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A Guide to the Additional Papers of the Dickins and Kirk Families, 1861-1870 Dickins and Kirk Families, Additional Papers 5533-k

A Guide to the Additional Papers of the Dickins and Kirk Families, 1861-1870

A Collection in
Special Collections
The University of Virginia Library
Accession Number 5533-k


Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia
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Processed by: Special Collections Staff

Special Collections, University of Virginia Library
Accession Number
Additional Papers of the Dickins and Kirk Families 1861-1870

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

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Use Restrictions

See the University of Virginia Library’s use policy.

Preferred Citation

Additional Papers of the Dickins and Kirk Families, Accession #5533-k, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Acquisition Information

This collection was loaned to the Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library by Elizabeth D. Moyer and Stevens M. Moyer, 751 Seneca Parkway, Rochester, N.Y., 14613 on May 11, 2007.

Biographical/Historical Information

The Randolph family, descendants of Colonel William Randolph of Turkey Island (1651-1711) were one of the earliest and most important families to settle in Virginia. They were landowners, lawyers, congressman, and several held high office in the state of Virginia and the United States Government. Thomas Jefferson, also a descendant of Colonel William Randolph of Turkey Island through William Randolph's son, Colonel Isham Randolph Dungeness (1687-1742), was third President of the United States. The Taylor, Kirk and Dickins' families were all relations of the Randolph family.

Martha Jefferson (1772-1836), daughter of the president, married Governor Thomas Mann Randolph (1768-1829) who was also a descendant of Colonel William Randolph of Turkey Island through another of the Colonel's sons, Colonel Thomas Randolph of Tuckahoe (1683-1730). Governor Randolph and Martha Jefferson had eleven children, Anne Cary Randolph-Bankhead (1791-1826), Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792-1875), Ellen Wayles Randolph-Coolidge (1796-1876), Cornelia Jefferson Randolph (1799-1871), Virginia Jefferson Randolph-Trist (1801-1882), Mary Jefferson Randolph (1803-1876), James Madison Randolph (1806-1834), Benjamin Franklin Randolph (1808-1871), Meriwether Lewis Randolph (1810-1837), Septimia Anne Randolph-Meikleham (1814-1887), and George Wythe Randolph (1818-1867).

Thomas Jefferson Randolph (grandson of Thomas Jefferson) married Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph and they had twelve children including Martha Randolph Taylor (Patsy, 1817-1857). She married John Charles Randolph Taylor (grandson of Governor Edmond Randolph, and also a descendant of Colonel William Randolph of Turkey Island through yet another of the Colonel's sons, Sir John Randolph (1693-1737). John Charles Randolph Taylor and Patsy had eleven children including Stevens Mason Taylor (1847-1917). Stevens Mason Taylor married Mary Mann Page. They had a daughter named Page Taylor (who married a United States Paleontologist named Edwin Kirk (1884-1955). He was the son of Nathan Allen Kirk (1849-1916). Page and Edwin Kirk had two children, Mary Mann Page Kirk and Edwin Roger Kirk.

Francis Asbury Dickins, (1804-1879) was the son of Asbury Dickins (1780-1861), the first Secretary of the United States Senate from 1836 to 1861. He married Margaret Harvie Randolph (1815-1891) in 1839. She was the daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph (half-brother of Governor Thomas Mann Randolph). Francis and Margaret Dickins had five children to live to adulthood: Francis Asbury Dickins, Jr. (Frank) (1841-1890), Frances Margaret Dickins (Fanny) (1842-1914), Harriot Wilson Dickins Wight (Dick, Hallie) (1844-1917), Randolph Dickins (Ran) (1853-1914), Albert Dickins (Bertie) (1855-1913). Harriot Wilson Dickins married Dr. Henry Theodore Wight and they had [two children] including a daughter, Theodora Wight, who was an opera singer and music teacher. Theodora Wight married John May Keim (who had been divorced) and they had a daughter who they named Dora.

Francis Asbury Dickins was a claims agent against Mexico and a lawyer in Washington D.C. He ultimately left home to spend the final days of the Civil War behind confederate lines. The Dickins family were southern sympathizers. Dickins was imprisoned three times on suspicion of aiding the south. Frank Dickins, Jr. served in the Confederate army and both of his sisters, Harriot and Fanny moved to Richmond during the war. Fanny Dickins was employed by the Confederate Treasury Department. In 1863, she moved to Columbia, South Carolina to work with a branch of the Confederate Treasury.

After the Civil War, Francis Asbury Dickins re-opened his Washington D.C. law office. Following his death in 1879, his wife, Margaret Harvie Randolph Dickins lived with relatives in Baltimore, Washington and New York for the rest of her life (1891). The children grew up in Virginia (Fredericksburg-Ossian Hall and Richmond) during the height of the Civil War.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of one half of a Hollinger box and 148 items relating mostly to the Randolph, Kirk, and Dickins family from 1861 to 1870 in Virginia, Washington D. C., Massachusetts, and Europe. There is correspondence that describes events that were occurring during and after the Civil War. Most of the items in the collection were part of exhibits that were prepared by Page Taylor Kirk (great-great-great granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson) including news clippings, letters, and poems.

The news clippings are about speeches given by President Abraham Lincoln and President Jefferson Davis and the poems are about the Civil War. There are other materials relating to the Civil War such as a typescript copy of a General Order no. 9 from General Robert E. Lee for the Northern Army to yield; a draft of a list of Officers stationed at Ossian Hall written by Francis Asbury Dickins to Captain William Dulany; a list of expenses due to George Wythe Randolph for his efforts to obtain foreign intervention in support of the Confederate States of America; and information about churches that were damaged during the Civil War.

Some important items in the collection include a ship's pass signed by President Andrew Jackson and a deed to Peyton Randolph, dated 1760, and signed by Francis Fauquier. Both of these are oversize items.

There are letters from Henry Gardiner to his brother, Samuel, both brothers and soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War. There are also prayers, and sermons from their father who was a minister. Generals that are mentioned in these letters are General Braxton Bragg, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and General Nathaniel Prentiss Banks. Gardiner also writes about slaves and compares them to serfs in India.

There is also a pencil sketch of John Randolph of Roanoke by Francis Asbury Dickins.

There are also letters between the wife of General Robert E. Lee, Mary Custis Lee, her aunt, Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh and her friend, Margaret Harvie Randolph Dickins. There are also news clippings sent with the letters about the war and about a resolution to Congress requesting that the government return property to the Lee family.

There is also correspondence from George Wythe Randolph, Secretary of War, to his wife, Mary, about obtaining a pardon for him while he is living in Europe. He describes his desire to return home and recover his assets before they are depleted. Correspondence consists of a letter from him to Cary [his niece, Cary Anne Ruffin] describing his stay in Paris with his wife, Mary, and nephew, Jefferson Coolidge, United States Minister to France. There is also a letter from C. W. H. Lewis to T. G. Peyton, Esq. about Governor Pierpont arranging a pardon for George Randolph through the Attorney General. Lewis advises Randolph to return to the United States and apply to President Andrew Johnson for a pardon.

There are also letters from Margaret Harvie Randolph Dickins to her daughter, Harriot Wilson Dickins Wight that include instructions for varnishing furniture, making patterns, and curing butter. There is a transcript of a letter from Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge of Boston to a family member about her feelings towards the north and the south and there is a postcard from E. G. Squibb from Scotland to [Harriot Wilson Dickins Wight].

There are letters to Edwin Kirk, United States Paleontologist and husband of Page Taylor Kirk, from Chief Geologist, David White and letters from William Kirk to Nathan Allen Kirk, father-in-law of Page Kirk, describing his journey westward in search of gold.

Other people that are mentioned in the collection are Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge; Judge Rose, Confederate Minister of Madrid; Duncan F. Thenner, Confederate Congress Leader; General [John Smith] Preston (George Wythe Randolph cites them as examples of confederates who received a pardon); Judge Sholson who claims it is safe for Mr. Randolph to return; Mr. Hooper of Boston who offers Mr. Randolph support for a safe return; Mr. Seddon; Colonel Lee; and a family relative, Bennett Taylor.

Also included in the collection are photographs of Harriot Wilson Dickins Wight, their Federal Hill residence, Theodora Wight Keim as a young child and as a contralto singer in costume as a grown woman, and their farm in King George County. There are also miscellaneous notes on the finances of Theodora Wight Keim, broadsides about Theodora Keim's abilities as a singer and music teacher, and a list of books that were in the library at Ossian Hall.


The collection is organized alphabetically by topic and chronologically within each folder.

Contents List

Civil War. Information and photographs of churches that were damaged during the Civil War, 1861
Box-folder: 1:1
2 items.

There is one photograph of Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, and a newsclipping about an Episcopal church with notes about churches that were destroyed in Virginia.

Civil War. List of expenses due to George Wythe Randolph, 1864
Box-folder: 1:2
1 item.

List of expenses incurred during his time in Europe, acting as an agent of the Confederate States of America and trying to promote European intervention in the war.

Civil War. List of officers stationed at Ossian hall written by Francis Asbury Dickins for Captain William Dulany, 1861 August-September
Box-folder: 1:3
1 item.
Civil War. News clippings, and poems, [1861; 1863]
Box-folder: 1:4
8 items.

In addition to poems, there is a transcript of President Abraham Lincoln's letter "A Plain Statement of his Position" in The New York Tribune on September 3, 1863; a news clipping of the speech by President Jefferson Davis at the Lee Memorial Convention in Richmond, 1870. There is also information on Confederate money.

Civil War. Order from General Robert E. Lee, 1865, April 10
Box-folder: 1:5
1 typescript copy.

General Order No. 9: "After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources."

Civil War. Sketch in pencil of John Randolph of Roanoke by Francis A. Dickins, n.d.
Box-folder: 1:6
1 item.
Correspondence. Transcript of a letter from Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to a member of her family, [1861]
Box-folder: 1:7
1 item.

She writes, "I do not know which most to disapprove, the haste of the South or the dogged obstinacy of the North. Here [Boston] where there are so many wolfish abolitionist, and mulish Republicans, there is a party taken from all parties, friends of the Union and friends of the South, with whom it is a comfort to me to hold communion, but I see no hope or help except in the Providence of God."

Correspondence. Transcripts of letters from Henry Gardner to his brother, Samuel and prayers of their father, a minister, 1863
Box-folder: 1:8
4 items and transcripts with notes.

Henry Gardner mentions General Braxton Bragg, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and General Nathaniel Prentiss Banks. He also writes of their battle at Vicksburg, and his hopes for a victory of the Army of the Potomac. He describes slaves that have run away as making good soldiers for the Union Army and compares them with the serfs in India. He also discusses the intelligence and education of "free blacks."

Correspondence. Edwin Kirk, September 25, 1918; 1918 December 19
Box-folder: 1:9
1 letter and an enclosure.

Edwin Kirk receives a letter from David White and an enclosure from the Director of the United States Geological Survey stating that Edwin Kirk's work is necessary and should be classified as "war work."

Correspondence. William Kirk to his brother Nathan Allen Kirk, April 7, 1876
Box-folder: 1:10
1 item.

William Kirk writes to his brother, Nathan Allen Kirk (1849-1916), the father of Edwin Kirk, about his travels westward, the cost of food, Indians, water and mining, and his prospects of finding gold.

Correspondence. Letters between Mrs. Robert E. Lee (Mary Custis Lee), her aunt, Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, and friend Mrs. Margaret Harvie Randolph Dickins, 1861; 1870
Box-folder: 1:11
8 letters, 2 news clippings, transcripts, and notes.

Letters are written from the beginning of the war and continue until after General Robert E. Lee's death.

October 14, 1862 Mary Custis Lee writes to Mrs. Margaret Harvie Dickins about the government seizing properties. She is concerned that Mrs. Dickins' father-in-law, Francis Asbury Dickins will lose his office in [Arlington].

June 27, Mary Custis Lee to Mrs. Margaret Harvie Dickins about the arrest of her husband, Francis A. Dickins, and mentions that so far they are safe in their home.

News clipping sent by Mary Custis Lee to Mrs. Dickins about the Battle of Bethel Church, titled "Another Report from Col. Hill" [Colonel D. H. Hill].

Margaret Harvie Dickins writes a letter to Mary Custis Lee describing the Northern soldiers coming to her home to search for her husband, Francis Asbury Dickins.

March 3, 1869, there is a news clipping titled, "The Washington Family Relics Formerly at Arlington" which is about a resolution before Congress seeking that the Government return the relics to the Lee family.

July 19, 1870 Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh to Mrs. Margaret Harvie Dickins about visiting General Robert E. Lee at Mrs. Fitzhugh's house. Mrs. Fitzhugh writes, "General Lee arrived this morning before breakfast. He seems rather cheerful . . ." Mrs. Dickins writes on the back of this letter, "I spent Thursday at Ravensworth with General Robert E. Lee. He looks well and it was so delightful to be an inmate with him in a charming house. He was in fine spirits, elegant and courteous in his manners, and told many interesting incidents of the war." July 24, 1870.

On October 29, 1870 Mrs. Margaret Harvie Dickins writes a letter of condolence to Mary Custis Lee on the death of her husband, General Robert E. Lee. She also mentions the government's obligation to return the Lee family property.

[December 8, 1870] a letter from Mrs. Mary Custis Lee to Mrs. Dickins inviting her son, Frank Dickins, to spend Christmas with the Lee family in Lexington and she also mentions that her son, Custis has accepted the Presidency of Washington College which will enable her to remain in her home.

Correspondence. Duplicate copies of letters between Mrs. Robert E. Lee, Mrs. A. M. Fitzhugh, and friend Mrs. Margaret Harvie Randolph Dickins, 1861; 1870
Box-folder: 1:12
Correspondence. George Wythe Randolph Richmond, April 13, 1866; Paris June 28, 1866; Paris n. d. [1866]
Box-folder: 1:13
3 letters, transcripts, and notes.

April 13, 1866 C. W. H. Lewis, Secretary and Aid-de-Camp to T. G. Peyton, Esq. advising that "the Attorney General informed Governor Pierpoint that in no case would the President act on the case of a party who was voluntarily absent from the United States. But from the interview, Governor Pierpoint is satisfied that upon Mr. Randolph's returning & reporting at Washington to the President, he will be at once permitted to return to his home in Richmond."

June 28, 1866 George Wythe Randolph to his niece Cary Anne Ruffin about the small conditions of his apartment in Paris, the cost of meals, and the embarrassing conversation of fashion and gossip between his wife and his nephew, Jefferson Coolidge, United States Minister to France. He also mentions that Arthur and Ellen Coolidge are at Vichy.

[1866] George Wythe Randolph writes to his wife, Mary about his desire to come home and tries to allay her fears that he will be arrested. He is very concerned about his finances if he continues to stay abroad and writes that "I had rather be a prisoner than a beggar."

Correspondence of Harriot Wilson Dickins Wight including a letter from her mother, Margaret Harvie Randolph Dickins, May 15, 1868; n.d.
Box-folder: 1:14
3 items.

May 15, 1868 Mrs. Margaret Harvie Dickins to her daughter, Harriot Wilson Dickins Wight.

n. d. A postcard from E. B. Squibb, and instructions for varnishing furniture.

Miscellaneous. Deed to Peyton Randolph, signed by Francis Fauquier, 1760
1 item.


Miscellaneous. List of books from the library at Ossian Hall, n.d.
Box-folder: 1:15
1 item.
Miscellaneous. Theodora Wight Keim, n.d.
Box-folder: 1:16
5 items.

Notes on the finances of Theodora Wight Keim, and broadsides promoting her as a singer and music teacher.

Miscellaneous. Ship's pass signed by Andrew Jackson,
1 item.


Photographs. Harriot Wilson Dickins Wight, and Federal Hill, n.d.
Box-folder: 1:17
15 items.
Photographs. Theodora Wight Keim, n.d.
Box-folder: 1:18
14 items.
Photograph negatives including the Dickins family trip to China and Japan,
Box-folder: 1:18
76 items.