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undauntedheartTheir love transcended scandal and outrage. She was a Southern belle in Chapel Hill; he was a Union general who marched into town with Gen. Sherman’s army right after the Civil War ended. Just two months later, they were engaged.

The marriage of Ella Swain, daughter of UNC president and former governor David Swain, and Union general Smith Atkins shocked Chapel Hill. Their story is recounted in the book Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle and a Yankee General by Suzy Barile, the couple’s great-great-granddaughter. Barile will share their story during History à la Carte: Undaunted Heart on Wednesday, March 17, at 12:10 p.m. at the N.C. Museum of History. She will read excerpts from Ella’s letters that reveal a loving marriage that endured during a time when emotions ran high after the war. Barile discovered her great-great-grandmother’s letters in a box of papers left to her by her great-uncle, and these letters inspired her to write the book.

Bring your lunch to this informal program. Beverages are provided. Admission is free.

For more information about the museum, call 919-807-7900 or access or Facebook®. The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton St., across from the State Capitol. Parking is available in the lot across Wilmington Street.

The N.C. Museum of History’s hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. The museum is part of the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, an agency of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. The department’s Web site is

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  1. true and heart tellin story