Anne E. Sampson 8 July 1920 Letter

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From: DC0156s, Sampson, Anne E. Reminiscences, 1920 (View Finding Aid)


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Sampson, Anne E

615 Brook Road

Richardson. July 8. 1920 [1]

My dear Miss. Shaw [2]:

Although I forewarned you that I was a most made undependable person yet I do feel mortified to have failed you badly: Its really because I have been ill and suffering most than usual so that I have scarcely been able to write or think. I am doubtful whether my reminiscences will be of any value. My going to Davidson on Oct. 1879 [3] after my marriage in June and the summer abroad caused me to arrive in a Transition period [4]. The affairs in The College seem to have been at a low ebb about 73-74, when Col. Martin [5] was made Chairman of The Faculty–there was no President. A University of Va. man himself he felt that an infusion of new blood from his Alma Mater might put new pep into the teaching; so William Mynn Thornton [6], the brilliant Courteway medalist, but equally clever in the classics and Rev. James F. Latimer [7] were elected. At the same time my husband John Russell Sampson [8] who had gone from the University to Germany in 1871 and was

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there through 1874. at the Sorbonne [9] ­­­­­finishing a French Course—received a letter offering him the Chair of Latin and French. It’s worth saying he could come if they could wait another ­­­­year and let him finish: otherwise he must decline. This they could not do and Rev. Dr. Hepburn [10] was elected. But to Mr. Sampson’s surprise within a few months the offer was repeated. Changes had come—Mr. Thornton called to the University of Va. Mr. Latimer transferred and the Greek chair, Dr. Hepburn to Moral Philosophy and Mr. Sampson took the Latin and French [11] in 1875. In 1879 the village was small: beyond our house “The Oak” [12] with a magnificent tree–there were but 3 houses—Mr. Stirewalts’ [13] pool opposite ours just built [illegible] between him and Col. Martin who lived where his son does now (President’s House). Mrs. Martin big sunny dining room. The living room of the family is my chief recollection of those first days: the warm hearted welcome The Colonels ringing laugh, her bright chatter, the hospitality ever ready–it ever lingers in my heart and words seem poor to describe it. Col. Martin was a man of strong authority, of quick decisions, of delightful courtesy to the Students with whom he

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was immensely popular. At the other end of the street were the Blakes [14], he [was] grave but with a twinkle in his eye. She with as kindly a heart as Mrs. Martins and as ready a tongue–an invalid often–but ready to get up and help the sick and poor and to show a bountiful hospitality Mr. Carson shared Mr. Sampson’s house until my coming and they rented his, a big rambling frame which stood next “The President’s house,” the brick opposite Col. Martins. The Latimers lived where Dr. Shearer [15] afterwards did and we were to have taken their house in 1883 when we unexpectedly moved to Va. There was no Church. We shared the College Chapel, a dreary place with hard benches and abundant room, small as it was, for the whole congregation, the students occupying the whole front. I can see the Carson boys and the two Dicks and Richard Boarkett [16] in front of the left Amen corner [17]. The choir led Beatty Jennings [18]. Joseph Maclian [19] at the little organ up in the gallery at the back. I remember one Sunday when Dr. Russ

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then at Newbern. Preached a most earnest sermon and gave out “Jesus Lover of my Soul” asking that everybody sing, and that choir sang a tune nobody ever heard! Mr. Martin came running after us on our way home” how did you like that last tune, Mrs. Sampson?” “Don’t you dare to talk to me about that tune- I am not going to let you” “You don’t need to, I know by the expression of the back of your head!” But it was a fine choir and bid well in the main. Dr. Hepburn was a good preacher though his mind was so upon the students that he would say “young gentlemen” sometimes instead of “brethren” that isn’t to say that he would say “You may sing etc.” We got the crumbles that fell from the students [illegible] but they were mighty good crumbs. The families outside the Faculty were few and they felt outside in that Chapel. So some of us began talking Church, at first to rather deaf and discouraged ears: but belief grew and finally it was talked into existence. The Professors each subscribed $200 and it has always been a satisfaction to me that though we left before the building began and were engaged in building up a school at Pantops [20] ourselves–our promised 200

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went into the Church we had so much desired but never entered except as guests. There were only three stores that I can remember. Mr. Scofields, Mr. Thompson’s and Mr. Sloan’s. We had no sort of market. A “beef-man” came in twice a week with beef of the toughest and pork– but we poor housekeepers could not compete with those who had boarders and who carried off a whole quarter. “Going to Charlotte” was an event and we shopped and marketed for each other. Great wagons came down from the mountains with produce [21], and chickens and eggs were plentiful and cheap. Social life was almost nil. The professors had “dinnings” with each other. and gradually I became acquainted with other families and we exchanged visits with a kindly and courteous people. Mr. Sampson was ordained an elder and used to visit the poor and sick. I remember an old lady

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who lived just beyond where the railroad and “dirt road” cross. It was dirt road indeed. We had no sidewalks and to cross the road and the Chapel on high rocks was a fearsome thing. We walked for exercise on the railroad ties and around two big pines on either near “Miss Ibby’s”- “Gog” and “Magog” [22] The students lives were very monotonous. Before we were married Mr. Sampson, wrote me he hoped we would be able to do something for the students socially– and make our house what my fathers had been in Charlottesville. So we used to invite six or eight guys to dinner or to supper and play “Authors” [23] afterwards–We got a little organ and they came Sunday evenings to sing from supper time till Church– In this way we wanted every boy in College at

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least once or twice a year. I made it a rule not to ask anyone the second time unless he called and I remember Mrs. Hepburn laughing at my simplicity in expecting it. But among all the hundreds invited only one failed to call and very many came often. A very distinguished professor and author when a Freshman wrote with his mother at Greensboro that he had torn his best Trousers and please send him another pair quick, for if Mrs. Sampson invited him to supper he would have nothing to wear! Of course other Professors invited one and another of the students. There were hardly any girls for the guys to visit. Though not later there was a wonderful core of Charming daughters–Martins, Dupuys [24] and others–the Dupuys moving there just as we left. The discipline of the College was good

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and the spirit loyal. Though nothing to be compared to the present. The monotony of the life led a few restless souls to such infant enterprises as greasing the rails and wrecking the train. And I am sorry to say about once a year somebody would go to Charlotte and come back in spirits more than his natural. One very bright charming boy arrived at the station one winter evening much the worse for mixed potations: called before the faculty, he was expelled. I shall never forget the anguish of that day, for he was a favorite at our house. The faculty deeply distressed themselves, felt justice must take its course; but strong importunities met them in their own homes, and when the students presented a petition for mercy promising that everyone would pledge himself to better behavior, the sentence was changed to suspension. The next year no one in College was more admirable than that repentant Boy.

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And for many years he has been a Professor in a College and an honored elder in the Church. There were only a few boarding houses [25]. Mrs. Holt’s [26] was always full to overflowing and my husband and Mr. Carson [27] boarded with her before they were married. Nothing could exceed her kindness. The outflowing of a warm and gentle heart. She was a good business woman and helped her husband. The kindly village doctor to become quite wealthy for Davidson. But most of the boys lived in clubs [28] for ceremony’s sake, an economy excessive and injurious to health. Some of them paid only 4.00 a month! Beside which Mrs. Holt 12.50 looked to them wildly extravagant. I used to argue with a brilliant young

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student for the ministry who thought he “ought not to spend the Church’s money” for good food and alas! My urgent prophecies of disaster were fulfilled and he did not live and preach. (This was Sally Paisley’s [29] husband. Tragedy is match to comedy – the first humor man of his year – and now president of a great University (Harry Smith) [30] “ate at a Club” for months to save money from his allowance to buy a gold watch chain for Commencement – and frightened his mother and me by fainting in our hall the morning of the great day. The salaries were very swell in those days.

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and it was plain living and high thinking with a vengeance. But we were a happy community- the faculty like a big family- and the village people more and more identified with us. There was great excitement when Dr. Latimer’s family went abroad with him for a year of European study and Mrs. Latimer came back with a Paris bonnet very small with huge bows of lavender velvet ribbons under her chin- but very becoming to her handsome face

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Dear Miss Shaw – if you came from 3 grains of wheat in these bushels of chaff I shall be glad. I have sat up in bed with back & head aching. My pen has run on and on as many memories pressed to it many names I should like to mention. You will pardon the illegibility I hope you can read it. My hand is shaky with best wishes for you and the book and for Davidson.

Always yours. Sincerely Anne E. Sampson.

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[1] Letter actually refers to the memories of Sampson during the late 1800’s. This letter was in response to Cornelia Shaw’s request for information to help write her book on the history of the town of Davidson (Shaw Davidson 40).

[2] Cornelia Shaw became the first Davidson Librarian in 1907 and also acted as the college registrar until 1921. Shaw remained the college librarian for 15 more years, retiring in 1936. Shaw interacted with alumni and members of the Davidson community, including Mary Scofield Clifford, Anne Sampson, and Lucy Russell. Shaw published a book of her encounters with members of the Davidson community (Carpenter n.p.). For more information visit:

photo of Cornelia Shaw

Cornelia Shaw (9-0065)

[3] Davidson College in the 1879-1880 academic year had 112 students and 6 faculty. The two regular courses of study were the “Classical Course” for students wanting to “embrace the studies of the ordinary curriculum” and the “Scientific Course” for students “wishing to pursue English and Scientific studies, to the exclusion of the classical.” The college also offered an “Eclectic Course” for students wanting to select “particular branches of study” and a “Post Graduate Course.” Davidson College was located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Tuition was $70 for the entire year ($30 for the first term and $40 for the second). Total expenses were estimated to vary from $200 to $250. (DCC 6-41).

[4] This Transition Period was a time when the college was experiencing considerable change in regards to the faculty. This period also refers to other changes that occurred at Davidson college during the Reconstruction error after the end of the Civil War. (Shaw Davidson 40).

[5] Colonel W. J. Martin was born in Richmond, VA in 1830. He graduated from the University of Virginia with his B. A. in 1854. He became a professor of Natural Sciences at Washington College in Pennsylvania until 1857. Afterwards, he was a professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology at University of North Carolina until 1867. He was then a teacher in Columbia, TN for three years. Col. Martin was a professor of Chemistry, Geology and Natural History at Davidson College 1869 to 1884 when he became the Vice President of the college. Martin finally became President of the College in 1887 and served as president for one year. Martin also served as a Colonel in the Confederate South Army. He earned his M.A. at Columbia University and an LL.D. from Hampden-Sydney College in 1887 and from the University of North Carolina in 1889. He died in Davidson, NC in 1896 (Alumni Catalogue 25).

[6] William Myron Thornton was elected by the Davidson College trustees as the professor of Greek and German in June 1874.Thornton graduated from Hampden-Sydney College and spent six years as a student and teacher of mathematics at the University of Virginia. Thornton taught at Davidson for only one year before returning to the University of Va. to become a professor of mathematics and, later, chairman of the faculty and dean of the school of civil engineering (Beaty History 117).

[7] A University of Virginia graduate, Rev. James Fair Latimer originally taught mental and moral philosophy before he was replaced by Dr. Hepburn in 1875. Latimer was a confederate veteran from South Carolina and a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary. Latimer taught at Davidson for 11 years (Beaty History 118).

[8] John Russell Sampson was a university of Virginia alumni who replaced Myron Thornton as professor of Latin and French during the 1875-1876 session. He was elected to the chair on June 12, 1876. Sampson resigned from his position in 1883 immediately after a meeting which decided to continue Dr. Hepburn’s presidency after Hepburn demanded the affairs of the College be left in the hands of the President rather than the President and the faculty (Beaty History 118-143).

[9] University of Paris-Sorbonne. This was one of the first Universities in the world. For more information on the history of this University, visit:

[10] Rev. Dr. Hepburn (b. 1830 d. 1921) was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Reverend Andrew Dousa Hepburn went to the University of Virginia as a graduate student in 1851 before attending Princeton Theological Seminary. He began teaching at the University of North Carolina in 1860 but resigned in 1867. He then joined the faculty at the University of Miami, Ohio in 1868 before arriving at Davidson in 1874. Three years later, Hepburn was elected as the first northern-born president of Davidson College (Gillespie Hepburn n.p.). For more information visit:

photo of Rev. Dr. Hepburn

Rev. Dr. Hepburn (19-0315b)

[11] After all the shifting of positions, there were a total of six professorships at Davidson in 1875: Mental and Moral philosophy, English, Natural Philosophy (physics) and Astronomy, Chemistry, Greek and German, Latin and French, and Mathematics (Beaty History 119).

[12] House which Professor D.H. Hill had owned in the 1860’s. The college bought the house from Hill around 1871. Faculty members such as the Sampsons, Latimers, Thorntons and Graves had lived in it, but, by 1900, it was officially discontinued as a faculty home due to its age (Beaty History 188).

[13] Walter Hampton Stirewalt was part of the Davidson College class of 1874 and a member of the Eumenean Hall. Stirewalt was born in Davidson, North Carolina (Alumni Catalogue 101)

[14] The Blakes were an important family at Davidson College. (b. 1825 d. 1900) John Rennie Blake directed the affairs of Davidson college as faculty chairman from 1871-1877. Davidson college had no official president during this period. Blake was born in Greenwood, South Carolina and went to the University of Georgia and Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School. Blake was elected as professor of Natural Philosophy at Davidson in 1861 (Gillespie Blake n.p.). For more information visit:

photo of John Rennie Blake

John Rennie Blake (7-010c)

[15] John Bunyan Shearer (b. 1832 d. 1918) gained his education at the Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Virginia and the Union Theological Seminary. Shearer was elected president of Davidson in 1888. In 1901, the last year of his presidency, Shearer instituted required Bible classes for all students at Davidson. That same year, he remodeled the old Chapel and renamed it Shearer Hall in honor of his wife (Gillespie Shearer n.p.). For more information visit:

photo of John Bunyan Shearer

John Bunyan Shearer (3-0045d)

[16] Richard Newman Brackett was born in 1863 in Charleston, South Carolina. Daivdson College class of 1883. Received a Ph. D in 1887 from Johns Hopkins University. (Alumni Catalogue 117.)

[17] The part of a church, usually to one side of the pulpit, occupied by people who lead the responsive amens during the service.

[18] William Beatty Jennings was born in 1859 in Bennettsvile, South Carolina. Jennings arrived at Davidson in 1876 and was a member of Eumenean Hall. He went on to become a pastor of the 1st Presbyterian Church in Macon, Georgia and the 1st Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Jennings later become the Director of Princeton Theological Seminary. (Alumni Catalogue 112)

[19] Joseph Adams Maclean arrived at Davidson in 1878 and was a member of the Eumenean Hall. Maclean was born in Yorksville, South Carolina. He became a student of music in N.Y. City and Cincinnati from 1881-1882. Maclean served as professor of Music in Rogersville, Tennessee from 1887-1889 and then became the Director of Music in Agnes Scott College (Alumni Catalogue 116).

[20] Pantops Academy near Charlottesville,Virginia (Shaw Davidson 146).

[21] These produce wagons would often come down to Davidson from the Helper Hotel. The Helper Hotel began as store in the 1850’s and was later converted to a hotel. The college purchased the Hotel in 1946 and renamed it the Carolina Inn (Carolina Inn n.p.). For more information, visit:

photo of Helper Hotel on Main Street

Helper Hotel on Main Street with produce wagons (90072)

[22] Reference to Chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel in the Bible. Magog is a kingdom and Gog is king. As quoted from the bible, “Son of man, direct your face towards Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy concerning him. Say: Thus said the Lord: Behold, I am against you, Gog, the prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal.” For more information about this biblical allusion, visit:

[23] A card game for 3-5 players. The deck of cards consists of eleven sets of four cards each representing the works of eleven famous authors. The object of the game is to form complete sets of the four cards comprising the works of a particular author. The winner is the player with the most sets. For more information visit:

[24] The Dupuys were a popular Davidson Family. The daughters of the Dupuy family included Blanche Dupuy and Mary Marshall Dupuy who appear in the photograph below. (Beaty College 198).

Fancy dress party at the side of Colonel Martin’s house, about 1895.

Fancy dress party at the side of Colonel Martin’s house, about 1895. From left, Mary Sparrow, Dudley Dupuy, Lucy Martin, William Casky Young, Blanche Dupuy, Mary Marshall Dupuy (kneeling). (27-0002a)

[25] Beginning in the 1850’s, Davidson College did not take full responsibility for the dining of students. They would typically eat, or board, with a family on or off campus residents of the town would prepare the meals (Davidson Encyclopedia). Mrs. Scofield, the mother of the Mary Clifford ran a boarding house while living at Davidson, and even boarded Woodrow Wilson while he attended the college (Wheeler n.p.). For more information visit:

[26] Mrs. Holt was the wife of Dr. William Edwin Holt. She came to Davidson determined to continue her career as a teacher and opened a school for girls across the street from her house, in the building called Tammany. She also ran the most popular boarding house in Davidson in the 1880’s. (Beaty Davidson 40).

[27] Mr. Carson was the math professor at Davidson from 1877-1883. He graduated from Washington College and worked as a civil engineer from 1869-1877. LINK TO CARSON LETTER (Alumni Catalogue 27).

[28] Another form of boarding students used to save money (Davidson Chalmers 4).

[29] Sally Stirewalt married James Paisley. James Paisley was part of Davidson’s class of 1880 and a member of the Phi Hall. Paisley died of poor eating habits in 1888. (Beaty Davidson 40).

[30] Henry Louis Smith, D.D. (b. 1859 d. 1951) was Davidson’s first president who was not a Presbyterian minister. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Smith graduated from Davidson College in 1881. After receiving advanced degrees from the University of Virginia, he returned to Davidson in 1887 as a professor of physics and was elected president in 1901 (Gillespie Smith n.p.). For more information visit:

photo of Henry Louis Smith

Henry Louis Smith (19-0592a)

photo of 1876 faculty

The 1876 faculty included (seated, from left) Professors Blake and Martin. Standing Professors Latimer, Hepburn, Harrison (?) and Sampson (?) (19-0093).


Anne E Sampson was the wife of John Russell Sampson who agreed to teach Latin and French in the 1875-1876 session and was elected to that chair on June 12, 1876 (Beaty History 118). Mrs. Sampson came to Davidson as a bride in 1879 after spending the summer abroad. (Shaw Davidson 146).

Works cited
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1876 Faculty. Portrait. Photograph number 19-0093. Davidson College Archives.

Alumni Catalogue of Davidson College, 1837-1924. Charlotte: Presbyterian Standard. 1924.

Amen Corner. The Free Dictionary.

Authors. Wikipedia.

Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Davidson: Briarpatch Press, 1988. Print

Beaty, Mary D. Davidson, A History of the Town From 1835 Until 1937. Davidson: Briarpatch Press, 1979. Print.

Blake, John. Portrait. Photograph number 7-010c. Davidson College Archives.

Blodgett, Jan. Personal interview. 27 Feb. 2013.

Carolina Inn. Davidson College Archives.

Carolina Inn. Portrait. Photograph number 90072. Davidson College Archives.

Carpenter, Blair and Haley DeLuca, Chandler Gray, Dawei Gu “Cornelia Shaw,” Davidson Encyclopedia, October 2011 <>

Davidson, Chalmers. Davidson Dining the Way it Was. Davidson Update. Aug. 1981, 4.

Davidson College Catalog, 1879-1880. Davidson: Davidson College Office of Communications. [1880]

Fancy Dress Party. Portrait. Photograph number 27-0002a in Student Activities-General-19th Century. Davidson College Archives.

Gillespie, Molly P and Mark Grotjohn. “Andrew Dousa Hepburn ” Davidson Encyclopedia, 29 June 2006 <>

Gillespie, Molly P, “John Bunyan Shearer ” Davidson Encyclopedia1998 <>

Gillespie, Molly P. “Henry Louis Smith ” Davidson Encyclopedia 1998 <>

Gillespie, Molly P. “John Rennie Blake” Davidson Encyclopedia 1998 <>

Gog and Magog. Wikipedia.

Hepburn, Andrew. Portrait. Photograph number 19-0315b. Davidson College Archives.

Shaw, Cornelia. Davidson College. New York: Fleming H. Revell Press, 1923. Print.

Shaw, Cornelia. Portrait. Photograph number 9-0065. Davidson College Archives.

Shearer, John. Portrait. Photograph number 3-0045d. Davidson College Archives.

Smith, Henry Louis. Portrait. Photograph number 19-0592a in Personell-Presidents. Davidson College Archives.

Welcome Page. Paris Sorbonne Universite.

Wheeler, David and Tammy Ivins. “Dining at Davidson” Davidson Encyclopedia July 2007 <>

Transcription and annotation author: Dennis Akrobetu.
Date: May 2014.
Cite as: Akrobetu, Dennis, annotator. 8 July 1920 Anne E. Sampson letter to Miss Shaw. DC0156s.

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