CIVIL WAR (Continued from Page 57)
this story than what's been told,' " she said.
The current history books tell only the
beginning of the love affair, which com-
menced on Easter Monday 1865. The
diary ofthe Swains' family friend,
Cornelia Phillips Spencer, noted
that Atkins and Ella Swain
"changed eyes at first sight and
a wooing followed." Atkins
was 29, Ella was 22.
Two days later, Atkins sent
his sweetheart an acrostic
poem using the initials of her
name. More wooing followed.
Atkins accompanied the cavalry
band to the Swain home every
But Barile also grew up
hearing the rumors that his-
tory books often recounted. Some historians
believe the University was forced to close in
1870 because its trustees were still angry with
President Swain for allowing his daughter to
marry Atkins. Chapel Hill residents also
claimed that the newlyweds fled to the North
with all the town's jewels.
After careful examination of the letters and
careful research, she now discounts these rumors
that she had always doubted.
"It's a great story to say the University closed
because a Southern girl married a Northern
guy," she said. "She got married, moved away,
and that was it. The story just ended there.
Telling this story will show that was a rumor.
If they took all the jewels, they should have
led a lot better life than they did!"
Barile said the letters reveal a lifestyle in
Freeport that starkly contrasted Ella's pampered
existence in Chapel Hill. She had to learn to
cook and clean for herself and her husband,
who returned to his duties as an attorney and
widely sought orator after the war. This trans-
formation partly explains why Barile feels so
drawn to the story.
"It's a good example for us of what life was
like back then in her particular realm-a
well-bred Southern woman," she said. "I
admire her going offlike that. She may have
been 22 years old but, by golly, she did
And Barile said the letters
show that she was happy with
her choice, despite the displea-
sure it had caused for her gen-
teel Southern mother, who had
a hard time getting used to the
idea ofher daughter with a
"She wanted her parents to
know that she'd done the right
thing, that she'd married the
right man," Barile explained.
"You can tell that this man
really loved this woman, and
she loved him."
That love is evident in the Barile's presenta-
tion of the story, which she shared as part of
the Civil War series sponsored by the GAA in
October. Barile explained how the tale literally
was such a part of her: She wears Ella's wedding
ring, has pictures of her kin hanging in her
home and almost has completed her fanilly tree
down to its most recent generation.
Now, Barile, who lives in Cary with her
husband and daughter, wants to put the story
to rest by writing a book based on the letters.
She needs a publisher, and she needs time to
write in between her various jobs as a colum-
nist, copy editor and reporter for various
publications; freshmen English teacher at Wake
Technical Community College; and a resi-
dent-in-writing for Wake County Schools.
And she needs to share what she believes is
the rest of the story for Ella Swain Atkins.
"I really want to vindicate her and show
that she just followed her heart and darn if it
didn't work out," she said. "It's sort of been
like unraveling a story, a mystery of sorts.
"I feel like I know her."
A young Ella Swain.
Number of GAA members ...... 63,705
Annual Members .... . .. . ...... 33,799
Life Members .. . ..... .. .. . ... 29,906
GAA membership of graduates ... 32. 1 %
Note: Statistics are as of Nov. 28, 2000.
UNC GENERAL ALUMNI
ASSOCIATION MEMBER PROFILE
from the 2000 Carolina Alumni Review
Reader Survey and GM Alumni Records
under age 30 I I
ages 30 to 49 43
ages 50 to 69 33
over age 70 I3
~duc_~tion (hi~hest lev~ 1 achie.~ed) %
completed bachelor's degree 37
completed a master's 24
completed a doctorate 15
post-grad study (no degree) 10
other professional degree I0
North Carolina 58
I 2,950 live in the Triangle
4, 70 I live in Mecklenburg
4,624 live in Triad
East Coast from Maryland to Florida 78
technical/science related 6
health care I3
education I I
law/public service/government 12
- Colleen Jenkins
In the November/December issue of the
Review, information for the Carter admin-
istration inadvertently was omitted. The
chart titled "Current Membership by
Class Year Within Presidential Terms"
should have included 4,573 GAA members,
with 32 percent of alumni from that era
(1977-81) being members of the GAA.
The chart titled "Annual vs. Life GAA
Membership by Presidential Terms"
should have reported that 13. 3 percent of
alumni from that era are annual members
and 18. 7 percent are life members.
Questions about your GAA membership?
Call us at (800) 962-0742 or e-mail
on the Web at alumni.unc.edu.
Ja /I /./ aryI February 2 0 0 1