This will be my first Christmas in my husband’s house.
wind was still biting cold on the 5th day of March outside the church in Amelia County
where we made our vows to each other. If not the coldest, then surely it had been
the longest winter that anyone could remember.
The Elizabeth River froze at Norfolk
and all of Virginia was covered in a blanket of snow well into what should have been
spring. The Chesapeake Bay froze clear out to the mouth and the ice frozen hard on
the Potomac didn’t even crack til ten days after the wedding.
When the thaw finally
came, the massive sheet of ice that jammed the James River broke loose at Richmond.
Ice and water came crashing down the river’s course like a mighty Atlantic wave.
All the boats tied below the falls were lost. No living thing survived in the path
of that flood.
In May, as it always does, new life burst forth out of the long frozen
ground. This year though, the grasses seamed greener . . . the blossoms more fragrant
after all those long, dark months of winter. When the hot, wet Virginia summer finally
arrived, I realized that I also carried new life within me.
Nothing was as important
to me as the child I carried. He dominated my thoughts and absorbed all my energy.
I have never known such joy.
It is my belief that God designs each of his creations
with a specific purpose as part and parcel of His divine plan. I know now that my
purpose is to bear and nurture this child. What the Almighty has in mind for my son,
I cannot know.
Life! At last I leave the thoughts of sickness and dying far behind.
There has been so much death around me. My father died years before his time. I never
knew him. Samuel, my grandfather, protected his son’s young widow and her infant.
Grandmother Mary gave us her share of the Morgan estate before Mother followed my
father to the grave.
Stephen Wilkinson began to court me before he left for the war,
but my dear grandparents did not live to see me become his wife. Stephen was a surgeon
in the new colonial navy. When at last he left that service after eight long years,
it was my Uncle John he called on to ask for my hand.
In his last will and testament,
John Wilkinson divided his plantation equally between his two sons. It is on that
estate that I now reside with my husband and his family, now truly mine as well.
dear mother and the girls have been wonderful to me since the moment I arrived. What
a timid little mouse climbed out of that carriage to meet them not so long ago. I
often wonder wherever did that girl go, for I am surely no longer she.
Now I am the
budding young matriarch of a new clan. Fragile ancestral roots broken during my childhood
could not thwart the determined sprouting of this fresh dynasty.
I dearly love my
husband, but the bond between my soul and this little soul inside amazes me. Stephen
won my heart with his intellect and his courage … and with his smile. I adore this
little creature inside of me simply because he exists. We share the same spirit.
Should I leave this world at his birth, I would live on in him as he now lives in
Only now do I begin to understand the part played by the mother of our Lord in
my salvation. Woman becomes a bridge between Heaven and Earth at conception.
the nigro girl, Dinah helps me hang ribboned garlands on the stairs and her mother
scolds me about my delicate condition, I am overcome by gratitude for blessings greater
than I can count. My sadness like that long, dark winter of 1783 is gone…replaced
by laughter, purpose and love.
This Christmas there is candlelight and dancing and
kin that embrace me. This Christmas, plans for the nursery. This Christmas the special
child so eagerly awaited is not the Christ child, but my own.
Amelia Co.VA - Early Marriage Bonds
(Continued from XVI., page 283) March, 1784 -- Wilkinson, Stephen & Tabitha Morgan