Caroline “Carrie” Eliza Mallett

So much can be learned about young women in North Carolina during the mid-nineteenth century from the study of a circle of friends in Fayetteville. One of these, Caroline “Carrie” Eliza Mallett (1842-1929), is of particular interest because she moved (with her family) from Fayetteville to Chapel Hill. She belonged squarely in the middle class, lived in areas that lacked a music publisher, and studied music scientifically (from notation). In these regards she represents thousands of other southern girls from the same period.

Carrie was the daughter of William Peter Mallett (1819-1889) of Fayetteville and Caroline De Berniere [Walker] of Wilmington (cities connected by the Cape Fear River, which served as the trade route for sheet music). William was a physician who moved the family to Chapel Hill (home of the University of North Carolina) in 1857, seeking better educational opportunities for his children. He established the first university infirmary at the University of North Carolina. Carrie’s uncle was the president of the Western North Carolina Railroad, and the largely mercantile-oriented family descended from Huguenots. Carrie studied music with Mrs. Fannie G. Johnson Morrow at St. Mary’s School before the Civil War. (Chapel Hill Weekly, 2 Oct 1925) and continued her studies in 1865 when her father engaged Maria Spear to teach his daughters.

Carrie never married and in 1880 was still living with her parents. In 1870s, she sang in the Episcopal church choir, which was accompanied by Miss Sophie Mallett on organ. (Chapel Hill Weekly, 26 Nov 1926) Pallbearer included J.G> de Roulhac Hamilton; a Roulhac binder’s volume also survives.] She served as a postmistress at one point and was well appreciated in this regard. (Chapel Hill Weekly, 9 Aug 1923) Later in life she went by “Eliza” instead of “Carrier.” In the Community Club of Chapel Hill, she conducted a course of the good books of 1924-25. (Chapel Hill Weekly, 2 October 1925)

Young women who knew Carrie Mallett also collected binder’s volumes, including Mary Stedman (UNC New Series II), Maggie Mallett, Helen Huske (UNC Old Series LV), and possibly the Tillinghasts.

Carrie’s binder’s volume of songs consists of thirty pieces for voice and piano, twenty one of which are labeled either a song or ballad. The remaining works are duets, an aria only noted as a “gem,” a “melody” (by Foster), and a “serenade.” Her piano music includes the ubiquitous “Maiden’s Prayer,” arrangements of operas (e.g., Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer), and typical pieces from the 1840s and 1850s.

She is not to be confused with her cousin, Carrie Green Mallett Hale (1848-1924), a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Binder’s Volumes: UNC Old Series LXXIX (vocal music), LXXX (piano music)

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