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Jane Renwick Smedberg
Dearest Jeanie: Highlights of the Wilkes-Smedberg Papers (1853-1913)


In 1854, a young couple stepped off a train in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their names were Jane Renwick Smedberg and John Wilkes. Family and friends called them Jeanie and Jack. The bride had grown up in New York City, and the groom had grown up in Washington, DC, until he joined the Navy in his teens. Their story is told in family letters that were donated to the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room by their granddaughter, Julia Settle Wilkes Black. This exhibit is comprised of photographs and letters written to and from Jane “Jeanie” Smedberg Wilkes, her husband, John “Jack” Wilkes, as well as extended family members, friends and business acquaintances, the Wilkes-Smedberg Papers offer a rare glimpse of daily life in three very different locations: New York City, Washington, DC and Charlotte, North Carolina during the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century. The story starts with their courtship years and will follow the couple throughout their life together in Charlotte. It is love story of a young couple set against the backdrop of one of the most fascinating times in United States history. 


Jane Renwick Smedberg at the time of her engagement.