Jane Evans Wilson
Devoted Confederate....Woman of Achievement
Evans Wilson (1835-1909) was one of nineteenth-century America's
most popular novelists. She was also an ardent supporter of the
Evans was born May 8, 1835 in Columbus, Georgia. About 1846 her
parents moved with her to Texas, first in Galveston, then Houston
before settling in San Antonio around 1847. Her father, a
merchant, ran a store on Main Plaza near the Alamo. The family
lived above the business on the second floor, where Augusta was
educated by her mother. Like most 19th century girls, she had no
formal education, but she was a voracious reader.
At the age
of fifteen, she wrote "Inez, A tale of the Alamo", and
presented to her father as a Christmas present in 1854. It was
originally published anonymously. The book was a tale of romance
and adventure, set in San Antonio during the Texas Revolution. By
this time, the family was living in Mobile, Alabama.
Prior to the
War Between the States, Augusta wrote another book,
"Beulah", published in 1859, which sold 22,000 copies
the first year, making possible her family's purchase of
"Georgia Cottage", the family's new home.
brought both personal tragedy and success. Her engagement to a New
York journalist was broken off because of "sectional
differences", but her career flourished.
As a young
woman of means when the War broke out, she established a private
hospital in Mobile to care for the injured and sick Confederates.
The soldiers called it "Camp Beulah" in honor of her
book would be "MacAria, Or, Altars of Sacrifice". This
book was printed in a true example of Southern deprivation in
Richmond in 1864 on surplus wrapping paper and the cover on
wallpaper. The book was popular by Rebels and Yankees alike.
Although modern critics call her works "sentimental and
overblown (woman-stuff)", more than just women read her
works. Apparently the book was so detrimental to the moral of
Union soldiers that that a Union general ordered all copies of the
book in the possession of his Army to be burned and banned his men
from reading it.
War she communicated extensively with General P.G. T. Beauregard
and Confederate congressman Jabez L. M. Curry discussing battle
plans, military policy, politics and reporting on the deprivation
of the Southern people.
gloomy aftermath of the War, Augusta turned out her most popular
work, "St. Elmo" (1866). It was a runaway bestseller,
rivaling "Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben Hur".
Augusta, now 33, married Col. Lorenzo Wilson, 27 years her senior.
He was a self made man involved in banking, railroads and
wholesale groceries. The couple settled in Ashland, Georgia and
became members of St. Francis Street Methodist Church. Miss "Gusta"
as she was called, reigned as the social queen of Mobile. Her home
in Georgia included frequent notable guests. In 1895, a reporter
visited Ashland and penned a description of the then sixty year
old writer: "Mrs. Wilson is tall, with blue eyes and dark
hair, fast growing gray...Although her face is grave and
intellectual, it evidences the womanly sweetness of character that
has made her so beloved by all who know her. The culture of rare
flowers and plants fill her moments."
in Georgia on May 9,1909 and buried in Mobile at Magnolia
Cemetery. 12 years after her death, one of her books "At the
Mercy of Tiberius" was made into a silent film about a girl
accused of killing her grandfather. She is saved from imprisonment
when it is discovered that lightening has imprinted the true
murder's image on a window pane.
about Augusta Jane Evans Wilson: