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Celestia "Essie" Wade Butler Smith papers

Identifier: MSS 12947

Scope and Contents

Celestia "Essie" Wade Butler Smith papers, 1793-2002, 2 cubic feet, consisting of correspondence about her work with the United Daughters of the Confederacy and many other Southern organizations to preserve the Confederacy. She was also involved with the Democratic Party, Womens' rights and genealogy. There are narratives of family histories and eighteen and nineteenth century papers including slave documents. There are also personal papers, correspondence with other writers and publishers, and drafts of stories and poems by Mrs. Essie Smith. Included are programs from many of the plays and concerts that she attended. Also of interest are letters with her daughter, Mary Cabell Smith, who was working for General Motors Continental in Europe in the 1920's and 1930's.


  • Creation: 1793-2002

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Celestia "Essie" Wade Butler Smith (Mrs. Cabell Smith) was born on November 18, 1872 to Zachary Taylor Wade and Catherine (Kitty) Bailey Greer of Rockymount, Virginia and died on January 23, 1963, after a lifetime of service to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was a teacher, librarian, genealogist, writer, and president of the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Colonists, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society, the New York Southern Society, the Society of Pocahontas, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, the League of American PenWomen, the League of Women Voters and women’s clubs, and the Democratic National Committee. She wrote many articles for the United Daughters of Confederacy, including “Forty Years with the Virginia Division, U. D. C.” and an unfinished history of Franklin County, Virginia.

In her work with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she formulated a plan to build a replica of the Mississippi home of President Jefferson Davis, “Beauvoir”, served on a committee to establish the custodianship of the Lee Chapel and Mausoleum at Lexington, Va., collaborated with Frances Parkinson Keyes for the restoration of General Robert E. Lee’s home, petitioned for a memorial building for the Confederacy in Richmond, Va. and chaired a committee to procure a commemorative stamp honoring General Lee. She was appointed Matron of Honor by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and participated in their ceremonies.

She was also interested in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Colonial Dames of America, the Lee Memorial Foundation at Stratford, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, the National Woman’s Party, the Women’s Universal Alliance, The National American Women’s Suffrage Association, The Women’s National Radio Committee, and the Network Guild of America. She received a citation for her contributions to the cause of Woman Suffrage.

Mrs. Cabell Smith tracked her genealogy back to a descendant of Pocahontas. In addition to her work for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she wrote many fictional and autobiographical stories and poems. She was married to Benjamin Waldo Butler, a construction engineer with the Roanoke and Southern railroad, and city engineer in Charlotte, N. C. where he died after only a few years of marriage. She then married Cabell Smith and had a daughter from each marriage, Laura Butler Moore, and Mary Cabell Smith. She also had a devoted sister Josephine Epperson, a niece Caroline Mansur, three grandchildren and nine great- grandchildren.


2 Cubic Feet (6 legal document boxes and one oversize folder.) : correspondence, genealogy, southern history, organizations, personal, writings and programs

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift from Caroline Epperson Mansur to the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia on February 12, 2004.

Celestia "Essie" Wade Butler Smith papers
Ellen Welch
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Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States