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|Size||1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 7 items)|
|Abstract||Caroline Brooks Lilly (1803-1846) was a teacher and homemaker on a farm in Montgomery County, N.C. The collection consists of the diary, 1835-1849, and account book, 1838-1848, of Caroline Brooks Lilly. The diaries document Lilly's life as a teacher in small, rural schools, including her philosophy of teaching, her attempts to balance her teaching career and domestic duties after her marriage in 1839, and her religious life. The account book consists chiefly of records of students' accounts. After Lilly's death in 1846, a few entries were made in both the diary and the account book by her husband, James Marshall Lilly.|
|Creator||Lilly, Caroline Brooks, 1803-1846.|
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Caroline Brooks Lilly was born in Chatham County, N.C., on 17 July 1803. It is not clear where she spent her childhood, although Moore County seems likely. She received a small amount of formal schooling, which was supplemented by self teaching. In March 1836, Caroline arrived in Concord, Cabarrus County, N.C., to take charge of a female school, which soon after opened its doors to both boys and girls. In the spring of 1838, Caroline established a new school in Montgomery County, N.C., where she was to spend the rest of her life. In January 1845, she was running a day school at Scuppleton School House, about a mile from her home.
Caroline married James Marshall Lilly, a farmer with holdings on the banks of the Pee Dee River, in 1839, after a short courtship. Caroline and James had six children together before she died in September 1846.Back to Top
The diary of Caroline Brooks Lilly (1803-1846), a teacher and homemaker on a farm in Montgomery County, N.C., opens in 1835 with a short biographical sketch. In March 1836, Caroline arrived in Concord, Cabarrus County, N.C., to take charge of a female school, which soon after opened its doors to both boys and girls. She took her teaching responsibilities very seriously, and her diary contains frequent expositions on her philosophy of education and teaching. For example, on 4 April 1836, she wrote: "Nothing deserves more attention than the education of the rising generation and that instructor who does not carefully watch over & cultivate the intellect of those immortal beings entrusted to his care is guilty of a crime of no ordinary magnitude."
Diary entries also reflect her interest in religion. She often described the camp meetings she attended and evaluated the sermons of preachers she traveled many miles to hear. In addition, the diary was a forum for self chastisement, with many lamentations on her lack of religious fortitude and other failings.
In the spring of 1838, Caroline established a new school in Montgomery County, N.C., where she was to spend the rest of her life. On 1 January 1839, after a short courtship, she married James Marshall Lilly, a farmer with holdings on the banks of the Pee Dee River. In February 1839, diary entries indicate, the Lilly household numbered around 20 people, including about ten boarding students of both sexes and perhaps eight slaves, some of whom were children. James planted wheat, corn, and a small amount of cotton; Caroline, besides maintaining her school, raised turkeys and chickens and supervised a large kitchen garden.
By 1840, James seems to have been spending almost as much time in the classroom as his wife, who was kept busy tending twin girls born 29 September 1839. Increasingly, the diary reflects Caroline's disenchantment with the life of the school mistress and growing fascination with the domestic scene. Throughout the early 1840s, she expressed regret at her inability to abandon teaching because of the financial strife that would ensue. Diary entries after 1840 tend to focus on the activities of Caroline's children rather than those of the scholars in her care. She also continued to use the diary to document religious gatherings she attended and to enumerate her failings on religious and other fronts; among the entries are several diatribes on her inability to quit smoking tobacco.
There are no diary entries for the period May 1841 through December 1844 (perhaps one or more volumes have been lost). In January 1845, the Lillys had two daughters and two sons (one of the twins died in 1844) and Caroline Lilly was running a day school at Scuppleton School House, about a mile from her home. On 22 July 1845, however, Caroline wrote: "... scarcity of water and delicate health induce me to dismiss my school," and the subject of teaching is never mentioned again.
Another son was born 27 October 1845. In August 1846, Caroline's writing leaves off. Entries for 1 through 13 September 1846, written by James Lilly, describe Caroline's death, and end with his lament: "O God help me to manage aright my dear little children, five in number, the oldest not quite seven years of age & the youngest not eleven months old. O what a task!"
The account book covers the period 1838 to 1848. It chiefly lists accounts of students (tuition paid, supplies purchased, etc.). The sparse entries after 1845 relate to domestic accounts.
Both the diary and the account book were, at some point, turned over to the Lilly children to use as scrap paper. There are many pages with entries all but obscured by children's writing and drawing. In addition, Caroline sometimes purposely obscured portions of diary entries that contain derogatory remarks about friends or relatives. Notes generated in an attempt to decipher the crossed out passages (probably by Elizabeth Young Banner, a friend of the Lilly family who was interested in editing the diary for publication in the early 1970s) are filed in the volumes at appropriate places.Back to Top
Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, December 1989
Encoded by: Nancy Kaiser, December 2005Back to Top