1847: Elizabeth Harriet (Joyner) Burton to Rev. Robert Oswald Burton

How the Burton’s might have looked in 1847

This letter was written by Elizabeth (Joyner) Burton (1818-1856), the daughter of Col. Andrew Joyner (1785-1856) — a State Senator in North Carolina — and his first wife, Temperance Williams (1784-1834). Elizabeth (or “Lizzie”) wrote this letter in 1847 to her husband, Rev. Robert Oswald Burton (1811-1891), a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in the North Carolina Conference. Rev. Burton was the son of John Hudson Burton and Margaret (“Peggy”) Macon.

The “Dr. Eppes” referred to in the letter was Dr. Willie Jones Eppes (1811-1879) who was married to Lizzie’s sister, Temperence (or “Tempe”) Barringer Joyner. Dr. Eppes was the son John Walyes Eppes, a Virginia congressman, and his wife, Martha (“Patsy”) Burke Jones.  “Mr. Austin” is also mentioned. This was Archibald Alexander Austin who was married to Martha (“Pat” or “Patsy”) Williams Joyner — another sister of Lizzie’s.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Rev. Robert O. Burton, Raleigh, North Carolina

Poplar Grove [Halifax County, North Carolina]
January 15th 1847

My dear Husband,

A week yesterday since you left and not one word have I heard from my dear husband. This has led to many surmises as to what can be the cause and some of the forebodings of my mind (as our evil genius always whispers loudest) have tended to make me very unhappy. Sometimes I fear you were made sick by the very disagreeable time you had of it the day you left here. But I hope, in such an event, you would certainly send for me. And then I imagine difficulties in making your temporal arrangements for this year and many other things not calculated to calm my mind or relieve my anxiety. Do not, my dear husband, I entreat you, keep me thus in suspense.

Page 1

Aunt Eppes, the Dr., Tempe, Eliza and John have at last arrived. Got here on Wednesday, all well. Tempe looks better that I have seen her since she was married. Eliza is very thin. Tempe and the Dr. seem very anxious to see you. The Dr. speaks of leaving Monday for Virginia. I try to persuade to stay until your return, but says he is compelled by business to return. He says he understands you are almost deranged because you have but one child and no hope of any more. He loves to tease as well as ever and complain very heavily of your not answering his letter.

Pat Williams is still up. Mr. Williams is now down. Says he saw Mr. Jenkins for you who said he would pay to Col. Eaton ten dollars. Mr. Marrow he could not see. I hope you will be more successful than you imagine in making your collections. After you left, it occurred to me that perhaps old Mrs. White’s would be a good place for us to board as she lives retired and I have heard took boarders. I only suggest this; act as you think best. I think I am still improving; have felt no pain except headache one day.

Page 2

No news of interest. Mr. William Walsher, I understand, is to be here today to see Sallie, I suppose. I hope you have received my first letter. Do, my dear husband, write to me immediately and relieve my anxiety and let me know when you will be back. John sends a kiss to his dear Pa [and] wants to see him mighty bad indeed. Says bring him some candy. Give my love to Pa, Pat and Mr. [Archibald Alexander] Austin. Tell Pat the children are well. I hope she will come down as soon as she gets home or come here first as I am very anxious to see her. Good bye until we meet and may God bless us abundantly is my prayer.

Your devoted wife, — Lizzie


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