COMING IN DECEMBER 2020
EXCEEDING RARE & IMPECCABLE PROVENANCED ROBERT E LEE & STONEWALL JACKSON HAIR SAMPLES and BUTTON FROM R.E. LEE’S UNIFORM from Virginia Wartime Governor Letcher archive
inv # 02-13600
The staff button from Robert E. Lee’s uniform plus the hair samples from Generals Lee & Jackson have unquestioned provenance. The button is identical to other specimens Robert E. Lee had deposited or gifted elsewhere. The staff button is in an envelope stating Lee gave the button to Virginia Lee Letcher, one of Governor Letcher’s daughters. Virginia Lee Letcher was born in 1862 & Robert E. Lee took time off from the War to attended her Christening & was her Godfather. The two hair samples are both contained in sm. about 1” folded pieces of paper w/ brown inscriptions. The Jackson hair also has a small folded note which reads “General TJ Jackson’s Hair / Kept by Aunty – She cut it off when his body was at Father’s in the / Governor’s house, before his body was brought to Lexington Signed “V. L. L. S.”” This note was written by Virginia Lee Letcher Stevens, the outside wrappers of the hair samples are both initialed “M. L. S.”. Margaret Letcher Showell who was Virginia Lee’s older sister. Below the description of the hair is inked “M. C. Holt”, Margaret Catherine Holt was Virginia Lee & Margaret Letcher’s aunt. She is the Aunty referred to on the note associated w/ Stonewall Jackson’s hair. This archive contains numerous documents, newspaper clippings & a wonderful archive of letters written by Margaret Kinney Letcher mostly from Washington D.C. in the 1880s, these letters are written mostly to her Aunty (M. C. Holt) plus her Mother & Father. The letters are a treasure trove & read like a novel of a young, well educated, socially connected woman living alone & working in Washington in an era when young women did not do this. She reports to her parents & siblings on the philosophy that she is reading, she listens to new thinkers such as Susan B. Anthony & other modern women who she meets, she talks of meeting James Garfield’s assassin, she met a woman who was w/ John Wilkes Booth when he was captured. She stays informed of Congressional matters & went to the supreme court hearing concerning the repatriation or restitution of Arlington back to the Lee family. The Lee’s & the Letcher’s were both important VA families. She shares a box at a play w/ General Sherman & one of the President’s cabinet members. She tells of not earning enough money to take cabs but she loves to walk around the city. She said; “You should’ve seen the surprised look on the policeman’s face when I asked him to walk me home when it was late and I did not like the part of town I was in”. She signs her letters w/ just three initials “M. K. L.” (Margaret Kinney Letcher). After her marriage she stills signs w/ three initials but now “M. L. S.” (Margaret Letcher Showell). There is an affidavit signed by John Letcher Anderson in 2007 who relates his genealogy back to his Great Grandmother who was Margaret Letcher Showell. Additions to archives include 15 page excerpts from the Letcher Family Bible. The Letcher home in Lexington was burned by General Hunter in direct violation of civilized warfare which is how the excerpts begin. They detail all the Governor Letcher children, grandchildren, great grandchildren; ending w/ the February 7, 1942 death of Virginia Lee Letcher Stevens, Robert E. Lee’s goddaughter. “Buried.. R. E. Lee Memorial Church, Lexington VA, Feb 7 1942 at 4PM”. It goes on to list the minister, a poem & the hymns sung. Also in archive is a pair of gold & horn rimmed glasses, silver retractable lead pencil & Mother of Pearl quill pin that belonged to Governor Letcher, a letter written by Governor Letcher in 1860. There are legal documents concerning Virginia Lee’s death. There is correspondence in 1952 from the Governor of Texas concerning the donation of a Sam Houston letter to Governor Letcher. Governor Letcher was Sam Houston’s cousin, one of John Letcher’s brother’s was named Samuel Houston Letcher & one of Governor Letcher’s sons was also Sam Houston Letcher, who was also a Confederate officer. There are several newspapers, some concerning Governor Letcher’s death & obituaries. There is a CDV included of Brigadier General Pendleton. There are membership documents for Margaret Kinney Letcher Showell to the UDC & for her husband into the Sons of the American Revolution. There are 10 photographs, 9 of which are professional postwar portraits of various family members & a large framed tin type of a militiaman or cadet in military uniform in ornate frame measuring 21″x17”. There is a printed copy of the Letcher Family Tree which was compiled in 1934 w/ information supplied by Mrs. Walter LeConte Stevens (Virginia Lee Letcher) to Sam Houston Showell. There are about 30 long letters written by Margaret Kinney Letcher as earlier described & her initials of course are on both hair samples. Interestingly enough the newly married Margaret sends a hair sample attached in one of her letters (1885) of her first born child, John Letcher Showell, which she tells mom she calls him “Letcher”. This archive required lots of scrutiny as family names are repeated through generations; however provenance & originality is guaranteed
PROVENANCE: Margaret Catherine Holt (Referred to as Aunty on tag) 1830-1900; Margaret Kinney Letcher Showell 1857-1936; Virginia Lee Letcher Stevens 1862-1942; John Letcher Showell 1885-1952; Margaret Letcher Showell Anderson 1929-2006; John Letcher Anderson; Jackson’s Hair, the UDC certificate signed by Mary Custis Lee & Governor Letcher’s spectacles all from this archive were on display at the American Civil War Center, Richmond VA 2008-2009.