Mary Elizabeth [Littlepage] Hanes, Lewis and Caroline’s eldest daughter, was born two years after her brother Junius. Her middle name may have been taken from her Littlepage Grandmother, the former Elizabeth Turner. She is recorded as “Sister” in Rose’s 1853 diary.1
From her birth on 26 November, 1832 until she appears as “Sister,” we have nothing in hand of Mary Elizabeth other than she appears with her family members in the 1850 U.S. Census as “Mary E., 17.” 2 Four years later Richmond’s Daily Dispatch announced Mary’s marriage to Garland Hanes, Jr. (sometimes spelled Haines) of Henrico County.3 In 1860 the Census records her in Henrico with her husband, and her three girls, Rose B. L., 5, Lucy C., 4, and Mary E., 2. Mary had married well. Her husband’s father was a prosperous farmer, and successful Whig politician and Richmond public official.4 Garland, Jr. was quickly establishing himself as well. But storm clouds were gathering.
On her wedding day in 1854 Mary had no way of foreseeing that a decade later would find her and her family living in a war zone. She first set up housekeeping with her husband at Locust Hill south of Richmond overlooking the James near Deep Bottom. But in the early 1860s they moved to Oakland, near the estate of her father-in-law, Edgewood, situated just north of Richmond on a road between Brook Turnpike and Meadowbridge Road.5 The Hanes farms were between the Confederate intermediate perimeter defenses and Battery #8, just 2 ½ miles north of the center of the city. Should the Confederacy’s capital be attacked from the north, Oakland would be a battlefield.6
By the June 1864 opening of the journal Garland, Jr. had become Lt. Hanes, Enrolling Officer for Henrico. Mary’s brother-in-law Henry Hanes had already been among the first soldiers killed in the war. Memories were still fresh of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren cavalry raid on northern Richmond that passed within sight of her home and played out in King & Queen County, not far across the river from Woodbury. Exposed along the Mattiponi River to Yankee gunboats, with neither fortifications nor troops, Woodbury may have been more secure from harm than Oakland. Indeed Mary’s eldest daughter Rose, now 9, was spending the summer of ’64 at Woodbury. Caroline had more than her sons exposed to the trauma of war.
- Ethel Ahern repeatedly refers to Mary Elizabeth as “Aunt Molly.” But in Caroline’s short 1849 diary she is always Mary. She will have a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Hanes, who was definitely called Molly. So her mother might well have been nicknamed “Molly” as well. (back)
- Day of birth from an entry in her sister Rosa’s diary of 26 November, 1853. Just as Rose cited Mary Elizabeth as “Sister,” she never referred to Junius by his name, only as “Brother.” Each appear in her diary much more frequently than any of her other siblings; Brother appears 256 times during the year, Sister appears 261. Together, not counting the infant Helen May who is struggling life and dies in June, the total mentions of all her other siblings is lower than for either Brother or Sister. (back)
- Daily Dispatch, 1 March, 1854, page 2. At no point in Rose’s diary does she mention “Sisters” upcoming wedding. (back)
- What Lewis, the strong Democrat, thought about his eldest daughter marrying into Whig family is unknown. (back)
- Today’s Ladies Mile Road. (back)
- The Hanes residences no longer are standing. All that remains that would remind us are Edgewood, Garland, and Hanes Avenues. (back)