Saint James the Less Episcopal Churchyard Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Sarah Butler Wister (May 28, 1835 - June 9, 1908) was an American socialite. A 14 year-old Sarah Butler Wister and 16-year-old Jeannie Field Musgrove (aka Lucinda Musgrave) met in the summer of 1849. Their friendship deepened during two years together in boarding school, where Sarah adorned Jeannie's portrait with a bouquet of flowers and took on a male nom de plume. Their relationship continued right through marriage and into old age. As a 29-year-old mother, Sarah wrote to her beloved Jeannie, “I can give you no idea how desperately I shall want you.” After visits together, Jeannie wrote, “Dear darling Sarah! How I love you & how happy I have been! You are the joy of my life.” And “I want you to tell me in your next letter, to assure me, that I am your dearest . . . . So just fill a quarter page with caresses & expressions of endearment.” Jeannie addressed Sarah as “my dearest, dearest lover” and sent “a thousand kisses.” When Jeannie married at the ripe old age of 37, Sarah wrote from afar, “I have thought & thought & yearned over you these two days . . . . My dearest love to you wherever and whoever you are.”
Sarah Butler was a daughter of Pierce Mease Butler, plantation owner, and Frances Anne "Fanny" Kemble, and granddaughter of Dr. James Mease and Sarah Butler. Her father changed his name from Mease to Butler. Sarah married Owen Jones Wister of Germantown on October 1, 1859, and they were the parents of Owen ("Dan") Wister (1860-1938). The younger Owen Wister, who had been college roommate of Theordore "Teddy" Roosevelt, later went on to write the celebrated Western novel, The Virginian. In 1898, he married his cousin Mary Channing ("Molly") Wister (1869-1913). The two had six children.
Sarah's sister, Frances, shared their father's pro-slavery views, and moved with him to Georgia at the end of the Civil War to attempt to rejuvenate the family's plantations. After his death in 1867, she continued those efforts alone. She married Rev. James Wentworth Leigh in 1871, and had one daughter live to adulthood, Alice Dudley Leigh. In 1877, after years of frustrations with the plantation and continual quarrels with Sarah and her husband about the way in which the estate should be managed, Frances and her family left Georgia for parish life in England. Sarah and her husband disagreed with her father Pierce's and her sister Frances' pro-slavery views, and sided with the Union during the Civil War.
A few of the images of Jeannie Field Musgrave saved by her friend, Sarah Butler Wister.
Wister's papers provide excellent commentary on her opinions and activities during the Civil War. Correspondence from Wister's friend Jeannie L. Field Musgrave, daughter of David Dudley Field (1805-1894) and wife of Sir Anthony Musgrave (1828-1888), provides additional commentary on the war. Jeannie regularly relayed to her friend pieces of the military and political information that her father, a prominent New York Republican, had received through his political connections. She also commented on family and social affairs and marital attitudes.
From 1873-1898, Sarah Butler Wister corresponded with English feminist Frances Power Cobbe and author Henry James.
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