This Day (Grave and Gay Edition)

My sister, an Army veteran, had occasion the other day to mention Fort Belvoir, and because I am reading Ron Chernow’s now Pulitzer Prize–winning new biography of George Washington, I understood immediately that this Belvoir was once the home of the mighty Fairfax family. And one of their distant offspring — born a Cary, actually, and, through no fault of her own, in Lexington, Kentucky — celebrates a birthday today. Constance Cary was born on this day in 1843, and according to her memoir Recollections Grave and Gay (1911), enjoyed a childhood “fed upon stories of old Belvoir and its inmates” — the most famous of whom, of course, was the first president. She also was happy, as so many Virginia elites were, to acknowledge “a dash of Pocahontas blood.”
Among other things, Cary sewed the first Confederate battle flag and after the war became Mrs. Burton Harrison, appending that name to her more than fifty books, including novels, short stories, essays, children’s books, and short plays.
IMAGE: The flag sewn by Constance Cary in the autumn of 1861, now held in the collection of The Museum of the Confederacy.


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