Esther, The Beautiful Queen

Source: Victoria Louise Pendleton Memoir (Manuscript Collection #17.1.b)

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo

The program above, advertising a performance of Esther, The Beautiful Queen, to be presented at the Warrenton, North Carolina Town Hall on 11 October 1894, is from the Victoria Louise Pendleton Memoir manuscript collection. Mrs. Pendleton was born in October 1837, in Pitt County, North Carolina and attended school in Greenville as a girl. After graduating from high school, she married Robert Leckie Jones of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, in 1854. He died less than a year later, leaving her with a young daughter, Helen. After the Civil War Mrs. Jones moved to Warrenton. She taught school for a while at the Wilcox School and at Warrenton College. Later, she and Mrs. S. D. Twitty, established a private school for girls in her house.  Each year, as she recounts in her memoir, the students in her schools produced an artistic or musical performance for the public.  The program, above, is the only example in her collection.

In 1872, Mrs. Jones married Major Arthur S. Pendleton, of Portsmouth, Virginia, a veteran of the Civil War. The couple, who resided in Warrenton, had two sons, Milo W. Pendleton, who died young, and Col. Arthur Pendleton, who later married Miss Sara Busbee, and in whose home Mrs. Pendleton lived her declining years. Mrs. Pendleton remained active throughout her life until only a few weeks prior to her death when she suffered a stroke.  At the time of her death, on 9 April 1931 at age 93, she was the oldest person in Warrenton.  Her funeral was attended by nearly the entire population of the community.

In addition to her teaching activities Mrs. Pendleton was also active in a wide variety of patriotic, civic, and religious organizations. She taught Sunday School for 70 consecutive years and was active in the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  She served as the UDC’s representative at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee statue at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in 1925.  Mrs. Pendleton’s photocopied memoir contains far more than a biographical account of her life. It also includes historical accounts of Warrenton and Warren County, its notable schools, churches, buildings and family homes.  It features short biographical sketches of major military figures who visited and played a part in Warrenton’s history, including Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, Edward C. Walthall, Wade Hampton, Matt W. Ransom, Robert Ransom and Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow;  political figures including  Dr. Charles D. McIver, and Gov. Charles B. Aycock,  Among the histories of schools in Warrenton, are those of Warrenton Male Academy, Mordecai School, Falkner School, Miss Hannah Lee’s School, Miss Harriet Allen’s School, and many more.  Mrs. Pendleton also recounts histories of all the churches of Warrenton, including the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches.  She provides brief histories of nearly two dozen private homes and other buildings in Warrenton, including the home of Thomas Howard Payne (author of “Home Sweet Home”), the Brick Spring House (home of Nathaniel Macon), and the Henry A. Boyd House.  These brief handwritten accounts, written in a straightforward yet sprightly style, are legible and almost as easy to read as the original.

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