"Why can we not go on living as we did before? Is it not enough to believe in the life we had? I do not hate the Yankees as Cousin Rachel does but nor do I understand why they have chosen to come to our land and spread terror, deprivation, and upheaval in their wake."
—Emma Simpson[5]

Emma Mills (née Simpson; September 17, 1849 – 1917) was the daughter of Robert and Mrs. Simpson. She grew up in Gordonsville, Virginia, where her father owned a plantation. During the Civil War, her father and older brother fought in the Confederate States Army. Emma remained at home with her mother.


Early life

Emma was born on September 17,[1] 1849[2] to Robert Simpson and his wife. She had one elder brother named Cole. Emma lived a privileged childhood in Gordonsville, Virginia up until the beginning of the Civil War.

Civil War

In the early 1860s, the war against the north and south began. Emma's father and brother left home to fight for the Confederate States Army. Her mother managed the household well, though Emma believed the slaves missed her father's "understanding but firm guiding hand." In July 1863, Emma visited her aunt Caroline in Richmond, where she met Tally Mills.

She received word of her brother's death in 1863, just before Christmas. Emma's mother fell ill towards the end of January. Soon, Emma's aunt Caroline and her daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth, come to stay at the Simpsons' to help Emma with her mother. After treatment and some improvement, Emma's mother passes away on April 18, 1864. Following Mrs. Simpson's death, Caroline and Rachel continued to stay Gordonsville at Emma's house. Caroline took over the household duties of Emma's mother.

Months later, Mrs. Broyles and her daughters, Lily and Lucy, move into the Simpsons' home, after Union soldiers invade their house. However, a Union officer, Colonel Davenport turns the Simpson home into his headquarters just a month later. Him and his soldiers did not stay long though, leaving after two months. In November, the majority of the Simpsons' slave ran away, except Iris and Amos. Shortly before Christmas, Emma's cousin Elizabeth fell ill and passed away.

Later life

After the war, Emma was reunited with Tally, whom had been imprisoned for several months. They married and moved to Richmond, leaving the house to Caroline. The couple had two children, Robert in 1868 and Jane in 1869. Emma taught and volunteered at the local library, while her husband became a successful journalist. Tally died in 1916, and Emma followed the next year. The ring that Tally gave Emma was eventually inherited by their great-great-granddaughter Emma Clark Broughton.

Personality and traits

Despite living in Confederate land, Emma never showed allegiance to either side. She was confused about the war and simply wished to have the same life she had before. Eventually, Emma realized that she had "changed forever and there [was] no going back." Mrs. Simpson also thought Emma to be too "willful" and that she spoke her mind too freely.

Similar to her mother, Emma spent many evenings reading, her favorite pastime. Emma was familiar with Jane Austen's Emma, and the Brontë sister's Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Emma's favorite was Jane Eyre, whose heroine she admired and hoped to emulate. In her adulthood, Emma named her daughter after Jane Eyre and became an authority on Charlotte Brontë.

Family tree

The Simpson Family Tree
Robert Simpson
(d. 1864)
Mrs. Simpson
(d. 1864)
Caroline Colsten
(d. 1893)
Benjamin Colsten
(d. 1863)
Cole Simpson
(d. 1863)
Emma Simpson
Taliaferro Mills
Rachel Colsten
Elizabeth Colsten
Robert Mills
(b. 1868)
Jane Mills
(b. 1869)
Two generations
Emma Clark


  • It is not revealed exactly stated how Caroline and Benjamin are related to Robert and Mrs. Simpson.
  • It is not stated whether Emma Clark Broughton is the descendant of Robert or Jane Mills.

Behind the scenes


Melyssa Ade as Emma



Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.