Historically Speaking: The marriage of Miss Almedia Hill

By Jessica Gorman

The claim that Miss Almedia Hill, mentioned in a letter written by Pike Reynolds in 1873, was the original builder of the Felix Drake, Sr. house on Broadway, currently the Cavalier home, brought Miss Hill to my attention and made me wonder who she was. While it seems unlikely that she was the builder of this house, I have learned much about Miss Almedia Hill. One of the most interesting things is the circumstances of her marriage to James Wesley McDonald. Their marriage is recorded in Catahoula Parish on 6 February 1841. 

A quick Google search returned a result referencing letters between James H. Fairchild and Mary Fletcher Kellogg during their courtship. These letters are held by the Oberlin College Archives. In a letter dated 8 February 1841, Miss Kellogg tells of the marriage of Miss Hill to Mr. McDonald.

“We have today heard of the marriage of Miss Hill of whom I have often written you as my only friend. She has been spending 6 or 8 weeks in New Orleans. Her stepfather went for her and found her married the day before he got there. She did not see him at all. Her parents had previously opposed Mr. McDonald (the gentleman that was sick so long here last summer) and were not aware of an engagement and long correspondence between them. Her home is filled with mourning and desolation. She was an only child. 

I would call upon the mother but am afraid my company would not be acceptable. She must suspect that I have been an accessory. James, you will not censure me for encouraging a friend to act in such a case contrary to the known wishes of her parents? She has long tried to please them till she has been convinced that her own taste and judgment can never go with theirs. She loves with an ardor that I have never before seen in anyone. Perhaps it is increased by the difficulties she has surmounted. Her parents are zealous and I might say bigoted Methodists. She is not a professor of religion. Poor girl, I pity her, and at the same time rejoice with her, for her husband is a paragon of excellence.

The young men of Minden wear their badges of mourning for Miss Almedia, Southern Romance. I, too, lament her loss for I am deprived of a valuable friend and associate. They will probably spend the summer in Minden, at least I hope they will. That will depend upon the reconciliation of the parents.”

It would seem that reconciliation must have occurred as the McDonalds made their home in Minden. They are buried in the old section of the Minden Cemetery near her mother and step-father. 

This column is intended to share snippets of Webster Parish history. Please direct any questions or suggestions to dorcheatmuseum@yahoo.com or visit us at the museum. 

Photo from FindAGrave Memorial for Almedia Hill McDonald

(Jessica Gorman is the Assistant Director and Archivist for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum in Minden and is an avid genealogist.)


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