Flora Stuart

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After the War
Flora Cooke Stuart or "Mrs General J.E.B. Stuart" [her preferred title.]

After the war, Flora moved to Saltville and lived in the King Stuart Cabin for approximately twelve years where she and Jeb's sister Mary Stuart Headen established a school in the cabin for their children.

As Flora Stuart at age 29 was described in one source as "a penniless widow, with two young children, victims of the universal post-war poverty of the South", I assumed that although Jeb's brother William Alexander had insured Jeb's life for $10,000 in 1862, making Flora the beneficiary, that it was possible that he paid for the policy in Confederate notes which would have been worthless once the war was over. However, in an article about the Hurts, who were close friends of Flora and her children, the final paragraph says: "Flora had about run out of Jeb's insurance money in 1876. She applied for teaching jobs in a number of places: went to Richmond for one year, perhaps the Staunton Female Seminary, applied for a job in Abingdon's Stonewall Jackson Institute; finally, landed the job as principal at Virginia Female Institute in Staunton". Whatever the truth was, it must have been a struggle for Flora and her children, though chances are good that she got some assistance from her parents.

1876 Nov 15 Flora Stuart was not well and visited her parents, "Ma & Pa" in Detroit where she was "so petted and nursed, it quite overcame me". In a letter written during this visit, she mentioned that her sister,
Mrs. Sharpe was also there, then: "Julia started to New York today and we shall all miss her."..."A number of ladies have called but I have only seen a few - and do so dread the formal returning of calls".... "I have never felt the same anxiety in regard to politics - I am here surrounded by Republicans - and say very little - try not to hear what is said - but I keep up a 'tremendous thinking!'"

1878/1879 Flora moved to Staunton, Virginia where she taught in order to support herself and her family.

1879 March 21 Virginia Pelham Stuart wrote to Mrs. Hurt ... "Mamma and I are taking the many different movements of Calisthenics, now, some of them are beautiful; there are these different movements called 'free gymnastics' and dumbbells, wands, rings and Indian clubs. I think the club exercise is the most fatiguing. We took the first series this morning and I was so very tired, I had to sit down." I remember my grandmother talking about these exercises.

1879 Oct 2 Flora wrote from Staunton Virginia that "It required quite a struggle to decide in June where I should spend my vacation - but as Pa and Ma were anxious to have us with them, I decided to go there - it was fortunate that I did, for a bad cold Ma had had for two months culminated in a severe attack and the second morning after I reached Detroit, I had to send for the doctor who blistered her and came every day for two weeks. So I looked upon my going as providential." ["Blistering" or "Cupping" involved igniting alcohol in a cup. The cup was then inverted on the patient's body and a blister raised. The blister was then lanced and the flaming cup applied again. This drew off about an ounce of blood. It appears that the painful process often caused the patient to forget the original discomfort. Philip St. George Cooke's mother had also been "blistered" for several ailments during his childhood years]. ..."I had to care for Jeb [Jr.-he had problems with an ear] all through this summer after Ma got well, that was constant, and my anxiety and care was great - so I came back THIN and I think when I look in the glass, I appear five years older. Ma says I worry too much and I expect I do, but I can't help it. She does not know what the whole care of children is." [So it looks like the full burden of caring for her children was on Flora's shoulders, and as well it seems Rachel had had help throughout her child bearing years.]

1880 May 9 Jeb Jr. wrote a letter from V.M.I. discussing his future education with Mr. Hurt. About his mother he wrote "I have not seen Mama, so I could not deliver your messages. I am sure, however, from what I have heard her say, that she would be delighted to spend some time with you in the summer, if it could be arranged. She has not made any plans yet, for she obtains possession of the Institute buildings on the 1st of August and does not know what will be necessary. With many thanks, I am yours very truly, J.E.B. Stuart."

1880 Aug 1 - 1899 Flora Stuart at age 44 became the headmistress of Virginia Female Institute, a position she held for 19 years. The 1880 census, dated June 1 lists Flora as J.E.B. Stuart, female widow. Teacher of English Literature. Female Seminary, Staunton, Augusta Co. VA. Her daughter Virginia, 16 years is also listed as a pupil.

The Virginia Female Institute claims its origins in the year 1827. It was chartered on Jan 13 1844 and is the oldest Episcopal girls' boarding school in Virginia. It stresses athletic as well as academic training and opportunities for leadership to prepare the girls for the challenges in life. My grandmother, Flora's niece, who attended V.F.I. around 1894, and later became the 6th woman lawyer in the state of New Jersey. As there was no talking in line while the girls waited for dinner, she memorized hymns from her hymnal. Her sister Rachel of the "Victorian Lady's Trip to Europe 1914" did not attend as she was considered to be "too spirited". The school, with its 8 acre campus, is still going and is located at 235 W. Frederic Street in Staunton, Virginia.

1886, June 21 Marriage of Jeb Stuart II (Jr.) and Josephine Phillips.

Their children:

Aug 1887 Jeb III Larned, Kansas d. July 1888 11 mos in Staunton
1889 May 28 Mary Marrow Stuart Staunton, Virginia d. Oct 1974 m. Drewry Smith
1890 June 16 Flora Stuart Lexington, Virginia d. April 22 1975 m.George MacKenzie Garmany
1892 Aug 9 Jo Phillips Stuart Buena Vista, Virginia d. Sept 5 1966 m. Luther Prescott Grover
1897 July 8 Jeb III Stuart Richmond, Virginia d. April 11 1990 m. Mary Brittain Hurt
1901 Sept 5 Elizabeth Letcher Stuart Newport News Virginia d. July 1982 m. Rorer Anderson

Notice that the two brothers with the same name died 102 years apart!
Both brothers are buried in the Stuart plot in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

Jeb Stuart Jr's life appears to have been a restless one, possibly owing to the fact of having such a famous father. In photos, he appears to me to have the look of a man who is a bit sad and bewildered. His formal education came to a halt when he was dismissed from Virginia Military Institute for too many demerits. Apparently he had inherited his father's boisterous disposition if not his military acumen.
He became a surveyor for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. He met Josephine Phillips known as "The Belle of Warwick County" in Newport News, and they were married on July 21, 1886 at St. John's Episcopal Church in Hampton, Virginia when he was 26 and she was 24. On the marriage certificate Larned, Kansas is listed as his place of residence and Josephine, whose residence was listed as Hampton, VA, is listed as "Joe"- possibly after her father, Col. Joseph Phillips, who was killed in battle when she was two years old. They moved to Kansas to farm wheat, but after experiencing the cold winters and hot summers, they sold the farm and moved to Staunton Virginia where Flora was living. Jeb got a job with the national bank in Staunton.

1890 The family moved to Lexington Virginia where he worked for the Rockbridge National Bank.
1891-1892 The family lived in Buena Vista.
1893 - 1899 Jeb worked at the Merchant's Bank of Richmond. They lived on Clay Street and then 9 North Harvie Street. Jeb taught Bible classes. The family visited Hollywood Cemetery where Gen Stuart is buried and visited Grandmother Flora. They also visited their great aunt Nannie Cooke at 7 South Third Street in a house purchased for her by Philip St. George Cooke. While living here Jeb became General commander of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans.

1898 Jeb applied for an appointment in the regular army. He worked as a volunteer at the outbreak of the Spanish American War serving as a captain in the commissary department. When he returned he was ill and had to be cared for for a long time. When he recovered he was involved in banking, real estate and insurance activities in Newport News.

1904 President Theodore Roosevelt, wanting to show he was not hostile to Southern men who had participated in the War Between The States or their descendants, nominated Jeb to be the United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia.

1908 Jeb became Collector of Customs of the port of Newport News.
After that he went to New York City where he worked for the American Express Company and the Texas Company. While employed by the latter, he traveled extensively in Africa and 1916 records indicate he was in South Africa at that time.

1918 At the age of 57 he served in France as a civilian in the supply department. His army Certificate of Identity listed him as an expert accountant with blue eyes, grey-brown hair, 5' 6" tall and weighing 170 lbs.

1927 Jeb retired and lived in New York and Florida.

The above information on Jeb Jr. and family comes from Margaret Grover and an article written by Jeb Stuart IV published in Volume three of Confederate Veteran.

1887 Jan 5 Marriage - Virginia Pelham Stuart married Robert Page Waller, a wholesale grocer and businessman in Norfolk, Virginia.

Their children:
1892, Jan 28 Flora Stuart Waller d. May 1984, Norfolk, Virginia m. Jonathan Whitehead Old Jr.
1894 Matthew Page Waller d. Feb 1967, Fox Lake Co. Illinois m. Helen Baker
1896 Virginia Stuart Waller d. May 22 1995 Alexandria Virginia m. Andrew J. Davis

1898 Sept 9 Death of Virginia Pelham Waller in Norfolk, Virginia age 34 most likely from childbirth as in 1899
Flora, age 63 retired as headmistress of V.F.I. to raise her daughter's three children, the oldest of whom was six and the youngest three weeks, when their mother died.

1905 Flora was elected an Honorary President of the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

1907 The Virginia Female Institute in Staunton, was renamed "Stuart Hall" in Flora's honor. She was 71 at the time.

1923 May 10 Death of Flora Cooke Stuart at the age of 87 in Norfolk Virginia from injuries sustained to her head after a fall in front of her son-in-law's home. Her death occurred 59 years after Jeb's death almost to the day. She was buried with great ceremony next to Jeb in Hollywood Cemetery. When I was young my grandmother told me about how strict Aunt Flora was and how she always wore black. I always imagined that she didn't have any children until my recent work in genealogy proved otherwise.

1923 Aug 1 Death of Robert Page Waller age 70 suddenly from heart failure on board the Old Bay Line steamer soon after it docked in Virginia. He was en route from his brother's bedside in Philadelphia.

1930 Nov Death of J.E.B. Stuart Jr. age 70. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1932 Oct 4 Death of Joe Phillips at Port Washington, Long Island NY. She is buried in Arlington Cemetery next to her husband.

2006 Dec Jeb's personal battle flag hand sewn by Flora sells for USD $956.000.00

Sometimes I wonder what JEB Stuart's life would have been like if he had survived the Civil War. Would he have been bitter forever at the loss of the war, or would he have been willing to resume his friendship with his father-in-law and discuss old times with him for Flora's sake? Unfortunately we will never know.

 


Penelope Barrott
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New Zealand 2009

Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 July 2010 07:40 )