The life and ancestry of Governor James Lawrence Orr has been covered in an earlier post. The esteemed governor and his wife Mary Marshall had seven children. This part continues the history of the Orr family by examining the lives of five of the seven. (The two remaining sons are discussed here.) From education to textiles to medicine, the surviving children of Governor Orr led lives as illustrious as their father’s. This is the first part of their story.
Eliza Foster Orr (October 25, 1844-January 7, 1851) Eliza was the first child born to James Lawrence Orr and Mary Jane Marshall. She was born in Anderson, South Carolina, and named after Mary’s mother, Eliza Compton Foster.
Very little is known of Eliza because she died at the age of seven, the first Orr child to not survive to maturity. She was laid to rest in the Orr family plot in the churchyard of the First Presbyterian Church of Anderson. Her grave is marked by a handsome tablet monument crowned by elaborate scroll work.
Martha Orr (Patterson) (December 24, 1846-November 12, 1905) Christmas of 1846 was a special time for the young Orr couple. They celebrated on Christmas Eve with the birth of a second child, a daughter they named Martha after James’ mother. Given Governor Orr’s activity in the Confederacy it may seem odd that Martha marry who she did, but love is often mysterious. Martha’s husband was William Chamberlain Patterson, Jr. of Philadelphia. Patterson’s father was a colonel in the Union army and his uncle was Union General Francis E. Patterson. One child was born to the couple, Lawrence Orr Patterson, who was named after Martha’s father. The Pattersons lived in Greenville, South Carolina.
Martha was very involved in many social organizations, most notably the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was also close friends with Elizabeth Bleckley, wife of Anderson businessman Sylvester Bleckley. The two had become friends through their mutual social organizations. Martha served as president of the South Carolina Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and of the South Carolina federation of Women’s Clubs.
Martha’s death on November 12, 1905, was particularly tragic. She and Elizabeth had taken a trip to San Francisco, California, to attend the National Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy about a month earlier. While they were out enjoying an afternoon of horseback riding, an accident occurred. The horses became spooked and both ladies were thrown violently to the ground. Martha was badly bruised and taken to the San Diego Hospital for treatment. Elizabeth quickly recovered from her fall and returned to Anderson. Before she arrived, however, a telegram was received from the hospital that death had taken Martha. This was wholly unexpected and a great shock because she was recovering when Elizabeth left.
Martha had been a widow since 1901, and she was buried beside her husband in Christ Church (Episcopal) in Greenville.
Mary Marshall Orr Prevost Earle (August 1, 1858-April 15, 1912) Named after her mother, Mary was born while her father was Speaker of the House, and she was perhaps the most intelligent of the governor’s children. Many compared her intellect to that of her father’s. She was married twice: first to John Blair Prevost of Anderson, and they had one son, Marshall Blair; after Prevost’s death, she married William Edward Earle of Greenville. Her husbands’ lives were just as eventful as Mary’s.
John Prevost was the son of a Haitian sugar plantation owner who had been killed by his slaves. His mother had fled the island and arrived in Charleston with John and her two other children. Prevost married Mary Orr in 1876, but died less than a year later of pneumonia. His death took place a few months before his son Marshall Blair was born in 1877. At the time, the Prevost family lived in Anderson, and John Blair was buried at First Presbyterian. (Their son, Marshall Blair Prevost, would later become a leading figure in the Greenville art community and was a forefather of the Greenville Arts Museum.)
Mary’s second husband was Civil War veteran Captain William Edward Earle of Greenville. Earle was a direct descendant of John Earle, a Royalist from Virginia who is the ancestor of the upstate Earle family. He had previously been married and was the father of four children. His first wife, Bette Price, died in 1878.
During the Civil War, Earle was a captain and major the famed Earle’s Battery which provided protection along the coast. Earle’s Battery was one part of the Horse Artillery Brigade, Butler’s Division, Wade Hampton’s Cavalry Corps. He served throughout the Civil War, and surrendered with General Joseph E. Johnston. After the war, he practiced law in Greenville. His success as a trial attorney resulted in his appointment in 1877 as an Assistant United States District Attorney. By 1880, Earle was practicing law in Washington, D.C. He married Mary Orr Prevost on January 13, 1881. For nearly fifteen years, Earle was a successful attorney, but his failing health began to take its toll. While on a family vacation in Portland, Maine, Captain Earle died in August 13, 1894. He body was returned to Greenville and was laid to rest in Christ Church (Episcopal).
While the Earles lived in Washington, Mary was a star among the social circles. She was a leading figure in the Daughters of the American Revolution, being a direct descendant of Robert Orr, a captain of Pennsylvania troops. She was one of the early D.A.R. vice presidents and a member of the first National Board. A contemporary account credited her with a “rare mental and social qualities.” Mary spoke five languages fluently and this made her very valuable among the Washington diplomatic corps.
With the death of her second husband, Mary returned to Greenville where she lived out her remaining years, continuing to be active in her social groups. She died after a brief illness at her home in Greenville April 15, 1912. She was laid to rest at Christ Church (Episcopal) along side Captain Earle.
Amelia Orr (July 1, 1860-December 5, 1872) The youngest daughter of Governor Orr, she died at the age of thirteen and was buried at First Presbyterian Church. Unlike the other Orr children, it is not clear who she was named for. The name Amelia does not appear in either the Orr or Marshall families.
The news of the child’s death came at the same time as Orr’s appointment as minister to Russia. In fact, the the obituary of young Amelia appeared on the same page of the Anderson Intelligencer as the formal announcement of Orr’s appointment to the position.
According to her short obituary, she was “a bright, intelligent child – the pet of the household.”
Christopher Hugh Orr (February 4, 1862-January 23, 1893) Named after his grandfather, Christopher Orr, he was the youngest son of the governor and was known as Christie to his friends. He was born shortly before Orr began his term in the Confederate Senate. As a youth, Christie attended the Yorkville Military School and later studied at the University of Virginia. After studying law in the office of his brother James, Christie was admitted to the bar. He lived in California for several years before returning home to take care of his aging mother.
Christie died after a long illness January 23, 1893 just a few days before his thirty-first birthday. His health had gotten worse in the early 1890’s, and took a sharp turn for the worst about three weeks before his death. During this time, Christie was stricken with paralysis and he died in this state. He was laid to rest in the Orr family plot at First Presbyterian Church. He never married.
The second part of The Children of the Governor will concern the lives of the remaining two sons, James Lawrence Orr, Jr., and Dr. Samuel Marshall Orr.