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September 30, 2019 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1856, Part I

In the mid-1800s Caroline Baker [Ellett] Littlepage of Woodbury in King William County, Virginia, kept a journal, which filled eight or more volumes. Three survive and are available to the public.

Since June 11, 2014, Bibb Edwards has been posting Caroline’s almost daily entries at his website Caroline’s Journal. The first entry was written on June 11, 1864, 150 years earlier to the day.

Click here to learn more: Caroline’s Journal

In addition to Caroline’s journal entries, there is supporting information about the Littlepage family and their home at Woodbury. Bibb also created a companion site for the journal of Caroline’s daughter, Rose. Click here to learn more: The Journal of Rose Littlepage.


In 1856, Caroline and her husband, Major Lewis Littlepage, enrolled their daughter, Caroline Baker, called Baker or “Bake,” in Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute. In July of 1856, Caroline took a packet boat from Richmond to Buckingham County for commencement exercises, recording her experiences.

Monday, 7th July, 1856

We arose quite early this morning took breakfast & started to Richmond in Mr. Hanes’ buggy. At ½ past five, stopped at the Monticello house, left Nannie quite lively this morning. Mr. Hanes is better. – – Never spent such a lovely day in my life, the Maj. & I went out twice before dinner shopping. He then went out, ie after we had taken dinner, & met with some acquaintances & didn’t return ’till near five o’clk. I then got ready & took the packet boat for Buckingham. Mrs. Cox & Akin had given me a horrid [description] of a packet boat, but I was very agreeably disappointed. We have such a nice company on board & the travelling so pleasant, I enjoy it very much. The scenery too is so beautiful. We have passed two locks & now passing the third. They are now preparing supper. Six o’clk, we enjoyed the meal very much. It was nicely prepared. Now comes the disagreeable part, the preparation for sleeping. Well I couldn’t persuade myself to take a berth, as the rest did, so I fixed myself in the rocking chair as I thought for the night. But Miss McCoole, who got off at Cedar Point about one o’clk said she had lain very pleasantly & insisted on my lying down on her berth.3 & for fear of the consequences of setting up all night, I accepted her offer & tried to sleep. But was too much disturbed, to take any refreshing sleep. – – Gave Mary eight nice hanks of bacon & a trundle bedstead for Rose.

Coming next: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1856, Part II


Leave a Comment
  1. Harry Stuart Holman / Oct 1 2019 3:22 pm

    Dear Reader:

    This was an absolutely delightful account of the “canal days” in old Virginia. This was a time when life was slower and simple joys were still cherished. In Dr. George Bagby’s book, The Old VIrginia Gentleman, there is a whole chapter on life as described in this journal. I also recall of an account told to me about fifty years ago by my Grandmother’s dear friend Meland Fleming of Cartersville. She relates the story of her mother’s forthcoming wedding to Mr. Irving. The bride was the fashionable Miss Laura Palmore, daughter of John F. Palmore–a well-known Cartersville merchant. The wedding dress was carefully selected in Richmond and was designated to be shipped well in advance of the wedding to be held in Cartersville. However, a cold snap ensued shortly before the wedding, and the canal froze over. This meant that the lovely dress would not arrive in time for the Palmer-Irving nuptials. Such was life in the days before trains.

    Harry Stuart Holman

    • Joanne Yeck / Oct 2 2019 8:37 am


      Many thanks for this charming story about Meland Fleming. It certainly captures the pace of the times. Now I wonder what she wore for her wedding!

      More coming about Caroline’s visit to Buckingham County. Stay tuned.


  2. Nancy D. Mickles / Sep 30 2019 11:52 pm

    Since I lived the first 18 years of my life between New Canton and where the school was located at Gravel Hill, this part of Caroline’s Journal was very interesting to me. This distance can be driven today in about 20 minutes, but it took Caroline hours to travel that distance. How easy our life is now. My father used to say about the term “good old days” that the good old days are now. I read Caroline’s Journal every day. I have enjoyed it so much. After reading it for several years, I feel like I know the family.

    • Joanne Yeck / Oct 1 2019 8:25 am


      Thanks for your comment. Caroline’s Journal is a wonderful time machine.


  3. missshellbelle / Sep 30 2019 4:37 pm

    Bibb’s blog(s) are wonderful! I have been following them for several years now. A 21st century reader can really get a sense of what everyday life was like for them.

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 30 2019 4:40 pm

      I agree! Caroline’s Journal is a window on another world. More coming about her trip to Buckingham.


  1. Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part I | slate river ramblings . . . .
  2. Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1856, Part III | slate river ramblings . . . .
  3. Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1856, Part II | slate river ramblings . . . .

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