Amidst the tangle of scrub trees and vines on the crest of a hill looking North along the valley of the Port Tobacco Creek is a solitary obelisk marking the unregistered grave of Amelia Matthews Fergusson. Amelia was the youngest child of General John Matthews and his first wife, Maria Stoddert Bruce. Amelia was born at Plenty, which her father had just purchased from the heirs of Thomas Stone a year before her birth in 1829. We know very little about her apart from the inscription on all four sides of the base of her grave marker. Amelia married James Fergusson, 13 years her senior, sometime within the year prior to August 8, 1850 when the census taker recorded them as married within the preceding year and living in the Hilltop District on property valued at $3000. The census lists James as farmer. James’ older brother, Dr. Robert Fergusson, had married Amelia’s older sister, Elizabeth. James and Amelia had one child, a son named Robert Cutler Fergusson, who was just 21 months old when she died in December 1852. Despite the fact that she was the daughter and wife of prominent citizens of the county, there is no obituary on record. The rest of the Fergussons, including her husband, who died less than two years later, and her son and grandsons are all buried in the Fergusson family plot at Mulberry Grove, a little more than a mile and a half South of Amelia’s grave. Exactly where she and James lived within the Census designated Hilltop District is unknown, but James is listed as living at Spring Hill at the time of his death in 1854. For some time, I had wanted to paint a picture of the Port Tobacco Creek valley. Amelia’s story offered that opportunity. I have visited her grave a number of times. Why is she buried away from her family and her husband? Was there something special about this overlook, so close to the house in which she grew up? In this painting a teenage Amelia is sitting just down the hill from her grave gazing out over the scene that her final resting place overlooks today.
Some adjustments have been made to distances and perspective.
Oil on canvas 24x48 inches