Both of Edna's parents died when she was just 11 years old. Edna was educated at one of the very first institutions of higher learning for women, Miss Fiske's Young Ladies'Seminary and Boarding School in Keene, New Hampshire. She attended the school for three years, appearing in the catalogues of 1828 & 1829 as a student in the "English Studies"; then, again in 1832 as a student of both French and Music.
I have often wondered exactly how she may have met William F. Whitteker, whom she married in Keene in 1835. There is a possibility that she may have met him at the school as male students were being accepted as day students at some point, although it is unknown what years this took place.
There are five letters written by Edna between 14 Feb 1846 and 01 Dec 1850 to her sister, Mary, her niece, Emily, and one of them written to Anna Howe Whitteker. These letters do much to bring out her personality and the state of her health. She claimed to have been sick ever since moving to western Virginia. She describes an illness which sounds much like irritable bowel syndrome; and, was also said to have been sick with "bilious fever". Bilious fever would have been a hepatitus-like illness. The letters show that she had gone to visit Anna at Linden in Prince Edward County, Virginia. In the letters she describes her two daughters, who were both born within this time period. Little Emma did not live very long, succumbing to childhood illness. Only Willianna grew to adulthood. Even in adversity, her sense of humor shines through as she chides her niece that in order to be a perfect teacher, she must wear blue stockings and become an old maid spinster, "something like Cynthia your weaver" who had a turned up nose, bright red on the end. She then said she would recommend her to start, therefore, wiping her nose in an upward motion until it should turn up and change color. These letters show, as well, that even though she was surrounded by kindly people, she still missed her family and her hometown. At one point, her health improves, only to decline again, with the news of William's death; and, she does not seem to bounce back from this tragedy.
The letter of Anna Howe to Mary Campbell, included in the above group of letters, does bring some light to the fact that the Whittekers were well acquainted with the people of Keene, New Hampshire.
Anna mentions in this letter, written 03 Aug 1837, that either William Hartwell and Alfred Whitteker, or both of them, will be visiting the Campbells in Keene on their trip before returning to Charleston. She also sends her regards to the Woods family of Keene.
Edna was received into the congregation of the Kanawha Presbyterian Church, the very first Presbyterian church in Charleston, by examination on 11 Apr 1840.
Perhaps one of the most poignant stories of the Whitteker family was lived out by Edna Campbell Whitteker and the daughter whom William F. Whitteker left her with when he was plucked from this life so soon. Edna never seemed to be a particularly healthy woman; but, by the time Willianna, her daughter was two years old, Edna knew she was dying of consumption as they called tuberculosis then.
She and her sister-in-law, Anna Howe Whitteker, had been the best of friends; and, now she wrote to her with a very special request. Edna asked Anna if she would take Willianna and raise her as her own. Upon receipt of an affirmative answer she and Willianna left for Linden in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The very ill Edna traveled over the mountains with the six year old child; and shortly after their arrival at Linden, she died. She is buried in the family plot on the plantation.
Anna took charge of Willianna; and, at the start of the Civil War, in 1861, she returned to Princeton, Massachusetts, taking Willianna with her. Willianna finished her growing years in Princeton and married Thomas Skinner and raised a family there. She did not return to the Charleston area where she had been born until the early 1890s, when she returned only for a visit.
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