Danske Dandridge, a special lesson unveils the unique story of a local writer from the past | Journal-news

MARTINSBURG – Caroline “Danske” Bedinger Dandridge, was a poet, horticulturist, garden writer and amateur historian who lived in West Virginia and wrote several books on the history of the area, gardening and poetry.

“All of his literary works were inspired by West Virginia,” said Angela Lawrence, WVU Family and Community Development Extension Officer for Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.

Dandridge (1854-1914) was born in Denmark and was immediately given the nickname “Danske”, which she would know for the rest of her life.

She moved to West Virginia with her family when she was 3 years old. She studied literature at a college in Virginia, then married Adam Stephen Dandridge after graduation. Shortly after their marriage, Danske Dandridge inherited his mother’s estate and the newlyweds moved to Shepherdstown.

Lawrence gave a presentation on his research on Danske Dandridge on Wednesday at the Berkeley County Community Outreach Service Club at Morgan’s Grove Park in Jefferson County because Dandridge’s property adjoined the lands that are now Morgan’s Grove.

Lawrence added that her main goal for this research going forward is to educate West Virginia women and the history of West Virginia women that no one knows about.

She brought copies of some of Dandridge’s books to the presentation.

“She has such an interesting story,” Lawrence said.

Dandridge was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to Henry Bedinger III, the first United States Ambassador to Denmark, and Caroline Lawrence Bedinger. His family returned to the United States in 1857, eventually settling in Shepherdstown.

In 1859, Dandridge’s mother purchased an estate in Shepherdstown named Poplar Grove, which Dandridge would later inherit and rename Rose Brake, according to the story on the WVU website.

The house exists, and it is private property, according to Lawrence.

Dandridge returned to West Virginia in 1873. In 1877 she married Stephen Adam Dandridge and the couple had three children – Violet, Adam Stephen and Dorothea Spotswood.

“Dandridge began to write poetry again in 1883 and had his first poem published in ‘Godey’s Lady’s Book’ in 1885. His poetry continued to be published in magazines and was also collected into books. During this time, she also became interested in local West Virginia botany and flora. She planted and maintained an extensive garden of flowers, shrubs and trees at Rose Brake. Eventually this interest led Dandridge to write articles for horticultural magazines in the 1890s. Between 1904 and his death in 1914, Dandridge turned to writing history books on local and colonial subjects. , the website added.

Lawrence said the main reason for its publication under Danske Dandridge was that few people recognized it as a female name.

Dandridge’s works were shaped by formal education and beautiful scenery, but also by tragedy, Lawrence explained. Her father died when she was 3 or 4 years old, and the civil war started a few years later.

His house was six miles from where the Battle of Antietam took place, and the Battle of Shepherdstown took place a few days later next to the family yard. Dandridge’s mother brought injured soldiers for treatment and the children helped, Lawrence added.

“She also experienced heartbreak as an adult. His son died in 1897 and his youngest daughter in 1907. His eldest daughter, Serena, survived him, but she also suffered from fits of nervousness for which she was hospitalized. When Dandridge died in 1914, Serena was still hospitalized,” Lawrence’s report read.

Dandridge’s early work appeared in gardening and horticulture publications, where she described the Rose Break landscape. She has written five books: ‘Rose Brake’, ‘Joy and Other Poems’, ‘George Michael Bedinger: A Kentucky Pioneer’, ‘Historic Shepherdstown’ and ‘American Prisoners of the Revolution’.

Lawrence said the Martinsburg Public Library has a second edition of “Joy and Other Poems” which was donated by Dandridge’s daughter and is signed by the poet.

“His love of West Virginia, his deep appreciation for his farm and gardens, and his awareness of the unique human existence were unwavering,” Lawrence wrote and told the audience. “She was just a really remarkable woman. I’m so excited to talk about her – it’s fascinating.

Dandridge’s garden writings depicted his farm and extensive gardens.

“She described seasonal changes, colors and scents, and she pointed out where new plants were thriving in the gardens. Over time, some of Dandridge’s garden writing reads like a piece of poetry,” Lawrence wrote and told the audience.

Often, Lawrence explained, plant life and fauna were given their own voice when they were the speakers in Dandridge’s poems, but when humans were the center of the poem they were usually spoken by the voice of an observer. .

“The vivid images the author uses are so bold that a reader can feel like they’re right there on his farm in West Virginia,” Lawrence said. “Joy, hope, anguish and longing were recurring themes in Dandridge’s poetry. His religious poems were often about love and belonging, and something about begging for an end to suffering.

Also, when it comes to historical writings, Dandridge put a lot of work into his historical works to ensure that the stories remain authentic.

“She obtained the letters and diaries of 100 soldiers as she prepared to write ‘Historic Shepherdstown,'” Lawrence said. the University of London.”

Finally, Lawrence shared fun facts about Dandridge.

“She used the money she earned from writing and selling plants to continue to expand her gardens at Rose Brake. She said she has over 500 species in the field,” Lawrence explained.

She added that the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has 13,000 items from the Bedinger Dandridge family, including letters, photos, diaries and diaries. newspaper clippings.

“She’s really cool. The more I dug, the more I ended up writing a lesson on her daughter, which will be published next year,” Lawrence added.

Lawrence explained that any group or organization that would like the full Danske Dandridge lesson taught should contact her at 304-264-1936 or email Angela.Lawrence@mail.wvu.edu.