This letter was written by Mary Ann (Witherspoon) Wardlaw (1818-1890), the daughter of James Hervey Witherspoon (1784-1842) and Jane Donnom (1786-1834) of Lancaster, South Carolina. Mary Ann was the wife of Dr. Joseph James Wardlaw (1814-1873), the son of James David Wardlaw (1767-1842) and Hannah Clarke (1778-1825). Dr. Wardlaw and Mary had at least ten children — the first four being boys: James Witherspoon Wardlaw (1840-1860), Clarke Wardlaw (1841-1888), Thornwell Wardlaw (1842-1843), and Lewis Alfred Wardlaw (1844-1863). [Note: Lewis died of wounds received as a Confederate Soldier at the Battle of Chancellorsville.]
Though the year is not given, Mary datelines her letter August 15th, Friday evening, and the only year in which that date falls on a Friday and remains consistent with the content of the letter is 1845.
Addressed to Dr. J. J. Wardlaw, Abbeville Court House, South Carolina
[Charleston Hotel] ¹
Charleston [South Carolina]
August 15th , Friday Evening
My dear Husband,
We reached this yesterday afternoon & were quite disappointed that we could not get off, as the boat had not arrived. I lay down almost the whole way in the cars and felt like going on, so my dear you may guess how well I felt — it really astonished me. I have not even had headache and have suffered much less in one respect. After dinner we walked in King Street and on the Battery. There were a great many persons promenading. I enjoyed it very much and how often I thought and wished for you.
Returning, Ivy and I came near giving out, so we stopped at a delightful garden and called for ice cream. It was very refreshing. Mr. Weir was with us [and] he made us laugh heartily. He declared it was the first ice cream he ever tasted and it was entirely too cold. He did not like it but managed to empty his glass.
I slept soundly last night and feel quite comfortable this morning. Alfred has just come in and says we will leave to take the Washington route. I am sorry for it but it can’t be avoided. We leave at 3 o’clock P. M. Mr. Weir goes with us. There are a number of passengers. I hear Gen. Clinch and his son ² are among the number. He is quite sociable.
I thought of calling on Mr. McGee’s ³ family but can’t find out their residence. You don’t know how melancholy I feel about poor Mr. Paul. I can’t drive it from my mind. I try not to think of it but in vain. Poor fellow. Never have I had such feelings for one that was not a relative of mine. I dare say by this time his spirit has taken its everlasting flight. Long, long will he be remembered by me.
Ivy had toothache last night and is indisposed this morning. She is able to be up. Sarah has just come in and is delighted to hear her name is in the papers. I am writing in the parlor. They are all talking and laughing so you must excuse this letter. If you and the dear children were with me, how happy I should be. I sincerely hope you may all keep well. Do write to me twice a week. I long to hear from home. Kiss the dear children for Ma. Tell them to be good boys and Ma will bring them a great many pretty things.
My best love to Miss Esther and dear Jack. Tell him I beg him not to go home before I return. I left the ring you gave me in a bowl of water. Do make them look for it. I am quite grieved about it. Love to all my friends. Farewell my dear husband. Your affectionate wife, — Mary Wardlaw
[P. S.] Sarah says tell Mr. Wilson to send her The Banner every week.
¹ The Charleston Hotel on Meeting Street was erected originally in 1814 but destroyed by fire in 1838. It was rebuilt with a colonnaded facade in 1839. Major J. H. Nickerson became the manager of the Charleston House in the fall of 1843. He was formerly the manager of a hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, and at Barnum’s City Hotel in Baltimore. Meeting Street was one block east of King Street — the main business thoroughfare of the city.
² Gen. Duncan Lamont Clinch (1787-1849) was an American army officer and served as commander during the First and Second Seminole Wars. He also served in the US House of Representatives, representing his home state of Georgia. Clinch also served as the president of the St. Mary’s Bank, was the head of a transportation company, and, at his death, left an estate worth more than $2 million, including more than two hundred slaves. Clinch County, Ga., was named for him in 1851, and the former Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, Fla., is today a state park bearing his name.
³ This may have been the parents of James McGee (1837-1906) who came to Charleston, South Carolina, from Dublin, Ireland in 1845.