A Mysterious Window Etching

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Eleanor Rose

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On a recent trip to Virginia, I had the pleasure of staying at Belle Grove Plantation in King George. Belle Grove was the birthplace of President James Madison and witness to the American Civil War. Belle Grove belonged to the Carolinus Turner family during the war and I slept in the oldest daughter's bedroom during my visit.

Caroline Turner, Carrie for short, made a lovely and still mysterious etching in her bedroom window. It reads:

“Carrie Turner
Van Der Burgh
May 18th ‘69”

Carrie married Dr. William Newton Jett in 1872 , but no one knows who Mr. Van Der Burgh was. Most think he was a Union Soldier Carrie met and fell in love with during a Union occupation of the house. Did he die? Did they end the relationship before the marriage? I have read that during the 1800s, it was a lovers’ tradition to etch their names in a window with a newly adorned "engagement" ring. Carrie etched her inscription beautifully. This room is now called the Turner Suite and serves as the bridal suite. It seems quite appropriate.

Carrie's future husband, Dr. Jett, was a widower and several years older than her. They had one child, a daughter named Virginia. The innkeeper at Belle Grove found a portrait of Carrie and it hangs in the bedroom. She was lovely. Belle Grove is a lovingly restored bed and breakfast that sits on the Rappahannock River. It's a short distance from Stratford Hall, Robert E. Lee's birthplace, and Montpelier, home of James and Dolley Madison.

I'm curious if other have seen 19th century lovers' window etchings. If you have, please add your story here.
 

Eleanor Rose

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Carolinus and Susan Turner lived at Belle Grove and had five children, Caroline “Carrie” M. Turner, Anna August Turner, George Turner (their only son), Susan Rose Turner, and Alice Pratt Turner. Carolinus live from 1813 until he died at age 64 of tuberculosis in 1876.

His obituary appeared in the Alexandria Gazette on December 19, 1876 and was reprinted from the Fredericksburg Herald:

"…Mr. Turner was a large landholder, and previous to the war, owned a great many servants. He was a gentleman of excellent education, and commanded the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends.

This picture below is of Belle Grove Plantation in 1864, during Carrie's time there. Carrie's bedroom is located in the left rear on the top floor of the house. It faces the Rappahannock River.

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diane

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There is one story regarding Willie Forrest and his future wife Jane Cook. She was staying with the McGavocks at Carnton when Forrest came by to scout out the plantation for possible use during the upcoming battle - his son was with him as Willie was also his aide. As they were riding away, Willie happened to look back at the house and saw, quite clearly, Jane had scratched her name and the date on the glass of the window of the upstairs bedroom, with a patriotic symbol. Well...she got one rebel heart!
 
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Lubliner

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Numerous details have been recently researched into aspects of Belle Grove. (Link above).
I was curious @Eleanor Rose if the grounds and surrounding properties were still being dug up?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
 
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Anna Elizabeth Henry

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Thanks so much for sharing such a fascinating story! Love the idea of a forbidden romance perhaps. I'm tempted to check Ancestry to see if anyone of fighting age with that last name may have been in or around Belle Grove. It would be interesting to see what might turn up. I'm sure she didn't etch a random surname in the window for no good reason.
 

Eleanor Rose

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Numerous details have been recently researched into aspects of Belle Grove. (Link above).
I was curious @Eleanor Rose if the grounds and surrounding properties were still being dug up?
Thanks,
Lubliner.
@Lubliner ,there are two Belle Groves in Virginia. Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown, Virginia was named after Nelly Madison Hite's grandmother's home and has been the site of a massive archaeological dig. Belle Grove Plantation in King George, Virginia (where I stayed) was the birthplace of James Madison and is now operated as a bed and breakfast. They are about 100 miles apart and are often confused for one another. :smile:
 
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Eleanor Rose

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Thanks so much for sharing such a fascinating story! Love the idea of a forbidden romance perhaps. I'm tempted to check Ancestry to see if anyone of fighting age with that last name may have been in or around Belle Grove. It would be interesting to see what might turn up. I'm sure she didn't etch a random surname in the window for no good reason.
Please do if time allows. I'd love to hear more about this!!!
 
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It reminds me of a ghost story my Scottish penpal told me many years ago.

At Fyvie castle in Scotland, the Lord Fyvie married a woman named Lilias Drummond. After several years, she died under mysterious circumstances, and her husband remarried perhaps quicker than he out to have. On the wedding night, the Lord and his new Lady kept hearing moans and heavy breath. When they got up in the morning, the found Lilias's name carved into the outside windowsill of the bedroom - fifty feet off the ground! You can still see the name today.

 
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James N.

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… I'm curious if other have seen 19th century lovers' window etchings. If you have, please add your story here.
Nothing really romantic, though the subject could certainly be (and was) considered romantic: twentysomething Maj. John Pelham commanding Stuart's Horse Artillery inscribed his signature on the glass windowpane below in one of the front windows of Welbourne House in Virginia. At the time of his death at the march, 1863 Battle of Kelly's Ford hew was supposedly engaged, possibly to more than one lady and it was said that several went into mourning at the news. For more about Welbourne House: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/welbourne-house-loudon-county-virginia.139476/

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There is one story regarding Willie Forrest and his future wife Jane Cook. She was staying with the McGavocks at Carnton when Forrest came by to scout out the plantation for possible use during the upcoming battle - his son was with him as Willie was also his aide. As they were riding away, Willie happened to look back at the house and saw, quite clearly, Jane had scratched her name and the date on the glass of the window of the upstairs bedroom, with a patriotic symbol. Well...she got one rebel heart!
Miss Cook's window pane is preserved at Ole Miss in the Confederate Relics Collection and is etched "Jane T Cook." It was not her childhood home but located on what is now Highway 78. The home burned years ago but the pane was salvaged.

It is believed to be the inspiration for two different William Faulkner stories. The Unvanquished and Intruder in the Dust. A third Faulkner story (Requiem for a Nun) also had a young girl etching a glass pane but it was inspired by the real life Ludie Baugh from Holly Springs, MS who also followed the fad during the war.
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
State of Jefferson
Miss Cook's window pane is preserved at Ole Miss in the Confederate Relics Collection and is etched "Jane T Cook." It was not her childhood home but located on what is now Highway 78. The home burned years ago but the pane was salvaged.

It is believed to be the inspiration for two different William Faulkner stories. The Unvanquished and Intruder in the Dust. A third Faulkner story (Requiem for a Nun) also had a young girl etching a glass pane but it was inspired by the real life Ludie Baugh from Holly Springs, MS who also followed the fad during the war.
That is great! Thanks for the extra details. I'm wondering - was Jane the girl Willie was going to marry who his father disapproved of in his letter to his son?
 
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diane

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Yes, I believe that she was.
Thanks! I had thought so, that Forrest had suspicions she might not be all that faithful and his son was impulsive - both too young to know what they were getting into. I also figured that's why Willie stayed in Tupelo, where her family was, until she passed away. Forrest had said he would give Willie's marriage his blessing a little later on, and he did, but apparently he spoke for himself. Mrs Forrest Jr didn't get along that well with Mrs Forrest Sr!
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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Nothing really romantic, though the subject could certainly be (and was) considered romantic: twentysomething Maj. John Pelham commanding Stuart's Horse Artillery inscribed his signature on the glass windowpane below in one of the front windows of Welbourne House in Virginia. At the time of his death at the march, 1863 Battle of Kelly's Ford hew was supposedly engaged, possibly to more than one lady and it was said that several went into mourning at the news. For more about Welbourne House: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/welbourne-house-loudon-county-virginia.139476
Wow they had players back then, too! Sounds like he'd do well on the Bachelor! :cool: Seriously though thanks for this interesting tidbit!

For the ladies on the forum wondering what he looked like here's a photograph from 1858 when he was at West Point - I could see how he might be a charmer, he's got that swagger about him that women like. 😏

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James N.

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Miss Cook's window pane is preserved at Ole Miss in the Confederate Relics Collection and is etched "Jane T Cook." It was not her childhood home but located on what is now Highway 78. The home burned years ago but the pane was salvaged...
I'm reminded that this wasn't strictly a Nineteenth Century phenomenon or fad - Longfellow's Wayside Inn about which I've posted before https://civilwartalk.com/threads/henry-wadsworth-longfellow-and-the-wayside-inn.110640/ also has a pane of glass that has been removed from its window, probably following a near-disastrous 1955 fire, etched with a signature from a Colonial period gentleman and which is displayed in the room below:

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