For descendants of Jonathan Tart,died 1789, Edgecombe Co., NC--this will be of interest to you!
Letter from Miss Mary Jane Tartt to Miss Elizabeth O. Tartt,
Afterwards Mrs. John P. Barnes.
Paris, March 1859.
Dear Cousin Bettie:--
Five letters besides yours came to me at dinner from the United States which delighted me very much indeed. All my friends who answered my letters, said they all were very willing to firgive my long silence on account of my ill health.
Sunday 9th. January while at dinner, we received our notice from Mr. Mason our minister of our names being chosen for the presentation to their Majesties the Emperor and Empress on Tuesday at nine o'clock but we were requested to be at Mr. Mason's at eight o'clock. Monday 10th. All day we staid in to direct the arrangement of our dresses for the presentation. Tuesday at four o'clock we sat down to have our hair dressed, full of fine anticipations for that night. We all were dressed in thule, the first skirt now the prevailing material for ball dresses. Mine was a white thule, the first skirt puffed all the way up to the body and two veils of thule thrown over it, a guirland of flowers on one side under the veils and the upper veil looped with a boquet on the other side, in my hair, pink wreath of roses and green leaves. My neck and arms were adorned with a necklace and bracelets of pearls. Sister's dress was of pink thule. My niece Mary wore a simple dress of white thule, no trimmings; her hair braided behind and turned entirely back in front with a plait in which pearls were braided around the roulos. We left in two carriages on account of our crenolines being too large for one carriage at about two minutes after seven. Rode up to Mr. Mason's where the gentlemen got out and after receiving directions into which door we should enter Brother returned to our carriage and we immediately went to the palace at the Tuilleries, the guard horse stood along the street just before entering the gate. There was a pavilion erected at the front door covered with a striped cloth and carpeted so that no one would get wet if it rained. We left the carriages and entered this ancient pile of building, the Tuilleries which has been the scene of so much pleasure and also of much misery. The soldiers and servants in livery stood in all directions. We deposited our cloaks and mounted the grand staircase which was the most splendid spectacle of the evening. It was brilliantly lighted and two of the Cent guard stood like statues in armour on each step. They are tall, majestic looking men such as I did not expect to see in France. At the head of the stairs, a gentleman who appeared. to be a master of ceremonies splendidly dressed in a brown velvet embroidered coat with many orders on his breast, received our cards and directed us into the room in which were a1ready some persons waiting. Soon the same gentleman came in with an apology for our having been misdirected, begged us to follow him across a portion of the saloons to another salon which was the proper place for the Americans. It required -no apology for it gave us the opportunity of seeing these splendid rooms uncrowded by persons. In this room Mr. Mason met us and arranged those to be presented putting the gentlemen behind their families. The American ladies presented a fine appearance and compared well with any in the ball room. Between 9 and 10, the cry was given "Emperor", and in a moment their majesties entered. Mr. Mason passed around with them, the Emperor, Holding the hand of the Empress, bowed, and she courtesied, as Mr. Mason called the names of persons who were introduced. They then went into the Hall of Marshals where was the principal dancing circle; here were seats arranged for the Majesties and the Court. We pressed through the crowd till we neared the dancers here. The Emperor wore a simple uniform coat with a red sash across the breast; white, very tight breeches, long white silk stockings, slippers, and buckles set with diamonds. He is very stiff and awkward in his movements. It is said that he wears armour under his clothes. He danced with his cousin Princess Matilda, a great coarse Dutch looking person, the daughter of Prince Jerome who was divorced from his American wife. She wore a dress exactly like mine, a white silk with tulle puffed over a tulle skirt looped at the sides with white roses and green leaves, diamonds on her head, and white roses on her black hair. The Emperor seemed to think of something of more importance than the dance. One feels com-pelled to admire him, the more you study him, just to think that he alone has done so much and had so much power in his hands. He did not look at any one, looking as if he felt some heavy weight on his mind, and at times as if he felt that he was alone to govern his whole empire. It seemed to me as if he forgot himself in the Ball among the foreigners. The Empress moved and talked most naturally with the ladies of the Court. There was a gentleman dressed in Tarton plaid, fastened on the shoulders, and hanging down; he conversed quite familiarly with the Empress. The Empress is lovely, without being beautiful, as portraits represent her; her neck, arms, shoulders, and bust are beautiful, and in her movements, she is graceful. Her dress was simply elegant; it was of white silk, a double skirt of tulle embroidered in gold in small squares, looped at each side with a dark green velvet ribbon striped with white, bows of the same on her sleeves, the corsage with a drapery of the same on how -finished with a deep gold fringe, magnificent large emeralds and diamonds on her neck, a crown of diamonds and emeralds; her hair is auburn -- about the color of sister's -- over the back hair fell a 'cache teigne' of black velvet with strings of diamonds falling over it. They went into the other ball room in which was dancing, soon they returned; at their entrance the beautiful music led by Straus played a march, and those sitting arose; their Majesties continued into the supper room fol-lowed. by the persons of the Court. They retired at twelve o'clock. The Salle des Maresheaux is surrounded by a beautiful gallery composed of gilt. It was splendidly lighted with chandeliers filled with soft wax lights; the splendid jewels of the ladies, and the dazzling embroid-ery of the gentlemen's coats and honors in this soft light was a beauti-ful sight. The supper was supplied with everything in the way of teas, coffees, chocolate, ices, cakes, candles and fruits, meats, etc. Mrs. Riggs, the cousin-in-law of Mrs. Sam'l Battle was the most richly dressed. She wore a silk with white lace flounces on a white tulle skirt; at the side two garlands of green and gold flounces, the same on sleeves, diamonds on the neck, and the coiffure was a roll of dark green velvet studded with diamond stars, very exquisite white plumes, a bow of lace behind. We returned at 2 o'clock quite delighted with every part of the enemy's entertainment.
Feb. 22nd. being the anniversary of the birth of that great and good man Washington, the Americans gave a ball at the Hotel Du Rourue. Everything was most beautiful and tastefully arranged. The stairway outside was carpeted; and the sides lined with beautiful natural flowers, growing, I suppose, in jars. The large reading room was thrown open for the reception room, and the dining room for dancing, which being sur-rounded by mirrors arid rich chandeliers, and each window beautifully decorated with the sweetest and gayest of flowers; beautiful japonicas and rare flowers adorning the platform on which Strauss' bond was stationed made a tout ensemble which I have rarely seen. The dancing room was so very large that the dancers were not crowded, and the toilets showed to great advantage. At the ball, the array of diamonds and laces appears greater and greater. Mr. and. Mrs. Preston, from Kentucky, our new Minister for Madrid were there. The supper was sump-tious and well prepared. Over the orchestra were our flags with the portraits of Gen'l. Washington and La Fayette hung among their folds; over the front door these words were written, "First in our first peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." On each side hung full length portraits of the French Emperor and Empress in their imperial robes. During the evening a gentleman passed around the room and gave a folded paper to all who would receive it. This proved to be a eulogy to Washington. Between the dances, ices, lemonades and sherberts were served. The supper which was sumptious, was set in two rooms adjoining the ball room. We left at 2 o'clock when all were at the height of the dance. There were 300 invitations issued through Mr. Mason to the foreign ambassadors and other persons of distinction. The Greek and Turkish ambassadors were there. I saw a Mexican general, I cannot re-member the name; also a Mexican lady and her daughter splendidly dressed, and glistening with diamonds.
We were at the Bales at our Counsul Mr. Spencer's and Mr. Mason's our Minister, Mr. Preston, lady and daughter were at Mr. Mason's party tho' not a general ball. Mrs. P-- is a very tall fine looking lady and handsomely dressed in white trimmed in black lace and black velvet. He is a very splendid looking man, and their daughter is too. The three look as if they might create a pleasant impression at Madrid in Spain where I think from the present policy of our government agreeable people are necessary to overcome the pride of the Spaniards. I am sorry I cannot write any more for these letters will be too tiresome to you. I learnt through Mr. Brighton or Mr. Stewart that Julia Freeman was to be married to a broker merchant of Mobile, I forgot his name. I hope she will do well but she needs a firm or stern husband. The whole family is well except myself. I have taken a severe cold. I cough so much that I was advised to put a large piece of flannel on my chest. I have not been able to go out for 10 days. Brother and sister join me in our love to Cousin Mag and yourself.
I am your affect cousin
(sgd) Mary Jane Tartt.
Direct to Boulevard des Invalides No 35 Paris.
Note: this copy was found in the Frederick Phillips papers in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
There are several important things to note about this letter. The "niece Mary" referred to on the first page was probably Mary Pratt, daughter of Mary Jane Tartt's sister Ann Pratt and William F. Pratt. She also referred to "Brother" a few lines later. The Samuel Ruffin 1872 chart does not show mary Jane having a brother.Very likely "Brother" was her brother-in-law William Pratt. The Mrs. Samuel Battle and Mrs. Riggs could not be identified. Battle was a North Carolina name. And Mary jane's father Thomas E. Tartt married a ______ Riggs after his first wife Patience Horton died. On the third page, the Julia Freeman referred to was the daughter of Treasy Tartt and George Freeman and the granddaughter of Enos Tartt, the first cousin of Mary Jane's father Thomas E. Tartt. The Mr. Stewart was probably Treasy Freeman's brother-in-law William Stewart, husband of Treasy's sister Polly Tartt Stewart. Apart from the family names mentioned, it should be noted that Mary Jane Tartt was quite articulate and evidently had formed opinions about French-American policies.