Louisiana Woman – Portrait of Caroline Merrick

Illustration

Published by The Grafton Press, New York, Copyright by Caroline Merrick, 1901

Please note above the debut picture of my subject, Caroline Merrick.
While reading through her memoirs, Ms. Merrick’s life spanned through the Civil War. There are chapters in her book which express her experiences and feelings with slavery, living through the Civil War and the oppression of women as well as slaves. It seems women did not have much more freedom then some of the slaves.

One of her chapters named War Memories: The Story of Patsy’s Garden was quite sad. She tells the story of her neighbor, Mr. Thornton and his daughter Patsy. Patsy’s one love was growing a garden of flowers which she was very good at gardening. However, during the war such trivial things as a garden did not seem important to her father. But Patsy was given fifty bulbs of lilies and other flowers and prepared the soil herself and planted the flowers. Her father would not allow one of the slaves, named Tom, to help her as he felt it was more important that he work in the cotton field.

This garden, which Patsy prepared on her own, flourished and brought forth beautiful flowers and she took pride in setting them around the house. One day her father noticed a young man watching her in the garden and thought it dangerous to her well-being, and that perhaps she would become involved with this young man. So that night her father pulled up all her flowers and destroyed the garden. Needless to say, she was devastated. Not but a few days later, her father said a certain Doctor in town wanted her hand in marriage and it was his request that she accept his proposal. However, Patsy was in love with another whom he did not approve of. Well, Patsy eloped with him in the middle of the night. Her father later was sorry. But this is a prime example of the control the Patriarch of the family had over the women.

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