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

On April 20, 1854, we were married in the old house, 22 Beach St., New York… by Dr. Jas. W. Alexander of the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church; Edmund Wilkes and Laura Renwick, James R. Smedberg and Janey Wilkes were our attendants, and about 60 guests, family and intimates. The early spring had been very forward, but a few days before the 20th, we had a heavy snow fall …I think that was the time your father had to come over…in a sleigh, as the tunnels were so blocked with snow…

We stayed in New York at Mother’s till Laura Renwick and John Monroe were married April 26, 1854. And the next evening, in a pouring rain, we started for Washington spent 10 days there, and then came to our home in North Carolina. I think we were two and one-half days on our journey….When we reached the great Pee Dee River via Wilmington & Manchester RR…passengers had to get out of the cars, go down the river by a rough path in single file, cross the river on a scow and wind up the opposite bank to the cars. The path was illuminated by lightwood fires…the long line of people, the dazzling, leaping flames, the rough surroundings and the negro porters singing as they came down, made a picture I never forgot.

When we reached Charlotte, the stop was made in the second ward where the freight depot is. Dr. Gibbon, Wm. Davidson and one or two other gentlemen met us and tried to persuade us to go to the hotel. Bur our minds were set on Home. The buggy was awaiting us, and we piled in all our numerous travelling equipments, including a bird and a cage, the heavy wraps we started with, some provisions, and I don’t know what all and drove to the Mills – St. Catherine Mills, two miles from town. The day was May 10, 1854, a lovely spring day. The foliage was just in leaf, after the freezes of April 15th to 24th, and I think there was never such a lovely drive.


From the “Autobiography of Mrs. John Wilkes (nee Jane Renwick Smedberg) Charlotte, NC 1903.” (typescript in Wilkes-Smedberg Papers, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room)