Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson were house slaves at Montcalm, the family home of David and Mary Campbell, constructed in Abingdon in 1827. Hannah and Lethe were left to care for Montcalm during the years David Campbell served as Governor of Virginia (1837-1840). While the Campbells were gone, the two enslaved women dictated letters to be sent to their mistress and the enslaved families who joined her in Richmond.
After Campbell family's return to Montcalm,Virginia Campbell and a newly purchased literate woman, Mary Burwell, taught Hannah and Lethe to read and write. Subsequently, they wrote letters describing the lives of the enslaved individuals at Montcalm and their relationship to their owners.
Digital versions of these letters, from Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson to Mary Campbell, are available online at Duke University Special Collections Library. There are three letters from Hannah Valentine (dating 1837-1838) and one from Lethe Jackson (1838). Other letters in the collection, written by members of the Campbell family, discuss the enslaved community.
Montcalm is a private home.
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