Letters from the Past
Brigitte Marmion and Barry Boecher forwarded the following Letters which sheds some light on the Pass and a few of its old families.
Cumberland, August 1839
Dear Madam: (Catherine Marmion)
With what pleasure do I take up my pen to inform you that I have just received a letter from your dear husband.
He tells me that he and the beloved little boys are well. I suppose
that you know before this, that Mr. Marmion has been to the East. He spent the Spring in New York hoping from day to day to see his beloved Catherine. On his return, a few weeks ago, he kindly stopped a day with us. We could prevail with him to stay no longer, so anxious was he to get home to see the boys; and still more your dear self; for he hopes you had gone home by New Orleans; and that he would meet you in St. Louis. On his return to St. Louis, he received two letters. one directed to himself and the other to your son Lawrence. They were dated the 1st of February and you had received no letters up to that date. For this, Mr. M. knows not how to account as he had written several letters to you previous to that time. He hopes that you have received some of his long epistles ere this.
Mr. Mamion bade me say to you that if' you returned in October, by way of New Orleans, that by letting him know by letter, he will meet you there, and by Baltimore to come overland, and stay with us until you hear from him. You must keep your baggage also here. Let me beg of' you, my ever dear friend, to do this last; do come by Cumberland.
Oh! how delighted we will all be to see you, and converse, and the dear little girls. Oh! this is too much pleasure for me to hope for on this world. I am almost afraid such happiness can not be realized. How often do I think of you my beloved Catherine (permit me to call you so). How often do I ask myself am I yet remembered. Oh! yes, I know I am, and the very thought gives me pleasure.
I have much to say. But I believe I will wait till I have the pleasure of seeing you. I have truly grieved to hear of the death of your amiable sister. I do most sincerely sympathize with you my dear Madam on melancholy occasion.
I rejoiced to hear that your venerated aunt Digby was yet alive and well. Let me wish health and happiness to you and every member of your dear family. We are all well, thank heaven. Mother and sister send much love to you and your dear little girls, give many kisses to each for me. Accept much love from your Esther.
Write to me immediately and let me know when to expect you. Perhaps your letters may come more safely to me than Mr. Marmion. I can say no more. Pardon this hurried and very badly written letter. Farewell, may heaven send propitious gales to waft you to the bosom of your family,
and to your,
Esther M. Kirney
P.S. I shall be impatient until I hear from you. Should this reach you in Ireland, do me the favour to bring me a few Irish and Scotch songs set to music for the pianoforte. They will be better if set in Ireland. I should like to have the likenesses of O'Connell and T. Moore, but perhaps you cannot easily get them. Be sure to return this way and stay a few months with us. We will all be much disappointed if you do not come this way. Pray for us.
(and Nephew of' Agnes (Nelson), wife of J. C. Liversedge)
COPY OF A LETTER MADE by John P. Nelson, SR.(GREAT-GRANDSON) whilst in 123 First Street, (Now West Beach Boulevard, Pass Christian, Mississippi — 1963.
In February 1865, I was brought with several others to the Union Prison in New Orleans. I bad been captured after my horse had been shot under me and fallen on my right knee crushing it badly.
I was taken down to the prison thru streets well known to me for I was a native of New Orleans. A day or so after I was placed in the prison, my mother found out that I was in city and immediately went to headquarters of the prison to receive permission to see me.
She was met there by an officer who told her that she could not see me as he was not authorized to order Pass Ports. She asked him it any West Pointers were in the office. The officer said that the O.C. was a West Pointer and introduced her to him.
She then said I am Mrs W. . . . . . . ., sister of Major F. . . . . . . .
Old Tyke F . . . . . . . . ? exclaimed the captain.
“Why, he was my instructor in Ordinance while I was at West Point. I am glad to know you.”
She then told him that I was in the prison and asked if she could see me. He explained that the National Govt. was very strict about giving passports and that he had been authorized to issue them but said he would do whatever he could for her.
She left his office rather disappointed, but a faint hope glimmered in her breast that he would do all possible to aid a sister of a fellow West Pointer and a loved teacher.
The next morning, on the edge of my bunk talking over the war with a fellow prisoner, when the sentinel, a Negro soldier, called out, “Numbah Fohteen."
I replied “Here!”
"You are wanted”.
I went to him and he escorted me to the next sentinel, who turned me over to the another, who in turn, passed me on until I reached the Guard House. The passing process was necessary for had I walked unattended thru the yard, I would have been shot down.
When I reached the Guard House I saw a gentleman in civilian clothes with a blue military overcoat.
He said to me, “Come on!”
Of course I went along wondering what was in store for me. I noticed that officers and sentinels saluted him and realizing he was an officer, I wondered muchly over the affair. We got outside the bldg. and he directed me to enter an open carriage to which were hitched 2 magnificent horses. I got in and took a seat. He followed and as he turned towards me in taking his seat he noticed me shivering. My clothes were very thin and entirely unfit for the piercing weather.
He said "For goodness sake, man, haven't you any heavier clothes? ---- No, Sir!”
"Are these all you have?" ---- "Yes, Sir.”
"Here take this!"---- and so saying, he pulled off' his overcoat and made me put it on.
We drove along without any conversation, he being busy with his spirited team of horses and I with my thoughts. Finally as we drew up at my mother's house, he said, “I shall return for you at 5 0'clock, understand?"
"Yes, Sir", and I flew into the house and into the arms of my mother and sisters, and in spite of my injured knee you can imagine my surprise at the answer to my question
"What on earth is he going to with to me?” I made most of the day thinking it was my last day at home, but was wrong, for very day he got me at the prison at 9 o’clock and took me back at 5:30 p.m.
In the meantime my mother and sisters had made me suitable clothes for the season, and when after about 5 weeks, the gentleman, (who was none other than the West Pointer to whom my mother had been speaking), told me that a boat was going up the river for an exchange of prisoners and asked if I desired an exchange. I, of course, replied affirmatively. He tried to dissuade me on the grounds that the war was practically over and that my knee was still bad, but he finally said “All right, if you want to. Report back to the prison and remain until Thursday morning (3 days off). I said nothing and he asked “Well, what’s the matter?”
I said, “The rule that one must take nothing away from the prison other than what is taken in, will prevent me from taking my new clothes with me.”
I went home joyfully for this gave me an opportunity to get quinine and other articles that I wanted to take back to the Army with me. I had 50 grains of quinine sewed in the lining of my coat. This and other medicines were contraband. I got 2 pairs of double blankets, a pair of spurs for my Colonel, and a pair of holsters. These I wrapped up in the blankets
and took them aboard. We left about 11 a.m. and that afternoon, my conscience began to trouble me. I felt that I had taken advantage of a man who had befriended me. I went to bed early but couldn't sleep, and finally got up and went to where the Captain, who accompanied us, stood most of the day. I found him there with several officers. He saw me standing arround and
asked what I wanted.
I replied, “I would 1ike to speak to you, Sir.”
He came over and placed his hand on my shoulder and said, "What is it my boy?” He evidently saw I was deeply troubled. I made a clean breast of the whole affair. He said, “Come to your stateroom with me.”
I went with bim and opened my bundles He looked at the ceiling and said, "I see nothing in your bundle." He then looked at me intently and continued, "Nor do I see any quinine in your coat.” With that he stalked out of the room.
Here, a man befriended a mere boy simply (because) the boy had had an uncle who was a fellow graduate of his. He was unable to get a passport for my mother, but he discommoded himself to take me to her house daily for 5 weeks and finally overlooked my carrying contraband.
I certify that the above letter written on pages 17 to 27 is a true copy of' the six sheets in my possession at the present time. May 20th, 1962. (Signed) J. C. Liversedge.
Copy of Letter from Agnes Liversedge to to Alfred Raphall Marmion, San Antonio — 1935
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Marmion, my grandparents, came to America about 1833 from Newry, County Down, Ireland, not Belfast, with four small sons, Lawrence, Richard, James and Henry, and a baby daughter, Jane Elizabeth Marmion. Another daughter, Mary Ellen, was born four years later, in Maryland.
They first settled in Indiana hoping to make farmers of their sons, but eventually, on account of' Jane's health, moved further south to Maryland first and later to New Orleans, arriving in the Spring. They decided to make their home there, so grandfather went into business. As the warm weather came, the usual fever of Yellow Fever in all southern ports, grandmother and the children were sent to the Mississippi Coast by their doctor, who owned a house there, now known as Long Beach. They were so well pleased with the climate and beauty of' the Coast they bought land near Pass Christian and built a home, the boys helping to erect it before leaving for positions in New Orleans. Lawrence and Richard (married) made their home there. James and Henry went to Texas where they married and made their homes.
During the Civil War, grandmother, who was a born nurse, offered her services to the Confederacy and during the war was stationed at Culpepper, Virginia. Her sons also served in the Confederacy Army.
In 1851, Jane married Tom Nelson, of Denmark, (Sojero Island). Three sons and six daughters were born to them.
During the Civil War a blockade runner landed on the Coast trying to dispose of his supplies. He offered my mother a box of tea, the only one he had, for Sixteen Dollars, in Government money. He would not break the box, so my mother, after weighing of the question to buy, or not to buy, weakened when she thought of the pleasure she would give to her friends and neigbbours, purchased the tea with the few keepsakes and seven gold pieces the children had hoarded. She invited the neighbours and friends to show her wonderful treat one evening and when the tea was served it was discovered that the box had evidently come in contact with salt water and the tea was soaked through and through. Every time I would hear this story I would fearly cry my eyes out.
John Nelson gave his services and his boat to the Confederacy. During absence from home, his wife, who had three children to care for with the help of' an old Negro slave (who was too old to run away), for two year’s kept the wolf from the door by boiling the saltwater of the Gulf in a large iron kettle on the beach in front of her home and used the salt obtained from boi1ng off the water to buy corn, potatoes, meat, etc. The salt mines of Louisiana were confiscated by the Federal so the back country had to come to the Coast for salt. As a child, I listened with wonder to the stories told by my mother of the great deprivation she suffered in the way of food supplies during this awful war. Tea and coffee was made by parching pieces of sweet potatoes and grinding them, using the same formula as dripping coffee.
(Signed) A.G. Liversedge.
NOTE: Mrs. Nelson told me that she felt more the bartering of the gold coins for the tea damaged by saltwater than other experiences during the war. J. C. L.
111 West Beach Boulevard,
Pass Christian, Mississippi
November 25, 1962
Mrs. Driscoll Rooke,
704 Haskin Road
San Antonio 9, Texas.
Dear Mrs. Rooke:
Pardon me for not writing you earlier as my daughter, Anna Louise, and I have been on an automobile trip to Natchez, Mississippi; along the Natchez Trail up to Tupelo; across to Hamilton, Alabama; and stayed with friends in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; on the way back to Pass Christian.
As you already know, Mr. Adlai E. Lang, Sr., has passed your letter on to me to answer as I might be able to give you some of' the information that you need. I have received permission to correspond with you without taking the matter up further with him. Also, the permission of one of the grand-daughters of' Mrs. Jane Eliza (Marmion) Nelson, daughter of' Arthur Marmion. and Catherine (Murphy) Marmion, who are mentioned in your letter to Mr. Lang.
You mention in your letter that you saw the stained glass window dedicated to the Marmion family in St. Paul's Church. This morning, my daughter and I sat in a pew opposite the double stained glass windows that you referred to and I noticed that the left window was dedicated to the Nelson family and the right window was dedicated to the Marmion family. Jane Eliza Marmion married Captain John Nelsen, of Sejero Island, Denmark, hence the left window was along-side the window of the Marmion family. Jane Eliza (Marmion) Nelson is my
daughter's Grandmother and Mrs. Catherine (Murphy) Marmion is my daughter’s Great-grandmother. When I came to Pass Christian to reside in 1900, I bought the cottage which was previously the home of Catherine (Murphy) Mamion from Mrs. Nelson and later married one of her daughters, Agnes Nelson, and we had one daughter who is living with me at the present time. Mrs. Mary E. (Marmion) Dale, Eloise and Ellen, resided on the lot adjoining our lot, and I inherited both lots through Eloise, Ellen and Agnes (my wife) as I had placed our lot in Agnes’s name. Agnes was sister to Helen (Nelson) Lang, who was Adlai E. Lang, Sr's mother.
Agnes corresponded with a cousin in Texas who wanted to get information of the Marmion family as he wanted to get it for his daughter, and I also wanted to get it for my daughter. Her cousin referred to a cousin, Miss Mary Macdonell, also in Texas, so (I) think the extracts of letter from Miss Macdonell to Agnes may be of interest under the circumstances: (May 8, 1932)
“Dear Agnes: I would have answered your letter sooner but I have been so annoyed with business matters.
I suppose Mrs. Merriman (Brownsville) has already told
you how very unfortunate I have been in placing my money.
In regard to the Mamion family I knew very little about them. I never saw one of my uncles. I think they all died young, except your Grandfather. My Grandfather and his brother both
married sisters . . . . . . . . who claimed they were best entitled to the name. They had the money, so they get the title.
Miss Mary Macdonell's brother was an Ambassador to Russia during (the) Czar’s time.
I would be pleased to hear if you have a proposition to make seeing you have a record of the line from 964 to 1521. Would you consider furnishing me copy of your records in exchange for any information I can furnish you. I have endeavored to get information from the firm that makes Maginnas Dublin Stout as a friend picked up a bottle on Breton Island here . . . .
Mrs. Driscoll Rooke ! 704 Haskin Road ! San Antonio 9, Texas
Monday (Circa 1964)
I have exciting news for you. I know where your great (my great-great) grandmother, Catherine Marmion) is buried – and you’ld never guess – a place I've been to myself over a dozen times and never knew it until last month – Pass Christian, Mississippi. I think I told you last year when Mother and I went to Miss for the home-coming game that I found a window in the Church at Pass Christian dedicated to the memory of the Marmion family and had made an effort to locate descendants as best I could in the limited time available that day. I was given the name of a Mr. Liversedge – age 92 – whose late wife had been a Marmion.
Well I have been corresponding with this old gentleman all this past year and on this last trip went to see him. It developed that he is a very respected, retired person there who is presumably quite well off – his daughter a middle-aged maiden lady named Ann lives with him. I found them charming.
Now as to the re1ationship – Ann' s mother – Agnes Nelson Liversedge was the child of Jane Marmion and a Capt Nelson. This Jane Marmion was the child of Arthur and Catherine Marmion and a sister to James Roger Marmion. To top it all off – the most amazing thing Catherine evidently lived in Pass Christian from l855 to 1869 and perhaps earlier as her sons built a house there for her where she lived during that period. I have seen a copy of the original abstract. Also we went through the house which is still standing and some people named Rafferty who live in it showed us all over the house.
Then that sarne day we ,went out to the cemetery of St Paul’s Catholic Church and there is her tomb – There is a Selena Marmion on the marker also who died two years earlier and Mr Liversedge said that it was his understanding that she was Catherine’s sister-in-law, that is Arthur' s sister. But all this time you are wondering, and so am I – where is Arthur? No one there seems to know anything about him. I am sending a picture of the window and, one of the fact of her grave– there are neither very good but with a magnifying glass you will be able to make it out, I think. I am also sending a copy he gave me of a letter written to Catherine by a friend of hers in 1839. It gives us a lead on a Lawrence Marmion, however it is very confusing to read – study it and let me know what you think. He has the original and wouldn't I love to have it! Mr Liversedge also states very firmly that the Marmions were English and he cannot possibly imagine why James Roger was born in Dublin. It is also his recollection that he heard that Arthur or his family raised flax on a large scale; and that Arthur had been the last of many children; so he came to this country to represent the family interests and sell the linen over here. The Abstract to the house, or rather the land, in Pass Christian is dated Feb 20, 1855 and states very plainly that it was paid for by Mistress Catherine Marmion, wife of Arthur Marmion ‘WITH HER OWN FUNDS’ in consideration of $300.00 cash. Where the heck was Arthur all this time? He didn't die until. 1862 – ,but there is no record of him there. I searched the church records, however did not have time to go to the courthouse, will, do so when we go back in May for Richey’s graduation. He was l7 Friday by the way – here is a picture we took there last month– and here is Nita’s latest school picture – I’m sorry I don’t have a new one of Bob or I would send it. He is in El Paso and is the Garry Wax co representative there – we talked to him the other night and he seems to have things pretty well under control – out of paper. Let us hear from you. Love to All — Eloise
Below research was submitted by Barry Boecher