Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Review: Legacy of a Southern Lady
Legacy of a Southern Lady: Anna Calhoun Clemson, 1817-1875
is based on the dairies that Anna Calhoun Clemson kept during her life. She was born in 1817 to a socially prominent claveholding family and very close to her father, John C. Calhoun traveled to Washington, DC as a statesman from South Carolina. Anna accompanied his to be his assistant. Anna was considered his “favorite child” and he made sure that she had everything plus some. John C. Calhoun was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Secretary of War, Vice President, Senator, and Secretary of State.
In 1838 Anna met Thomas Green Clemson; they were married. Thomas was a engineer, planter, diplomat and the founder of Clemson Agricultural college of South Carolina, which today is Clemson University. Thomas suffered from depression and mood swings that became severe. During these times Anna became a shield between Thomas and the children. Anna and Thomas’s first daughter, died soon after birth. There second child, a boy, named John Calhoun Clemson; third child, 17 months later, named Elizabeth Floride Clemson. Then when John and Elizabeth were in there teens, Anna had another daughter but she died when she was three years old. This put Thomas into a very bad depression, Anna and her mother Floride Bonneau Cohhoun Calhoun became worried that he might commit suicide. With the help of family and friends Thomas was able to get through this.
Thomas, Anna and the children lived in Brussels, Belgium from 1844 to 1851; Thomas served as Charge d’Affaires to the court of King Leopold I. They were able to return for a visit from November 1848 to May 1849 then returned to Brussels. Anna’s father died in 1850.
During the Civil War Thomas and his son John joined the Confederate Army in South Carolina. On September 3, 1863 John was captured and sent Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie a Union prison camp. John remained there until the end of the war. Anna and there daughter Floride was living in Maryland and did not move until the spring of 1865, so they were able to visit John once in 1864.
Anna came from family of 6 children; in 1865 she was the only child left living. Anna and Thomas’s daughter Elizabeth, on August 2, 1869 married a man named Gideon Lee, Jr. and they had one daughter Floride Isabella Lee, on May 15, 1870. On July 23, 1871 Elizabeth died from tuberculosis; she was only 28 years old. Anne and Thomas’s son John was killed 17 days later in a train accident he was only 30. Anna and Thomas were both devastated. So they worked on putting their dream together; of opening an agricultural college. Anna didn’t live to see the dream come true. She died on September 22, 1875 at the age of 58. Thomas established the Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina, which is Clemson University and sets on the land that was their plantation home. Thomas age 80 died April 6, 1880.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the diaries of Anne Calhoun Clemson. She was a very interesting woman that lived through very tough times. There is no-way I can even compare anything in my life to the lives that people lived before, during and after the Civil War. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the families and what they had to endure.
If you would like to read the 1st chapter, click here