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Sallie Alston Mangum


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At a Glance

Sallie Alston Mangum's father, Willie Person Mangum, probably came closer to the U.S. presidency than any other resident Tar Heel. Throughout President John Tyler's administration, Mangum was president pro tem of the Senate [1].


Sallie Alston Mangum, born January 6, 1824, was the eldest child of Willie Person Mangum and Charity Alston Cain of Walnut Hall, NC. The site of Walnut Hall, NC is now in present day northern Durham County, NC, however it was formerly in the northeastern corner of Orange County, NC during the antebellum period. U.S. Sen. Willie Person Mangum, it has been observed, probably came closer to the U.S. presidency than any other resident Tar Heel. Throughout President John Tyler's administration, Mangum was president pro tem of the Senate. His wife, Charity Alston Cain, was the daughter of the wealthy Orange County, NC merchant and planter, William Cain.

Sallie Alston Mangum and her parents wrote affectionate letters to one another. Her parents always refer to her in their letters as  "dear little Sallie"  or  "dear little lambe,"  and Sallie's letters to each of them are filled with the tenderest affection and the most extravagant endearments. Sallie's siblings were: Martha Person Mangum, Mary Mangum, and William Preston Mangum, who was killed in the Civil War.

Sallie attended at least four schools. For a short time, she was a day student at a country school near Walnut Hall, NC. In 1834-1835, she attended the Hillsborough Female Academy on E. Tryon Street, then under the superintendency of Rev. William M. Green. During this period, she lived in Hillsborough, NC with her uncle, Priestly H. Mangum, in a house that once stood diagonally opposite the Graham Home, Montrose in Hillsborough, NC.

In February 1836, Sallie and one of her sisters attended the Franklin Academy at Louisburg, NC, operated by Mr. John B. Bobbitt and his wife. The sisters remained there at least until October 1838.

Sallie was sent in the spring session of 1839 to the relatively new Burwell School; on March 11, 1839, her father wrote to her,

...I am much pleased to perceive evidence of great improvement in your writing & trust, My dear, that not only in that, but in all respects you will make all reasonable efforts to improve your time--No acquirement or valuable accomplishment is attainable, save only perseverance & toilsome effort...Present my best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. B.

In June 1839, Sallie came home for a vacation and thought of bringing a friend with her. She wrote to her father on June 9, 1839,

...Mrs. Burwell says that the session will close on Friday morning, we will not say any lessons on Friday; she says if you will come for me I can go Friday after two o'clock, please come after me. I expect that Miss Harriet Johnston will come home with me, if you can send her back conveniently in a week. Mrs. Burwell expects to start Monday after school breaks up for Petersburg. We began last week to review our studies, we will have six weeks vacation. Please come after me.

On December 5, 1839, Sallie Alston Mangum received one of Mrs. Burwell's informal  "certificates"  of satisfactory work.

...Sally Mangum's attention to her studies merits the approbation of her friends. I hope her Father will examine her and judge of her improvement for himself. Her deportment has been good...M.A. Burwell

This year, 1839, appears to be the only year Sallie spent at the Burwell School, although her sister Martha Person Mangum attended the Hillsborough Female Academy on E. Tryon Street in 1840. In January 1841, Willie Person Mangum agreed that Sallie might stay home,

...I rec'd. Sally's letter this morning, and I am willing she may remain at home, if she will read attentively Rollins History and use the Gazetteer a book of Wm. Cain's, so as to understand Heathen Mythology, the names of persons & places & c...I shall write to Petersburg to buy Sally a Pianno, & will write you on the business & when to send to the Depot for it.

In 1851, Sallie married Col. Martin Washington Leach, a planter from Randolph County, NC, according to the Mangum Papers:

...Col. Leach bought for his bride a handsome carriage lined with red velvet and drawn by a pair of white horses. They planned to live in Hillsboro and they did live there for a while. He soon found it necessary, however to move to Randolph County, where his business interests were and where his plantation known as 'Lansdowne' was located. With Sallie Leach her family sent  "Aunt Polly,"  a young white woman who was her personal maid and who remained with her as long as she lived. The family loved  "Aunt Polly"  dearly and in turn loved them and came to admire Col. Leach so much that she asked to be buried at his feet, a request which was carried out. It is said, that Col. Leach owned the second largest number of slaves in Randolph County.

The Leaches had four children: Marie Alma Leach who married Julian Augustine Turner, Sallie Mangum Leach who married Dr. Stephen Beauregard Weeks, William Preston Leach, and Annie Preston Leach.

Sallie Alston Mangum died on October 14, 1896 at the age of seventy-two. She is buried in the Mangum Family Graveyard in Walnut Hall, NC, as is her daughter Annie Preston Leach. Walnut Hall, NC burned on Christmas Eve 1933 [1].

Biographical Data

Important Dates

Sallie Alston Mangum was born on January 6, 1824. She died on October 14, 1896, and was buried in Mangum Family Graveyard in Walnut Hall, NC.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended



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