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Introduction: Reading Letters, Telling Stories and Writing History

  • Rebecca J. Fraser
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Abstract

In late September 1853 Sarah Hicks Williams, born in New Hartford, New York State, on March 7, 1827 to Samuel and Sarah Parmelee Hicks, honeymooned in Montreal following her wedding on the ninth of that month to Benjamin F. Williams, a physician and slaveholder in Greene County, North Carolina. She wrote her parents from Canada describing the majesty of Niagara (albeit from the Canadian side) and the “charming scenery” of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence, before she signed off, “Sarah F. Williams.” Then, following a momentary pause of reflection she added a post-script, “Don’t that look funny? ha ha no more Sarah Hicks.”1

Keywords

Married Life Separate Sphere Historical Imagination Archival Holding Southern Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Avey Williams was widowed in 1836 by Joseph Williams. There are no existing copies of Joseph Williams’ last will and testament but it is clear that he left the plantation house and part of the acreage to his widow, leaving the remainder to his two surviving sons, James and Benjamin, including a turpentine farm seven miles from Clifton Grove also worked by enslaved laborers. Joseph Williams’ surviving daughters, Martha, Eliza, Fedora and Mary, seemed to have been left little in the way of property by their father as was standard in the wills of Southern slaveholders. For further reading on widowhood among slaveholding women see K. E. Wood (2004) Masterful Women: Slaveholding Widows from the American Revolution through the Civil War. (Chapel Hill, NC, and London: University of North Carolina Press).Google Scholar
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© Rebecca J. Fraser 2013

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  • Rebecca J. Fraser

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