Anna Robertson Burwell loved to teach music in the little brick house, Sally and Anna Henrietta Alston intimidated Anna Robertson Burwell partly because of their families' wealth. As plantation girls, Sally and Anna may have found the schedule at the Burwell School too rigorous and the arrangements uncomfortably spartan.
"...all the Alstons have left (for Christmas vacation). They left last Friday, but they will return."
"Dr. Davis (of Pittsboro) says the three Alstons are coming back... Sally Alston's father is dead, died the day before Christmas."
Though they expected the girls to return through February, Sally did not arrive until March when she paid Mrs. Burwell thirty dollars and informed the Burwells that she would be leaving for Richmond, VA for school. Feeling tender toward the girl who had so recently lost her father, Mrs. Burwell advised Sally not to board at school in Richmond but to let her introduce Sally to a Mrs. Fay with whom she could board. In the end, Sally decided to finish out the session at the Burwell School, stay the summer at her home, and go to Richmond in the fall. Only a few years later, Sally married Rodger Grigory also of Chatham County, NC on October 3, 1859. The news was carried in The Raleigh Register .
There were two Alston boys who attended the Caldwell Institute during this period that may have been cousins or brothers of the Alston girls. William W. Alston and Nathanael Macon Alston from Chatham County, NC were students at the Caldwell Institute near Hillsborough in the 1848-1849 term .