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William C. Tavenner, Civil War Correspondence and Other Material

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.3763

Scope and Contents

Letters of William C. Tavenner and members of his family. The family had ties to Lewis and Harrison County. Tavenner's letters include both personal and military correspondence from the Civil War, most relating to his service as a soldier in the Confederate Army (as Lieutenant Colonel of the 17th Virginia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment) and his death at the Battle of Monocacy. There are also letters from other members of Tavenner's family from before and after the Civil War.

The collection is organized into six series, including:

Series 1. Correspondence of Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner; 1846-1858, undated; folder 1 (9 letters)

Series 2. Correspondence of William C. Tavenner; 1860-1864; folder 2 (15 letters)

Series 3. Correspondence Regarding Battle of Monocacy and William C. Tavenner's death; 1864; folder 3 (8 letters, 1 notebook)

Series 4. Postbellum Correspondence; 1865-1873, 1940; folder 4 (5 letters)

Series 5. Artifact; undated; folder 5 (1 item)

Series 6. Miscellaneous; undated; 10 fragments, folder 6 (10 fragments, 2 envelopes)

Series 1. Correspondence of Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner; 1846-1858, undated; folder 1 (9 letters). Contains letters between William C. Tavenner's mother Jennet and her father, Colonel Thomas Tavenner, and her siblings, mostly regarding the death of Jennet's husband Cabell Tavenner and the disposal of his property. Mentioned in one of the letters is the steamship Landis, which was part of the Confederate Navy during the Civil War.

Series 2. Correspondence of William C. Tavenner; 1860-1864; folder 2 (15 letters). Includes correspondence between William C. Tavenner and his mother, sister, and other family members, mostly concerning Tavenner's military service and the Civil War; and correspondence between Tavenner and members of the Confederate Army. Letters dating between 1860 and 1862 were sent while Tavenner was living in or stationed in New Orleans. Letters between Tavenner and his family discuss the possibility that western Virginia will secede along with other Southern states and Tavenner's willingness to fight. Tavenner also asks for more frequent letters from his family, news from western Virginia, and local newspapers. While in New Orleans he remarks upon railroad transportation, food prices, health conditions, and the mood of residents in their speculation of imminent attack. Military correspondence includes a letter from a Colonel Ferguson (most likely Milton J. Ferguson) informing Tavenner of his election to the position of Lt. Colonel (28 January 1863). An unsigned letter, believed to be in Tavenner's hand, describes skirmishing with Union troops (31 May 1864).

Series 3. Correspondence Regarding Battle of Monocacy and William C. Tavenner's Death; 1864; folder 3 (8 letters, 1 notebook). Contains letters between Tavenner and other members of the Confederate army prior to the Battle of Monocacy, as well as personal correspondence between members of Tavenner's family and those who had witnessed Tavenner's injury and subsequent death. Military correspondence includes a pencil copy of an order from Brigadier General John McCausland, Jr. (4 July 1864) and a list of horses for the use of the 17th Virginia Cavalry (5 July 1864). Personal correspondence includes letters between Tavenner's mother, brother, and other relatives, as well as several letters from James H. Gambrill, who was with Tavenner when he died. Also included in the series is a letter from Lemuel Thomas Foote, a Chaplain in the Union Army who was entrusted with passing a "wallet" (or notebook) of Tavenner's onto his family (10 September 1864). The notebook is included with the letter.

Series 4. Postbellum Correspondence; 1865-1873, 1940; folder 4 (5 letters). Includes letters between members of the Tavenner family dating after the Civil War regarding miscellaneous financial assets of William C. Tavenner, among other topics. Also includes one letter addressed to Roy Bird Cook regarding the history of the Tavenner family (15 April 1940).

Series 5. Artifact; undated; folder 5 (1 item). Contains a lock of William C. Tavenner's hair.

Series 6. Miscellaneous; undated; folder 6 (10 fragments, 2 envelopes). Includes fragments of letters, notes, envelopes, etc.

Contents List:

Series 1. Correspondence of Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner; folder 1:

1846 January 24; from Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston; to Colonel Thomas Tavenner

18[49?] December 14; from Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston; to Colonel Thomas Tavenner

1850 January 11; from Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston; to Colonel Thomas Tavenner

18[50?] March 13; from Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston; to Colonel Thomas Tavenner, Parkersburg

18[50?] June 24; from Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston; to Colonel Thomas Tavenner, in Parkersburg

18?? March 8; from "G.E.B.", in Parkersburg; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston

18?? April 28; from "G.E.B.", in Parkersburg; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston

1858 May 20; from Enoch Thornton Withers, in Birdville, Texas; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston

18?? December 21; from Mary T. Owen, "on board the Landis"; to Jennet (Withers) Tavenner, in Weston

Series 2. Correspondence of William C. Tavenner; folder 2:

1860 May 13; from William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans; to Jennet A. Tavenner

1860 December 24; from William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner

1861 January 25; from William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner

1861 February 25; from William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner

1861 March 29; from William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans; to Jennet A. Tavenner

1861 April 10; from William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner

1861 April 15; from William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans; to Jennet A. Tavenner

1862 March 1; from Elizabeth Ann Thornhill; to William C. Tavenner, in New Orleans

1862 March 23; from Mary T. Owen, in Galveston, Texas; to William C. Tavenner

1863 January 28; from Col. Milton J. Ferguson, "near Salem, Va."; to William C. Tavenner

1863 February 8; from E. Richardson, in Huntsville, Alabama; to William C. Tavenner, in Richmond, Virginia

1863 April 14; from "Lucy", in Big Lick; to William C. Tavenner

1863 May 9; from "Lucy", in Big Lick; to William C. Tavenner

1864 May 27; from "Lide"; [Elizabeth M. Tavenner?]; to William C. Tavenner

1864 May 31; from William C. Tavenner; to unknown

Series 3. Correspondence Regarding Battle of Monocacy and William C. Tavenner's Death; folder 3:

1864 July 4; from Brigadier General John McCausland, Jr.; to William C. Tavenner

1864 July 5; from unknown, in "Camp Sheppardstown, Va."; to William C. Tavenner

1864 August 4; from Florence Armstrong, in Ripley, Virginia; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner

1864 August 13; from James H. Gambrill, in Frederick, Maryland; to Thomas Alexander Tavenner

1864 August 18; from James H. Gambrill, in Frederick, Maryland; to Thomas Alexander Tavenner

1864 August 22; from Elizabeth Ann Thornhill, in Masion, Alabama; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner

1864 September 1; from James H. Gambrill, in "Araby Mills"; to Thomas Alexander Tavenner

1864 September 10; from Lemuel Thomas Foote, "near Berryville, Va."; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Parkersburg (includes "wallet" or notebook)

Series 4. Postbellum Correspondence; folder 4:

1865 June 9; from James M. Laidley, in Charleston; to D. R. Neal

1868 January 21; from H. H. Michaels, in "Gilmer Co."; to Thomas Alexander Tavenner

1873 June 16; from Robert W. Withers, in "Castel Craig, Campell Co."; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Green Meadows

1873 November 13; from Robert W. Withers, in "Castel Craig, Campell Co."; to Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner, in Green Meadows (includes transcript with fragments of original letter in envelope)

1940 April 15; from Emma Withers, in Buckhannon; to Roy B. Cook, in Charleston

Series 5. Artifact; folder 5:

undated; lock of William C. Tavenner's hair

Series 6. Miscellaneous; undated; folder 6

ca. 1860-1880; fragments of letters, envelopes, notes, etc.

See Also:

A&M 81, Cook, Roy Bird (1886-1961), Collector. Tavenner Family Papers and Other Material

A&M 858, Cook, Roy Bird (1886-1961), Collector. Tavenner Family Papers and Other Material

Dates

  • 1846-1873, 1940
  • Majority of material found within 1861-1865

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

William Cabell Tavenner was the eldest child of Cabell Tavenner and Jennet S. (Withers) Tavenner. During Tavenner's childhood the family lived in Weston, (West) Virginia. The extended family had ties to Lewis County, Harrison County, and Wood County. Tavenner had three siblings, a younger brother, Thomas Alexander (referred to as "Tat" in the letters), and two sisters, Elizabeth M. and Jennet A. (who is often referred to as "Jen" in the letters). William Tavenner's paternal grandfather was Colonel Thomas Tavenner, one of the early settlers of Wood county and a prominent man in local affairs. Tavenner's maternal grandfather was Alexander Scott Withers, the author of "Chronicles of Border Warfare", an important early history of the settlement of western Virginia. Two of Tavenner's maternal aunts also appear in the collection's correspondence, including Mrs. Mary T. Owen of Galveston, Texas (referred to as "Poca" in letters), and Elizabeth Ann Thornhill of New Orleans (referred to as "Bettie").

The exact date and circumstances of Tavenner's entry into the military are unknown. He was stationed in New Orleans during the first years of the war, later moving northward to Virginia sometime between the spring of 1862 and January 1863. He was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed 17th Virginia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment in January 1863. Tavenner was fatally wounded at the Battle of Monocacy on 9 July 1864. He died of his injuries on 11 July 1863 at the nearby Gambrill Mill, which was used as a field hospital after the battle.

For more genealogical and historical information regarding the Tavenner family, see: A&M 81; Cook, Roy Bird (1886-1961), Collector. Tavenner Family Papers and Other Material; Folder 1a.

Extent

0.2 Linear Feet (Summary: 1 1/2 in. (6 folders))

Overview

Letters of William C. Tavenner and members of his family. The family had ties to Lewis and Harrison Counties. Tavenner's letters include both personal and military correspondence from the Civil War, most relating to his service as a soldier in the Confederate Army (as Lieutenant Colonel of the 17th Virginia Cavalry) and his death at the Battle of Monocacy. There are also letters from other members of Tavenner's family from before and after the Civil War. See "Scope and Contents" for details.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/
Title
William C. Tavenner, Civil War Correspondence and Other Material, 1846-1873, 1940
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Date
2011/03/04
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536