Wilkes Family Tragedy

Jane Renwick Wilkes, 1801-1848
 In the spring of 1848 - 
  • Commodore Charles Wilkes and his youngest son, Edmund, traveled south to investigate the estate of William Renwick, who had left behind an interest in a gold mine near Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Jack was still away at sea.
  • The Commodore's wife, Jane (pictured at left), was on her way to Newport, Rhode Island, with daughters Janey and Eliza. During the journey Jane injured her leg and after months of suffering, succumbed to tetanus on August 18, 1848.
  • Her death devastated the family. Five years later, Jack described his grief at the loss of his mother to Jeanie in a letter.


Charles Wilkes purchased this home after his wife's death. It had belonged to former First Lady Dolley Madison, who had lived there until her death in 1849. Today it is a National Historic Landmark.
Wilkes Family Home  Modern Site of Wilkes Home
Parts of this Exhibit: The Intertwined Ancestries of John and Jane Wilkes      
  Jack and Jeanie's Early Years  
  Courtship, Wedding, and Relocation to Charlotte  
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