Diaries, journals, letters, scrapbooks, and family keepsakes can be used to learn about the lives of our ancestors. These first person accounts tell us about everyday life, the kind of stories that aren't always told in the history books. Roger Brooke Farquhar and his wife, Caroline Miller Farquhar, both kept diaries and journals throughout most of their adult lives. Their son, Roger Brooke Farquhar, Jr., collected his parents' diaries, letters and scrapbooks, and gave them to the Montgomery County Historical Society to help future generations learn about their lives in the 19th century.
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Caroline Miller (1842-1904) was born and raised in the city of Alexandria, Virginia as the tenth of eleven children. Her parents, Robert and Anna Janney Miller, were prosperous; her father was a merchant of fine china and glass. The family was part of a large Quaker community in Alexandria, with connections both familial and cultural to other Quaker communities in the region, including that of Sandy Spring, Montgomery County. Caroline was educated and spent much of her adolescence in Sandy Spring, at the Fair Hill School, and many of her older siblings settled in that area as well. During her time in Sandy Spring, at school and visiting family, she became acquainted with her future husband, Roger Brooke Farquhar.
Roger Brooke Farquhar (1837-1929) was the son of Dr. Charles and Sara Brooke Farquhar. Although a medical doctor, Dr. Farquhar was also a farmer, and Sandy Spring was a rural community. Roger was well educated, but his lifestyle both in childhood and as a young adult was based on the routines of farming, not the urban lifestyle Caroline was used to. While courting Caroline as a young man, Roger lived alone at a farm some distance away from the center of Sandy Spring, a farm aptly called Lonesome Hollow.
As a young woman, Caroline was courted by numerous men, both at home in Alexandria and during her extended visits to Sandy Spring. Unfortunately, while in some ways her diary entries are revealing of her feelings, it is difficult for a reader today to know exactly which men were suitors and which were merely visitors. (Fortunately, notes left by her son Roger Jr. give some sense of the gentlemen whom Roger Sr. viewed as his rivals for Carrie's hand.) When male visitors come to call on her, they play backgammon or whist, have tea, or go riding in a carriage together. The rules of propriety and good conduct forbade her visiting suitors in their homes, although the rules were not so strict as to prevent her from visiting male relatives unattended. Caroline's tone in writing about these events indicates that she liked having male visitors, which she did nearly every day. Thanks to her family's wealth, she could (and did) enjoy her single life without the pressure of finding a husband as soon as possible. An entry on December 9th, 1859 (when she was 17 years old), reads: ". . . Willie Brooke and Roger Farquhar came in [to visit], they stayed until 9 1/2 o'clock, we played backgammon, and I enjoyed their call very much as I like them both exceedingly. Willie told me I must appreciate his visit, as he had walked all the way." (Adapted from A Drama In Diary: Recreating the Life of a 19th Century Woman of Montgomery County, MD by Cassandra Good, 2001)
Carrie wasn't in a hurry to get married, but that meant Roger, who in his own diaries expresses his interest in Carrie long before they became engaged, had an uphill battle before him. One of the most interesting parts of this couple's history is the conflicting reports a modern reader discovers when reading each of their diaries side by side. Click on the links below to explore Carrie's and Roger's relationship through their own words - you may be surprised what you find!
Click on the links below to learn more about the Carrie and Roger Farquhar and dating in 19th century Montgomery County.