Selina Gray Letters to Mary Custis Lee

November 1872 – Selina Gray to Mary Custis Lee

Arlington, Va
No 1872

Mrs Lee,

I received your letter and was happy to hear from you and I was hoping to see you once more at Arlington. It is a most lovely place. Now everywhere around it looks beautiful. There is not a tree to be seen except in the cemetery. The whole of it is rented to the freemen. They have little huts all over that beautiful place and besides that they have a large military school of signal co and the place is changed, so you wo[u]ld hardly know it. Your things at the time of the war was taken a way by every body, to the officers would have them in their tents and all over the ground and when they moved a way they would give them to the persons that waited on them. The quarter masters and officers would take first what they wanted every time they moved a way. The book case the you speak of I cannot tell you any thing of it I don’t remember of seeing it since you left. I supose it was carried off like every thing else. I underwent a great deal to stay at Arlington as long as I did having so many inferior persons to contend with but I am very happy that I have got a comfortable home of my own now down by the factory a bout half way to Alexandria. We have 10 acres of land it is very poor but we hope in time to improve it. Barry has grown to be quite a larg[e] man he is just 21 and as big and tall as father he is very steady and quite a working young man and is a great help to his father his father and him has been working up at Arlington all the summer getting 45 dollars a month. Emma and is a fin[e] looking girl and very much like her father she gets 10 dollars a month in Washington as chamber maid. Sarah and Anisce[?] a nurse she has been nursing for 3 years now and all the ladies give her the praise of being a good nurse she is very fond of children Ada Selena Johnny and florence. I have at home with me florence is my baby she is seven years old. My dear mother and father both are gorn [gone] I trust to a better world they were both afflicted for years before they died. Mother was blind and helpless for 4 years. Father was afflicted so that he did not lie down ons [once] for 1 year with shortness of breath and he longed for death. He died perfectly happy all. Austin Branham and Louisa Bingham are the only ones of the old servants that are still liveing. Mary is working for Dr Garnett in Washington and she is in very bad health. Sally and Wesley are still at Arlington in mothers old house [illegible]. Remember me kindly to Miss Agnes and Miss Mildred. I hear that Miss Mildred is quite a handsome young lady. Remember me kindly to Mr Custis and also to Mr Robert. I am sorry to hear of his trouble. I have seen him since the war and he remind so much of his father. I trust I may see the day yet when you all will have Arlington. I hope that I may yet be able to see you as I am very anxious to.

no more from your humble Servant,

Selina Gray

PS this piece of green and this rose bud I send you is some that you planted at your mother grave.

[Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Mss1 L5144 a 1397-1472. Note: This letter was rediscovered with other papers at the Burke and Herbert Bank in 2002.]


April 7, 1873 – Selina Gray to Mary Custis Lee

Arlington Va.
April 7th 1873

Dear Mrs Lee

I am truly happy to say that I received your kind letter and were verry glad to here from you. I am verry sorry that [I] did not answer it sonner but I have bin very sick for six weeks but are now getting better. I herde that you was coming to Alexandria this spring on a visit and I thought that I could see you then my selfe and tell you every thing about Arlington and the old servants but it seames so long that I thought I would write to you and I hope that you will come sonne [soon] for I truly want to see you verry much indeed I am very sorry to here that you keep so helpless and Mrs Lee that Bookcase I no nothing of but if I ever see it I will certainly send you word and Thornton an[d] Harry is working up at Arlington and Arlington certainly do look pretty. It is a beatifull place since the grass has come nice to grow and the trees are all budding and lovely and the flower garden. It really could not look enny [any] prettier then what it is the old orbor [arbor] in the flower garden is the same as ever only some new vines is planted around it makes it look quite nice and the vegatible garden is looking quite nice now to and they have all out back of the stable a perfect vegatable garden. The park looks verry natural they are building a large gate [McClellan Gate] leading from the farm to the house they have bin working on it for two years and they are finishing the wall around the cemetery putting something on tope [top] of it and it is the beleaft of the intelegent people that it is impossible for them to keep you from arlington and they say all the in provement will not[?] more then what will pay you for the [illegible]. I am sure I will be glad to see you ther agine and all of ous will to see you in your old home.

For my children I have 8 eight. Florence is the youngest and she is 6 six years old and I have no children married as yet and I have bin blest to have a good set of children most of them able to earn there one [own] living. Please remember me to the young leadies and gentlemen. Tell them I would like to here from see them all. I would of like to of seen Mr William Lee when he was in Alexandria for I herde that he is so hansom and large. I written a long letter to you when I sent the bible I put it in the bible pleas tel me no if you got it no more.

Love to all from
Selina Gray

[Source: Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Mss1 L5144 a 1397-1472]


Last updated: April 18, 2024

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