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Solitude Letter

Identifier: Ms-1990-138

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a love letter written at Solitude, the Preston family home in Blacksburg, Virginia, on December 27, 1860. Signed by L'incounnue ("The Unknown"), the letter is addressed to "Miss Martha." In a brief but flowery and somewhat disjointed letter, the correspondent writes of recent, pleasing memories of a "Silven goddess who but a short time Since in unconscious innocency snapped in twain the vital cord which until then vied in freedom with the gentle zephyr which whispers sweet lullabys to the raging mind." The writer concludes with "But to Miss Martha, I can only wish happiness may your joys be numberless as the buds of opning Spring time and if fate should so [illegible] that they should be interrupted by transient sorrows may they be to the joys as the pearly pebbles to the running rivulet barriers to the gliding current but gems of purity to the Sparkling waters."


  • 1860

Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Historical Note

Solitude, located in Blacksburg, Virginia, served as the home of the Preston family. Sections of the home were built as early as ca. 1802, with an expansion made ca. 1834. The home was again expanded in the 1850s by General Robert Taylor Preston (1809-1880), who had inherited the property from his father, Virginia Governor James Patton Preston (1774-1843). In 1872, the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Virginia Tech) Board of Visitors purchased the home and surrounding 250 acres, adding them to the central campus. The building has served in a variety of capacities since then.

The writer of the letter in this collection may have been James Patton Preston (1838-1901), the only young, single man listed by the 1860 federal census in the home of Robert T. Preston of Montgomery County, Virginia


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


Love letter written by L'incounnue ("The Unknown") at Solitude (the Preston home in Blacksburg, Virginia) in 1860, and addressed to "Miss Martha."

Source of Acquisition

The Solitude Letter was acquired by Special Collections and University Archives in 1990.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Solitude Letter by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Solitude Letter commenced and was completed in September, 2022.

Solitude Letter, 1860
John M. Jackson
2022 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US