Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Mary Alice Catlett Vance's Civil War


Quilt associated with Mary Alice Catlett Vance (1863-1948)
"MAC Age 16... August 20 79," the year she married.
Anderson, South Carolina.
Photo from the North Carolina project & the Quilt Index.

Mary Alice Catlett was born during the Civil War, the third of the family. Father John Pinkney Catlett was a horse and mule trader in Anderson, South Carolina, who never enlisted in the Confederate army (Tennessee-born and rumored to be a Union sympathizer.) 

Mary Alice married into an important Carolina political family. In 1879 she wed David Mitchell Vance (1852-1926?) of Asheville, North Carolina, son of Confederate General Robert Brank Vance and nephew of North Carolina's Civil War Governor Zebulon Vance.

Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894)
Uncle-in-law Zeb Vance was North Carolina's governor during the War, 
elected in 1862, the year this portrait was taken.

While the marriage into a North Carolina political family may have seemed a marital coup in the high-stakes scheme of female ambition, David Mitchell Vance was an unfortunate choice. 

The quilt is pictured in the book North Carolina Quilts where Kathy Sullivan tells us that Alice and her husband separated some time after daughter Lucy's birth in 1888. In early-20th-century directories she is listed as a widow. David apparently died in a mental institution. (He had a first cousin also named David Mitchell Vance (1857-1894), one more complication in the story.)

Mary Alice's tale is all too common (and all too commonly left untold) but she left many records. See two posts on her life here:

Her connection to Zebulon Vance is rather relevant today as the ex-governor of the Confederate state of North Carolina was prohibited from running for a second term as Governor after the war in 1868 by the 14th Amendment which states: 
"No person shall ... hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same."

One could see the need for such an Amendment summarized in two opinions published in Evansville, Indiana newspapers in 1867 and 1868:

Eventually Zeb Vance returned to political office. 

From Julie Silber's inventory

The pattern in the quilt, while unusual, is something of a regional phenomenon. Those four lobes are pieced or appliqued around a typical post-Civil-War favorite design of wheels with spiky points and skillful patchwork in solid fabrics.

Online auction....5 blocks
Michelle Yeo drew a pattern for "Abbeville County."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your point about Gov. Vance's disqualification for violating his oath needs to be amplified and applied to the 2024 campaigns.