The Letters of ROBERT MACKAY to His Wife

Because I’ve gotten wrapped up in the family tree of Basil Cowper, I found this reference to Robert MacKay. Robert married Eliza McQueen, the niece of Basil’s wife Mary Smith Cowper.

I found this dandy volume on Amazon.

Is it MacKay or is it Mackay? Is it pronounced M’Kay or is it Makkie? I seriously don’t know.

Inside my book is a newspaper article from 1949. It has been in the book so long that it has left a shadow on the pages.

July 21 – 1949

Around Town

By SARAH VIRGINIA GARDINER

SCORES OF LOVE LETTERS WRITTEN DURING thrilling times, all tied with blue bows, now turning dark with age, and packages of other romantic letters with bright red ribbons, they too turning dark with the coming and going of generations, will be the interesting highlight for Colonial Dames in the early Fall…..

*****

THE AUGUSTA CHAPTER OFF Colonial Dames is particularly interested in the letters of long ago, and so will we, when we find that an Augusta man wrote them.

They will take book form and will be rolling off the press early this fall. They are being published under the auspices of the Georgia Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

“The letter of Robert Mackay to His Wife”, is taken from letters written by Robert Mackay, who was born in Augusta in 1772, son of an enterprising Scottish merchant and a New England mother. Robert lived here in Augusta until about 1795, then moved to Savannah, where he became a prominent merchant, member of the city council and a figure of importance in social life in the community.

The first part of the book centers on the romantic courtship, followed by interesting accounts of Savannah, telling of the period when Savannah was the seaport and commercial center of the state and was a city of about five thousand persons and the fourteenth largest city in the nation.

In this period he tells of the gradual emerging of an influential group of merchants and factors who lived in opulence, in the fine old Regency dwelling, now landmarks in the coastal town.

*****

OTHER LETTERS WERE written from England and other South Atlantic ports and also some from the extreme north.

The famous collection of his letters were given to the Georgia Society of Colonial Dames by the late Mrs. Frank B. Screven and the late Miss Phoebe Elliott. Those who have had the thrill of reading a few of his letters, tell us they are particularly significant in their portrayal of the thoughts and the very way of life led by a true Southern gentleman of the early nineteenth century.

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He mentions Oatland Island, a Smith property near Savannah, which means a field trip is in order. Eliza’s mother Anne Smith McQueen died at Oatland Island in 1809 at the home of her sister Jane Smith Bourke (Mrs. Thomas Bourke).

The book mentions the death of their firstborn child Robert in 1804 at age 4. None of the online family trees on ancestry show this child, so I’ve added him to the one I made.

Robert died young while in New York. Eliza didn’t remarry. Good night, friends, we’re thinking of you.

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