Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Rebecca Washington Collection

Accession Number: 103
Rebecca Washington Collection
Papers, 1853-1864
Books, 1875-1898
.2 linear ft.

Series Description and Box List
Series I - Rebecca Washington Correspondence, 1853-1864
Series II - Lucy Rees’s Books, Notes and Clippings

Access and Use

Provenance: Collection donated by Dr. Gay Duke of Ripley, W Virginia, in April 1987. Previous ownership unknown. [An obituary in the Charleston Gazette noted the death of Dr. Gay Duke, pioneering veterinarian of Jackson county and former mayor of Ripley, W. Virginia, 98 years old: 7-10-1996]

Preferred Citation: Rebecca Washington Collection, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.


Twenty-five letters sent to Rebecca Washington (1839-1904) between 1853 and 1864, with original envelopes, comprise the heart of this collection. It also includes a printed photo of the student body at Berea College, c.1906; a booklet given to Rebecca’s daughters, Lucy and Sally Rees, in 1898; and Lucy’s 1868 Bible, with some mementos saved in its pages.

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Rebecca Washington was the daughter of Sallie Wright Washington (b.1811)and George W. Washington (1809-1876), who was descended from a brother of President George Washington. Sallie Wright, along with her brother and sister, had co-inherited Ridgedale farm from her grandfather, Major Robert Lockhart. When Sallie married, the land passed to her and her husband, and they built a log cabin on it circa 1832. The large home they built in 1835, where Rebecca grew up, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. [More information about Ridgedale is available online at] The family owned 16 slaves in 1850, when Rebecca would have turned 11, but only one is listed on the 1860 census. Rebecca’s father was one of the trustees who purchased land in 1851 in the town of Springfield in order to construct a church building for the Methodist Episcopal Church South, after Methodists split into northern and southern factions in 1846.

The Washingtons’ children were Edward, Rebecca, Esther [Ettie], John, Betty, George, Robert and Sallie. Edward and John both joined the Hampshire Guards before the Civil War began, and left for Harper’s Ferry in May 1861. John was killed in the battle of Cold Harbor the following year. (Maxwell & Swisher, History of Hampshire County, West Virginia, 1887.) Edward led a McNeil’s Rangers party that kidnapped Union Generals Crook and Kelley from a house in Romney towards the end of the war, and Rebecca is said to have ridden to Virginia with a sister to carry news of the Union forces in Romney to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson (Selden W. Brannon, Historic Hampshire, McClain: Parsons, WV, 323). When Confederate Capt. Richard Ashby and a scouting party were ambushed in 1861 in the New Creek area, he was brought to Ridgedale and died there. One of Rebecca’s future brothers-in-law, John J. Inskeep, spent part of the war in a Union prison camp.

Just after the war ended Rebecca married James Benjamin Reese [also Rees] (1836-1904), and the couple settled in Mineral County, W. Virginia, created out of Hampshire County. Rees and his brother Samuel managed the Rees Tannery of New Creek (later Keyser), an extensive enterprise, including company housing. He and Rebecca raised five children: Lucy Maria, Sallie Washington, Ellen Josephine, George Silas, and Samuel Strader.

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Series Description and Box List
1 Manuscript Box

Series I Rebecca Washington Correspondence, 1853-1864 Box 1

Letters written to Rebecca prior to the Civil War mention extended visits to cousins in Maryland and Virginia, school friends, and church attendance. Later letters allude in various ways to the impact of the war on the family and the neighborhood, but also discuss domestic concerns: a new baby, a piece of music, bread-making, etc. Most are from family members, but only one is clearly from a man: a tender letter from Rebecca’s father.

Some of the envelopes are stamped, but others have been hand carried. One contains a letter that has been cut to pieces! Another has been used to draft or copy two poems: one a Valentine’s Day verse, one an April Fool’s verse.

  1. Correspondence received by Rebecca Washington, 1853-1864
    • “Dear Beck . . .your devoted Aunt”
    • “August 1853, Beck . . .Your friend, Mollie E Hax[?]”
    • “My dear Bec, . . .Ever your friend, Laura Clayton”
    • “Moorefields, July 30, 1854, Cousin Rebecca, . . Rebecca Sangste[?]”
    • “Linden, Loudon, Sept 9, 1857, My dear Beck, . . .RAB
    • “Alexandria, July 1, 1859, Dear Beck, . . . Katie Jamison”
    • “Ridge Dale March 21, My Dear Beck (addressed to Moundsville, Loudon Cty) . . . your affectionate father, G W
    • “Dear Beck . . . Sallie B Murphy”
    • “Alexandria, May 1, My Dear Beck, . . . I remain yours, Anna
    • “My dear Bec . . . Mollie”
    • “My darling Beck . . . in hast your loving friend, Lydia”
    • “Dear sister, . . . Sue”
    • “Shannondale [Ind], April 21, “My dear cousin Beck, . . .Bettie and Wright send their love to all. Your cousin, Ginnie”
    • “Dear girls, Goodbye from sister Sue”
    • “Delta[?] April 24 , 1856, Dear Cousin, . . . Ella”
    • “Linden, Loudon Co., June 7th, 1856 Dear Rebecca, . . . Your affectionate cousin, R.A. Baker
    • “Thanksgiving night, Ever Dear Cousin Bec, . . . Adieu mon cher ami adieu,
        Ever thine own, Lovingly Sallie”
    • “Rud Marsh, Oct. 13, 1856, My own sweet Beck, . . . Your fondly attached Anna[?]”
    • “Baltimore, August 20th, 1860, My dearest Beck, . . . Your devoted cousin Lucie[?]”
    • “Smithfield, March 12, 1860, Miss Rebecca Washington, . . . My dear sister,
        Remember to all, Mollie”
    • “Rural Felicity, Maryland, August 26th/60, Dear Beck, . . .Mollie King”
    • “Williamsport, March 9, 1862, My dear Ma, . . . God bless and keep you all is the prayer of your child, Bertie [Bettie?]”
    • “At home, November 30th ’62, My deares dear . . . Your very true friend . . .”
    • “Sunday night, My dear Beck, . . . Goodnight dear, Lovingly yours, [mentions Lucy asking sisters to return to the union,
        Johnny Inskeep in prison, party from Moorefield that shot Capt Stump]
    • Riverside, Virginia, December 9th, 1864, Darling sister . . .From your loving Ellen”
  2. Envelopes, some stamped, some embossed. Hampshire County addresses give Virginia as the location, not West Virginia. The envelopes come from Wheatlands, VA, the home of Rebecca’s maternal grandparents; Baltimore, MD; Shannondale, Indiana; Cumberland, MD; and Ridgedale itself, among other locations.

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Series II Lucy Rees's Books, Notes and Clippings Box 1, continued

The two books are a Bible inscribed to Lucy Rees (b. 1866) and a booklet on the topic of bereavement, inscribed to Lucy and Sallie Rees from Mrs. Armstrong.

  1. The Bow in the Clouds; to Lucy and Sallie Rees, 1898, from a Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Armstrong.
  2. A Bible published in 1868 and inscribed to Lucy Rees, apparently in 1876. Several pressed flowers are preserved in it, and some clippings, mostly poems or sayings, the latest of which is from 1955. The earliest is an undated notice of the death of George Washington Blue, age 5, near a bridge [1889]. George was Lucy’s cousin; he was the child of Rebecca’s youngest sister, Sallie, who married James Blue in 1881.
  3. Notes in green ink from a sermon or Bible study
  4. Tattered Berea school photo torn from a printed book, c 1910; the sheet is 7.5”x 20”. President Frost is in the photo, as are the Carnegie library and Phelps Stokes Chapel, along with students from all levels of the school.

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