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 • Kershaw County
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Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut
Birth: Mar. 31, 1823
Death: Nov. 22, 1886

Diarist. Born Mary Boykin Miller at Pleasant Hill in Stateboro, South Carolina, the eldest child of Mary Boykin and Senator Stephen Decatur Miller. She was educated home before she was sent to Madame Talvande's French School for Young Ladies, a boarding school in Charleston, at the age of about 13. She met James Chestnut, Jr. for the first time shortly thereafter. Her father died in 1838, and she left school to return home. At the age of 17, she married Chestnut, and settled on his family's plantation, Mulberry. In 1858, Chestnut was elected to the U.S. Senate, and she accompanied him to Washington, DC. After the election of Abraham Lincoln, James Chestnut became the first southern senator to resign his office. Mary started the diary for which she became known in February 1861. It became an intimate window on the Confederacy, recording a personal view of the political atmosphere, the impact of the war, her experience as a nurse, her criticism of the leadership, and her lament at her own lack of influence as a woman. With the end of the war, the family fortunes were lost, their debt insurmountable. In an effort to make money, she wrote but never published three novels, then in the early 1880s expanded and revised her diaries. She published one story from her diary in the 'Charleston Weekly News and Courier,' it was the only piece published during her lifetime. Widowed in 1885 and broke, she became dependent on a butter and egg business for her survival. She died at home thee years later, at age 63. Her diaries were first published in a truncated form in 1905 as 'A Diary From Dixie' it was reissued in 1949. Finally, in 1982, 'Mary Chesnut's Civil War,' edited by historian C. Vann Woodward, saw the diaries published in their entirety. The volume won a Pulitzer Prize. It is today regarded as one of the finest primary sources for the Civil War era. Most of her original copybooks survive and are archived at the University of South Carolina. (bio by: Iola) 
 
Burial:
Knights Hill Cemetery
Camden
Kershaw County
South Carolina, USA
Plot: Private property
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Feb 28, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 8574
Mary Boykin <i>Miller</i> Chesnut
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Mary Boykin <i>Miller</i> Chesnut
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Mary Boykin <i>Miller</i> Chesnut
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