citizens, visited the Etchison store in November 1885 before penning her letter to Harding. After discussing the merits of the piece, she signed off, “Nan works so hard over the holidays that I think she ought to be gratified, don’t you?” 7 Harding replied two days later, on November 23, 1885: “Many thanks for your happy suggestion. Of course I think Nan ought to be gratified and if she wants the secretary and bookcase why here is the money . . . I’ve made it for $25 in case she should have to bid against the rich Mrs. B. of Baltimore.” 8 A strong candidate for “the rich Mrs. B. of Baltimore” is Eliza Ridgely White Buckler, whose wealthy family had strong ties to the Confederacy (fig. 4) . Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the Bucklers moved to Europe, where they stayed until around 1890. Despite their absence, the couple was listed in the Baltimore Blue Book in 1888, and other period documents indicate that they maintained social connections in the city throughout their time abroad. 9 Eliza Buckler, born the same year as Ariana Trail, certainly fits the profile of the “rich Mrs. Buckler of Baltimore.” The wealth of the Buckler and Ridgely families also helps explain why Trail was so adamant that Harding send money immediately, and why Harding, upon reading the letter, responded with nearly 40 percent more than requested.
Fig. 3. Barbara Frietchie, Brady & Co., Washington, D.C., 1862. Carte de visite printed in 1863 or 1864 for the Great National Fair. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Fig. 4. Eliza Ridgely White Buckler. Courtesy Hampton Historic Site, National Park Service
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