In Progress Research Laura Wolcott Gibbs [d’Oremieulx]

Source of research:


Page 265

Normally, a band concert was held each week, out of doors during the warmer months, in the fencing room during the winter. Bandmaster and Professor of Music Apelles always presided. Mrs. Theophile D’Oremieulx, whose husband was a civilian French instructor, in her memoirs praised Apelles for bringing the band to a high standard. She remembered him playing his violin at small social functions. The band reflected Apelles’ personal musical interest with a large string section for the concerts.

Page 265

Married officers invited cadets to dinners and other social functions in their homes. Mrs. D’Oremieulx said that she often invited cadets to supper, especially when she had young ladies as guests. Officers and cadets were rarely invited the same evening. Mary O’Maher, daughter of Commissary Officer Timothy O’Maher, who later married Quincy A. Gilmore, Class of 1849, wrote to a friend about a musical evening with Cadet Andrew Donelson, grandnephew of An- drew Jackson, “taking his place beside the piano with his flute.” She also de- scribed rides and trips on the river. One of her escorts was Cadet James McNeill Whistler. Cadet William Morris wrote to his father of an evening he spent at the home of Hyacinthe Agnel, another civilian French instructor. Mrs. Agnel

Page 266

Life for officers’ families was indeed pleasant. Mrs. D’Oremieulx described her home, a small wooden house next to the hospital, possibly part of the old North tavern moved there after the new hospital was built. Most families had one servant; she had two, a cook and a maid. The cook received eight dollars a month; the maid, four. Food costs for her family averaged fifty dollars a month. Provisions were purchased from farmers; bread, from the cadet bakery. During winter months, when farmers were unable to bring their foodstuffs to West Point, supplies were available at the Academy storeroom. Mrs. D’Oremieulx said that she often substituted cold pork or veal for chicken salad at parties during the winter, although “hot whiskey punch was always on hand, even when the lemons were scarce.’” Bootblack Simpson also operated a confectionery for Mrs. D’Oremieulx who mentioned that his wife, “our excellent confectioner,”’ provided sweets for parties, one of the earliest accounts of the forerunner of the cadet “‘Boodlers.” Wives frequently shared their specialties with their neigh- bors, ‘‘passing many a plate of hot biscuits, gingerbread, or seedcake over the fence which separated our quarters,’”” recalled Mrs. D’Oremieulx.

Page 444

Cadet letters from 1845 to 1853 are included in the papers of William P. Craighill, Class of 1853; George H. Derby, Class of 1846; William Dutton, Class of 1846; Thomas J. Haines, Class of 1849; David Stanley, Class of 1852; and Joseph Tidball, Class of 1848. The memoirs of Mrs. Theophile D’Oremieulx, wife of a civilian French instructor, provide an intimate and detailed description of family life and social activities during this period. The letters of Mary O’Maher, daughter of Commissary Officer Timothy O’Maher, complement the D’Oremieulx memoirs. The personal papers of William W. Bailey, son of Professor Jacob Bailey, and his My Boyhood at West Point, published in 1891, include excellent descriptions of the activities of young men and women of the time. His papers provide descriptions of many cadets and officers stationed at West Point. The Dennis Mahan papers include his letter to the Secretary of War complaining about the refusal of Superintendent Brew- erton to permit officers to attend church services in Buttermilk Falls instead of attending chapel services on Post. Details concerning the changes in cadet uniforms are from Todd’s Cadet Gray and Company of Military Historians’ publications. Names of officers stationed at West Point are listed in John Robertson’s Who Was Who. Crackel provides an excellent description of new buildings in his The Illustrated History of West Point. The accomplish- ments of graduates in many civilian fields is described in many Assembly articles and in Dupuy’s Men of West Point. The promotion of graduates during the Mexican War to either brevet or permanent rank were obtained from the Cullum Register of Graduates. Account of First Artillery officers is in Haskin’s The First Regiment of Artillery.

Page 461

D’Oremieulx, Mrs. Theophile M. Wife of Lieutenant Theophile D’Oremieulx, Assistant Professor of French, 1839-1856. Recollections of West Point in 1853.

Page 469

D’Oremieux, Mrs. Theophile, 265-66




Views: 4