SUBMITTED BY: Linda S. Anderson and Julie Dulaney
Elliot Daingerfield was born on March 26, 1859 in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). His parents were Captain John Elliot Parker Daingerfield and Mathilda Wickham De Brua Daingerfield. The family relocated to Fayetteville, North Carolina. after the incident involving John Brown in Harper’s Ferry destroyed that town’s arsenal. Daingerfield studied art in New York as a young man and became a very successful artist. On September 25, 1884, Elliot married Roberta Strange French of Wilmington, North Carolina. They established homes in several spots in the country—Blowing Rock, NC, for example—had a family, and traveled extensively. In his home in Gainsborough, New York, on October 22, 1932, Daingerfield died of a heart attack. He was buried in the Daingerfield plot at Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
The following is an excerpt from the unpublished Autobiography of Elliot Daingerfield, which was written in 1892. [This source is comprised of the memories of one man, recorded years after the events occurred: There are some historical inaccuracies.]
The matter of infancy is of no great interest, and it is well known that my name belongs to Virginia and has for all the generations running back to Jamestown, although we have no real records back of sixteen hundred and thirty.
My own introduction to Virginia took place at Harper’s Ferry when that old town was still part of the true Virginia which had not been divided. My father’s birth was at Winchester, and he married my mother in Harper’s Ferry. She was of and old Huguenot family, originally known as de Brua but here called simply Brua. My parents had five children and I was the youngest. My father was employed by the Government [as a soldier at the Arsenal there] and was one of John Brown’s prisoners when he made his raid on the town. It is always a pleasure to me to know that when Col. Lee came with Government troops to quell that rising, he made my father’s house his headquarters, and I was many times in his arms, being the baby of the family. Later when war spread over the country and my father was at the front with Southern troops, being in the first battle of Manassas and other conflicts, he was called by Mr. Jefferson Davis under advice from Gen. Lee to take charge of a large amount of gold and transfer it to the Arsenal at Fayetteville, North Carolina, one of the two Arsenals controlled by the Confederacy. He accomplished this work safely and was ordered to remain in charge until later. This later became very long and he transferred his family from the Valley of Virginia whence they had gone to Fayetteville. I have a pass permitting my mother to pass through the lines. She made the long journey—in those days a very arduous task, in safety bringing her children, several female servants, one man and two small colored children. These were the children of a former slave maid she owned, and she promised this woman to care for her children when she lay dying in Harper’s Ferry. She was wholly faithful to this trust—the two, boy and girl, being brought up with the same care and consideration as her own little ones. They were taught, they were sharers in the religious life of the family, and in the dark and dreary days which were swiftly coming, my mother and grandmother, who was also with the family, made their clothes and cared for their general well-being. Memory, I am told, of these early days (for I was still almost a baby in 1861) is hardly possible, but nevertheless I well remember the first house we lived in—its stately columns—its iron fence and general spaciousness.
But we could not remain there long. A certain Colonel came to take charge of the Arsenal, and he chose to look upon this house as most desirable, and we were moved into a new and very comfortable house, belonging to the Confederacy, and one of a row of several, though with ample ground about it.
In front was a great open square and in the rear forest of scrub oak which was useful later when every sort of thing grew scarce. Here I can say with certainty my memory makes no faults. It was a time of great tenseness, great emotions, great privations, great poverty – each one a hot iron to sear the soul and keep memory alive.
We were without the simplest things of life—the children were sent out to gather poke berries to make a sort of ink—to gather china-berries to use in making a sort of blacking. Our own candles, such as they were, were made by us at home, and I remember my brother Archie’s effort to make me a pair of shoes from such old pieces of leather as he could find, and he succeeded too, and I wore the shoes for very long. I remember my mother making a suit of clothes for my father from an old linen table cloth. These may seem humorous things but they were done at very serious time and treated by everybody as needful and natural action.
One personal incident is worth recalling. This house was really three stories in height, the upper storey [sic] being a finished attic. The boys, being always in a hurry as boys ever are, went down from the second storey [sic] by sliding down the stair rail. This method appealed to me, the youngest, until my father suggested a whipping (a thing he had never done to any of us) if I did it again. I thought I could gain my ride by going to the attic and thence down the second floor without being seen. I remember going to the third floor, but I remember nothing more. When I knew anything again I was in bed, the doctor and all the family leaning aver the bed, and much distress in evidence. I had fallen of course, foolish boy, through the stair shaft and was unconscious for several days, but fortunately no bones were broken and old Dr. Ben Robinson had brought me ‘round, but I had a long and serious time in bed and a very bad stomach for long after. I must have been about four years old when that happened.
An incident which should be of general interest is this. One afternoon, rather late, a great roaring sound seemed to overwhelm everything. On looking out the sky was blotted out, and for fully a mile nothing in the heavens could be seen but birds—thousands and thousands of them flying not very high, and with the noise of great winds as they swerved just over our house and settled in the young oaks at the rear. What a noise they made, and we soon knew they were pigeons, that rarest and most wonderful bird the American passenger pigeon, now quite extinct and I believe this is almost the last report of the final flight of these birds in these numbers. They were migrating and flying South, and this was probably the very drove which was totally lost in a storm over the Gulf.
When it grew dark, the negroes who were on starvation diet took torches and bags and went into that scrub oak forest and slaughtered hundreds, knocking the poor, dazed birds into the bags. Starvation knows no ethics and the humane may become cruel when starving. I wish I could give the exact date of this incident but I can not [sic].
Although I was but a child at this time, not yet six years old, I realized the terrible strain and grief of the period. The Southern cause was already known to be the Lost Cause, and we only waited for the end. Its burning banners were already in the sky for at night we could see the fiery reflection of burning towns in the path of Sherman’s march—and it was known that his march was directed toward our little town. The hurry to hide valuables was almost a frenzy and in nearly every case was abortive for they were never recovered. Things sent away into the country to be hidden or cared for were not returned. The men were all away except the very old. My father and my oldest brother—Archie—were away. I had seen the boy drilling to take his place in the Southern forces, he was but fourteen or fifteen years old.
In the Arsenal itself only a small company of old men were in charge and they speedily gave up when the demand was made. And so we waited. There came a brilliant morning in Spring. Two young Confederate officers rode up our gate—they were in tattered clothes and starved. My mother speedily had them at the table and all that the house had was quickly put before them. They were gay, fearless, and brilliant of eye and speech. One I remember clearly. Scarcely more than a boy, twenty-two or twenty-three, great blue eyes and fine white teeth. They ate as ravenous men must eat and poured thanks upon my mother and grandmother. Then came a great noise and clamor, the servants rushed in screaming, “The Yankees are coming!” Down the center road came the troop of Gen. Hardee’s men. Our two visitors leapt to their horses and joined them. Hard on the heels of the Confederates came the advance guard of Sherman’s Army. Led by an officer on a gray horse they pursued, and the hot fire from the Southern troops was answered by the Northern advance guard. It was a wonderful sight to have at one’s front door. My sister and I were at the side light of the front door, which had been locked, and this whole exciting scene was not fifty yards from us. We knew afterwards that this running fight kept up to the bridge, which was burned by the Confederates—the bridge over the Cape Fear River.
Following the advance guard [of the Union army] came thousands of soldiers of all ranks—Infantry, Artillery, Cavalry—and presently a squad of soldiers stopped at our gate, two men were posted as sentinels, and a sergeant came to the door and said to my mother a certain Col. Todd would occupy the lower storey [sic] of our house as his headquarters. Presently, a wagon train drove into the back yard, and the whole place swarmed with men.
The family retired to the second floor and the poor servants were more frightened than any one [sic] else. All that day, through the night and next day marching troops passed until more than eighty thousand troops had passed into and through the town. Just after dark, that first night, one of the servants rushed in to [sic] my mother and told her a soldier was misusing one of the maids. She at once went to Col. Todd’s room and told him of the trouble. He had on his wrist a riding whip. He went out and finding the man, who came to attention at once and took the whipping without moving, but he did say, “I’ve been wounded three times but this is the worst”. [sic] After this the maids were let alone.
Next day we were told our house was to be burned! There was not a man, no wagon, or horse to be had, or help in moving. So my mother who was a tall, stately and very dignified woman, took her two little boys by the hand and walked to Gen. Sherman’s headquarters, the third or fourth house from us. She did not see Gen. Sherman, but a Gen. Spencer, I think it was, talked with her. He was gravely courteous and told her that he could give her no help that day, but if she could plan to move that night, after twelve, he would send three wagons and men to move her. She thanked him then, as she did in her thoughts always, and years after told me if I should ever see him to give him her warm thanks. So I am sure she was politely treated.
That night wagons and men came and everything was hustled into the wagons. Although I was so young the excitement kept me awake. I was very indignant at the careless treatment of my mother’s things. There was one bottle of wine in the house, kept carefully for sickness and my particular joy for the bottle was promised to me when it should be empty. To my horror it was found by a soldier already tipsy, and without inquiry or permission he struck the neck off my beautiful bottle and drank the contents. Another thing I saw which troubled me greatly. The only gun or firearm in the house was a long barrelled [sic] fowling piece, flint lock and mounted with silver. This was well known to us as having belonged to Gen. Washington and was brought from Virginia—greatly treasured by my father. Gen. Washington had given it to a friend, one Thomas Herrord whose name was engraved on a silver panel let into the barrel. It was never use, only reverenced. This soldier put the long barrel across his knee and tried to bend it. Failing in this he put the muzzle on the floor, and then his knee on the barrel, and alas! The thing was done. Years after my father had the bent and broken end sawed off, and I have the gun now. These were just little incidents I remember of that night.
I do not know how I got to the house whose residents took us in for the time.
Everything was in such confusion, but I rebelled when they wanted to put me in a trundle bed, which had been pulled out from under a big four poster. I supposed my brother and I would be pushed back under the big bed. When they assured me that this would not be done, I was soon asleep.
About five o’clock next morning I was awakened and held up in some one’s [sic] arms to show me through the window our own lovely home burning down, as indeed very many others were. Very many terrible things were happening all over the town for the army was delayed while a bridge was built across the Cape Fear. The Arsenal was destroyed, all factories, all newspapers offices and many private residences.
The negroes now abandoned their old homes to follow the Army. Many went to their death and were never more heard of, and some returned, ragged and broken. Our man Henry said good-bye hoping to get back to Virginia. We never heard of him again.
And now came on a period of great trial and tragedy to the South—the Freedman’s Bureau was established and terribly controlled. The soldiers were slowly wandering back home, without money or means for ministering to their families. My father and brother were with us by this time. I remember my mother’s courage and calm, and her willingness to do whatever could be done. I have seen her come in from the ironing-board, and with a little moan measure her length on the floor in a dead faint. She made the hats for her boys from palmetto leaves, stripped and plaited and sewed together and then blocked to the right shapes and sizes. She and my grandmother knitted sewed and quilted whenever it was possible to get materials. To me she was very beautiful woman with fine hair and eyes, and noble carriage. My grandmother was of her own type, old-fashioned, with her cap always neat, her black silk dress, God knows how she kept it intact for there was nothing new, and always she wore the half mitts on her hands. Her needles were never idle, and she taught the children at her knee.
The need of school was great and as the men returned, here and there a small school would be opened. I first went to a Mr. Harry Myrover, but I already had a start in reading, arithmetic, geography, etc. This did not last long, for a former United States naval officer, who chose the Southern cause and so left the Navy, came home; and the few parents in the town arranged with him to open a school in a little building known as Bouieville Academy. My sister had already been sent out to relatives of my mother in St. Louis, Missouri. How? I don’t know, for there was no money.
We had been obliged to move once or twice to get settled. Houses were few and many people in one home, and often two families lived in one house. My father was away all day, as was my brother Archie, the oldest, and presently I knew that my father had opened a store, a sort of commission business and produce. He had the money from the sale of a small acreage of land he owned out West somewhere.
I think my school-teacher and the old building with very mixed feelings. I had been taught by grandmother and could read, write and knew arithmetic and geography fairly well, but our teacher was very severe, and being an Annapolis man was very thorough. He whipped unmercifully. If we missed a word in spelling we got a thrashing. My first was very astonishing to me—I had never been whipped at home, and for a man to strike me was terrible. There was no help however—I had failed to spell mountain correctly. In my eagerness I spelled it ‘mountin’ instead of ‘tain. That was the first, and most impressive for that reason. They became very familiar.
This was a mixed school, boys and girls, and when a girl was to be whipped the teacher would say, “What boy will take Mary’s or Jane’s or Maggie’s whipping?” And it was a glory to see every boy in the school on his feet at once. And he got it without qualification or amelioration—the girl meanwhile suffering and in tears. Never-the-less there were lovely time and happy days, and the teacher would often share in the joys of the playgrounds, and the day I was sent home perfect in the multiplication table was to me a triumph of civilization.
During these days wretched and terrible things were happening under the scalawag rule, or Freedman’s Bureau. The negroes were in the ascendant and could not understand what was expected of them. They were told that white women were their proper prey—and it was quite fatal for women to be out alone. One day word came to the men that a certain young lady had been attacked and raped in her own home. The guilty negro, expecting to be protected, made no great effort at denial. He was in the midst of a crowd around the market place, and officers, Freedman’s bureau men had him in charge, but it was well known he would be freed under cover of the night. There was much excitement, when presently the clear, sharp report of a rifle came and without a sound this boasting man sank to the ground, a bullet in his brain.
Of course every body near by [sic] was arrested; many were kept in Federal prisons for two or three years, but never was it found out who fired that shot. It was drastic remedy but never after was that crime committed in that old town. The negroes would say to possible criminals “you’ll get what Archie Buby [Beebe] got.” I was only near enough to hear the shot. [This account of Archie Beebe’s story is not accurate: Read more detailed accounts in The Market House of Fayetteville, North Carolina, by Patricia Ann Leahy & Caron Lazar or https://www.fayobserver.com/ne
I was now getting big enough to be, at odd times, in my father’s store. The hours at school were long, books few and varied, and lessons were to be learned and recited daily. At home Mother kept things going well—she was at all times a wonderful housekeeper and her cooking receipts were the joy of all who had them, but it was hard for all the elders of my family to see her working so hard. There were no servants, and the ladies had to be equal to everything. My memory of her sitting sewing beside one candle of home manufacture is very clear. Sewing, sewing, ever sewing! And I remember clearly the wonder and the gladness when the first lamp was brought home. Kerosene oil and a light that by contrast was little short of radiance!
I knew little of the struggle my father and brother were making. Such things were not talked of before me. My joy in being allowed to go to the store Saturday afternoons was just the small boy’s gladness with the new adventure. I was there one day when this incident took place. I have spoken of the Freedman’s Bureau and the many troubles it brought.
There was in town a young soldier newly returned from the war. He was known as a man of impeccable courage, and many were the stories of his war-time bravery. He and a certain officer of the Bureau became involved in a dispute, of course about a negro—some effort on the part of the Bureau man to force equality and resisted by the young soldier. A pistol was drawn on him but not used because he was unarmed. The two men agreed to rest on matters until they should be equally armed. Together they walked down town [sic], the one parting and going across the street to an hotel, the other to arm himself at the gun-smith’s. They agreed that the first one seeing the other should fire without further warning. A very few moments elapsed. Having armed himself the soldier crossed the street to the hotel. The first man was leaning on the desk just inside the door. The young soldier called to him and as he drew his pistol fired. The man fell and stepping to one side the soldier was out of range. He seemed to realize this and turning stepped deliberately into the door with hands dropped to his side. At once the man on the floor shot him. Clapping his hand to his side he fired once more at the man inside, and fell upon a bench near by, dying in a few minutes. The Freedman’s Bureau man lingered several hours and he, too, finished his earthly journey. These terrible happenings were not infrequent. The times were dreadful and the conditions worse. I cannot say that I saw this duel. It was just across the street and I heard the shots and soon knew the rest.
We had at this time moved down town [sic]. It was more convenient for those of us at work, but it gave me a long walk to school. We remained until five o’clock and the walk home was often trying, especially in the winter when the dark caught us. Always, however, there were other boys, and we found things to do.
I loved this house, where we were now living. In front of it was a broad sheet of water, backed up by the town mill-dam. It was a lovely place for boating, and at night the young people rowed and drifted about, singing the old Southern songs which to me, lying in bed listening, were very dear. Sometimes they would come up into the flower garden and serenade my parents. There were no wonderful voices, but just the clear, pure young voices—and the impression is still very vivid in my memory.
It was about this time my parents told me with deep distress that they could not send me school any longer, and I was to stop in the Spring. It was a sorrow and a shock to us, but I was needed. My oldest brother was to work, the next, Richard, was to have work in the bank, and I must help my father. At this time I was not yet twelve years old.
When I knew this disaster, though I do not remember that I was troubled greatly, I set myself the task of learning all I could. I read the Bible from cover to cover. I had read much in the Bible under my grandmother. I read all Shakespear’s [sic] plays, and the poems. We had a set of Bulwer-Lytton, also the Waverley novels by Scott—and whatever I could get of real value, including a Chambers’ Miscellany which I poured over industriously. Lever’s novels and Charles Kingsley’s works were delights to me, but in that early time I got a huge distaste for Charles Dickens for an entirely superficial reason. The only edition which came to my hand was a paper back one with illustrations of vulgar, common people and dreadfully ugly. I have never gotten over my distaste, and the memory of that abominable plum pudding on the cover, the small type and bad illustration is ever with me.
I loved geography though I had no good atlases and I never saw a globe until long after I was grown. The taste was no doubt infused into me by my sailor teacher.
In base-ball I was mutt, but I could run and jump like a deer. I skated only tolerably (for we did at times have skating) and Archie, my brother, was a beautiful skater. The work in the store was not very arduous and I had time to raise chicken and pigs in a big yard that was there. I love carpentering. There were two old negroes, cabinet makers, who were builders of very beautiful things under a white man who owned the shop. They took an interest in me and taught me to use planes, saws, hammers, etc., and to do some little at the lather; also, I became quite expert with that hand fret saw, designing brackets and such things, and working them out in fine old walnut or mahogany.
It was about this time that the great thing I was to love came to me. My brother, Archie, who had great love for things artistic, came home one evening with an equipment he had bought and the use of which he had been taught by an itinerant salesman, or more properly faker. This was known to him as Egyptian painting. He opened to my glistening eyes paints, bushes, oils, etc. I had never seen such things. My heart trembled and when he proceeded to do a picture as he had been taught, my excitement was great. There were convex glasses about the size of a cabinet photograph. On the concave side of one of these he mounted, with a transparent paste, a picture, perhaps a photograph—and as I remember, it was Carlo Dolci’s “Magdalen.” Of course it was in black and white, and equally of course I did not know at that time who had painted it, nor even that the original was a painting. His next step was to apply a secret oil to the back. Later I found out this secret oil was really Castor oil which was quite familiar to me. The surface oil was carefully wiped off and now the picture was painted on the back. These dear little sqeezes [sic] of paint on a china palette or tray went straight to my heart. Following directions, flesh color was mixed for the face and neck, the eyes were blue—the covering of head and shoulders was blue, and no shading was necessary. The color was merely daubed on, in the proper place of course, then, when completely covered a second convex glass of the same size was put next the wet paint and we were allowed to see the front. Wonder of wonders! The thing was complete, the shading of the photograph doing modelling of the painting. At the moment it, to me, was little short of marvelous and I knew that a new interest had come into my life.
After a week or so these things were given to me, and I suspect this was the launching of the painter who has worked unceasingly ever since. I did the convex glass stuff, but soon began to copy pictures and do things of my own. At that time Godey’s Ladies Book was in vogue, and it had a fashion sheet in full color. I would copy this colored sheet and pin the original and the copy on the wall and have the family guess which was the original. This, of course, from a distance.
I found other uses for my brushes, however; it was necessary to make whatever money I could, and so I tried sign painting. There had been a traveling sign painter in town, a good looking devil who drank too much, but he could do the most wonderful lettering on the big, glass shop windows, and these he finished in gold leaf. He was always ready to show me, and I was keen and interested. To me anything painted was a joy—and this man did decorative panels for the Church, he did scenes for the little hall which we called a theater, making his own canvas, and he knew the laws of perspective, at least in an elementary way—and in all these things I imitated him or learned from him. I was given time from the Store, and soon I knew lettering and shading in a simple way.
My first job was for a furniture maker—and the name “John W. Baker” stood out black on a white ground and shaded with red, in ten-inch letters. For this job I got three dollars. The sign board was furnished. I painted and gilded window signs and made fashionable the putting of names on the inside of umbrellas. For all this I was paid, and I think now the town-people just did it to help the boy.
This sort of thing palled on me, and my days and nights were filled with the wish to do better things—pictures in fact. Of course I knew nothing about it. Art was a subject quite unknown and, I suppose, little cared about.
In my great longing [to learn more], I remember a Mrs. McKay, pronounced by them McCoy, whom we all knew to be a woman of exquisite taste. She was ever the authority on any matter which involved the making of beautiful things. I went to the side of her carriage one day and told her my wish to learn to paint and asked if she would lend me any book she might have. She lamented that she had not books but, she said, if I would come to her house bringing my materials each morning, she would teach me all she knew. To the excited child—I was just twelve—it was a message straight out of heaven. My father had no objections, and my materials were all gone over and a few things renewed, and as I was to produce something to copy—that was Mrs. McKay’s limitation—I took to her a small colored lithograph some one [sic] had given me—a sweet faced child holding in her arms a rabbit. This, my teacher said would do, and so I began. Of course at that time I did not know that my work was corrected in my absence, but equally of course it must have been—and I was so happy! The very smell of the paint was a joy. Day by day I went to her home, and finally the picture was done. There was a frequent use of the blender, and a smoothing of surfaces, but that was quite the right thing to me. We put it in an oval frame that I suppose we had—I think maybe and old looking-glass frame—and the proud boy took his treasure and his work home. I’ve no doubt there were many private opinions expressed, and, though I did not know it then, many doubts about my having done it. The little picture hangs in my house to-day. There is no stain, no cracking, no fading. I keep it as my first essay in the magic world of picture making. Mrs. McKay allowed me to come to her for more than a year.
In those days chromos [chromolithographs] were much the vogue, and people who were getting money at all indulged in a few chromos. In this way I got pictures to copy, and various members of my family have pictures I did at that time. I remember “A Scotch Highland” scene, and a Castle on the Rhine, and an Easter Cross with flowers. These things all exist to-day, and I marvel when I see them that with all my fumbling there are no cracks, the paint is fresh and clear, and they have not blackened.
This was a time for great moment in my life, but it took up time and was more or less expensive. Other things were happening also. My father was not a business man [sic]—he was not keenly aware of the quick sale where profit lay, and he was kind and trusting. We did well enough in the cotton and produce sides of business, but his store was steadily retrograding merely because he trusted people. His books were filled with accounts which never were and never have been paid. I had much the same temperament. I had been allowed to take over the little cigar and tobacco interest as my own. I had saved a little money in a Building and Loan Company, and with this money I bought a little stock of cigars and smoking tobacco (in those days there were no cigarettes). I soon did a thriving business, but the credit folly soon stretched its tentacles over me, and I looked into my show-case one day and saw the stock all but exhausted, there was little cash, and my book full of charge accounts. (They are there to this day quite unpaid). I thus ingloriously went out of business.
My father’s business was coming to much the same end. In this little town everybody knew everybody else. It was quite impossible to say no to friends, close friends, and equally impossible to go to law for collections. Such actions would have torn the town asunder and provoked schisms at once disastrous to friendship. One case after these long years comes to mind. A mill owner supplied his hands, many negroes, every Saturday for long months from my father’s store without paying, and later, when my father wanted a bag of meal from his mill, he was refused. It is easy to say, fight, but ‘twas not his way. The town was an old one, and very dear—families had lived there always it seemed. It was founded by that Flora McDonald who succored Bonnie Prince Charlie and had to flee across the water for her pains. She founded this town (the foundations of her house were to be seen in my boyhood) on the banks of a considerable stream and called it Cross Creek because of a natural phenomenon, the crossing of the waters of two creeks at right angles. These creeks were lined with mills and factories until the coming of Sherman’s army, when all were destroyed and the debris so clogged our stream that the crossing was lost, though one could see the trench-like course and follow the ruined sites of mills and factories. The name of the town was changed in compliment to Gen. LaFayette who paid it visit in 1824 or ’25. There had been a military Company from Fayetteville in the war and he remembered it, I suppose. At any rate the name stands to this day and it has been a romantic and stormy town always. I often think the correct and truthful history of this town would make exciting reading.
I had come now to the time of life when a boy perceives there is another sex—and the town was full of charming young girls. Summer afternoons were as the blossoming of rose trees. All day the heat kept everybody in-doors—the stores and clerks were quiet, but as the cool of afternoon approached, every white gate and doorway, it ended, opened—and the fairest, freshest, daintiest girls came out, all for their own purposes no doubt—but the boy in town had sleeked his hair, put on his coat, and was keenly polite to the many maids who passed. I was not backward. It was about this time one day I was walking with my sister and another, a very lovely young woman some years older than I was, and as she kissed my sister at her gate my sister said, “Why don’t you kiss Elliott too?” – which she promptly did. Something unknown happened to me then. I trembled like a leaf and lay in a fever all night, but ever after was keenly alert when the girls came on the street.
I do not think any set of young folk ever had more pleasure and innocent joy than the youth of old Fayetteville. Simple, unpretentious parties, dances and picnics—always in groups. Nobody had money for carriages and the distances were not great, so groups went and came together. Occasionally if the weather was bad two boys would hire a carriage, but that was seldom. The dances were all square dances or the Lancers—and only occasionally the Waltz. My feet were ever clumsy. I never discovered any brains in them.
There were many pleasures for the young people besides dances, and the evenings were generally taken up. Boys and girls were much together, and I doubt if any set of young folk ever enjoyed themselves more. I look back upon those days as very happy ones. It was all very simple, very rustic if you will, but with youth, warm hearts, and hospitable homes much may be done.
It is not to be supposed that among all those girls my eye would not be caught by one. I remember it as a very good sign that I trembled violently at the approach of a certain blue-eyed, yellow haired girl—to me she was quite all that female beauty could be. That she was some years older than I did not at the time disturb me, but I don’t think I ever came into the path of her vision. She would have none of me, and presently I knew the reason quite well. Older stags were at graze in her meadows. I was not much hurt, however!
I did not like the confinement of the store nor the work, nor the patrons. I rebelled, and one day when the town photographer came to us and said he needed some one [sic] to color photographs and tin-types and proposed that I come to him—without salary of course—but I should learn all there was to know in exchange—I was allowed to go. A country photographer! God! And in my heart I had ambition! I went and I was swift in learning.
In those days we had to make all the materials. It was entirely the wet process—Collodions, silver baths, Gyanide, Hypo and the preparation of glass for negatives, the sensitizing of paper for photographs. I learned all these things, and besides I painted several backgrounds and set pieces—to the end that one day the photographer said to me, “I’m going to my gallery up the State for a while and leave you in charge of this one.” That seemed flattery, and things went on smoothly for a while. He was allowing me a certain part of the profits and I rendered him weekly statements. This plan threw great responsibility upon my young shoulders, and also it was very confining. However, I ‘stuck to my guns’ and business was quite good. Presently I had a letter from my absent principal asking me to send him a certain small lens. I did this regretfully because that small lens was a very fine one, and to give it up rather lamed the equipment. However, I got on. Then came another letter saying the bag camera was needed and would be returned, but I must send it at once. Greatly fretted I packed and sent it on a dray to the Express Office.
In a few moments a very irate old gentleman came into the gallery and began bitterly to upbraid me. “Don’t you know, Sir, that this is a criminal offense—that everything here is mine under mortgage—how dare you send anything away”. Fortunately, I had kept the letters from my employer. I now put them in his hands, and he became more polite to me, but was very bitter toward the head of the office. Presently he returned with the Marshall and closed the office, seizing everything.
I saw myself out of a job and in no very pleasant position. By this time my father, who had suffered a severe illness and had been away from business for three months, had become unable to direct things. He was bedridden, his clerks had failed to keep things going and he wisely had closed up the business. Here then I was adrift. In this juncture my oldest brother, Archie, who was in a good business, came to me and proposed to buy for me a complete outfit to start the gallery in my own name. My father and Archie had bought a lovely old home, (property in those days was of small value) and we all lived together. My brother had married and they had a large suite in this old home.
After full discussion we decided to buy the necessary outfit, which was done and I was soon at work for myself. Archie and I agreed upon his share of profits, and as the loan was not quite two hundred dollars, he received a good interest on his money. I prospered fairly, from the beginning—paid my rent regularly from the start and so pleased the owner, a canny Scotchman, that he said long after when I made other plans. During the years I worked at this business many funny and many tragic things happened. In those days in the South the negroes all believed the Fourth of July was their day of Emancipation and they came to town in droves, in hundreds, I had almost said thousands, and all must have a tin-type taken. I had to have an assistant, and under that hot skylight I made hundreds of tin-types. They liked them best when they were worst—by which I mean that it was necessary to over expose and over develop them, thus bleaching out or whitening the faces. A black man would not accept a picture if his face were black—the women were worse, and their hands had to be heavily jeweled and be-ringed. All this was done and everybody was happy.
I have said that the old town had many pleasures—there were also many sorrows and even tragedies. These were the days when the words diptheria [sic] or scarlet-fever brought terror to parents and typho was a stalking enemy, though in the main, the town was a healthful place and exceedingly well cared for by very able doctors.
Serums were not known, though injections in the form of vaccination were given for small-pox, which was about the only disease treated in a modern way. Nor was a trained nurse known. Neighbors helped neighbors, and so, often, disease was spread. It might be thought that the negroes would suffer unduly at such times. Not so at all—my memory is that they were cared for by the best physicians, fed and clothed. The shiftless ones and those known to be evil were restricted, but if a negro showed any self-respect he was helped, and always by the whites.
I remember one negro farmer who was an excellent worker and manager. He employed a great deal of help, and he could get from the banks, readily endorsed by the best men, any money he needed to buy or develop, merely on his note. He was known to be absolutely honest and he died wealthy, but better, he died respected by everybody—an able, faithful and honest man.
Education for the negro was a difficulty because of the very slender means of the community—yet schools were formed, and most often taught by whites. Indeed at that time no others were equipped, but not always were the results so good as the case of the farmer I’ve written about. I knew a young fellow of a light complexion and as bright as possible. The town was interested in him because he learned so rapidly. Every advantage was given him. He was sent away to school and the whites paid the bills. When he returned he was employed at once, but the first use he made of his learning was was [sic] to falsify his accounts and to forge his employer’s name on a check. He was sent away to the penitentiary. Is this sort of thing to be charged to education, or to negro blood, or to mixture of white and black? A vexed question!
The nights were my only hours for the things I liked to do. We had debating societies, there were literary clubs, societies for acting, and many ways to bring folk together. I took eager part in all this. I have said that I was a poor follower of outdoor sports. Billiards was a joy to me, and wherever there was a table, there I could be found. From the first moment I saw the green cloth and white and red balls I was a convert to the game. I induced an old fellow who had a shop of sorts on the first or ground floor and a big, empty room up-stairs, to buy a billiard table. His efforts to get the money were funny and yet almost tragic he took it so to heart. Finally, however, a beautiful new table, balls and cues were all in place, and I haunted it every night. I became the most skillful of all the players in town, never dreaming that there was a bigger world than our little village. One night I had beaten all the boys, and my chest was greatly expanded. Idly knocking the balls about, I was amusing myself. There were not many people in the room at the time and I was rather surprised when a quiet looking, bespectacled man stepped up to the table and asked if I would play with him. Without hesitation I told him, “Yes,” and was a little surprised when said, “How shall we play?” “Why, even, of course, I don’t know your game.” I beat him without trouble. Then he said, quietly “Suppose I double discount you.” I thought this rather fresh as I had beaten him even. However, we played, and he beat me without half trying. “This time,” he said, “I’ll grand discount you.” I began to feel that I had hold of a hot iron. Grand discount means for every point one man makes he takes off all the other man has. Our games were fifty points. I made two or three points then he took the balls. Up and down the cushions those balls traveled. Sometimes he touched them so gently the ball would not move from its place. I had heard of “nursing.” Here it was being shown to me. By this time people had begun to hear how sadly I was being worsted, and the billiard room was filling up. I was not chagrined. I could see we had to do with one of the great billard [sic] sharps who had chanced to be in the little town. I stood aside, idle, but trying to learn what I could of billiards played by an expert. Presently he ran the game out and very politely said, “Now I’ll stand here at this corner and grand discount you again.” He did this with ease. The balls seemed to obey every wish, and no shot was too difficult. Once more the game was run out. Then he put his cue down and said, “I’ll grand discount you with my fingers.” It was little short of magic the way he could manipulate those balls—they obeyed and did everything but talk. Of course he won, because once started he never stopped until the game was won. The country folk were agape; I suppose I was also, yet he did not crow or jeer or make game of me. When this game was finished, he took the cue and showed us some quite impossible shots, beautifully executed, and to me who loved the game, quite dazzling. With a very courtly bow he thanked me and walked out. I never saw him again and could never find his picture among the billiard experts. The beating I had did not disturb me—I only practiced the harder, and none at home could serve me such a trick.
Shortly before his illness my father had bought a fine old Colonial house. It was at the end of a long, straight street. The trees were splendid in the lot and along the street—old ivy clad elms, hackberry and chinaberry—and the house itself built as they do not build now-a-days. It had been there a hundred years or more and was as sound and perfect as ever. The mantels, chandeliers, stairs, etc. must have been brought over from Europe, and we learned to love the place. It would not be accounted comfortable now—no heating plant, no water system, the kitchen outside in a separate building, but my mother was at the head of things, and I shall never forget the good things she made. By nature she was a magnificent housekeeper, and servants learned almost at once from her. She took pains to teach them. We had no public bakery, but the breads—all sorts—in my mother’s house were beyond praise.
I drifted out often with some of the boys of my own years. …One night one young fellow and I went out together. It was a pale moonlight night, and we sat down at the root of a big tree, just on the edge of the base-ball field. This would seem harmless enough, but there was a path leading across the field to houses of ill fame, and we knew well enough we should not be in that neighborhood at night. We sat there for a while idly talking—I don’t know what we were expecting. Presently we saw two figures coming across the field towards us—one was talking loudly and seemed tipsy—we could not tell—but as they came nearer, this person seeing figures under the tree called out a rather crude remark. My friend hastily replied with a “Go to h__.” Instantly there was trouble. The supposed tipsy man sprang across the intervening space. I saw the flash of a knife in the moonlight. It looked two feet long to me. My friend was on his feet with raised stick in hand. Just how it happened I don’t know, but in a moment, I was between the two men—my hand on the breast of the enraged man, and that knife making circles about my head. I remember that I was very quiet, told the man to look at me—that we could not afford to get into trouble, and then to my horror I saw who the man was. There had been a great murder trial which ended that day with the acquittal of the murderer on a technicality—but everyone knew the prisoner at the bar was guilty of a cruel murder—and here under my hand was this murderer. My knees were giving way under me, but I stood fast. My friend was trying to get in a blow and the knife seemed very busy to me, but I bade the man look at me.
“I know you Mr. Daingerfield, and I know your father, and I ain’t got anything against you, but I’m going to cut the heart out of this blankety, blank__.” He was a mulatto, well known as a desperado, and I at once spoke of the peril he had been in that day—“Did he want to get into such trouble again?” By this time his friend, another negro, was at hand and I appealed to him to take this man away. He had him by the knife arm, and I was backing my friend off so that I could stay his foolishness—and when we finally turned our backs we made good time home. He lived next to our house, and as Pepys says, “and so to bed.” I am glad that I did not run, but I can’t say I was not scared! I was. I don’t think I was more than sixteen at the time, and there were many things doing in the town in which I wanted a share. For instance the young men had revived a Military Company which hailed from the last century and had a fine record in the Mexican War and in the late Civil War. My heart pounded when I saw them in their uniforms—very like the West Pointers—gray, with white cross belt, epaulets and plumed hats. Oh, they were most attractive to me, but alas! I was still too young.
My brothers were members and naturally I was very keen to join, which I did at the first opportunity. Almost the first duty of my Company was to protect the Sheriff in a hanging matter. In North Carolina at the time, public executions were required, and in this case there were rumors of rescue, so the Sheriff appealed for and got troops from the State. Our Company was assigned to this duty. I did not want to go but was required to report. The prisoner was brought from the jail by the Sheriff and his men and placed on his coffin in a wagon. Our Company formed in lines about the wagon, and crowds of people followed. A preacher, colored, was sitting with the poor devil who was a big, very black man. We took up the line of march and the band played The Dead March and other solemn tunes. The gallows were in a big, open field and was a huge structure, the platform of which was reached by a flight of steps. The trap was to be sprung by stepping on a certain step with a man’s whole might. The Military Company with loaded guns was formed in hollow square about the scaffold. The prisoner has asked to have his funeral sermon preached from the scaffold, which now was done, the colored minister preaching. The text was the obvious one, “The Wages of Sin.” During this time this poor devil sat in a chair and trembled violently. The preacher said very wise and sensible things and was short. Then the condemned man asked to make confession. He had been convicted of burglary, which under North Carolina law was a Capital offense. He began and admitted his guilt, and then from one crime to another he confessed, murders, burglaries and other atrocities—things that had not been dreamed of a lying at his door. Richly he deserved punishment, for on his own statement he was a dreadful man. We, of the Company, were faced outwardly toward the crowd, with bayonets fixed. The black cap was pulled down, the Sheriff said good-bye and in dead silence walked down the steps. The trap was sprung and the guilty man finished his career. There was a great surge of the crowd. At the point of my bayonet was a man I knew well, and curiously enough a few years after he, himself, was convicted of murder and stood in the shadow of the gallows. My back was resolutely turned when the trap was sprung and I did not see the actual and horrible drop of the figure. We remained until the doctors lowered the body, which was buried there in the field, and we returned, flags flying and band playing. Justice was satisfied, small thought for the human soul sent into the Infinite.
It is good to know North Carolina does things better, now—there is the electric chair and executions are more orderly and more private. The effect upon me was to turn me absolutely against capital punishment. This man, poor, ignorant creature that he was, had not the advantage of a fully developed mind. His execution did not prevent crime.
There have been many executions in the old town since that time. It did not influence for good even those who were present—witness the man at the point of my bayonet. The purpose of capital punishment is to deter men from crime. Does it?
As I looked over that crowd of men and women that day, and then back at that terrified savage—unused to education, unused to the benefits of society, and so alone—oh, God! So alone, and in the midst of yelping crowd, I asked myself was it courageous, was it Christian, was it justice? Do evil that good may ensue is not a safe law. This criminal’s fear would make an appeal at the throne of God.
Crime exists—that is the satire and irony of our vaunted civilization, but is there no better way? Consider the crowd with the privilege, even the mandate of the law, taking the life of a man. After thousands of years of vaunted growth and civilization, the best we can do, we children of the Most High, is to destroy. I am not making an argument, [sic] I am expressing an emotion. It is not an aphorism to say that legalized murder can never be productive of good. I know perfectly well that certain crimes must be punished. I am no advocate of lynch law, although I have seen it have a tremendous influence for good; also I know there are certain brutish creatures whose taking off is for the public good, but does a current of electricity and a bag of lime bring any adequate return to the body politic. Crime grows and good falters. Why? Suggestion is ever a very easy road, yet I should be glad to see some other way tried. The injured, suffering families or friends of murdered people are not benefited by execution. Rather the guilty party should be put at hard labor for the benefit of those he has injured, and the consciousness borne that the whole of life must be spent in working for the families of the slain or injured. Consider what a deterrent that night be!
The sight of that execution made a great impression upon me.
It is not part of my plan to write of all the happenings of this little town. That, as I have said, should be a story by itself, but it must not be thought that I was forgetting the one thing I seemed fitted for, the creating of works of art. Day and night it was in my thought, and though I was busy much of daylight, I found time to paint, and at night I drew industriously. Yet I was ever ready for the affairs of young people. I was ever quick to respond to the presence of beauty in the other sex and always I have found it a joy and blessing.
I was deeply stirred by the presence in town of a visitor from Wilmington, a daughter of Judge Robert Strange French of that City. There was a quiet dignity about her which appealed greatly to me. She was slightly older than I and coming from a large City was more trained in the affairs of Society, but we were soon friends and from the first understood each other. Her nearness caused all the blood in my veins to race madly, but what was the use—I had nothing and the life of an artist is ever or was in those days a lean one. She returned to Wilmington and I began to see that I alone must win my own fortune. Our friendship was kept alive by an occasional letter, permitted by her parents. Now-a-days young people do as they please.
I began to see that Fayetteville was a very small place, that I must seek other fields. I read all I could find about artists and even went to the extravagance of subscribing to an Art Journal. But I was not idle in the use of my brushes and colors. We had in the old town a carriage manufacturer, and one of the painters there used to make me most wonderful panels of black lustre. On these I painted flowers and vines in patterns devised by myself—often with lettering, which I could do quite well from my old sign painting days.
Those panels I could sell for a few dollars to the young fellows who had their own ladies to favor, and I did many initials entwined and embellished with flowers. All this was effort toward my great er [sic].
I was already in communication with various large places, but always my mind was fixed on New York. If one could succeed there, all else seemed easy. I dreaded the idea of leaving home—it seemed like deserting my parents who were growing old and my father had suffered several bad attacks—also my brother and sister had married, and the small aid I was able to give was really needed.
About this time a great thing was happening. My father had a sister who long years ago had married in San Francisco and her husband had become very rich. This family had come East. All the rough places for the relatives in Virginia were being made smooth. The husband had gone into the maelstrom of Wall Street and had established a lovely place in Newport, R.I. A letter came to my father inviting him to Newport and asking him to bring from Virginia my Aunt Juliet. This was an exciting day for the old gentleman. Not since the War had he been back to Virginia, and to see his family was a great joy to him. This Aunt Juliet was a remarkable character in her way. For long years she had been an intense sufferer from inflammatory rheumatism. She was confined nearly all the time to her bed, and for her to go to Newport from the quiet Virginia home was an event indeed. She was a remarkable woman, however as I have said, and she willed to go with Brother John (my father).
I knew that a change of condition was coming and that I could now begin to plan for my own life. There was a restless and uneasy feeling in the minds of very many of my companions. There was absolutely no outlook in Fayetteville. It was just a small town with all a small town’s limitation.
I had read and written and thought of all the possibilities for my one ambition, and mind and heart were set on New York. If anywhere, there was the chance for an artistic career. I had said nothing to anyone, but I had not been idle—I had tried to draw everything in sight. I read of models and did not know how to use them. Long before, I had provided myself with drawing materials and paints, color etc. The sight of the word ‘painting’ in a paper made my whole body tremble. Someday I would be a painter, I said to myself. My ideas were always bigger than my abilities, but I was steadfast.
I almost wrecked the possibilities of my photographic gallery by a picture I had painted or tried to paint. It was about the year of a great epidemic of yellow fever in New Orleans, Memphis and other places. I read a pathetic paragraph of a baby being found attempting to nurse from the breast of its dead mother. I stretched a biggish canvas (probably made it myself, as many of the backgrounds in gallery.) I drew as well as I could this poor dead woman on her white bed. Her breast was bare and the baby—terrible piece of drawing—was trying to reach the breast. On the other side of the bed was a great winged figure, meant for the Angel of Death. As I remember it, the thing was a terrible performance crude and impossible—but that naked breast was the trouble. Young women would not look at it, and so stayed away. This was in the delicate seventies! When someone got the courage to tell me about the thing I removed the picture and kindly oblivion has overtaken it.
I did many other things which were of course very bad.
The only reading I did was about the great old masters and I emulated them by painting Madonnas and weeping Magdalens. I spent long days making preliminary drawings for an Ecce Homo which I meant to pain but fortunately did not.
Many things have happened in the old town which would be interesting to write about if they were carefully told. I remember a total eclipse of the sun, which astronomers will verify though I’ve forgotten dates, but it is clear in my memory. The darkness, the fright of the negroes and their shouting, the chickens going to an untimely roost much to their disgust, and the splendor of the corona which I perceived clearly, for we were in the path of totality.
Incidents of this sort enrich one’s memory, but accuracy is required if we write about them—so I can only allude to splendid comets which appeared and endured in the sky—but one other incident I am minded to put down. I have never understood it nor has anyone explained it. Albert Pinkham Ryder, to whom I told the incident, begged me to paint it. I could not.
With two boy friends I was out fishing some little distance from our homes. It was in the latter half of summer’s day and we were not surprised to hear the rumble of distant thunder. In the northwest a great cloud was rapidly piling up, and from it great waves of lightning were breaking. We began to think of home. The promise or sign of heavy storm grew every moment, and we hastened in our run for town. It was a strange and wonderful cloud which piled up there in the sky. Long since the sun had blotted out, while over the earth there was heavy shadow. The vividness of the lightning was intense. We stopped on an instant to watch it when suddenly that great purple cloud rolled away, or rather, seemed to open—behind it standing quietly was a figure, majestic, calm and very gracious—the hair was long, curly billows about face, the face it self [sic] turned full upon us looked out from great eyes. The costume was simple and long, and we knew the figure at once and were terrified. The figure of the Savior! There could be no mistake. It was not an illusion made by cloud forms as we often see in the sky. All about it was intense light, and the figure was in violet half tone. It endured for several seconds, and then what seemed the right arm was raised in a commanding gesture, the cloud rolled back, dark, purple, stormy. Rooted to the ground we stood, and three times we saw the cloud open, three times the calm, noble figure stood there, and then with a gesture was gone. Needless to say we were frightened. We raced home and were laughed out of countenance. No one believed us—we were just frightened by the lightning. But next morning people from the country about us came in to town asking if we had seen the Lord in the sky, and what was going to happen? All who saw this strange spectacle thought some great event was to take place. However, nothing did, and things soon settled down. No one has ever explained this sight to me in any satisfactory way.
As I grew to manhood there was much unrest among my fellows—young men of eighteen to twenty-two or four. The town offered no future. Day after day groups of men would come to my gallery to talk over plans.
My own mind was made up—I was for New York to make or break in the life I wished. I had been in correspondence and knew about what I should have to do to learn something about Art. I did not think much about eating and sleeping, or about clothes. They were just the habits of life and of course would be there in the great City as well as elsewhere. I know now, in looking back, that my mind had never woke up. The blank shroud of sleep was still upon me, and only the desire to do something was upon me.
I had saved a few dollars, very few—and so one morning at the breakfast table I said quietly that I was going to New York to study Art. Of course there was an explosion, and equally of course I was called a fool and other things. How was I to pay back the borrowed money for the gallery—all this was prepared for—“I have a customer who will pay three times the amount of the debt for the gallery—I shall not take anything!” In point of fact it did sell for every much more, and I took nothing of it.
In all this rumpus I noticed my mother said no word of disapproval. After breakfast she took me into her room and told me she approved fully—she knew there was no chance in our little town—and so my immediate preparations were made. I withstood many arguments against such a move. My brother Archie was very fearful for me. He had ever been most tender and most kind, but he could not think of success.
He had, by nature, a marvelous gift for architecture. He drew beautifully and designed as well. He built many houses in Fayetteville and had he been willing to give the long years to study, I believe he would have become a great architect. However, his business engrossed him.
My mother added her little savings to mine, and so, when the morning came for me to leave home I had the great sum of eighty-four dollars. Eighty-four dollars which I knew how to value and with which I was to conquer the world. There would be no more—I knew that—and well I knew how to value these, for each one had been earned and saved through sheer effort and pain.
My father was very old fashioned and could never see the change in affairs caused by the war. Of course I could not go through Virginia without going to see his people. Not a cent more would it cost me to go to the various homes in the Valley than to make the straight trip to Washington. The very hospitality of the people would cut all such expenses, and railroads were only to accommodate the people. Bless his heart! Was not his boy, a Daingerfield traveling in Virginia! – That was enough, and so it was settled. But I had another thought in my heart. There was a very dear young woman in Wilmington and I wanted to see her—to tell her of my adventuring—and as it was necessary to go down the old Cape Fear River to Wilmington to get a start on railroads, I chose a morning in early January, 1880, and, after a tearful farewell, with my father I walked to the boat landing, and so set my face towards an Art career, and New York City.
…The steamer lay at the wharf. One hundred and twenty miles down stream [sic] was Wilmington, where I should find a through train to the far-off North where I was to make a place for myself. The steamer was, I thought, a great one. I know now that it was a little flat-bottomed stern wheel boat captained by a white man and manned by negroes. The whistle blew, I said goodbye to my father and walked up the gangplank and so began that new career which was to rest entirely upon my own efforts.
Often since that day I’ve wished for the power to write the story of that trip down the river, the wildness and the weirdness of it all. …The profit of those river boats was not in the passengers but in the freight which was rosin, turpentine, and such things known as naval stores. The travel was slow, the water at many places very shallow, and the crew would leap into the water and push and pull, and from the lower decks pole with long poles until the shallows were past. The fuel for the engine was of course, wood. We would draw up to the bank where great cords of pine wood were heaped, and there a line from wood to deck was formed and, keeping time with their songs, the negroes would pass the four foot lengths of cord wood from man to man and so pile the deck, near the engine.
…On the second morning when I woke up we were along-side the dock in Wilmington. I looked out from my cabin upon tall masts and many vessels. The city, which seemed very great to me, came down to the docks and the wharves were filled with thousands of barrels of rosin, a source of wealth in the South which is all but gone.
I had no difficulty in finding the home of Judge French. The family, a large one, was most kind to me and I stayed for mid-day dinner. After dinner I had a long talk with Miss Roberta who was most kind and interested. She fully approved of my plan and ambition. When I tried to include her in these plans and declared my intention of returning to her with a more serious question the moment I should have established myself, she protested and disclaimed all such interest. However, there was that in her words and in her manner which quickened my heart and I left her with more hope than discouragement.
I took the train about nightfall, and changing at Richmond, went on to my Uncle Lee’s home. …And, on the morning of January 12, 1880, I entered New York.