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I had an interesting reaction to my reading yesterday. As I mentioned last week, I was reading the new biography of William Dorsey Pender, and really enjoying the biographer’s skill in blending his research about Dorsey’s military career with the information gleaned from his letters to his wife. But as I drew closer to the end of the book, I found myself feeling very sad. Unlike many books I read, I already knew the ending of this one…and I was dreading it! The final page found me sitting in tears, not really ready to put it away, but knowing it was done.

I was tempted to engage in some magical thinking along the lines of “maybe he didn’t really die from the wounds he sustained at Gettysburg. Maybe he and Fanny were really able to enjoy a long marriage together.” But, of course, that wasn’t the case. Fanny lived until 1922, and never remarried…Dorsey was the love of her life, and she after his death she became a successful businesswoman in her own right.

One of my Pender cousins will be traveling to Tarboro, North Carolina, in the near future, and will be visiting many of the sites that figured into this story, including the family homestead and the cemetery where Dorsey is buried. I will be traveling with her in spirit, and looking forward to hearing about her personal discoveries about our ancestor and his family.