On This Day in 1898

111 Years Ago Today
May 31, 1898

Captain Greenlee D. Letcher, my 2nd cousin, 4x removed, married Katherine Seymour Paul in Rockbridge County, VA. Captain Letcher was one of eleven children born to Governor John Letcher and Mary Susan Holt.

  1. William Holt Letcher
  2. Samuel Houston Letcher
  3. Andrew Holt Letcher
  4. John Davidson Letcher
  5. Margaret Kinney Letcher
  6. Mary Davidson Letcher
  7. Virginia Lee Letcher
  8. Greenlee Davidson Letcher
  9. Fannie Wilson Letcher
  10. Elizabeth Stuart Letcher
  11. Mary Susan Letcher

The Captain and Katherine S. (Paul) Letcher had three children.

  1. Greenlee D. Letcher
  2. John Letcher
  3. General John Seymour Letcher (father of author Katie Letcher Lyle)*

Greenlee Davidson Letcher
July 19, 1867 – August 12, 1954
Interred – Stonewall Jackson Cemetery – Lexington, VA


When her father died, author Katie Letcher Lyle uncovered in his garage three cartons of papers documenting four generations of her family. The boxes included an astonishing array of materials, including “letters, postcards, papers, documents, check registers, Confederate bills, files, receipts, old photographs, notebooks, envelopes of stamps, deeds, bills, depositions, certificates, proclamations, diplomas, and market lists.” Among them were the letters of her grandparents-Greenlee D. Letcher, the youngest child of John Letcher, Virginia’s Civil War governor, and his wife, Katherine (Katie) Seymour Paul. In My Dearest Angel, Lyle deftly tells the story of their life together.

Greenlee and Katie Letcher could not have been more different. He served as a state legislator, worked as a lawyer in Lexington, and traveled widely, all the while scribbling and sending letters. She was the daughter of a Republican circuit judge and state senator from Harrisonburg and shied away from public life, preferring instead the familiarity of home and family. Their marriage was tinged with melancholy: Two of their three children died, and Katie, who found fulfillment largely in her role as a mother, struggled throughout her life with ill health and depression. Greenlee’s letters addressed her as “Sweet Angel, My Own, My Love, My Life,” but she often chafed at the role of adored wife, spending long periods of time with her parents, on rest cures, or in hospitals, away from her husband and his family. Their letters provide an unusually intimate portrait of a marriage, beginning in 1898, when they wed at her parents’ home, and ending in 1947, when Katie died from a stroke.

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