close friendly relationship with Col. James D. Nance, Rutherford wrote of his strong difference of opinion with Nance on the issue of furloughs. In a letter dated 19 July 1862, penned from Camp Jackson to his wife, Rutherford expressed his despair with camp life, the unreliable nature of mail delivery, and the seeming inability to be granted a furlough. “I tell Jimmie that I can see no good reason now, while everything is so still, why I should not be permitted to see my dear wife,” he lamented. Yet, “now they will not allow leaves of absence even for sickness! They require all sick to be sent to Hospitals or Deaths Hotel and allow furloughs only to badly wounded. So that matters grow worse instead of better. But it is not the first sacrifice of feeling we have made for our unhappy country, and we must steel our hearts to the consequences of this miserable war.”
In July 1862, Rutherford was promoted to lieutenant colonel. That September he was captured by Union forces at South Mountain, west of Frederick, Maryland. Held prisoner of war in Baltimore, he recovered his health thanks to the plentiful resources of the Union doctors and was paroled on 14 October 1862, after which he returned to Newberry, S.C., for a short furlough. James D. Nance, wrote from near Winchester, Virginia, to congratulate Rutherford on his return from “Yankee land” and speculated on the extent of sympathy for the Confederate cause in Maryland. The letter, dated 28 October 1862, was penned on patriotic Confederate stationery and expresses Nance’s pleasure at hearing “you were splendidly treated... in Baltimore.”
In August 1863, Sallie delivered the couple’s first and only child, Kate. A letter written on 22 August 1863 by Mrs. M.D. Fair from Abbeville, S.C., to her sister-in-law Mary Butler Fair comments on the happy news, using a curious idiom and acknowledges the diminishing hopes for a Confederate victory: “Mary you might have known I would have been Yankee enough to have guessed the name, I well know the endearing attachment you entertain for the name of Kate... .how I envy every child its infancy, its unconsciousness of all the evils of these days of hor[r]id War. Until now I have looked & hoped for our ultimate success - but at present the horizon of the future seems so dark and impenetrable that at times I feel overpowered at the prospect.”
Rutherford typically spared his wife graphic descriptions of battle, so a letter of 26 April 1864, written from the vicinity of Gordonsville, Virginia, must have given her pause. He wrote that he and his men expected to go to the front at any time and suggested that the Union Army likely would seek retribution for the defeat at Henning, Tennessee, an atrocity reported in the Northern press as the Fort Pillow Massacre due to the slaughter of surrendering African-American soldiers at the hands of Confederate troops. Rutherford predicted, “if Grant succeeds, we will be pressed with a vigor that will strain all our resources, and persecuted with a fierceness almost barbarous. The Yankees seem to be quite infuriated over their defeat at Fort Pillow. May their pillow always be hard!” Rutherford offered another assessment of Grant’s prowess in a letter of 10 June 1864: “Grant is waiting for something, we do not know what, but leave all such matters to Genl Lee, who so far, has been smart enough for him. Grant is generally regarded as the most dangerous antagonist yet sent against Genl Lee....”
Writing from Petersburg, Virginia, on 22 July 1864, Rutherford informed his wife of his promotion to colonel, plans to send Jim, his slave, home to South Carolina, and his efforts to secure a chaplain for the regiment: “I can not see now where I am to find a suitable man, who will accept... .I would like to have a man of good education, liberal views, free address, one who would give tone to the men, elevate their sentiments and teach them to respect, if not to adopt religion. He ought to be an active man, to look after the sick, especially the wounded, visit the Hospitals and do many small acts of charity that are always waiting. One who is not willing to do all this is unfit for the place.” Rutherford also discussed his plans to send Jim home to Newberry to retrieve a new horse for his use, pending Jim’s recovery from the measles.
Although this collection further documents W.D. Rutherford’s travels with his regiment, it also includes a significant number of accounts of relocations of refugee civilians forced to move as the war progressed. A letter of 13 November 1861 from Sallie’s uncle Sam Fair in Columbia, S.C., optimistically notes the excitement from the recent occupation of Port Royal (Beaufort County, S.C.) by Federal troops, although he had “no great fears for our immediate safety, as a city, nor much for that of Charleston... .”
Two months later, another resident of Columbia noted new faces about town even though the population of South Carolina College had declined significantly. A letter from Kate, 29 January 1862, describes the capital city as a social center, where many strangers had adopted the habit of promenading the streets, and she compares it to a fashionable avenue in Charleston: “imagine it - King Street on a small scale.” Although enrollment at the college numbered around sixty students, “they are all quite young and are not ‘made so much of.’” During the early years of the conflict, comments on such war-related news often assumed a playful and humorous tone, as in a letter of 23 February 1862 to Rutherford in which Sallie reported the abrupt departure of her friend Hattie Powe after having received a telegram from her father: “it may be as Pa tried to make her believe - that Dr. Powe was afraid the Yankees would get up the river with their Gunboats and she would not be at home to receive them.”
While the war hastened many marriages, Rutherford felt that it delayed his, which was postponed until March of 1862, when he and Sallie Fair were wed in Newberry, S.C. Several of Sallie’s friends were newly married as well, as referenced by the teasing Sallie received at the hands of Hattie Powe on 13 March 1862: “Now Sallie because you are going to be married, don’t forget your friends who have not been so fortunate. Are you going to enlist for the war too? I reckon so, as wives are so crazy about their husbands.” Perhaps Powe was only half joking, as their mutual friend Charlotte “Lottie” Reynolds McCord was by this time living with friends in St. Paul’s Parish, only two miles away from the camp of her husband, Capt. Cheves McCord, on the Stono River. In her letter of 16 March 1862, McCord acknowledged that she was quite near the Yankees, but she planned to stay until the fight was over. “I think it is useless for me to go to Richmond,” she wrote. “I would like to go with him to Manassas but that is impossible.”
Mrs. McCord proved the exception. Most civilians traveled great lengths to escape the front lines of battle. In a letter written on 19 May 1862 from Richmond, a correspondent identified only as Benson mentioned the reorganization of the regiment and predicted that Newberry, S.C., would shortly be overrun with refugees from Charleston and the seacoast. Sallie wrote to her husband on 16 September 1864 of meeting a refugee soldier while in Union District, S.C., teasing Drayt, “I almost lost my heart again but he was a Charlestonian and I cannot like them much....” Another letter, written several days later, 22 September 1864, took a more serious tone, as Drayt replied to her request for an evacuation plan should the need arise. Writing from a camp near Rapidan, Virginia, Rutherford mentioned the fall of Atlanta, the rumored deaths of Confederate leaders John Hunt Morgan and John Singleton Mosby, and the defeat of Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley. However, he rejected her idea of fleeing towards a Confederate Army camp: “May you be spared the necessity my darling of ever quitting that house on account of the enemy.... My advice to you is to keep the carriage and horses ready and when the raid gets into Edgefield to take the road towards the upper country. Go to Union and if they come in that direction go still further up to Dick Gists, or any where on an obscure road. Raids always follow a public road and you would feel about as safe with old Mistress Caldwell as any where else. How would you like to be in a City besieged by an enemy, as may be the case with Richmond, with shells bursting over your head, and setting fire to houses all around you?”
William Drayton Rutherford was killed in October 1864 at Hupp’s Hill near Strasburg, Virginia. Among the letters of condolence Sallie received from friends and family is a note, written on 13 November, by one widow to another, in which Mrs. E.A. Marshall of Abbeville commented, “It is useless...for me to refer to the glorious death of your noble Husband, being too, a subject upon which I dare not trust myself.”
Many letters discuss the challenges faced by former planters in adjusting to the new social order and economic realities of Reconstruction. Sallie Rutherford’s correspondence from the period includes a few items that mention the presence of African-American soldiers, including a letter of 31 August 1865 written from Prospect Hill, near Greenville, S.C. “The garrison at Greenville consists of Yankee negroes, [and] natives of Charleston and Beauford Districts,” it states. “They are [a] much cleaner looking set than we have at home.” And although she had been into town only twice, the writer observed that “Greenville looks quite natural....”
Several letters address conditions in the South Carolina low country. Fannie H. Trenholm, a frequent correspondent, described recent events in Charleston in her letter of 20 Janurary 1866 and assessed the annual St. Cecilia's Ball as a success, but most letters describe far more grim scenarios. That written by W.M. Lawton to Mary Butler Fair on 2 February 1866 describes the social unrest and race relations along the coast, the difficulty in resuming occupancy of his land from resident freedmen, and the dire straits faced by everyone: “I have two houses in this place and two places in the country, a farm in Abbeville and my plantation in Beaufort District with not a building on it, and there is no selling real estate here at any price... .I am too old to plough and we low country people are ruined effectively. My Brother, James, sold his plantation on James Island for $40.000 of the confederate money and he is now a poor man with a large family residing at Summerville... we see no prospects to hope or encourage us as to the future. I strive to hope on, and keep up my spirits.”
The complications inherent in resolving legal and financial issues, particularly the resolution of debts bought in Confederate currency at inflated war-time prices, are suggested by an undated draft of a letter directed to “My Dear Brother” discussing efforts to collect a note against W.D. Rutherford’s estate that had been “hawked about the streets” until purchased by a third party, apparently a relative. Outrage at the matter provoked the stern tone of this letter: “...I little expected you would turn out to showing the paper of one who left to his child nothing but his sword which he wore when he fell at the head of his regiment. If some Jew Shylock had bought up the paper of one who gave his life for his country it would be [a] matter only of contempt but when one who shared the kindness where you come from, one you pretend[ed] to affectionate when living, it is [a] matter both of contempt and petty. It is a war note and even if the estate were in funds you would be entitled to but little if any thing.”
Faced with such daunting prospects at home, many sought opportunity elsewhere, but continued to update those who remained behind in Newberry, S.C. Several letters document efforts of widows and other women to secure a living from farming or business elsewhere, often in a world with few men. A letter of 1 January 1867, written from Selma, Alabama, by a writer identified only as Sussie updates “Cousin Sallie” on the family’s trip to Alabama, noting that their boat was delayed to load cotton for market. Lamenting the size of her mother’s small home, crowded with a dozen children plus mothers and grandmothers, Sussie reported continued delays in efforts to assume possession of a nearby property, a site at which “everything has gone to ruin almost, the dwelling house hardly worth going into at all.” The family planned to build a dog-trot or double log cabin, although the home would shelter few possessions as “furniture is so unusually high.” She predicted that Sallie would see “mighty poor folks” when she visited the next winter.
Another cousin wrote to Sallie from Alabama on 9 April 1867. Calling herself a “woman of business,” Elizabeth cited an obscure bit of weather folklore while writing about her small grocery business which she operated in one room of her leaky house. In addition to financial concerns, she feared the financial impact from a frost that devastated the local orchards, killing peaches and plums. She hoped to enjoy an apple harvest, barring another freeze; however, a neighbor predicted a killing frost on the 18th, sparking her to write, “when we have loud thunder in January we are certain to have a killing frost the same day of the month in April that he has noticed in past years.”
Attorney Thomas Moorman of Marion, Arkansas, reported on his search for a new home and little interest in voter registration on 31 July 1867, noted his decision to relocate from Memphis, Tennessee, to Arkansas, where, he observed, “There is less drunkenness here than in Newberry,” and commented on preparations for elections: “Registration is going smoothly on, under a Board made up of two well behaved Yankees, now citizens, and an old citizen of good sense and respectability, who was a consistent Union Man. Five negroes are registering to one white man. A great many, both white and black take no interest in it.”
Even for those who remained in familiar haunts, life resumed some normalcy by the 1870s, as suggested in a letter from Fannie H. Trenholm, who wrote on 17 February 1871 from Charleston about preparations for a party celebrating a “crystal wedding,” apparently a fifteenth wedding anniversary: “I think a reception is a first rate idea, for there was a table set out with cake and wine but no other refreshments so one had the pleasure of seeing all their friends without the worry of a large supper table.... the floors were waxed and I feared a downfall, not having seen waxed floors for many a day.”
Along with rigid rules and rituals for entertaining, the Victorian era is also remembered for its elaborate funerary customs and monuments. A letter of 29 April 1871, signed by a correspondent identified only as Vinnie, reports that she was having some white rock burned and pounded into gravel for a gravesite and, if Sallie had no objections, she would like to cover “Brother Drayte’s” as well. Such an investment suggests that perhaps Sallie’s relatives had begun to enjoy a bit more disposable income by this time.
Surviving letters of the widowed Sallie Rutherford make no mention of Young John Pope, her late husband’s good friend, to whom Mrs. Rutherford was married in 1874. During the war, W.D. Rutherford had written his wife on 5 July 1864 encouraging her to entertain Pope during his furlough in Newberry and teasing that Pope enjoyed her company. In a letter of 12 November 1869, Fannie Trenholm pressed Sallie as to why she has not mentioned Pope and further urged her to “tell him I still indulge in vague chimerical visions about him. I have spoken to at least one d[o]z[en] young ladies about him.”
The union produced two daughters, Mary Butler Pope and and Harriet Neville Pope. Although Y.J. Pope’s successful political and judicial career frequently kept him away from Newberry for long periods of time, occasionally his position provided his wife an opportunity for travel. His letter of 13 January 1892 informs Sallie of a meeting in Charleston to which wives were invited: “As it is near the time of the Floral Fair, I expect it would be a pleasant time for you to visit the ‘City by the Sea’ and then see how far the courtesies of the older times are to be over.” Although this collection includes few letters in Pope’s hand, one, 26 May 1899, describes the demonstration in court of a new x-ray machine.
Few items that post-date the 1860s touch upon matters of national news or politics, with the exception of two letters from the 1890s, one regarding planning for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and another acknowledging the impact of expanding agricultural development in Florida on farmers elsewhere. In a letter dated 20 July 92, Floride Cunningham wrote as a member of the South Carolina division of the “Board of Lady Managers” of the “World’s Columbian Commission.” This group solicited prominent women from each state to spark local interest in the exposition and to generate content to be exhibited in the Woman’s Building, a pavilion planned for the White City. Cunningham expressed disappointment that Sallie had declined to serve as an officer at the state level, but inquired if Mrs. Pope would be willing to organize a World’s Fair Club in Newberry. A printed pamphlet offering shares of stock to fund construction of housing for female visitors to the fair promotes the Woman’s Dormitory Association’s plan to provide accommodations for 5000 and pledges that donors would enjoy priority reservations in compensation.
Daughter Mary Butler Pope attended the Woman’s College of Baltimore in the years just prior to her death in October 1893 at age sixteen. Her letters and those of her friends discuss social life and leisure activities for female students of the period. In a letter of October 1892, Mary Pope described for her father her attendance at a “sheet party.” The evening featured masks, dancing, bobbing for apples, and a fortune teller. Although several letters to M.B. Pope gently scolded her for not writing more frequently, in another letter written from school, 16 November 1892, she described her vaccination against smallpox and urged that her grade report be signed and returned promptly so that she would escape punishment.
Two letters from friends in South Carolina describe college life closer to home. One, dated 11 February 1893, tells of student life at Williamston Female College, later Lander College: “The teachers are so good and sweet to us. I like them all. They eat at the same table with us and sleep in the college... .I do like the way they teach here. Don’t believe I could study any other way.” Another undated item from the 1890s embossed with the seal of Wofford College was written by the “Illustrious Sons” and presented to the “Daughters of Aurora.” The sheet features a short poem signed by W.M. Martin of the “Committee on Mineral Water” and hints at possible membership in a literary club or perhaps a fraternity.