1848: Josephine Lemoine to George B. Saunders

How Josephine might have looked

This letter was written by 11 year-old Josephine Lemoine (1837-Aft1860), the daughter of Fereol Lemoine (1805-Bef1858) and Ann Maria Saunders (1815-18xx). Josephine was married in 1858 in Richmond County, Virginia, to Charles W. Smith by the Rev. Edmund Withers. Josephine (Lemoine) Smith is enumerated in the household of her mother (father deceased) in the 1860 Census; their residence being in Richmond, Virginia. Josephine’s husband, Charles, is not recorded with the family, however.

Josephine wrote the letter to her uncle, George B. Saunders (1816-18xx) who was the registrar and master in chancery for the Chancery Court of Sumpter County, Alabama. Later he served as sheriff of the county. His first wife, named Sophia (1829-1847), died in 1847. In the footnotes, I have included a partial transcript of the Presidential Pardon that Saunders was required to seek following the Civil War.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to George B. Saunders, Esq., Livingston, Alabama

Durrettsville Post Office, Virginia
22 July 1848

My dear uncle,

I feel quite mortified that have not written to you before now but I can assure you that it was not because I did not think of you. Ma has been quite unwell for several months, but she has been in very good health for several weeks. She has a fine son called Moreau about two months old. If you do not pay us a visit soon, your niece and nephews will be innumerable. You have 15 nieces and nephews now.

My dear uncle, if you will make us a visit we will promise not to call you uncle too loud as it would make you appear quite old. Edgar desires me to say to you that he is trying to study very hard to be prepared for business that you may take him out with you when you pay us a visit. He wears ____ and boots but he does not share__ yet. He says you must not think for a moment that he has forgotten you as he has not written to you. But you may expect a letter from him soon.

The neighborhood is quite dull at this time but I expect it will be very gay in two or three years as there are a great many young girls and boys which will be grown about that time. Aunt Juliet Ann and Miss Lucy Shackelford spent the day with us a few days ago. Miss Shackelford is not at all pretty but as it is said her father is making money & expect that will make her quite a belle. ²

Grandma was to see us a few weeks ago and her health is much better than it has been. Pa spent the day with Uncle Neale yesterday and he still retains his good looks although he is quite old. He speaks of you and Uncle William very often and will be pleased to get letters from you at any time.

There is a Methodist Quarterly Meeting going on at the courthouse and has been going on for a week and it has not ended yet, and there has been a great many converts. Young John Braxton and a great many of our acquaintances that we have not heard yet.

Dear uncle, I was very much disappointed that I did not go to school this spring owing to Ma not being able to keep house for several weeks. Pa has promised to ____ me the first of September. I will write to you when I go to school and let you know how I progress in my studies. tell Uncle William [that] Edgar says he will write to him soon and he must write to him oftener. We all join in affectionate love to you.

From your affectionate niece, — Josephine Lemoine

¹ George B. Saunders was required to seek a Presidential pardon following the Civil War. A partial transcript of that application follows:

Gainesville, Alabama
August 1st 1865

His Excellency, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States,

Having participated (though to a small extent) in the rebellion against the United States; and being possibly excluded from the general amnesty extended in your excellency’s proclamation of the 29th of May, 1865, by the first exception in said proclamation; but being encouraged by said proclamation to hope for a pardon, by making special application therefore to your excellency, I respectfully apply to your excellency for such clemency as you shall think proper to extend to me under the circumstances of my case.

I am forty-nine years of age and have a wife and five children of tender years; am a Virginian by birth; but have resided in Alabama ever since the year 1835; and a clerk by profession, and am a poor man.

I have never sought, desired, or obtained any political position or influence; and I have never taken any interest in politics or elections, except such as usually taken by plain, law-abiding citizens engaged in such callings.

My only participation in the late deplorable rebellion was such as was naturally forced upon a plain, quiet citizen, by the state of things in which I found myself. I have availed myself of the first opportunity I have had to take the Amnesty Oath prescribed by the proclamation of your excellency, above referred to; which Amnesty Oath accompanies this application….

… I did not order, aid in, or advise the taking of either Fort Morgan, or Mt. Vernon Arsenal. I have never served on an “Vigilance Committee,” for the examination or trial of persons charged with disloyalty to the so called Confederate States. No person has been shot or hung by my order for real or supposed disloyalty to the so called Confederate States. I have not shot or hung or aided in shooting or hanging any person for real or supposed disloyalty… I have not ordered or been engaged in hunting any one with dogs who was or was supposed to be disloyal… I was in favor of the so called Ordinance of Succession at the time it was passed on the 11th of January 1861, but I was not a member of the Convention which passed the Ordinance. I was in favor of it because other states had already seceded and I believed all the other Southern States would do so.

— George B. Saunders

² Josephine mentions her Aunt Juliet Ann. This was Juliet Ann Saunders who married the widower, Lyne Shackelford (1809-1859) in January 1847. Juliet Ann was accompanied on the visit by Lucy Claiborne Shackelford — a daughter of Lyne’s by his first wife. Though “not at all pretty” according to to Josephine, Lucy would later marry Littleton Brockenbrough (1829-1857). Unfortunately for Lucy, she did not inherit much from her wealthy father owing to her “ingratitude” towards him. In his will, he left her only $25 from his extensive estate.


2 responses to “1848: Josephine Lemoine to George B. Saunders

  • David Griffith

    Interesting. I live in the house that her brother Oscar Lemoine and sister Emma Lemoine lived in. She mentions young John S Braxton and he owned the property here. John Braxton’s great grandfather was Carter Braxton — a signer of the declaration of Independence. His daughter Maria Braxton married Oscar Lemoine and live here in my house until her death in 1883 during childbirth.

  • David Griffith

    Just another note, Durrettesville became Emmerton in 1869 named after her sister Emma Lemoine.

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