Ellen McDonald, the first daughter and
fifth child of Angus W. McDonald and Cornelia Peake (his wife), was born
at "Wind Lea" September 30th, 1854, and named for her mother's sister,
Mrs. Ellen De Camp.
Nellie's own statement of events and
early impressions, which she sent me in response to my letter, is
written in so happy a style and with such natural expression, that I
give it as I received it, only regretting that it is so brief.
"I do not remember any birthplace in
Virginia, but have often heard interesting stories of the great stone
house called `Wind Lea,' perched high on a spur of the Alleghany
mountains, overlooking the north branch of the Potomac river.
"My first distinct recollections are of
the sweet old home `Hawthorne,' just outside Winchester. Here I can
remember all my dear older brothers and sisters, my father, mother, and
all of the younger ones, with lots of company, and life then seemed a
long play day. I believe my most vivid recollection is when the Northern
soldiers came and brought with them such devastation and destruction.
[Nell had never seen a donkey until they were brought to Winchester with
the Federal soldiers, and when she first heard their frightful braying,
she ran to her mother in great distress and said: "Mother, even the very
old horses are laughing at us.]
"Then came our hasty flight from
Winchester with all the children and my brave, pretty mother, in a
spring wagon, and my brother Harry following in another with a few
household articles, leaving behind Us all our possessions and the sweet
little baby sister, Bessie, in the quiet church yard.
"After much journeying and many stops we
finally landed in Lexington, Virginia, where we were welcomed by the
sweetest, kindest people in the world. Here were the two colleges, V. N.
I. and Washington College; and here after the war, came General Robert
E. Lee to preside over the destinies of the last named institution.
"Around him all the life of the little
town seemed to revolve. He was the 'Chevalier sans peur, sans reproche.'
I; in common with the rest of the town, adored him. And still have a
treasured memorial, a little prayer book which he gave me, with my name
`Nellie McDonald, with the regards of R. E. Lee' written in it.
"We left Lexington in 1873 with many
tears at parting with our dear friends there, but in Louisville we found
a happy home, which Harry, Allan and Kenneth had made for us. And here
all together once more, were passed some of the happiest days of my
"In 1883, I was married to James Henry
Lyne, of Henderson, Ky., and we have lived here ever since. We have had
six children, nearly all of whom are grown nowóCornelia Peake, George,
Kenneth, Henry, Virginia and Eleanor. Here we have had a quiet, happy
life, full of the interest that a big family and a large circle of
charming friends bring.
"In the last few years, though, sorrow
has visited us. First, I lost my dear brother Harry, and then our own
little boy, Henry, was taken from us. After that my mother, who was
living with us at the time, was called to her final rest. Since then two
of my children have gone from home to live, but we try to `close up the
ranks' and meet what comes to us with brave hearts, trusting in God and
his ever ruling Providence, knowing that there will come a time when
there will be no more separation."