05-30-2004, 07:20 PM
Ever wonder what a wealthy plantation master did with his day? What errands did he do? What thoughts did he have on a day-to-day basis? Well, this unpublished diary of Richard Cocke Eppes, M.D. answers some of those questions. Where I work (Petersburg National Battlefield) we are lucky enough to have possession of 20 acres at City Point which includes the 1763 home with 1841 and 1854 of Richard Eppes and his family as well as preceding generations. Eppes in 1860 was al Southern, wealthy planter. He owned 130 slaves, 2,300 acres of land, and was valued at $160,000. He briefly enlisted in the Confederate army as a private from April 1861-April 1862. At that point he paid a substitute and became a contract civilian surgeon in Petersburg, Virginia. His wife, Elizabeth and children moved out of their spacious home overlooking the James and Appomattox Rivers and fled into Petersburg. There they remained until Sept. 1864 when travelling on a pass between the lines they took a steamer on to Philadelphia where she and the kids lived with her mother. Eppes was in Petersburg when it fell into Union hands in April 1865, signed the Oath of Allegiance and went back home to his farm where he began his post-war agricultural lifestyle. Below are some quotes from Eppes' diary and the Eppes family papers, including said diary, are at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia. Hope you enjoy these few lines from Eppes about just a couple of days in his life in the spring of 1859.
Ed. note: All spelling errors, punctuation (or lack thereof), etc. are Eppes', not mine. Thank you.
Thursday April 7th 1859 Therm 8 O.C. P.M. 60°
Accompanied by Mrs [Elizabeth Welsh Horner] Eppes went up to Petersburg today and purchased of T Branch & Sons 150 or 160 Bushels of Black peas delivered here on farms at $1.12½/100 per Bushel, also order of Payne & Jackson 130 heart cedar posts price 5 cents an inch across the small end, cautioned them to be very particular as I would not use a bad post & would return it which they promised to do Ordered of Pickerell 162 railing to be perfect heart 4 by 2 16 ft long. also 1800 feet of dressed weather boarding price not including frt not succeed $45. Ordered both posts & railing & weatherboarding to be sent down by Pannell & Carter lighter
Paid bill of Payne & Jackson for shingles bought last year $80 & took receipt for same.
paid by check.
Paid Muir & Stevens bill for crocory purchased by Mrs Eppes $5.19/100
Deposited checks of Proctor & Wendenburg viz $75. $25. & $22 = $122 at Exchange bank
Bought 1 keg of 8 penny nails & 2 files & 3 lock of Dunn & Spenser.
Ordered a chain drag of U Wills [should be Wells, as in Uriah Wells who operated a Petersburg iron factory] price $10. to be sent down tomorrow. paid for ½ doz. plough points 2 horse in beam
Mr Pickerell stated that he would sell me 40 or 50 thousand choice pine heart cypress shingles warranted all heart at $7.50/100 per M Payne & Jackson offered some apparently good shingles at $6.50/100
Mrs Eppes purchased women’s clothing today at White & McKenny’s bill $114. other articles included
We dined at Mr J V Wilcox’s in company with Mr C Friend and Dr Lasciter.
Branch & Sons have a boiler for cooking food for hogs &c which I consider very good price for largest size 120 gallons about $62. think I shall get one for the Hopewell estate [Ed. Note: Hopewell, Virginia was not an incorporated city until the 1920s, prior to that it was City Point. Hopewell farm was a part of Richard Eppes’ estate NOT Hopewell the city.]
Finished liming Hitchcocks today & limes quite a slipe at Williams. Amount of Lime applied
Lovesay’s 257 Bushels
Hitchcocks 431 “
Note. Only limed 3 hills below where beds stop. Williams 3 hills by creek 268 “ [Ed. Ditto marks here relate to bushels.]
Gave Mr Johnson seed basket for Hopewell with special orders that it was to be sued for seeding alone & no other purpose. also gave him a file for sharpening straw cutter, also gave file to Dick [slave] to sharpen cross cut saw. Dick Ned & Henry [slaves] did nothing today only finished short side sawing off tops of posts.
Subscribed to the New York Ledger today & paid $2.50/100 postage including Paid Mr Pickerell $9.07 for 32 rails gotten some time since & took [Rx] for same. Ordered of T Branch & Sons one ton of Sombrero Guano to apply to corn
Wind E by N.E. Cloudy Monday May 16th 1859. Therm 9½ O.C. P.M. 56°
Weather very cool & cloudy.
Ladies [here he means Mrs. Eppes, his wife; Mrs. E.W. Horner, his mother-in-law; Mrs. D. Lapsley, Mrs. S. Welsh, and Misses Hannah & Margaret Churchman. Mrs. Horner and the ladies listed after her name arrived at Dr. and Mrs. Eppes’ home from Philadelphia on May 10th, 1859.] visited Petersburg today in S S Railroad cars [S S here means Southside Railroad] Robert [slave] being sent to meet them in the carriage.
Spent $3.25 for 3 girths purchased by Sandy.
Rode out to Hopewell where we limed 6¼+ acres of land South of Road No VI field today by 12 O.C. PM hauling out and scattering 315 bushels & then draged it twice & commenced planting corn &c. Mr Zimmer handed in his Quarterly Report which see below.
Statement of the Collection in St Johns Church from 15th of February to 15th of May 1859.
Feb. 20 To Collection from Sexton $5.08
March 6 Dr $5.17
“ 13 “ 3.96
“ 20 “ Mission $33.61 4.64
April 3 “ .82
“ 10 “ No service
“ 17 “ 2.10
May 1 “ 3.21
“ 8 “ 4.11
“ 15 “ 18.52
Wm J Zimmer
Dr R Eppes Treasurer
06-01-2004, 07:30 PM
More excerpts from the journal of Richard Eppes. While we are certainly past "Victorian mythology 101" the first five entries from 1852 illustrate the sadness experienced by Richard Eppes after the death of his first wife, Josephine Dulles Horner and their child, Josephine. Mrs. Josephine Horner dying on Jan. 23rd 1852 and the daughter three days afterwards.
The 1855-56 entries is after his marriage to Josephine's youngest and favorite sister, Elizabeth Welsh Horner. Enjoy.
February Thursday 28th 1852
Blank space left to be filled when I have more control over my feelings, from Jan 17 to the above date. [Eppes left five blank pages, apparently to fill in events once he had "more control."]
Friday [Feb.] 29th 1852
Spent in the library studying divinity. and communing with the spirit of Nina
March 12th 1852 [Friday]
The date above is the anniversary of my short wedded life. Married in 1850, widower with a broken heart on the 23rd of Jan. 1852, having lost a beloved wife and little daughter in three days of each other, which reduced me from a state of almost perfect happiness to one of the most abject misery, which time seems rather to increase than diminish: how long God in his mercy will continue to prolong my agony rests alone with him, but placing my trust in him and his son Jesus Christ I pray that time may eventually reconcile me to my truly desolate condition. I had set apart this day so rich in the associations of the past to devote to religious exercises and communion with my dearest and best beloved Nina now in the cold grave but to my regret Dr Ja's S Gilliam [James S. Gilliam] U.S.N. a very old and dear friend, came down from Petersburg to pay me a visit and I was compelled to forego that melancholy pleasure. Having receiving information from Mr John Rowlett yesterday that I could take 1500 bushels of Washington lime at 9¢ per bushel walked down to see about it, found that Mr Comer had partially engaged it before me but generously yielded his claim to me. [snip]
Sunday April 7th 1852
Much depressed, today being the anniversary of my mothers death 8 years ago 1844, spent the day reading les conferences sur la religious & in sleeping
Friday April 23rd 1852
Attended church this morning. Received furniture from Philadelphia piano &c At church I met Cousin Martha [Cocke] & invited her with her friends Mrs Ruffin, Meade, & Bland to dine with me, threw open my parlor for the 1st time and had the curiosities examined, thought I should have died before the company departed, today being just 3 months since Nina died the trial was too great for my nerves. Spent the evening in tears writing to mother [Mrs. E.W. Horner, not his mother who was dead, named Martha "Polly" (nee Eppes) Cocke.] The most miserable spent since her death, have not recovered from it yet
October 24th 1855
I now reopen my journal after a silence of more than nineteen months. The immediate cause of it's discontinuance was my discardal by Miss Elizabeth W Horner of Phila now my wife, which took place early in March 1854 after her return from the South. Having become deeply interested in her & with every reason to suppose that my affection was receprocated I felt completely crushed upon receiving a letter declining my hand, and expressing a wish that our engagement should be broken off.
Shortly after this event, having received a very pressing invitation from Mrs Horner to be present at her birthday dinner party I visited Philadelphia and endeavored by persuasion to change her determination, but was entirely unsuccessful, though convinced at the time of a sincere attachment on her part to me. I was inclined at that time to attribute my discardal to opposition of her mother, which future events proved to be erroneous.
My trip North but tended to increase my depression and on my return home, the bare idea of seeing my thoughts and feelings expressed on paper was too painful, and but tended to increase my misanthropy and disgust of everything. At this period my character underwent a most important change, and I regret to say very much for the worse, all the good impressions produced particularly of a religious kind, by the death of my first wife, were smothered, and I fear some lost forever. From a comparative state of control over self, acquired by a long course of severe drill I became reckless, careless, extremely passionate and perfectly indifferent to almost every thing and in addition very dictatorial and obstinate, these points of character though doubtless latent before, owing to a peculiar force of circumstances under which I was placed since, have been developed to such a degress that I sometimes fear myself. [snip. Eppes goes into what he thought about how to convince Elizabeth Horner to marry him and so we pick up again with his preparation for his mother-in-law's arrival amongst others]
In order to produce the best effect I exerted myself to the utmost and spared neither pains or money to render every thing around me as comfortable & elegant as circumstances and time would admit Cottage furniture was gotten for rooms upstairs 2, new matting for all the rooms and many other things which I do not now remember were bought & added, also a buggy & horse, besides having the other horses gotten in excellent order for the occasion. Men were brought from the Island [slaves on his Eppes Island property] and the house was literally scoured from top to bottom internally and externally, with the exception of roof & chimnies which had a fresh coat of paint, also the doors, window sills and in fact every other place outhouses &c which I thought could be improved. The grounds too were put in as good order as the time I had would allow. Early in May Mother [Mrs. E.W. Horner] came on alone & was soon followed by Mrs Dulles, Lapsley, Mr & Mrs Stille, Misses Mary & Sally Lapsley also Mr Lapsley & Agnes [Horner] Though I exerted myself to the utmost I found it impossible to feel or show that same cordiality to Mrs Horner as heretofore, which naturally produced a coldness until through the intercession of Aunt Lapsley a private conversation and explanation was brought between us. [Eppes then wrote that he found our from Aunt Lapsley that Mrs. Horner was not in opposition to the marriage and in fact wished to even buy him a suit for the wedding. Then he wrote that he was feeling better and Mrs. Horner took a letter to Elizabeth, the daughter of which Eppes wished to have; and from Philly Elise would telegraph to Petersburg where a slave would pick up the message.]
…not quite two days after the dispatch was received announcing success, followed by a letter the day after from Elise [Elizabeth], renewing the engagement. [snip]
Having consented our marriage was arranged for the 2sd November 1854 to take place in St Lukes Church Phila ceremony performed by the Rev: Dr Howe. I returned to Va in company with the other members of the family as far as Phila by Boston & New Haven, to arrange my affairs, being short of funds I was compelled to force my wheat in market at a heavy sacrifice to close up my business transactions, succeeded in doing so & then turned over my estate to Dr Virg W Harrison as my agent at a salary of $500. per annum, returned the last of October via Richmond to Phila and was married on the morning of Nov 2sd 1854 to Eliz W Horner in St Luke Church Phila by Rev: Dr Howe & left in an early train with my wife for New York, where we put up at the Clarendon Hotel. [snip]
…Passage 10 days 4 hours sea neither rough nor smooth.
Peroneau Brown joined us in New York & accompanied us through England, France Naples Rome to Florence where we parted in order to meet his brother in Liverpool to arrive in May. we then continued our journey & visited Sardinia, Lombardy, Venice, Austria, Saxony Prussia, Bavaria Switzerland, down the Rhine through Belgium to Paris. Whiles in Naples my wife and self determined to visit Sicily & took passage to Palermo, from thence to Messina
on returning to Messina we found a Str [steamer] about sailing for Athens, which we entered and over a perfectly smooth sea in a few days were at the Pireus & Athens, whence we returned via Malta Messina again to Naples, staying there a few days, proceeded to Rome to joined the other members of the family [Part of the deal of this European honeymoon was that Mrs. Horner among others in the family had to be allowed by Richard Eppes to come along.]
We were at Paris to see the Exhibition during the Queen Victoria of England's visit [This is the Paris Exhibition which took place under the reign of Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. Victoria did attend and met with the Emperor and Empress and had a rather enjoyable time from the research in Christopher Hibbert's Queen Victoria biography.], saw her entre and exit the last really regal & magnificent. After a long sojourn in Paris, where I saw my old friend Osborne & promisd to write him a letter on my return about his family, we departed for England leaving poor Agnes [Horner] in the convent of the Sacred Heart in Paris, or rather that of Confluence just outside the walls, poor child her mind sadly affected by extreme and incorrect views on the subject of religion [snip]
[Eppes made a few more comments about where they went and the return trip taking 12 days. He spent one night in Philly and then went on home.]
This trip has been the most unpleasant yet made by me in Europe, owing to a combination of circumstances which I shall endeavor to forget. [Primarily, his in-laws. In this same entry parts that I snipped due to length, he described how he felt like he and his new wife needed time alone and he did not want all these other hanger ons; but to have Elise's hand in marriage and the honeymoon he had no choice.]
Friday Nov 2sd 1855
This day twelve months since I consummated my marriage with my sister in law Elizabeth, in accordance with the promise made her sister [and his first wife] Josephine a few months before her death during her sojourn at City Point The reason she assigned for making the request that, in case she taken from me by the will of God, I should marry her favorite sister, were that as I had made her a good husband she knew that I would make her sister one & she me an excellent wife, moreover she did not wish any one to occupy the position of stepmother to her child [who had died also, see 1852 excerpts], she being then enceinte but her sister, in addition she wished there always to be a warm inter change of friendship between her family and myself. She Josephine seemed so persistant in her request that I should make her such a promise, that to gratify & set her mind at east that I gave it, though not anticipating at that time that there was any probability of its ever being realized. God so willed it and twelvemonths this day we were married by the Rev Mr Howe in St Luke's church Philadelphia Pennsylvania somewhere about 9 O.C. A.M. Josephine's prediction has been realized, a better, more gentle and affectionate wife never having fallen to the lot of any man my feelings at times are that God has been almost too kind in bestowing upon a poor unworthy sinner such as I am too such excellent wives, may I have a truly thankful heart is my earnest prayer.
In another month I shall be called upon to witness the event of another being of my own blood and flesh ushered into this sinful world oh! may I not have to lament the exit of another dearer to me than ought else on this earth. "Spare her good Lord" is my constant prayer [snip]
Monday Nov. 26th 1855
Went up to Petersburg taking Madison [Eppes' manservant] with me, Called at Well's [should be Wells as in Uriah Wells] foundery & left a wheel cast iron to be recast for cob crusher ordered at the same time a bar of wrought iron with a steel point resembling an axe to be made, to be used for cutting up stumps. Purchased of Drummond shoes for negroes boots $1.75, men shoes $1.50 women $1.25 prices. Bought dresses for house servants, price 20¢ per yard.
Bought a cob crusher the little Giant price I believe $57. of Branch, did not pay him for drill. Paid to Gholson & Man Trustees of Q & W Morton their bill $144.95, this included interest, which I have never yet paid on a bill that has run only twelvemonths.
Paid Church & Bro bill for Drill $66.25. These with the exception a small bill to the butcher & one to E P Nash for tuning piano & Thompson tinner White & McKenny & Drummond for articles not yet or just received all that are due in Petersburg Took dinner at Mr Wilcox's. & left in 5¾ O.C. train for Richmond. Sent Madison down with the articles purchased, also the stump cutter not yet paid for.
Saturday May 10th 1856
Accompanied Mrs Eppes on a shopping excursion to Petersburg, had Bank Book cast up & found balance in my favor of $355.62. more than I expected. Bought some china of Kerr & Marbury not yet paid for, also some articles of E P Nash. Returned at 12 O.C. and was called suddenly before dinner to see 5 cases of poisening at [Eppes] Island viz Frank Margaret & Nancy Lewis, Jane Oldham & Giles White, all produced by a root of a bulbous character like a tulip root now in my possession, which they picked up in corn field & eat a small quantity. Upon arriving at Negro Quarters found that Mr Marks had administered to each very properly a dose of ipecac, which vomited them freely. Repeated to the worse cases another dose & finding the symptoms much better rode over the farm. The symptoms which I did not see until relieved, consisted in pain in head & vertigo, followed by spasms of a violent character & excitement followed by debility of pulse. All appeared to be doing well when I left, there being some complaint in two of the cases of pain in the stomach administered a dose of castor oil. Lost one of my fine sheep today in giving birth to two lambs, their heads being locked in the pelvis. both dead.
Gave orders about seeding peas & scattering lime Monday. Sent 50 bushels of Clay peas to each farm today intended to be seeded next week.
Had hands rolling & cutting grass out of yard today fixing it up for the spring
Bought 6 scythe blades 46 inches long for plantation cradles to be made by Mr Whit
06-02-2004, 01:40 PM
How very interesting... thank you for sharing and I do hope that you post more of his diary entries! A question... when was Mr. Eppes born and do you know the ages (dates of birth?) of either of his wives?
06-02-2004, 02:07 PM
Emmanuel, are there any plans to transcribe and publish the diaries? With minimal editing/footnotes, this could be a very informative piece of work.
06-02-2004, 06:22 PM
First, let me answer Jenna's question.
Richard Eppes was born to Martha (nee Eppes) Cocke and Benjamin Cocke in 1824. He legally had his name changed in 1840 from Richard Eppes Cocke to Richard Cocke Eppes. His father having shamed the family through alcohol and gambling, The Widow Cocke wanted to be the last in her family with the name. He died in 1898.
The first wife, Josephine Dulles Horner was born in 1826 and died in 1852. Her father was Dr. William Horner and her mother, Elizabeth (nee Welsh) Horner.
The second wife, as previously mentioned was the youngest and favorite sister of Josephine; Elizabeth Welsh (nee Horner) Eppes was born in 1832 and died in 1905.
Our website: http://www.nps.gov/pete has some more info in the "In Depth" has some other info on the City Point Unit, both related to Richard Eppes and his plantation as well as General Ulysses S. Grant's take over of City Point from May 1864 until the spring of the following year.
Now to Elizabeth Clark's question: No plans are in the works at this time to publish Eppes' journals. These journals range from 1850-1898 (his death year). The journal pretty much conquers one whole file drawer at work and Eppes wrote pretty much everyday excepting some time periods of depression, marriage/honeymoon, extremely busy, and the majority of the Civil War (there are some 1861-July 1862 entries).
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