Thursday, June 30th, 1853

The dear little baby is no better than she was yesterday. She is the most patient little creature on earth. I know she has been less trouble than any child ever was, altho’ she has been sick ever since she was born. Ma sent for Aunt Rose, brother & Mag this evening. GrandPa came back in the buggy with Bil. Aunt Rose was too much indisposed, but said she would come in the morning, brother & Mag came. Lavinia & Josephine Lewis came also and spent the night.[1] They hadn’t heard of the sickness of the baby. At a quarter to ten, her dear little spirit departed and returned to him who gave it.[2]

“Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north wind’s breath,
And stars to set – but all
Thou hast all seasons for thine own‚ Oh, Death!”[3]

All of us sat up ‘till twelve. Sister and myself sat up alone the remainder of the night. We also shrouded the dear little soul. It is the first time I ever assisted in any thing of this kind in my life. She was laid out in her little cradle in the chamber. Oh! little did we think two nights ago that we should so soon be standing by the bedside of death. Grief and joy, hope and fear, tears and smiles, pain and pleasure; are all twins, paired together at a birth, children of the same mother, and linked together throughout the whole world of humanity. No lot, no country, no climate, no scene, no condition, may claim the enjoyment of the one without the rebuking companionship of the other. – – It has been excessively warm today, the thermometer has been up to 98, several degrees higher than it has been before this summer or for several summers. It didn’t go over 91 last summer.

  1. [1]We met Lavinia and her sister Joe on 5 March.
  2. [2]Helen May’s death is not recorded in the 1853 KW Register of Deaths.
  3. [3]The widely reprinted English poet Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793–1835), the opening lines from The Hour of Death.

Wednesday, June 29th, 1853

We arrived home this morning to breakfast, found dear little Helen much worse than when we left. – – Sister’s dress is certainly the greatest sight I ever beheld. The flounces are literally torn up into strings. She lost her handkerchief, broke her fan and left it behind, wore a large hole on the instep of her new silk stockings, &c. I didn’t have the slightest accident to happen to any thing at all, for a wonder. – – Pa rode down to Woodbury this morning, returned about eleven. Sister and myself have been asleep most all day, or at least she has. I’ve been lying down it’s true, but don’t think I’ve slept more than an hour during the day. I should have been happy to have taken refuge from my thoughts in sleep, but sleep often flees us when most invoked. I feel so sad for several days after I return from a party (especially one so very agreeable) that sometimes I almost think I’ll never go to one again. – – Dear sweet little Helen is very sick this evening. Ma, Sister and myself are going to sit up all night with her.

Tuesday, June 28th, 1853

Pa returned home to break fast, spent the morning at Woodbury, was invited to dine at the Ct. House, did so. Sister and I have been quite busy all day fixing for the party. We wore our white tarletans.[1] Started up at half-past seven, Bil accompanied us. Had a most delightful ride. Arrived there at nine, met with a great many of our old acquaintances from Essex, Ada & Pussy Minor, Laura Jones, Bettie Minor, &c.[2] I never enjoyed myself more at a party in my life. Had a very beautiful bouquet presented me by one of the cadets. (Mr. W. Fontaine)[3] I think the crowd was rather great. There were supposed to be between two hundred & fifty and three hundred persons in attendance. I danced every set during the night, but think I enjoyed myself more promenading. We promenaded three different times. I walked with Mr. Fontaine, Cousin Tom, and Capt. Braxton.[4] The moon and stars certainly shone more beautifully than I ever saw before. I reckon if all the poetry could be printed that was repeated on that evening, it would compose quite a large volume. The party broke up just before sunrise. We just did arrive at home in time for breakfast, and were the first that started. The ball room was decorated very handsomely indeed. I never saw more luster displayed in my life. Several things occurred during the night that will cause me to remember it for a long while. Mr. Cocke was there. We had the pleasure of seeing the Misses Aylett also. I never was more disappointed in my life.[5]

  1. [1]For a image of what a period tarlatan looked like, check here. From the general appearance of these dresses Rose may have been wearing hers for the portrait to the left.
  2. [2]We first met Ada Minor 27 March. While she has several sisters listed in the 1850 US Census, only Ann and Virginia seem old enough three years later to be attending the party as Pussy. Laura Jones is likely Laura M. Jones, about 19, daughter of the late Benjamin Franklin Jones and Alice [Monroe] Jones. As their mother was the former Virginia Jones, Laura Jones may be a cousin. Bettie Muse may be Ann Elizabeth (Betty) Muse, 22, daughter of Richard J. and Anna [Wake] Muse.
  3. [3]We met William Winston Fontaine on 1 May. He seem to have been a student at Rumford Academy during the years when it adopted a military curriculum.
  4. [4]Cousin Tom is likely Thomas Edmund Littlepage, second son of Col. Edmund Littlepage who we first met 1 May. – – We met Capt. Braxton back on 7 May.
  5. [5]Rose is disappointed in Martha (Patty) Waller Aylett, 18, and Rosalie Page Aylett, 16, daughters of the late General Philip Aylett and Judith Page Waller. Patty, Rosalie and their mother were living with their brother, young attorney Patrick Henry Aylett.

Monday, June 27th, 1853

Pa finished cutting his wheat today, spent the day at the Ct. House and has not returned yet, twelve o’clock. – – Dear little Helen is not so well today as she has been. – – Brother sent down this evening to borrow five pounds of brown sugar. – – Sister and myself have been doing little or nothing all day. We took a walk to the cherry tree after sunset.

Sunday, June 26th, 1853

A considerable change in the weather. It is much cooler than it has been for a fortnight. – – We persuaded Ma after a long while to let us all (Sister, Bake & I) go up to Sharon, as we didn’t expect to have another day as cool this Summer. Brother went down to Jerusalem, carried Mag and left her with Ma. We had several invitations to dine out, but concluded before we left home to return to dinner. Found Fes here when we returned. He remained ‘till after ten, so did brother and Mag. – – Sister and myself became very much disgusted with Mag and brother this evening for kissing and carrying on as they did, out there in company with us all. I think they both lack modesty. – – Ma sent us some very nice blackberries, cherries, candies &c. We enjoyed them very much.

Saturday, June 25th, 1853

Pa commenced cutting wheat up at the Ct. House. – – Ma and Sister rode up to Mr. Slaughter’s in the afternoon, went from there over to see Mag and brother. – – I’ve been as busy as a hen and one chicken all day trying to finish Bake’s calico dress and mantle. I succeeded in doing the latter but not the former. I pleated Ma’s dress and put it on the body while they were gone. – – They returned about dark, Pa with them. He was so very much fatigued that he didn’t wait for supper, but retired immediately. He, together with Mr. Pollard, Uncle & Cousin Hardin & cousin Fes took dinner at Oak Dale.

Thursday, June 23rd, 1853

Nothing particular occurs. – – Oh! I forgot something very particular did occur. – – I’ve finished my pink berege at last, it fits very well.[1] Sister has been busy making some draws for herself.[2] Ma has not been able to sew for most a fortnight, her thimble finger rose.[3] – – The children all have holiday for the remainder of this week. Hardin is down at Woodbury assisting Pa about the wheat. They all remained all night. – – Brother was down very early this morning to see Bil. He is still quite sick. He is right badly salivated also.

  1. [1]BAREGE: A thinny, gauze-like fabric for women’s dresses usually made of silk and worsted, but in the inferior sorts have cotton in place of silk. A worsted stuff of gauze or open taffeta armure or weave, cotton warp and weft of English wool and generally printed. A French worsted dress goods woven on a gauze or open taffeta loom and having a cotton warp and an English wool weft. From the Pocket Dictionary of Dry Goods, Etc,, Geo W. & Dan’l P. Bible (1896). The term originates from Berege in southern France.
  2. [2]“draws” = drawers
  3. [3]Caroline’s finger must be swollen.

Tuesday, June 21st, 1853

The warmest day we’ve had this summer, the thermometer has been 92. I’ve been doing little or nothing all day. – – Mag and brother came down this evening and brought Sister home. Perpetria Trimmer came with Bake from school and spent the night.[1] – – I can’t see how the servants can stand it to cut wheat, weather like this. Pa finds it a very difficult matter to hire mowers. Every one in the neighborhood is in their harvest fields now. I believe he has a promise of a plenty the last of next week. – – I received a letter from Willie Brown this evening. – – Pa went down to the steamboat, returned home very hungry after we’d all finished supper. – – I don’t know what is the matter with me. I’ve felt so wretchedly for the last three or four days. This is the first summer I’ve ever had fruit to disagree with me and now I can’t eat the slightest thing but what it disagrees with me. Bil had a severe ague.[2] We are very much afraid he is going to be very sick.

  1. [1]Perpetua Trimmer is the daughter of the late Gideon Trimmer who died 29 January. Based on the 1850 US Census, Perpetua is about 11. Bake is 10.
  2. [2]Archaic now, the word ague was a well-known description of a fit of shivering that accompanies spikes in body temperature. Today the condition is often associated with flu, or in Caroline’s time, malaria.