Sarah N. Randolph to Robert Coulton Davis

Dear Sir,

Your note of the 17th was duly received and incessant occupation must be my excuse for not answering it sooner.

There is not one of Mrs Jefferson’s numerous descendents who has a paper bearing the stroke of her pen. The nearest thing to it is the label on a paper containing a golden curl from the head of an infant she lost. The paper is marked—in Jefferson’s handwriting—“A lock of our first Lucy’s hair with some of my dear, dear wife’s handwriting.” But the “dear, dear wife’s handwriting” is so faded as to be illegible—She was an intellectual woman and a devoted wife and he must have had many letters from her—I have, however, searched with the most reverent & eager curiosity, but in vain, through the remnant of his papers in my possession for some note or letter from her. My idea his, that in his great devotion to her memory he considered her letters too sacred to be left for the curious gaze of posterity and destroyed them. I feel a great desire to see the letter of hers which you mention as being in existence in Wilmington, but as this is impossible I shall write & ask for a copy of it.

If you are an admirer of Jefferson’s & would like to see a truthful picture of his domestic life allow me to refer you to a little volume edited by myself & published by Harper & Brother: viz—“The Domestic Life of Jefferson.”

We were all amused at Mr Randall’s persistent belief in the existence of1 some letter from Mrs Jefferson when it had been the object of a fruitless search for two generations. Regretting that my reply to your letter should be so unsatisfactory, I am

Yours most respectfully
Sarah N. Randolph
RC (PHi: Simon Gratz Autograph Collection); head of text: “Robert Colton Davis Philadelphia.”
1Manuscript: “of of.”
Date Range
August 31, 1877