Tuesday, 1864 May 3, Albemarle County, Virginia: “I am very scarce of meat”

[Letter to a planter from a widow hoping to buy a cow as food for her family; an example of increasing civilian hardships on the Confederate home front]

Morea, near University [University of Virginia, Charlottesville]
Genl. Cocke:
I am exceedingly anxious to purchase
a fresh cow & knowing that my friend &
neighbor Dr. McGuffy has a very fine one
he purchased of you, I thought it probable
you might have another to dispose of—if
you have it will be a great accommodation
to me to let me have it as I am very scarce
of meat & a good cow would supply the
want of meat to my family.
Please let me hear from you & know
your price.
Very [Respectfully]
Mary J. Smith
Direct to Mrs. Mary Jane Smith
University of Va.

Smith, Mrs. Mary Jane
Rec’d May 10th
Ans’d 11th 1864

[Editor: John Hartwell Cocke (1780–1866) of Fluvanna County, a Virginia militia brigadier general during the War of 1812. Cocke’s reply to Smith is not present in his papers. William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873), professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, 1845 until his death, and author of the McGuffey Readers, one of America first and perhaps most successful textbooks series; revised editions are still in print. Morea, a large brick structure at the time  located west of the University, built during the 1830s by John Patten Emmet (1796-1842), a professor of natural history, chemistry and material medica who sold it during the 1840s to a member of Duke family, a prominent local and Virginia family. It served as the residence of Mary Jane Duke Smith [Mary Jane Clark Duke, born Albemarle County, Virginia, March 15, 1811–July 19, 1891] and other Duke family members during the Civil War. Mary was the widow of William Willoughby T. Smith (?-July 15, 1845), first U. S. Consul to the Republic of Texas until his drowning death there in 1845. Today Morea House is owned by the University and used for meetings and other events. Its name is from the Latin morus,for the mulberry trees Professor Emmet planted for the silkworms he raised (University of Virginia online map “Morea,” http://www.virginia.edu/webmap/popPages/185-morea.html). The “University/University of Virginia” was an independent post office address until the early twentieth century and located one mile west of the town of Charlottesville.]

MSS 640

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