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Sarah C. Ray

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At a Glance

Sarah C. Ray enjoyed keeping up with the social lives of her cousins and friends through letter writing [1].


Sarah C. Ray's letters, some of which are preserved in the W.N. Tillinghast Papers at Perkins Library at Duke University, indicate that she attended the Burwell School in 1851, but that she spent the spring session at her  "Uncle Coit's"  home at Rose Hill, SC. It seems probable, therefore, that her name may have been Sarah Coit Ray.

It was Sarah C. Ray, apparently, who influenced Uncle Coit to send her cousin Elizabeth Coit  to the Burwell School in January 1852 (Elizabeth died there on June 4, 1852). Sarah's letters reflect good humor and vitality and she was evidently a charming girl. She wrote to John Tillinghast:

"What is Rob (Robina Norwood ) doing with herself? Is she as lively as ever? Tell her I say she must conclude to go to school next session, that I cannot do without her in the French class."

Another letter from Sarah, still at her Uncle Coit's at Rose Hill, SC, on February 28, 1852 to John A. Tillinghast, indicates her interest in the social life of her cousins and friends:

"I hear sad complaints of the weariness of study and their inability to fix their minds this session from many of my school friends, particularly the ones from Cumberland. By the way I heard from Cattie (Catherine A. Murchison ) a few days since. She says she is gratified that you desire to visit H---and if you will come to Mrs. Burwell's (Margaret Anna Robertson) she will continue to open the parlor door for you. She also desired her love when I wrote. But I suspect you have visited that attractive town before this, as I knew very well the reason you were so indifferent, was, that you had heard that the watered silk still graced Cumberland."

Various Tillinghast letters indicate that Sarah had caught the interest of young William N. Tillinghast. There is no indication that she returned to the Burwell School after the autumn session of 1851.

Sarah Ray married Archibald Graham on March 29, 1859 in Cumberland County, NC [1].

Biographical Data

Places of Residence

Schools Attended


  • Spouse: Archibald Graham, married on March 29, 1859. The Raleigh Register of April 6, 1859 recorded Sarah C. Ray's marriage to Archibald Graham in Cumberland County [1].
  • Cousin: Elizabeth Coit (1837-1852) .


  1. Mary Claire Engstrom. The Book of Burwell Students: Lives of Educated Women in the Antebellum South. (Hillsborough: Hillsborough Historic Commission, 2007).