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Letter Written by Mrs. Lucy E. Polk

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Regarding the career of her husband, the Honorable William Hawkins Polk, and the Confederate Monument in Warren County, North Carolina she was responsible for erecting!

6 pages, 5 x 8, in ink. Comes with a 2 3/8 x 2 3/8, diagram of the proposed Confederate memorial with a written description.

Mrs. Lucy Eugenia Polk, was the wife of William Hawkins Polk, a Mexican War veteran, U.S. Statesman & Congressman from Tennessee. William H. Polk was the youngest brother of United States President James K. Polk.

Warrenton, [North Carolina], Nov. 5th

My dear Jessie,

Your letter of the 17th Sept. was received & as you spoke of going to the Reunion at Paris, Ky. I postponed arriving until your return to Henderson, but I have delayed my reply longer than I intended. You asked if I would give you some of Maj. Polk’s experiences in Mexico. I wish I could. He sometimes spoke of the war in the home of the Aztec’s, [1] but the great Civil struggle came along destroying & obliterating the past so completely for the four years of its continuance & kept us so busy trying to keep body & soul together that our past experiences like sand heaps were wiped out by the great conflict & carnage of Brotherhood. As President of the Memorial Association of Warrenton I have given much time to try & erect a monument to the brave sons of Warren who fell in a cause, the lost still just & hope before next Decoration [Day] to have a statue in Italian marble the first ever erected in the county unveiled at Fairview & when this is completed I shall resign the Presidency & return to private life…the big old world will turn around just as jolly as if I was at the helm. My late husband Hon. William H. Polk of Columbia, Tenn. was appointed by President Tyler to represent the United States at the Court of Rome & Naples. President Polk succeeded Tyler & war with Mexico was declared in Polk’s administration. Mr. [William] Polk asked to be recalled to the United States. He then joined the Army & went to Mexico as Major of the 3d Dragoons & remained there until the close of the war. I think I am right patriotic but don’t think my patriotism would have prompted me to resign a pleasant position abroad with a salary of nine thousand dollars to go to Mexico to be shot at & punctured with the thorns of the cactus which grows so abundantly in that country. After his return home he represented his District in [U.S.] Congress. He was afterwards the Democratic Elector for Tennessee. He died in Nashville not very long after the Civil War commenced & I returned to Carolina to be with my mother the most perfect Christian I ever knew. Was much pleased with the City & its fine Institutions of learning. On the return stopped at [?] for a week or two & had a delightful visit to dear old friends. Wish I could see them right now. Wharton has always felt so near to me & Genl. Green & Mrs. Green how I loved them. I often think of the pleasant winter spent at the Old National, "a long shot back for memory’s over," but the recall of this past is full of pleasant memories. Tasker [2] has three beautiful bright children who keep things stirred up & lively. There is little of local interest to write & what I have written is done so miserably. I feel it would be just to myself & you too to throw it in the waste basket & try again, but don’t know when I shall do any better. With the very kindest regard for your Father & Mother, tell them in the flight of time no silver threads amongst the old have made their appearance & while I do not quite reach a hundred in weight I can keep pace with others many years my juniors. I say this not boastingly but thankfully. Friends have come in so I must say good bye.

Sincerely,
L.E. Polk

[P.S.] Tomorrow is the circus & little William is looking forward with much pleasure seeing the elephants & monkeys. Tasker has not been very well but daily at his office. His new office will soon be completed on Main Street, very pretty & comfortable & I hope he may long enjoy it. Lucy Hawkins spent her summer vacation in Nashville.

Included is a small diagram of the Confederate monument park Mrs. Polk is writing about in her letter. The following is written on the back of the illustration: "Plan of Confederate Square- 52 feet- Southern Cross with mound & statue in the center with 11 evergreens [representing the 11 Southern States of the Confederacy]- name & date of each State as seceded. Ask your Father what he thinks of my plan- mound & pedestal 10 ft."

Light age toning and wear. Very fine.

Excellent content written by Mrs. Lucy Eugenia Polk regarding the career of her husband, William Hawkins Polk; a Mexican War veteran, U.S. Statesman & Congressman, and about the Confederate monument she was responsible for erecting in Warren County, North Carolina. Very desirable!

[1] This is a reference to the Aztec Club a historic society founded in 1847 by United States Army officers of the Mexican–American War.

[2] Tasker Polk was the son of William H. Polk and Lucy E. Polk.

William Hawkins Polk: (1815-62) Born in Maury County, Tennessee, he was the youngest brother of U.S. President James K. Polk. In 1838, William H. Polk killed Robert Hayes, a young Nashville lawyer, following an altercation at the Nelson House in Columbia, Tenn. The two had apparently been arguing when Polk insulted Hayes, and Hayes responded by throwing a cup at Polk. Polk then obtained a whip and lashed Hayes with it, prompting Hayes to flee. Shortly afterward, Hayes attempted to ambush Polk with a derringer, but his lone shot missed. Polk drew his own gun and returned fire, killing Hayes. Polk was tried for murder, but convicted of a lesser charge, and sentenced to six weeks in jail and a $750 fine. He was defended at trial by his brother's former law partner, Gideon Pillow, a future Confederate General. Polk graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and commenced practice in Columbia. He was a member of the Tennessee State House of Representatives, 1841-45; appointed as U.S. Minister to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, serving 1845-47, and he fought as a major of the 3rd U.S. Dragoons in the Mexican War. He ran for Governor of Tennessee in 1861, but lost to the secessionist incumbent, Isham G. Harris. In late 1862, Polk fell ill while staying at the St. Cloud Hotel in Nashville. He died suddenly on December 16, 1862. His sister-in-law, former First Lady Sarah Childress Polk, arranged for his body to be taken to Columbia (which was behind enemy lines) under a flag of truce for burial. He is interred at Columbia's Greenwood Cemetery.

The monument discussed in Mrs. Polk's letter was erected in Fairview Cemetery, Warrenton, N.C., and was named Confederate Dead of Warren County, Warrenton, N.C. It was designed by the Cooper Brothers, of Raleigh, N.C., and the sculptor of the statue was Harry Dempster. It consists of a marble statue of a Confederate soldier standing on a granite pedestal; a young mustachioed soldier, at ease resting against a tree trunk and leaning on his rifle, looks forward and downward with his hat in his hand. The inscription reads: Brave And Fearless, Proud And Peerless Were Warren's Sons Who Wore The Gray. Erected By The Memorial Association Of Warren County. To The Confederate Dead Of Warren County, N.C. Erected By The Efforts Of Mrs. Lucy E Polk. Dedicated August 27, 1903.

William H. Polk married Lucy Eugenia Williams on July 14, 1854 in Montmorenci, North Carolina. She died on January 11, 1906 in Warren County, North Carolina.



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