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Courtship Letters of Mary A. Roe and Luther P. Hawkins, 1873-1875

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Biographical Sketch

Mary Ann Roe was born to Thomas and Sarah Stradley Roe on March 27, 1846.  Mary’s mother, Sarah, was from the large family of Rev. Thomas Stradley who came from Woolwich, England in 1828. Rev. Stradley was organizer and first pastor of the First Baptist Church in Asheville, NC.  Several Stradley family members were prominent businessmen in Greenville, S.C.

Mary’s family lived in the Paris Mountain Township, an area today that encompasses Furman University’s campus. Mary was a schoolteacher before she married. 

Luther Preston Hawkins was born on November 24, 1835 to Berryman and Martha Salmon Hawkins in Greenville County. 

The U.S. Census indicates Luther was a clerk in 1860. He served during the American Civil War, enlisting in Company B, S.C. 2nd Infantry Regiment, and was wounded in the battles of Seven Pines, the Wilderness and Chickamauga.  He was later a member of Camp Pulliam, South Carolina Division of the United Confederate of the United Sons of Veterans.

During their courtship, Hawkins was living in Greenville and working with Mary’s cousin, Charles D. Stradley (1853-1938) at David & Stradley grocery, owned by Samuel Stradley (1833-1916), his fiancé’s first cousin once removed. Samuel Stradley was Greenville’s first railroad agent, a Greenville mayor and magistrate. Some of Hawkins’ letters are written on the letterhead of Samuel Stradley, Grocer and Commission Merchant.

Mary’s cousin Charles D. Stradley (1853-1938) was the son of her mother’s brother, Thomas F. Stradley (1827-1905). In 1882, Charles went into the dry goods business with George T. Barr in Stradley & Barr, and in 1902 started his own business, C.D. Stradley Dry Goods.

Hawkins’ obituary indicates he was a bookkeeper at Markley Hardware for 42 years. 

The couple became engaged in the summer of 1873 and were married in 1876.  They had six children together: Hampton, Lulu, Anna Mary, Sadie/Sarah, Willie, and Ralph.  Luther died on January 17, 1920, and Mary died on January 14, 1930.