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Sketches of My Life:

Charlotte Emily Bryan Grimes

Our generous donor: John Bryan Grimes


  Forty-five men deserted the night I left. . It was said that Capt. Tom Settle, who was a great secessionist in the beginning, told their wives if they wished the war to stop, to make their husbands desert and come home. When my husband told me goodby, I did not know if I should ever see him alive again. He told me to take the next train for Richmond, as the railroad might be cut at any time by the Yankees. We reached Richmond about dark in a pouring rain and had to walk to the Spottswood Hotel, there being no carriage at the station. We stayed there that night and 'til about dark the next day. My cousin, or sister as we called her, Miss Mary Pettigrew who was at Chimboraza Hospital nursing the soldiers came and dined with me. She was the sister of the talented and distinguished Gen. Pettigrew who was killed at Falling Waters on the retreat from Gettysburg where he added to his laurels.

  A week or two ago (August 1918), my daughter, Mrs. Hackett met an old soldier of Wilkes County, Buck Welch of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment in Wilkesboro, who said that he was with Gen. Pettigrew when he was shot, and was also nursed by Miss Mary Pettigrew in the hospital. He was shot by a Union Officer, Major West. Col. Hall, formerly of Wilkesboro, was also present at his death. Shortly after my return to Raleigh, the siege of Petersburg began, when Gen. Grimes displayed his general great courage and skill in handling his troops. He commanded the rear guard. In crossing the bridge at Sailor's (sic) Creek, in his anxiety to get all of his men safely across before crossing himself, he was cut off by the Yankees, he put spurs to his horse, swam the creek and Old Warren scrambled up the bank like a cat. My husband always had a great affection for this horse, he used to say he has as much sense as a human being. He was a blooded horse and cherished for past services, living many years after the War. He was twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old when he died, and was buried on the hillside below the family burying ground at Grimesland.

  In the beginning of the year 1865, the old men between sixty and seventy of age organized a Company for home protection called "The Law Preserving Guards." This company was organized for the protection of the houses, as all able-bodied men were in the Army and in case the negroes should give trouble. But the negroes behaved very well indeed in our section, continuing obedient and respectful to their owners. My father, who was about sixty-six years of age, belonged to this company and used to require assistance in putting on his accoutrements and would get "Ras", the house servant to help him. She was very smart and had seen the soldiers around so much that she knew exactly how they should be worn.

  After Petersburg, followed the Battle of Appomattox, which fight was planned and directed successfully by Gen. Grimes. The Confederates drove the Yankees back and opened the way to Lynchburg. Then came the news of the surrender. When the soldiers heard of it the bronzed veterans wept like children. After this there was a week of crushing anxiety as we could hear nothing definite as to the terms of the surrender or what was to be done with the soldiers.

  Gov. Graham, Gov. Swain and some soldiers went to meet Sherman to surrender the City of Raleigh. Though the town was surrendered, a good many depredations were committed. The first we knew of the Yankees reaching town, we saw our father's carriage horses passing, a Yankee mounted on one and a negro boy of my father's on the other. Later in the day, father was going down to get a guard when a Yankee stopped him and asked the time of day. Father took out his watch, which was an old silver one, he having sent his own and my mother's to Gov. Swain's at Chapel Hill for safe keeping, which the soldier looked at and handed back saying, "I don't want that." Then a Yankee rode up to the side porch and demanded the smoke house key which my mother had put in her pocket. She told him she did not have any meat to spare, but he insisted, when my sister said "Call the guard". We rushed to the front window and called, when the Yankee turned and left. Later still a servant rushed in saying, "Missus, the Yankees are taking the cows." A Gen. Greene of the Federal Army, a friend of my sister, Mrs. Winder was calling on her and heard the servant, he got up and said, "I'll put a stop to that." So he went out and made them carry the cows back and threatened to punish any one of them who troubled our property.

  For several days, before Joe Johnston's Army passed, some of the Confederate Officers took meals at my father's house and they gave very vivid descriptions of the depredations committed by Yankees, stealing jewelry and silver and destroying furniture. My sister, Mrs. Winder decided to bury her jewelry and smaller pieces of silver in the City Cemetery. The Officers said that everything must be so deep that the Yankees could not reach it with a bayonet that they prodded every suspicious looking place with them and if they encountered any hard substance immediately began to dig. She asked me to go with her; we were afraid to take a servant for fear they would inform against us. She provided herself with two large table knives and took a tin can and a tin box, each filled with valuables. We selected a corner in father's lot under a small bush and dug for hours. I thought we would never dig the hole deep enough. Finally, we put the boxes in and covered them up and left. There was more talk at dinner about those depredations until finally Octavia became so uneasy that she left the table, and although it was raining, wrapped up and went back to the Cemetery and brought her things back. In a little while, her husband, Major Winder rode up (he was passing through with Johnston's men) and was very much shocked at her imprudence and did not think the jewelry worth saving at such a cost of health and strength.

  The night before the Yankees came, a friend, who belonged to Wheeler's Cavalry called and my mother gave him supper. While he was there, the servants came in and said the soldiers were tearing down the garden fence and putting their horses in, so he went out and sent them off. These men were of Wheeler's Cavalry and were a wild lot. This officer remarked to me, "You look more matronly than when I saw you in St. Louis." There was a good reason for it, as I had $200.00 in gold quilted in a belt under my corsets, a stout bag filled with forks and spoons around my waist, and the front of my corsets filled with jewelry and I looked quite stout. I also had a dagger, though I don't think I would have had the nerve to stick a Yankee. This dagger my husband bought in Milan when traveling in Europe just before the War. I had a pistol also but all arms were sent away as it was said the Yankees would behave worse if they found any arms in the houses.

  When Gen. Grimes came home, he made me take the belt off, saying he could not have by back injured for $200.00. I was keeping it for his brother, who said he would have the use of it, if he needed it, and he certainly did need it as he did not have a cent in the world, except a few gold pieces he had carried all through the war. I was so sick the morning the Yankees came I could hardly hold my head up, but was determined they should not find me in bed. I would dress a little and then lie down awhile, get up and dress a little more until finally I finished and went down stairs with the rest of the family.

  All of us stayed together for protection, but they did not search the house. All the day before I was on the street trying to get news of my husband so I was worn out with grief and anxiety. Brother Williams Grimes had been over that morning to find out if I had any news of my husband. Both he and my father had heard that he was killed, but they said nothing about that to me. Gen. Schofield and staff took up their quarters at brother Williams Grimes. The Yankees would walk in and ask how many you had in the family and if there were any vacant rooms, would take possession. My father's house was filled with his children and grand-children and my sister, Miss Pettigrew came from the hospital in Richmond and had fever. A Miss Wright in the neighborhood died of typhoid at this time. The many camps of the Yankees polluted the whole atmosphere and many of our friends died.

  On Sunday afternoon, a week after the surrender, Gen. Grimes came into Raleigh with his wagon, servant and horse. I must say I was delighted to see him under any conditions, tho' he would reproach me for want of patriotism when I said so, he was so miserable over the surrender himself, but I had suffered so much dread and terrible anxiety, I think there was an excuse for it. Shortly after, came the news of Lincoln's assassination. That afternoon an Officer came and warned everyone to be careful how they behaved, he said he would double the guard (there was one guard for every two or three houses), that the soldiers were so infuriated at Lincoln's assassination that he feared they would murder the citizens and burn the town. Of course there was no rest under those conditions and we passed a miserable night. After a few days, things seemed more quiet.

  The week following, Sherman's troops, numbering 20,000 marched through the town, bands playing, flags flying and making a splendid appearance. Their uniforms were new. Their arms and accouterments burnished and glittering in the sun. Such a contrast to our poor, ragged, half starved, but brave and gallant men. The Yankees issued orders forbidding our soldiers to wear the Confederate uniform, they had nothing else and no money to buy any clothes, so I covered my husband's brass buttons with black, in mourning for the Confederacy, he said. He wished to go to his farm at Grimesland. It was necessary to have citizens clothes and there was no money to buy them. I had several colored silk dresses that I did not wear, as I was in mourning, and sold enough of these to raise $100.00. I insisted upon his taking this to buy a suit of clothes. It seemed to hurt him to use this money, but I would take no denial.

  Several other gentlemen wished to visit their farms in the East. Mr. Battle, Mr. Mordecai, and others, so they all went together. Gen. Grimes rode Warren all the way. His brothers, Capt J.B. Grimes had already gone to his home in Pitt county across the river from Grimesland. My husband went over to spend the day, on his return he could not find a boat; after calling for some time and getting no boatman, he stripped, swam the river, took a boat and paddled back for his cloths. This imprudence, together with the grief of the surrender gave him a severe spell of fever, which with chills lasted all summer. Then he went to Warren County, where he stayed a week and returned much improved.

  There were constant rumors as to what the Yankees would do. Of course the Confederates all being disenfranchised, could do nothing. There was a report that they would hang all officers above the rank of a Captain, and all their property would be confiscated. We were living in a perfect "Reign of Terror." I could not bear to see my husband leave the house even to go as far as his brother's, a short distance off, and would stand in the window and watch until he went in the gate. There was a Yankee camp just across the street from my father's front gate by which he (my husband), had to pass, and I would see them watch him and hear them say "There goes the Rebel, Gen. Grimes."

  My father, nearly seventy-five years of age was summoned before the Freedman's Bureau by one of his slaves, because he demanded rent for a house and a blacksmith shop that the negro was still occupying after he was freed by the Yankees and which belonged to my father. For a wonder, the Yankee General, who was a lawyer, reprimanded the negro and told him, father had a right to his own property. We stayed with our father in Raleigh until the Fall, when my husband bought wagons and horses and prepared to go to the country. I was to go with him, but owing to a state of my health, my parents urged that I stay in Raleigh.

  My father's health was very much broken by the trials through which he had passed and the death of his two fine boys, so he was very feeble. Gen. Grimes went to his home, but being in New Bern shortly afterwards met a Yankee named Smith who wished to raise cotton and he rented the farm to him for $11,000, then returned to Raleigh, where he bought a large place on New Bern Avenue. My husband bought me a pair of bay horses from the Yankees and as they were gentle, my mother, (whose horses had been taken by the Yankees) was anxious to buy them, but he very kindly insisted upon presenting them to her and she used them a good many years.

  On Feb, 25th, my son, Alston was born and as soon as I was able, we moved to the place on New Bern Avenue and lived there until the next winter, when the time for which the Yankee had rented the farm expired. He moved down to Grimesland on January 1867. My husband's friend, Col. W.L. Saunders, afterwards, Secretary of the State, was anxious to try farming, so he went in with Gen. Grimes and lived with us two years; his brother Col. Joe Saunders also lived with us and took part in the business. He was married while living there and brought his bride to our house; this was the beginning of a friendship with Mrs. Saunders that has lasted ever since.

  At first we boarded in Washington, my husband thinking the times too unsettled to take me to the country and he also said I would be too lonely there, having always lived in town, so I boarded at Mrs. Grist's for two months. Forty years later in the Winter of 1906-07, I spent three months in Washington, with my daughter, Mrs. W.C. Rodman and by strange coincidence, occupied the same bedroom in the same house. I had a long and serious illness, the only one in my life. The summer of 1867 was spent in Raleigh at the Seawell place and the following winter at Grimesland. During the fall of 1867, my husband's portrait and mine were painted by William Carl Brown. I went to Raleigh in the Spring of 1868 and my son John Bryan was born on June 3rd at my father's. After I was well, I moved to my own house where we spent the summer very happily and pleasantly. We had an abundance of fruit and vegetables. We returned to Grimesland in October and stayed until June, passing the following summer in Raleigh, where on October 26th, my daughter, Charlotte Bryan was born.

  In December we went to Grimesland and remained all summer. My family was growing fast and it was such an undertaking to move twice a year. I was glad to give up the Raleigh home, which my husband sold. In those days we drove forty miles to Kinston to take the train for Raleigh.

  In May 1870, my father died, worn out with grief for the death of his two youngest sons and anxiety for the condition of the country. He had been in feeble health for years.

  On February 15th, 1871, my daughter, Mary Bryan was born and we continued to live very happily at Grimesland. My daughter Susan was born Sept. 9th, 1872. After that my health was not good for several years and but for the unfailing care and kindness of my dear husband, I would not have recovered. He surrounded me with every comfort and assistance that could be procured, as I had a kind and experienced lady as house-keeper and eight servants.

  My sister, Annie Shepard was married to Mr. Andrew Syme in 1873. She had four sons, the youngest, William Anderson, who was a remarkably bright and promising young man, died Dec. 1909. He was a fine character, religious, upright and with all, a splendid, highly gifted young man.

  In November, 1875, my husband's daughter, Bettie was married to S.F. Mordecai of Raleigh. He was considered a bright young lawyer, and is now Dean of the Law School at Trinity College at Durham. They have eight children, all bright and doing well.

  After a while I grew better. On Feb. 12th, 1876, my son William Demsie was born; he was named for his great-grand-father Grimes and his great-great-grandfather Grimes. We continued to live quietly at home. On June 27th, 1877, my son George Frederick was born; we named him for my two dear brothers who died during the war. October 31st, 1878, my son Junius Daniel was born and named for Gen. Junius Daniel, who was a great friend of my husband, and whose dying request was that Gen. Grimes should have his Brigade. May 23rd, 1880, my daughter, Theodora Bryan was born. "Bydie", Theodora was named for my brother Francis Theodore Bryan, who was Captain of Engineers in the old U.S. Army. (note: F.T. Bryan, USMA Class of 1846, 6th in his class. Classmates: Geo. B. McClellan; "Stonewall" Jackson; Dabney Maury, MG, CSA; George Pickett.) My home was very happy and my dear husband was as well as possible. My husband had the most soothing touch of any one I ever knew. I have seen him take the children and quiet them when no one else could. He was very fond and proud of his children; he used to stand them in a row, the oldest at the back, coming down in graduation to the youngest, saying, "Look, Mother, did anyone ever have a finer lot of children?" But Alas: the Lord saw fit to send us a crushing blow. When my baby was a little over two months old, on the evening of August 14th, 1880, he was brought home a corpse, foully murdered on his way home to his loved ones. When he got up that morning, he said to me, "Don't you get up, turn over and take a good nap." The baby had been restless and had kept me awake. He dressed and ate breakfast. After a while, I got up and dressed, while I was eating my breakfast he came in and said that he was going into town and asked if I wanted anything; he kissed me good-bye as usual, then went to his buggy. He was looking so sweet and well, no idea of trouble entered my mind. All the children except the baby followed him and he took them and carried them to the gate in the buggy, the youngest in his arms. Miss Lou Gilliam, our Governess was standing at the window, and she remarked, "I never saw any one like General Grimes, he is so indulgent to his children." That was the last time I ever saw him alive and how I ever lived through it, I don't know. I thought I would die and prayed to the Lord to take all of us. For the sake of the children, I tried to take up my life again.

  My brother, Mr. James Bryan, and my brother Henry, and my husband's brother came to help me, but nothing could soothe the anguish of my heart, for I loved my husband above everything in heaven or earth, the only thing that could soothe me was when I pressed my baby to my heart and had my other little ones around me. Poor little baby, it seemed strange that she should have any life or spirit when her baby face was so often bathed in my tears.

  On the 27th of September, my little son, George died after an illness with diphtheria, of two weeks. It seemed that the gates had been opened for the entrance of all evils. Added to this was the fear of the other children taking it. We moved them to the other side of the house and used all precautions against it. My sister-in-law, Helen Grimes came from her home from across the river, and assisted me in nursing my little boy. She was kindness itself. My neighbors, Mrs. Neal and Mrs. Stickney and our Governess, Miss Lou Gilliam (afterwards Mrs. Samuel Grist) also assisted me and were most kind. We had tar burned all around the house and every time I went to my baby, I changed every garment and stood in the smoke from the tar. Junius who slept in the bed with little George showed no signs of the disease and the others had only ordinary sore throats. After George's death, my sister, Isabel came and stayed several months helping me in every way she could, and taking Bryan, Jack as he was then called, to my mother in Raleigh where he attended school at Fray and Morsons.

  Mr. Warren, my husband's superintendent was very kind and attentive to the business and lived with us a good many years after my husband's death, and until my two oldest boys had finished their education. Then he married and moved away. We were very sorry to see him off for he lived with us for nineteen years and always shown the greatest loyalty and consideration during the trying years that followed my husband's death. Our housekeeper, Miss Louisa Carraway (note: Jan 27, 1811- Jan 27 1890 - Buried at Trinity Church, Chocowinity, NC) remained with us during the rest of her life. At the time of her death in 1890, she had been with us twenty years, she was a skillful housekeeper and her assistance was of great value to me. I have lived at Grimesland for many years trying to bring my children up the best I could and as their father would have wished. All of the children are now married except Alston and Susan, who live at Grimesland with me.

  In August, 1881, my mother died. She was eighty years of age and a remarkably bright woman and an excellent mother.

  John Bryan, now Secretary of State married, first, Mary Octavia Laughinghouse. After her death, he married Elizabeth Forrest Laughinghouse, the younger sister.

  Mary Bryan married Elmer E. Smith, of Chattanooga, Feb 20th, 1895. He died of pneumonia, Dec. 19th, 1896. Afterwards, in 1906, she married J. Gordon Hackett of North Wilkesboro, N.C.

  Charlotte Bryan married Alfred Williams in 1897 and lives in Raleigh.

  Theodora Bryan married W. Croom Rodman in 1902 and lives in Washington, N.C.

  William Demsie married Willie Skinner of Oxford in 1903 and lives in Washington, N.C.

  Junius D. Grimes married Ida Wharton of Forsyth County and lives in Washington, N.C.

  My brother, James Pettigrew Bryan, died in August, 1882. He left two daughters, now Mrs. William Griswold and Mrs. Williamson.

  My sister Isabel was married to Mr. A.P. Bryan in November, 1882. He died and she still lives in Raleigh.

  My sister Mrs. Speight, died in February, 1895. She was found dead early in the morning by the servant who went to her room to make the fire. She died of apoplexy in the night. She left $10,000.00 dollars to the University of N.C. for a scholarship in memory of her father, Hon. John H. Bryan.

  Major John C. Winder died in the Spring of 1896. He was a splendid gentleman, chivalrous and courteous to his death. He was lamented by all who knew him. He married my sister, Octavia, Dec. 1856. He was a civil engineer.

  My brother, John Heritage Bryan Jr., died in Brazil where he had gone after the War in 1868. His family returned to the United States and still live in Raleigh. He married Margaret E.W. Outlaw of Raleigh.

  My brother, Charles S. Bryan died in Missouri, where he moved before the war. He left two children, William and Sallie.

  My brother, William Shepard Bryan, Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, died in Dec. 1906. He left one daughter, Mrs. Dennis Claud of Annapolis, William Shepard Jr., George and Carroll.

  North Wilkesboro, September 6th, 1918, my sister Elizabeth Heritage married Mr. K.H. Lewis of Edgecombe County in April 1857. Their marriage was followed by a foreign tour. On their return they went to live at his ancestral home near Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County, where Mrs. Lewis still lives.

  Mary Shepard, my oldest sister married Edwin G. Speight, State Senator from Greene and Lenoir in 1850 and went to Alabama where they lived until his death in 1864. Sister then came to Raleigh, where she spent the remainder of her life.

  Henry Ravenscroft married Mary Norcutt of New Bern, where they still live, having a large family of children. For sixteen years he was judge of the Superior Court of N.C.

  Brother Frank (Francis Theodore Bryan) married Edmonia, daughter of Mr. A.P. Taylor of St. Louis, a relative of Gen. Zachary Taylor of Mexican fame and afterwards, President. His wife died several years ago, but brother Frank still lives in St. Louis at the advanced age of eighty-eight years.

  Col. Joseph B. Stickney who was a near neighbor and cousin of my husband accepted the guardianship of my children, he said as the account of the love he had for their father. He proved himself to be an upright and kind and considerate friend. He now lives in Wilson, N.C. where he moved after my husband's death.

  1. Bryan died in infancy

  2. John Bryan Grimes (aka Jack) / Mary Octavia Laughinghouse / Elizabeth Forrest Laughinghouse

  3. Alston Grimes b. 25 Feb 1866

  4. William Demsie Grimes / Willie Skinner b. 12 Feb 1877 d.

  5. Junius Daniel Grimes / Ida Wharton b. 31 Oct 1878 d.

  6. Charlotte Emily Grimes / Alfred Williams b.

  7. Mary Bryan Grimes / Elmer W. Smith / J. Gordon Hackett b. 15 Feb 1871

  8. Theordora "Bydie" Bryan Grimes / W. Croom Rodman b. 23 May 1880

  9. Susan b. 9 Sep 1872

  10. George Frederick Grimes, b. 27 Jun 1877 d. 27 Sept 1983, diphtheria.

  Note: John Wesley Bryan, owner of the ________ house in New Bern was apparently the brother of John Heritage Bryan (1797-1886?) who owned the law office next to the Tryon Palace and later moved to Raleigh. (John B. Grimes (b.1940) great grandmother's father).

  When Ramseur fired the salute in Raleigh in May 1861 he had just recently graduated from West Point.

  This document was transcribed from a carbon, typed copy that is believed to have been prepared from the original by Elizabeth Forest Laughinghouse Grimes, the wife of John Bryan Grimes, a son of Charlotte Emily and Bryan Grimes. The orginal text was prepared in August 1918. This rendering of the text was prepared on a word processor using WordPerfect 5.1 by John B. Grimes in 1989. Minor changeso to the carbon, typed text were incorporated where it was believed the changes were correcting typographical errors. No other changes were made to maintain the text in as close to original style and format as possible. The location of the original is unknown. If the original could be obtained a more accurate rendering of the style could be made.

John B. Grimes
5256 Signal Hill Drive
Burke, Virginia 22015
(773) 978-4416

  o Notes:

  o Annie and Mary Pettigrew were raised by Charlotte Emily Bryan's Mother and is the basis for the close relationship between Bryan Grimes and Gen. Pettigrew.

  o Mary Pettigrew was very active as a nurse at Chimboraza Hospital in Richmond for much of the war.

  o Frederick (Freddie) Bryan died of diabetes as a teenager.

  o George Bryan was a prisoner or war, was repatriated and then died in battle in Aug 1864.

  o Francis Theodore Bryan - USMA class of 1846, 6th in his class, married Edmonia Taylor, daughter of A.P. Taylor, a relative of President Zachary Taylor and lived in St. Louis. Frank was active in the Mexican American War.

  o John Heritage Bryan - went to Brazil after the war in 1868 where he later died. His wife E.W. Outlaw returned to Raleigh with the rest of the family.

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