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This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.
|Size||1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 500 items)|
|Abstract||The Meade family of Prince George County and Ruffin family of Hanover County, Va. Principal family members are Rebecca Beverley Meade (d. 1867); John E. Meade, Jr. (1843-1862); Charlotte Meade Ruffin (fl. 1837-1900); Julian C. Ruffin (d. 1864); Eleanor Meade Platt (d. 1866?); and Bessie Meade Callender (b. 1832). The collection includes correspondence, mostly of women, and miscellaneous papers of the Meade and Ruffin families. Fullest between 1848 and 1866, the correspondence documents the family and social lives of the Virginia planter class, discussing courtship, religion, school life, plantation affairs, and family relationships. Some information also appears on the family and social lives of Meade relatives in Alabama and New Jersey. Letters in 1860 and 1861 comment extensively on secession and the outbreak of war, and Civil War correspondence often concerns camp life and women's war work. Letters express strong opinions on the war and often mention local instances of slave resistance. Postwar letters, the bulk of which are dated 1866, concern family and financial matters. Scattered letters appear between 1867 and 1869 and 1897 and 1900. Miscellaneous papers consist mostly of school materials of John E. Meade, Jr., in the 1850s and early 1860s. There are only a few financial and legal items. Other items are poems, clippings, genealogical notes, a child's scrapbook, and advertising broadsides.|
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
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Rebecca Wormeley Beverley (d. 1867) of Williamsburg, Va., was the daughter of Robert Beverley. She had at least three sisters, Eleanor, Jane, and Ann, and at least one brother, William (d. 1846). Ann married cotton planter Robert(?) Randolph and lived at Oakley Plantation in Greensborough, Ala. William married a woman named Harriette and lived in Elizabethtown, N.J., until his death in 1846. In 1860, Harriette married W. B. Cooper. She and Rebecca remained close friends.
In 1830, Rebecca married John Everard Meade (d. 1855), tobacco and wheat planter of Prince George County. They resided at Cedar Level, outside City Point, and had four children: Charlotte (fl. 1834-1900), who married planter Julian Calx Ruffin in 1852; Eleanor (d. 1866?), who married Rev. W. H. Platt in 1857; Bessie (b. 1832), who married cloth manufacturer David Callender in 1855; and John E. Meade, Jr. (1843-1862).
The Meade daughters were educated at Mrs. Eliason's in Alexandria, Va., and at Mrs. Minor's in Richmond, Va., between 1848 and 1850. John E. Meade, Jr., attended school in 1855 and 1856 at Mr. Minor's in Hanover County; in 1857 at the Episcopal High School of Virginia in Fairfax County; and between 1858 and April 1861 at the Brookland School in Albemarle County. In April, he volunteered for service in the Petersburg Riflemen stationed at Entrenched Camp outside Norfolk. He died in December 1862, probably from an illness contracted in the army.
Charlotte's husband, Julian C. Ruffin, served with the Confederate army at Entrenched Camp and later at Camp Fort Clifton outside Petersburg. He died in service in May 1864. After his death, Charlotte Ruffin sold their plantation, Ruthven, and moved to Marlbourne, her father-in-law's estate. She inherited half of Marlbourne upon the senior Ruffin's suicide in 1865. Julian and Charlotte Ruffin had at least four children: Julian Meade Ruffin (b. 1853); Edmund; Bessie; and Jane.
Bessie and David Callender resided in Petersburg, where Callender supplied cloth to the Confederate army during the war. They had at least three children: Tommy (b. 1856); Meg; and Nannie. Rev. W. H. and Eleanor Platt also resided in Petersburg until 1866, when they moved to Louisville, Ky. Eleanor died from tuberculosis in December 1866 or January 1867. Rev. Platt served in the Petersburg Dragoons early in the Civil War and later commanded the Cockade Cadets. The Platts had at least five children, some of whom were from his first marriage. They included Ella, Charles, Willie (b. 1858), Cornelia (b. 1861), and Johnnie.Back to Top
The Ruffin and Meade family materials consists of correspondence and other materials. Correspondence is mostly that of the women of the Meade family, with extensive correspondence of their brother, John, and some letters of Julian Ruffin. The correspondence is fullest between 1848 and 1866, and provides extensive information on the social, school, and family lives of antebellum Virginia plantation families, including discussion of courtship, friendship, religious devotion, plantation affairs, and family relationships. Limited information appears on organized religious activities. Some information appears on the social and family life of Meade relatives in Greensborough, Ala., and Elizabethtown, N.J.
Letters in 1860 and 1861 comment extensively on secession and the outbreak of war. Civil War correspondence includes letters from both civilians and soldiers, and gives detailed information on miliary life and women's work to support the war effort. Letters frequently express opinions on events during the war and mention local instances of slave resistance.
Postwar letters concern mostly family and financial matters. The bulk of these letters are from 1866, with scattered items appearing between 1866 and 1869 and between 1897 and 1900.
Other papers are dated between 1796 and 1906, and consist mostly of school materials of John E. Meade, Jr., in the 1850s and early 1860s. Only a few financial and legal items, mostly accounts and legal documents pertaining to the estate of Julian Ruffin and the division of his father's estate, Marlbourne, appear. Other items are poems, clippings, genealogical notes, a child's scrapbook, and advertising broadsides.Back to Top
Letters of the Meade and Ruffin families. Principal correspondents are Rebecca Beverley Meade; her son, John Everard Meade, Jr.; and her daughters, Charlotte Meade Ruffin; Eleanor Meade Platt; and Bessie Meade Callender. Correspondence also appears for Charlotte's husband, Julian C. Ruffin. The bulk of the letters were exhanged between immediate family members in Virginia, although a large number of letters appear from relatives in Elizabethtown, N.J.; Greensborough, Ala.; Philadelphia; and New York.
Mostly letters received by Rebecca Beverley in Williamsburg, Va., and George Town, D.C., and in Greensborough, Ala., before her marriage, with a few letters addressed to her sisters, Eleanor and Jane. Principal correspondents are her cousin, Rebecca, at Blandfield Plantation, and her cousin, Beverley Kennon, a sailor with the United States Navy.
Two 1814 letters are from Eleanor Wormeley of Rossgill Plantation to her granddaughter Eleanor Beverley, discussing the death of the girl's mother and the raising of Eleanor and her sisters and brothers. The second letter, dated 7 May, describes the British seizure of ships near Rossgill and the exodus of many local slaves to the British.
A cousin, Rebecca, wrote Rebecca Beverley several times in 1822 concerning the separation of the latter's family, advising her on romantic affairs, and giving news of relatives. Beverley Kennon wrote Rebecca from aboard the U.S. Frigate Guerriere in 1822; at sea, aboard the U.S. Schooner Weasel, in 1823; and from Williamsburg in 1829. He discussed mostly his romantic interests, his family, and his travels. Kennon's mother, Elizabeth Kennon, wrote Rebecca from Norfolk in 1823 expressing fear for her son's safety at sea.
Of interest among the remaining letters is one in 1822 from Rebecca's sister, Jane, visiting at Blandfield, which discusses their brother William's studies in Georgetown and Rebecca's efforts to be economical while keeping house for her brothers. Her cousin Rebecca and her father, Robert Beverley, included notes in the letter. A letter Rebecca wrote to Jane a few days later disusses her worsening financial situation and gives news of the family. A letter of 1830 discusses Rebecca's marriage plans and her sister Eleanor B. Randolph's plans for attending the ceremony.
Primarily letters received by Rebecca W. Meade at City Point and by Julian Ruffin at the University of Virginia in 1837; in Petersburg, Garysville, and Old Church, Va., between 1838 and the spring of 1847; and at his Prince George plantation, Ruthven, beginning in the summer of 1847. A few items appear for Rebecca Meade's daughters, Charlotte (Lottie), Eleanor (Nell), and Bessie (also Bess). Harriette (Mrs. William) Beverley was the Meade family's most frequent correspondent, and Ruffin's brother Edmund, and sisters, Elizabeth, Agnes, Beck, and Jeanie, were his principal correspondents.
Harriette wrote Rebecca Meade from her home in Elizabethtown, N.J., in 1846, and from Philadelphia and other locations in 1847 describing her travels in Virginia, Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and Georgia; discussing her reading, religion, and the Meade children; and giving news of mutual friends. Letters of note are one, dated 1 November 1846, informing Rebecca of William Beverley's death, and another, dated 3 September 1847, in which Harriette described her responses to Hiram Powers' statue, the Greek Slave .
Rebecca Meade also received letters from her uncle, William Bolling, at Bollinghall Plantation, discussing crops, family news, and Episcopal church affairs. Other letters include one from a friend, Louisa Baker at Berkeley Plantation, Adams County, Miss., in 1831, one from Elizabeth Bryan at Eagle Point in 1842, and one in 1839 from Augusta Randolph in Mobile, Ala. Mrs. Randolph described a vogage her family took aboard the Scotia from Baltimore to Mobile and their plans to visit Randolph relatives in Greensborough, Ala.
Most of the letters Julian Ruffin received from his sisters in Hanover County discuss the health and activities of family members; describe neighbors, parties, visitors and farm affairs at Marlbourne, the family's estate; and give news of Julian's father, Edmund Ruffin, Sr. Of interest is a letter of 14 June 1845 from his sister Elizabeth, giving her opinion of Julian's affairs at Ruthven. Julian received one letter from his brother Edmund, who wrote in 1837 from Petersburg, discussing his plantation, Beechwood, and advising Julian on his education. Letters also appear from scattered cousins and friends, who wrote concerning family, romances, and school. An item of interest is from Julian's brother in law, E. K., who wrote from Warrenton in 1837 reminiscing about his college days at the University of Virginia, sharing his thoughts on Thomas Jefferson, and describing Monticello upon visits he had made there several years earlier.
Primarily correspondence of the Meade sisters at Cedar Level and at school in Alexandria and Richmond, and of John E. Meade, Jr., at school in Hanover, Fairfax, and Albemarle counties. Included are letters they exchanged with their mother, Rebecca Meade; their aunt, Harriette Beverley; each other; and cousins, friends, and schoolmates. Items for Rebecca Meade are mostly from her children and from Harriette Beverley. Several items appear for Julian Ruffin.
Letters exchanged by the Meade children with their mother and each other discuss family and neighborhood news; servants; school activities; courtships; visits and visitors; news of the Randolphs at Oakley, where Bess visited frequently and went to teach in 1850; reading; social events; church affairs; and family quarrels. Specific topics of interest are Charlotte's marriage in 1852, Bessie's in 1855, and Eleanor's in 1857, and John E. Meade, Sr.'s death in 1855. Letters of note are one, dated 10 January 1849, from Bessie to Eleanor, giving a detailed account of a stroke suffered by their "mammy" and the medical attention she received, and another, dated 14 April 1850, from Bessie to Eleanor, discussing her unhappiness that their father expected them to support themselves through teaching. John E. Meade, Jr.'s correpondence is fullest between 1857 and April 1861. The later letters often concern the country's political situation, secession, and the early events of the war.
Letters to the Meade children from friends focus primarily on school life, including news of their studies, teachers, daily routines, and other friends at school. Letters appear from students at Mrs. Eliason's and Mrs. Minor's schools, the Norfolk Female Institute, the Virginia Female Institute in Staunton, the Howard Theological Seminary, and the University of Virginia. The Meades also received letters from a number of Randolph and Dupuy cousins, which discuss mostly family news.
Harriette Beverley wrote while visiting Oakley Plantation (the home of Rebecca's sister Ann Randolph) in Greensborough, Ala., in early 1848 to discuss the family and social life of the Randolphs and news of society in nearby Greensborough and Tuscaloosa. She wrote later from Elizabethtown, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn, concerning the Episcopal church, the Meade childrens' marriage prospects, her friends and family, and her reading. Of note is her description on 31 December 1848 of a visit to the Philadelphia Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also of interest is a letter, dated 10 March 1857, to Rebecca Meade, in which she described a lecture she attended by Lucy Stone. She also frequently described her travels and popular entertainments. There are also letters, 29 July 15-December 1860, describing her marriage and travels in Europe with her husband, W. B. Cooper.
A few letters to Julian C. Ruffin appear, mostly in 1848, from his sisters at Marlbourne, and discuss their father; friends and relatives, including members of the Harrison, Stockdell, Randolph, and Cocke families; visits and visitors; weddings; Christmas celebrations; and other family news. A few letters similar to these appear in 1855 and 1860. Charlotte Ruffin also occasionally wrote to Julian while he was away from home, telling him news of the family.
Mostly letters to Julian Ruffin from his sisters at Marlbourne and letters to the Meade family women from Harriette Beverley and other relatives. The topics in these letters reflect those of earlier letters described in Series 1.2 and 1.3.
Primarily Civil War letters exchanged between John E. Meade, Jr., his mother, and his sisters. John Meade wrote from Entrenched Camp outside Norfolk, between May 1861 and April 1862. His mother wrote from her daughters' homes in Hanover County and Petersburg, and later from Augusta, Ga., and Greensborough, Ala. Other correspondence consists of letters to John Meade from friends; letters Julian Ruffin wrote Charlotte from Entrenched Camp in April 1862 and from Petersburg and Camp Fort Clifton in December 1863; and letters received by Rebecca Meade, Julian Ruffin, and Charlotte Ruffin in Hanover County from friends and relatives in Virginia, Alabama, and New Jersey.
John Meade's letters discuss camp life; activities at the Norfolk Navy Yard; his company; social life in Norfolk; and troop movements. In early 1862, he wrote concerning enlisting in the army under the Confederate States Act. Julian Ruffin's letters to Charlotte contain similar information. In an informative letter, dated 3 April 1862, he described Methodist prayer meetings; conflicts over the refusal of Quaker draftees to fight; and common amusements at Entrenched Camp. Ruffin also frequently discussed the legal relationship between the Virginia militia and the Confederate army and gave his wife advice on how to manage their plantation in his absence.
Rebecca Meade and her daughters wrote to John and to each other frequently, discussing work they were doing to support the war effort; relatives and neighbors; church activities; the service and deaths of relatives in the war; and the behavior of slaves. Of interest is a letter, dated 22 August 1861, from Rebecca Meade to John, mentioning the public whipping of slaves in Prince George County to deter an insurrection. Other topics include the efficacy of secession, the expected roles of England and France in the war, the atrocities of Yankee soldiers, Edmund Ruffin Sr.'s participation in the Palmetto Guard, and news of important battles. Mrs. Meade wrote John in October 1861 concerning Edmund Ruffin, Sr.'s extreme bitterness over the war and her discomfort with his inability to restrain his emotions.
Letters from other relatives discuss family, farming, and financial hardships brought on by the war and general war news. Letters of note include one, dated 4 June 1861, to John from his friend, W. C. Kerr, in Petersburg, describing a pass through the city by Jefferson Davis, P. G. T. Beauregard and J. P. Benjamin. A letter from Harriette Beverley Cooper to Rebecca Meade, dated 13 January 1863, expressed sympathy upon John's death, and other letters discuss sentiment towards the war in New Jersey. A 16 March 1863 letter from Julia Gardiner Tyler discussed the wartime censorship of mails and her delivery of a notice to the New York newspapers about Edmund Ruffin, Sr. A letter, dated 24 May 1864, from Edmund Ruffin, Jr., to Charlotte, discussed the death of Julian Ruffin. A letter, dated 18 May 1863, from Edmund Ruffin, Sr., described his son Edmund's participation in a group of civilians collected to oppose Yankee raiders.
Mostly correspondence of Eleanor Meade Platt in 1866 with her mother and sisters. Scattered letters appear in 1866 from Eleanor Platt's husband, W. H. Platt, and a few letters appear exhanged during that year among Rebecca Meade, Charlotte, and Bessie. Correspondence after 1866 is primarily that of Charlotte and her daughter, Jane Ruffin.
The principal focus of the correspondence for 1866 is Eleanor's health, which declined steadily throughout the year until her death from tuberculosis in late December or early January. Other topics of interest are the Platts' move to Louisville, Ky., from Petersburg in early 1866, their friends there, Rev. Platt's activities as a minister, and their children. In July, the Platts travelled to Minnesota, where Eleanor remained until September. Letters exchanged by Rebecca Meade in Hanover County and Petersburg, with Charlotte at Marlbourne Plantation in Hanover County, and Bessie in Petersburg, discuss news of family and friends, with mention of illnesses, deaths, and marriages. Of particular note is a letter, dated 29 August 1866, from Bessie to her mother concerning a freedmen who supported his former mistress financially after her son was shot by another freedman. The letter also mentions a fever killing hundreds of freedmen in Alabama.
Miscellaneous letters for 1866 include one, dated 6 September, from Elizabeth Beverley Randolph in Columbus, Ga., to Rebecca Meade, in Hanover County, concerning the death of Mrs. Randolph's grandson, Beverley, and her plans to move north.
Letters after 1866 were received by Charlotte Ruffin at Marlbourne and her daughter, Jane Ruffin. Three letters in early 1867 express sympathy over the deaths of Charlotte's mother and sister. Other letters for that year include one, dated 6 February, from a cousin turning down a governess position Charlotte had offered her, and another, dated 10 August, from Peter P. Batte, pertaining to Charlotte's plans to rent or sell Ruthven. There are no letters for 1868. Two letters appear for 1869, one to Charlotte from her brother in law, William Sayres, and another from G. W. P. Haw, concerning the division of Marlbourne between Edmund Ruffin, Jr., and herself.
No correspondence appears after 1869 until 1897, when Jane Ruffin received several letters from R. Heber Screven of Charleston and one from her brother, Edmund S. Ruffin, in Norfolk discussing Edmund Ruffin, Sr.'s service with South Carolina's Palmetto Guard during the Civil War. There are no letters for 1898. In 1899, a letter to Charlotte from M. M. P. Newton of Richmond discussed the marriage of a relative. Two items appear in 1900, a letter from Kate Chrisitian of Richmond to Charlotte concerning the death of a family member, and a post card sent to Charlotte announcing a religious meeting.
Five undated letters, two from Bessie Callender to Charlotte; two from Jane Ruffin at school and teaching in Woodstock to her mother, Charlotte; and one from Elizabeth J. Murray to a friend, appear. The letters discuss family news, Jane's school life and dislike of teaching, and religious readings.
School materials of John E. Meade, Jr.; scattered financial and legal items, mostly pertaining to the estates of Julian C. Ruffin and John E. Meade; and miscellaneous items, including poems, clippings, genealogical notes, a child's scrapbook, and broadsides.
John E. Meade, Jr.'s school papers include grade reports and examinations from the Episcopal High School of Virginia in Fairfax County between January and July 1857 and grade reports and compositions from the Brookland School in Albemarle County between February 1858 and April 1861.
Financial items include Charlotte Ruffin's accounts with Peter P. Batte between 1865 and 1868. Batte seems to have acted as an agent for Julian Ruffin's estate and possible for that of John E. Meade. Other financial items are a receipt for Julian C. Ruffin from Agnes N. Beckwith in 1863 and an account of the division of Marlbourne, Edmund Ruffin, Sr.'s plantation, between Charlotte Ruffin and Edmund Ruffin, Jr., probably recorded in 1867.
Two legal items are an order by Elizabeth Randolph, dated 8 January 1796, on her trustees under the terms of her marriage contract to grant acquittance to Thomas Griffin Peachy for his purchase of slaves on her behalf, and an acquittal of Julian C. Ruffin from responsbility of trusteeship for Elizabeth Ruffin, late wife of William Sayre, dated 2 December 1861.
The bulk of the remaining papers are poems and clippings. Most of the poems address love, religion, and death. Several are clipped from newspapers. Other clippings relate to the Wilmot Proviso, the contents of the Post Office's dead letter file, and the first transatlantic cable message received in the United States.
Miscellaneous items include a child's scrapbook, ca. 1860-1866; genealogical notes on the Randolph, Everard, Meade, and Beverley families; an announcement of the opening of Meade & Baker, a Richmond apothecary shop, in 1856; an undated broadside for Rubright Liniment; an undated fragment of a sermon; a description by Eleanor Meade of her school; and scattered other items. The child's scrapbook contains poems and stories, mostly of a devotional and didactic nature, clipped from religious newspapers and pasted over pages in an old account book. The 75 page volume originally held accounts for 1857 kept by John E. Meade as part of his practical bookkeeping class at the Episcopal High School in Fairfax County, Va.. A poem copied by Julian Meade Ruffin for his younger brother Edmund in 1866 appears pasted on the last page of the scrapbook, suggesting that the book may have belonged to Edmund. Enclosures consist of several loose clippings (1867, 1868, and undated); an undated handwritten poem; and a love letter, dated 17 May 1887, by an unidentified man to Mary R.
Processed by: Jill Snider, August 1991
Encoded by: Lynn Holdzkom, December 2004
Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, October 2009
This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990 1992.Back to Top