PHILOCLEA Alston (Fisher) HOLLISTER, granddaughter of Tallahassee, Florida’s First Lady, PHILOCLEA (Alston) WALKER, each a 19 century resident of Florida, descended from an amazing American family. Their PHILOCLEA heritage begins my Fall Blog Series: Florida’s Forgotten Frontierswomen.
A Legacy having roots at Sparta, Georgia:
“In 1853,” wrote Mount Vernon Ladies Association of its origin, “Louise Bird Cunningham was traveling the Potomac River and passed by Mount Vernon in the moonlight. Struck by its appearance, and fearing it would soon be lost to the nation for lack of upkeep,” Ann PamelaCunningham, daughter of Louise, founded Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Ann then challenged women of the South to preserve Washington’s homestead, and her southern movement quickly spread to a national undertaking. Her organization continues to this day.
The Mount Vernon Record, February 1860, explains how the ladies organization got its 1854 start after two woman made a sizeable donation: “Mrs. Bird of SPARTA, GA and Mrs. W. J. Eve of Augusta, GA” were those two initial contributors. Mrs. Bird of Sparta was Frances Pamela (Casey) Bird, wife of James Wilson BIRD. Mrs. W. J. Eve was PHILOCLEA (Casey)Eve.
A family helped launched efforts to rescue Mount Vernon: Frances Bird and Philoclea Eve were sisters. Ann Cunningham’s mother, Louisa BIRD Cunningham, was a younger sister of JamesWilson BIRD. The preservation of George Washington’s homestead took root at Sparta, Georgia. PHILOCLEA Eve served as the Georgia Vice-Regent of the Ladies Association.
Tracing American history via Lady Philoclea:
PHILOCLEAN Society is among the oldest student organizations of New Jersey’s celebrated RUTGERS University. Founded in 1825, the society says the name Philoclean is Greek for, “Old Glory.” But twelve years before Rutgers established the organization, John & Sarah CASEY, in 1813, celebrated the birth of their third child, a daughter they named PHILOCLEA.
Both parents died while Philoclea was a little girl, so the daughter moved to Savannah, GA, where she lived with a brother, Dr. John A. Casey. At age of 27, Philoclea Edgeworth Casey married William J. EVE. The October 17, 1840 wedding is said to have taken place at SPARTA, Georgia.
A second PHILOCLEA was also born in SPARTA in 1820, to Robert & Henrietta (Green)ALSTON. The Alston’s later moved to Tallahassee, FL, where Philoclea Alston married, in 1842, David S. Walker. St. John’s Episcopal Church of Tallahassee provides a pamphlet for touring its church and grounds, and this booklet explains the “south figurative window of the church depicts the Virgin and Child, and is a memorial to PHILOCLEA Alston Walker, wife of David Shelby Walker, the eighth governor of Florida.”
Where did the English use of PHILOCLEA originate?
As early as 1800, American newspapers started promoting a literary work entitled ‘Practical Education.’ Written by highly acclaimed English author, Maria EDGEWORTH (1767-1849), her inspirational writings included a collection of ‘Letters for Literary Ladies,” writings widely touted as being a plea for reforming women’s education.
Maria Edgeworth and her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth (I), became early advocates of educating young women at a time in history when females weren’t always privy to schooling.
Philoclea Edgeworth (Casey) EVE, born in America during 1813, had been a daughter of immigrants John CASEY and PHILOCLEA EDGEWORTH. Both parents relocated from Edgeworthtown, Longford, Ireland. Immigrant Philoclea Edgeworth, wife of John Casey, was born circa 1760, six years after the debut of a McNamara Morgan play entitled, “PHILOCLEA, a Tragedy.”
The father of famed authoress Maria Edgeworth was Richard Lovell Edgeworth, and his family roots trace to Longford, Ireland.
Authoress Maria Edgeworth and her father have roots in Longford, Ireland. She wrote of being of lineal descent to Sir John, and wrote too of a brother, Richard Lovell Edgeworth II, who died in America. Her brother’s will was probated in Anson County, North Carolina in 1792.
American history via Lady Philoclea:
A family’s use of the name PHILOCLEA assists in recreating a chapter of America’s remarkable story. The Edgeworth family arrived from Ireland, settled in the South, and played a vital role in taming a wilderness. The SPARTA, GA Historical Society website includes a photo of ALSTON-Wiley House, a historic home that includes this description: “Built prior to 1820 by Robert West Alston. The house was expanded by Captain Richard Bolling Baxter.”
A North Carolina native, Robert West Alston relocated as a married man to Sparta, GA with his wife prior to 1820. Prior to Florida’s Statehood in 1845, the Alston family moved again, this time to Tallahassee, FL. Richard Baxter, a grandson of Frances Pamela (Casey) Bird, and a great-grandson of immigrant, Philocea Edgeworth, eventually became owner of the Alston-Wiley home.
Robert & Henrietta Alston relocated to Tallahassee, where a daughter, PHILOCLEA Alston, married David Shelby Walker. A lawyer, Walker was active in early Florida politics. He initially opposed Florida Secession, and following the War, on December 20, 1865, Florida First Lady Philoclea Alston Walker watched as her husband was sworn in as the eighth Florida Governor.
One of nine living children, Philoclea Alston arrived with her parents in a rugged wilderness having fewer than 1,700 residents. Tallahassee was then merely an isolated town in a Territory known as Florida. Philoclea married at Tallahassee three (3) years prior to Statehood. Four years after Florida’s Statehood, Robert & Henrietta Alston’s daughter Florida (Alston)Fisher made them proud grandparents of a baby girl, Philoclea A. Fisher.
Hugh T. Fisher was appointed Tampa Postmaster in 1850. The population of Tampa had yet to reach 1,000 then, but at age 1, Philoclea Alston Fisherbecame one of the earliest residents of a developing CitrusLAND.
Florida First Lady, Philoclea Alston Walker, died at Tallahassee May 7, 1868. A year after her grandmother’s death, Philoclea Alston (Fisher) Hollister, gave birth to her first child in Nebraska. Never to return to Florida, the last known Philoclea of the Edgeworth family would spend half of her life as a widow before dying October 7, 1912 in North Bend, Oregon.
The role of women in history is not easily found, but it’s a challenge gladly undertaken by this author of CitrusLAND books. The true-life American story can only be told through the lineal descendants of the earliest pioneers, men and women alike. Each of twelve chapters in my CitrusLAND: Curse of Florida’s Paradise begins with a dedication and brief biography of a Florida Frontierswoman. Telling the story of Florida through its people, CitrusLANDbooks are described at my website: www.croninbooks.com
Available at BOOKMARK IT ORLANDO bookstores; Winter Garden Heritage Foundation and Central Florida Railroad Museum in Winter Garden, Florida, and Amazon.com
#RicksFFFBlog resumes October 5, 2016
Part 2: Rebecca of Madison County’s Oakland
References upon request: Email Rick@CroninBooks.com