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Filling in the Gaps about Bayard and Alice Hand

Filling in the Gaps about Bayard and Alice Hand

My request for scans of the letters and other documents in the Alice Whitfield Hand collection at the University of the South has been filled. I have read through the biographical information and the letters for 1858 and 1859. And I now have some answers for some of my questions. Along the way, I have learned a few more things. And, yes, I even have more questions.

My guess about the vessel that Bayard Hand shipped out on for the expedition to Paraguay was indeed correct. He served on the U.S.S. Southern Star. He postmarks a letter to her from almost all the ports they stopped in on the way down – Barbados, Pernambuco, and Rosario. His brother in law C. T. Quintard dropped her a line and kidded Alice about Bayard’s role in the expedition by comparing him to a sailor in a cartoon in Harper’s Weekly, who is shown poking a pistol in the face of the Paraguayan dictator Carlos Antonio Lopez.

The biographical information attached to the letters lends support to my surmisal that Bayard and Alice met in Beaufort NC at the time when he was serving with the Coast Survey. Her father had lost his business in Halifax County due to a fire in 1851, and moved the family to Beaufort to build another inn or boarding house. So they were well established there by the time Bayard was back from the Brazil Station, and visiting Beaufort in Coast Survey vessels. Shortly after their wedding in September of 1858, Alice’s father picked up his business and removed back to Halifax County (hence the census entries recorded there for 1860).

It would appear from a number of sources that Bayard Hand had a weak physical constitution. Both times that he was sent to the hospital during his short time at Annapolis, the stays (one in 1852, and the other in 1853) were for longer durations than would be normal for the particular ailments. The year 1858 was marked by at least two serious episodes. In June he was admitted to the naval hospital in New York – not for the fever that he had had when recently down in Florida, but for a nervous condition that the physician said was due to a lack of sleep. It wasn’t until after four days that the doctor noted that Bayard was finally sleeping. He was kept in the hospital a total of seven days. And in November, when the U.S.S. Southern Star left Norfolk, Lt Bayard was in a doctor’s care, unconscious for eight straight days with no other diagnosis. So it does not seem as surprising for him to die a victim to a simple bout of pneumonia.

Alice, as the young widow, inherited from her husband. His family in Rome Georgia saw to it that she received the stock shares that were Bayard’s from his grandfather’s business, the Roswell Manufacturing Company. This would explain the rather large amount listed for her personal estate in the 1860 census. She also received his naval uniform. The uniform was kept in Alice’s family and passed on to her descendants. The cloth has wasted away, but the buttons, the epaulets and the bicorn hat remain.

There was one disturbing missive among the manuscripts. C. T. Quintard had written to Bayard days before the lieutenant’s death (Quintard was not aware of his illness). Evidently, Bayard had confessed a moral struggle to the Episcopal priest at the family home in Rome after his return from Paraguay. Quintard pleads with him in the strongest terms to forsake an unnamed vice. I confess that I became quite concerned for the state of the lieutenant’s soul, knowing the proximity of his death.

And that’s the way with research. You end up knowing some, but never all.

About rwoz2

Poet, historian, writer for stage and screen. Responder to Jesus (Romans 5:8)

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