Category Archives: Uncategorized

1864: Frank Ashley to Celesta (Ewing) Ashley

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Frank Ashley, 64th OVI

This letter was written by Cpl. Frank Ashley (1834-1926) of Co. H, 64th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). Frank enlisted on 4 November 1861 to serve three years. He was appointed corporal on 1 May 1864 and mustered out with the company on 3 December 1865 in Victoria, Texas. Frank wrote the letter to his wife, Celesta (Ewing) Ashley (1845-1868) at Plymouth, Richland county, Ohio. His parents were Jonah Ashley (1797-1862) and Sarah Hawks (1799-1875). This letter was one of over 125 letters written by Ashley sold by Heritage Auctions some time ago.

In this detailed letter, Frank lets his wife know he is yet alive though “weary” after 12 days of marching and fighting in the opening stage of the Atlanta Campaign. He tells her of the losses experienced by the regiment and, in particular, of his company at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge where the 64th OVI participated in a charge on the enemy’s breastworks that was over in minutes and “gained nothing.” The regiments losses were 21 killed, 65 wounded and missing.

[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]

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Attack on Rocky Face Ridge, Lithograph by Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887)

TRANSCRIPTION

Battle Ground near Resaca, Georgia
May 15, 1864

Dear and affectionate Let,

Thinking you would like to hear from me by this time, I thought I would write you a few lines. My health is good although some weary for this makes 12 days since we started. We have had several skirmishes within that time [and] have drove the rebs 18 miles. The first place that we fought them was at Rocky Face Ridge—one of the hardest places I ever saw—but we lost a good many men by it. In one charge our regiment lost 74 men in killed, wounded & prisoners. In our company there were 5 wounded & 4 killed. The rebs got one but he was mortally wounded [and] the rebs left him. We found him at a citizen’s house in the valley but his hours were few when we found him [and] could not do anything for him. His name is Eli Whitney. His folks live near Dekalb. ¹ A[braham] F. Solomon, James McConnell, [and] Jacob Waidler were killed, and Green, John [W.] Hahn, Jacob [S.] Bloom, Sam May & two more that I cannot mention at present were wounded and at the time that I am writing, the battle is raging fiercely. There has been hard fighting since yesterday noon.

Our regiment was in about 3 hours—one man killed and 8 wounded. Drove the rebs about 1½ miles and have the better of them at present. They are in a place where they have to fight or do worse. They lay between us and a river and McPherson crossed ahead of them and burned the bridge and holds them in check. We have a large army here—all the force in the West—which is enough to whip them good.

Dear wife, I cannot tell my feelings at the present. You full well know the excitement that exists at such a time. We also have glorious news from the Potomac Army. This will be a final close of this war but it will be the bloodiest of the war and those that live to see the day will be satisfied to let war alone—I think so at least. But I must close and the next time I write I will give full particulars of the battle.

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Col. Alexander McIlvaine, killed in Battle of Rocky Face Ridge, Ga., 9 May 1864

The 45th Ohio is here but have not seen it yet. Our Colonel [Alexander McIlvaine] was killed on the ridge. It was done in a charge on their breastworks. It was all done in a few minutes and gained nothing by it.

Love to all, Write soon. I am truly yours, — F. Ashley to C. A. Ashley

Direct to Dalton, Georgia

May 18, 1864

Dear beloved wife,

As I did not send this letter at the time it was wrote, I add more. I received your letter with those photographs. I think they look well. I feel well satisfied with them. We have been driving rebs right along. We are in 40 miles of Atlanta. We had 2 killed and 7 wounded in the regiment at Resaca. Had a sharp skirmish last night with them but all is clear now. My health is good. James Speckler is well. But will close. Write soon. Love to all, I am your ever loving husband, — F. Ashley


2998219_1459291020¹ Eli Whitney (1846-1864) was the son of George Whitney (1822-1878) and Catherine Saltzgaber (1822-1877) of DeKalb, Ohio. Eli was originally buried near Dalton, Georgia, but was later reburied in the Chattanooga National Cemetery (Plot K, 10143). He died of wounds received in the battle of Rocky Face Ridge on 9 May 1864—just four days after his 18th birthday.

 

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1862: John Thomas Read to Laurena Caroline (Rankin) Read

This letter was written by John Thomas Read (1825-1900), the son of Sion Spencer Read (1791-1845) and Hardenia Jefferson Spencer (1804-1889) of McMinnville, Warren county, Tennessee. John attended the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1852-1853 and was practicing medicine in McMinnville when the Civil War began. He received an appointment in the CSA service as a surgeon and by January 1862 he was attached to the 16th Tennessee Infantry. In May 1862, John failed to pass his examination as a surgeon and, as a consequence, lost his commission. By April 1863, however, he was reinstated as a surgeon  by the Confederate States Senate. After the war, he resumed his practice in McMinnville and then built and managed the Read House Hotel in Chattanooga in 1872.

John’s older brother, Lycurgus W. Read (1822-1846), was killed in the Battle of Monterrey in the Mexican War. He also had a younger brother, Lieut. Edmund Cole Read (1834-1862) of Co. C, 16th Tennessee Vols., who died from wounds received at the Battle of Perryille.

John wrote the letter to his wife, Laurena Caroline (“Carrie”) Rankin (1827-1903). She was the daughter of David Rankin (1799-1862) and Zilpha Roberson (1809-1882).

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John T. Read’s Hotel in Chattanooga after the Civil War

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Mrs. Jno. T. Read, McMinnville, Tenn.

Pocotaligo, South Carolina
January 18, 1862

My dear Carrie,

Yours of the 11th was received day before yesterday just after Mr. Spurlock left and as I had just written to you by him and some of the officers here expected a fight yesterday or today, I have deferred writing until now that I might assure you that we were alive yet and liking to remain so a great while if we live until the Yankees attack us here.

As to the Harrin Acct., that is correct and he has an acct. against me for corn &c. which Mr. Rankin can settle if he wishes. Otherwise, it can be left until my return. W. Turner’s acct. is correct and the Kilgore acct. is the one he speaks of the Sheriff’s receipt for the collection of. The Alley’s note has been paid, I think. I have concluded to pay the Bank draft as the calls are made and devote my means from now on to the payment of Stubblefield’s debt after store accts. &c. are paid. I owe each drug store in McMinnville a small acct. if you should have the money to spare any time, pay them.

As to your keeping boarders is concerned, there is nothing wrong in the matter but [ ] in you to make an effort to be independent yourself. The only thing I wished to impress upon you was that I did not wish you to break yourself down in trying to support yourself & family in my absence when I was off at a good salary. If not too much labor to you, I think it best that you have company. I will send by Mr. James Spurlock in three weeks $200 to pay on the G. J. S. debt provided he does not want the negro. How has the hog speculation of our kin turned out? I hope they will make money.

Mr. James Spurlock expects to be back here in two or three weeks and occasionally until spring opens. He will bring us some butter and lard. If it has not already started, don’t trouble yourself about the matter. I will have enough money to pay my score. The butter, apples & cakes came safely and were very nice and we all appreciated them highly after being so long deprived of such things.

I am glad you are having such pleasant times with music, dancing, &c. I have promised Bob and Hacket a dance if we should all get home. Try and have Laura to learn how to dance. I hope by the middle of May next to be able to dance a little myself. I think it the most innocent amusement of any other for the refined.

Charley has received your letter but he is now as formerly a very quiet young gentleman [and] rarely speaks to any one outside of his own mess. And as to his answering your letter, you has as well expect the millennium.

I am glad that sister Laura has written to Ma. Write to her yourself and tell her to write to me and I will answer her. I saw some two months since when one or more of the [Rankins?] were wounded in some battle but Bob said neither was our kin. I would like to know more of my relatives than I now do.

As to your visiting your parents now, I have nothing to say. Go if you think best. In May next, several of us expect to go over to the Valley on a big fishing excursion when I would like to have you along very much, and amongst the rest, Uncle Jim Spurlock. He has some notions of renting my farm. Say nothing about the matter now as it is all uncertain and in the future.

We now have less than four months to serve and the nearer the time of freedom approaches, the more heavily the times drag. There are now indications of a desire upon the part of some of the officials to re-enlist our troops. I think they are generally disposed to loan their guns &c. to the militia for six months—at least if the war continues and the rest of the present Tenn. troops are like ours just now the militia will have a chance to show their valor during the next summer.

We have damp, disagreeable weather here just now. Usually the days are very warm and the nights rather cool. The regiment is in unusually good health and unless the Yankees spur up a little, I expect the most of us will come back home in good health & spirits in May and the girls may look out as I think the boys are determined to marry at sight or on the wing or almost anyway as they have been deprived of female society so long they are almost desperate now.

If your boarders give you no unnecessary labor, keep them, as I see nothing wrong in your course save the labor to yourself.

[     ]. I would write to her but the most of my time is occupied and when I have time, I prefer writing to you. Give my love to my relations and accept for yourself my warmest regards, — Jno. T. Read

I have written to Mr. Rankin about the corn &c.

 

 

 


1844: Maria Duffy (Holt) Foust to James Alexander Rogers

This letter was written by Maria Duffy (Holt) Foust (1799-1882) of Haw River, Alamance county, North Carolina, to her children in Brownsville, Haywood county, Tennessee. M. D. was married to George Foust (1792-1861). Maria was married to George Foust in December 1816. Their children included: Barbara Ann Foust (1820-1878), George A. Foust (1823-1902), Henry Moreau Foust (1828-1867), Thomas C. Foust (1832-1918), Letitia Kivett Foust (1835-1926), and Maria Holt Foust (1837-1916).

Maria addressed the letter to her  son-in-law, James Alexander Rogers (1817-1890), who married Barbara A. Foust (1820-1878) in November 1837. Rogers was born in Alamance county, North Carolina but relocated to Hayward county, Tennessee, with his parents when he was only eight years old. The Rogers plantation was located three miles west of Brownsville. He later got into State politics.

In the letter, Maria tells her children of the tragic death of a slave girl named “Betsy” who was accidentally shot in the head by another young slave boy named “Jordan.” Betsy was probably the daughter of another slave named “Lucy.”

[Note: This letter is from the collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]

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TRANSCRIPTION

[Haw River, near Burlington, North Carolina]
July 31st, 1844

Could you, my dear children, know the heart-rending scene I have witnessed, you would pity your poor, weak Mother. Yes, I pray my God to spare me or mine from such another sight, or anyone else. On Sunday evening just about sunset, we were all sitting calmly and pleasantly — Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes with us, Dr. Graves, and Cousin Sam — when a man drove up to stay all night. Jesse took his horse and told Jordan to take his cushions in the house. When he raised the cushion, he found a pistol under it. He picked it up and Ann was standing near the buggie. He told her he would shoot her. She ran around the Crib to the barnyard and he followed her and was getting over the bars just where Betsy was milking a cow when I suppose he made a slip and the pistol went off and killed poor Betsy. It was very heavily charged — three balls in it. Her brains were blown out as the balls entered her forehead just above her eyes. I suppose she turned her head when she hear him. Mary was standing in the end door and heard Hannah call and say Jordan had killed someone. She screamed and said Thomas was killed. All ran. How I got to the door, I know not. Mr. Wilkes caught me and begged me to try to be composed but Oh! the heart-rending screams I never shall forget. It was but a few moments before the whole neighborhood was here as the report was loud and then the screams. There was a good deal of company at your poor old Grandmother Rogers. It appeared that your Uncle William and them were here in ten minutes and I suppose in half hour there were fifty persons here. She breathed I suppose two hours — her brains running out all the time. Carolina and Mary seemed as if they would go crazy.

Poor old Lucy — I was fearful would not be able to survive. It was a scene, my beloved children, beyond description. I feel that a few more jars will finish me but if I only can be so happy as to make my calling and Election sure, it matters not — we have all to die and we know not the day or the hour or how. I do, my children, feel perfectly resigned to the will of my Blessed Savior. He has afflicted me. For some wide purpose, he afflicts his own children. I feel that when it is His good pleasure to take me from this world of trouble, I have a better home to go to and I hope to meet my children all there.

I wrote to your Mother last week and then I did not think it possible or anyone that saw your grandmother thought she would be alive now but she was better Friday and Saturday but very sick Sunday — fainted several times and has been better since until today — very sick again. She is as helpless as an infant. God only knows the result. She is not swelled quite as much as she was but she has a weakness of the bladder so she cannot retain her water which causes her to suffer much this hot weather as it is so hard to raise her to get dry things under her. She thinks if she could only get so she could stand, she perhaps would get better. It is now three weeks that they have had to sit up with her every night and it takes so many to lift her it seems that everyone is nearly broke down. I will let you know as often as I can her true situation. I sit up every night or every other night with the dear old lady until my own trials came. Since that, I have not been able but Miss Polly has. She sleeps very little now — seems to feel more pain from her fall.

Mr. Wilkes preached a fine sermon for us on Monday evening after Betsy was buried. There was a good many here. The house was full of white people and a great many black ones. He stood in the piazza. Oh how I did wish to see you. I wanted to send for [your brothers] George and Moreau on Sunday night but your Pa said it would not do. It would alarm Ellen too much. But George heard of it Monday morning and jumped on his horse and galloped down here. Poor fellow. He looked as pale as death when he got here. I thought how soon would you and Isaac come too if you were only in reach but we must be resigned.

Moreau is not in good health. He looks very pale. He has fell several times just like he had been shot. He stayed at home last week and took medicine and went back to George’s Sunday evening. He looks low-spirited. He is very hard indeed and takes no exercise which I think is the cause of he looking so bad. I hope when I write again to be more composed and give you more satisfaction than I now can. I can write no more.

My love to your dear parents. May the angels of peace guide and direct you all is the never ending prayer of your devoted mother, — M. D. Foust

Caroline will write next week.

 


1864: Robert Alexander Jenkins to Margaret Elizabeth Clewell

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Maggie (Clewell) Jenkins in later years

This letter was written by Robert Alexander Jenkins to Margaret Elizabeth Clewell (1840-1930), the daughter of John David Clewell (1804-1862) and Dorothea Matilda Schultz (1815-1908) of Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina. Margaret’s brother, Augustus (“Gus”) Alexander Clewell (1845-1911), served as a Private in Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment (Confederate) of North Carolina and later in Company B, 1st Battalion Sharpshooters Regiment North Carolina on 26 Apr 1862. Margaret married Robert Alexander Jenkins (1839-1917).

Duke University Library houses a manuscript entitled “Endurin’ the War,” compiled by Gertrude Jenkins containing various reminiscences, including those of Robert Alexander Jenkins, a Confederate soldier, describing his adventures leaving his northern school in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1859, the raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry by John Brown, the battle of the C.S.S. Virginia with the U.S.S. Monitor, military engagements at Hanover Court House and Seven Pines, both in Virginia, the retreat of General Joseph E. Johnston through North Carolina, the last meeting of the Confederate government, and the final surrender at Bennett House, Durham, N.C.

The volume also contains the narrative of Margaret Elizabeth Clewell, future wife of Robert A. Jenkins, describing her journey from Salem Female Academy, Salem, N.C., to Fauquier County, Va., to nurse the sick of the 21st North Carolina Infantry, the hospital and care of the sick at Thoroughfair Gap, and the battlefield at Manassas.

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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Miss M. E. Clewell, Thomasville, Davidson Co., North Carolina
Care of Mr. J. W. Thomas

Camp near Kinston, North Carolina
October 30, 1864

My kindest, sweetest M,

The Sabbath rolls on and no church bell is heard near or far except in my imagination. The Bells of G.A. is heard with the peals of one in the quiet and peaceful town of Salem. Ah, how my heart longs to be once more within its confines and to see once more one of the finest daughters in whom my heart takes great delight. Alas, though for the hopes and aspirations of devotion in these times of uncertainty and trouble for it may be that I cannot get to see her in a long, long time, and affairs just now need nursing because she thinks that I am not in earnest. Therefore, I should see her as soon as possible to convince her that I am in earnest and that my love is true. I shall see here as soon as I leave camp before I go home and if the Gov. does not disband us in thirty days, I shall try and get a shot for ____ for the purpose. I certainly am more anxious to see see her than to go home but it pains me to think that I cannot see my sweet M.

I shall however do as you say. [I] know you have good reasons for advising me as you did. Still you know, dear, I would make the whole trip to see you yet. I hope some day for she and I may be with each other all the time. I have been looking for a letter from you for the past week but have not received one yet — but shall look for one tonight.

How comes on my friends in Thomasville and Salem? Have any gone to the war? I have not heard of any Salem folks down here. Perhaps they have not yet reported. I should not be surprised if they took a good many of us in the Confederate Army. Should they do so and I have to go in infantry, I shall try and get in the first battalion. Don’t you think it would be a good idea? Does Miss. M. still think that I am not in earnest?

When did you hear from __? Has he any hope of an exchange? I would like to see him. Is he well and G — how is he? What position does he hold? How does Anna go and how is Mrs. Houton and all friends? My love to Mrs. W, regards to friends and ___ to your affectionate brother.

— Robert

 


1864: Ann (Mast) Maitland to Joseph Mast Maitland

This letter was written by Ann (Mast) Maitland, the daughter of Daniel Mast, a leader in the Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. Ann was married to James Monroe Maitland (1815-1864) of Kingston, Champaign County, Ohio. He was active in the Democratic party of Ohio. He took part in Stephen A. Douglas’s campaign, and served as a one-time representative of his district in the state legislature. The Maitlands had three children: Joseph M. Maitland, William Grier Maitland, and a daughter who died in infancy. Ann Mast’s brother, Elhanan, served as a lieutenant colonel in the Thirteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Ann wrote this letter to her oldest son, Joseph Mast Maitland (1838-1918) who enlisted on 8 August 1862 as a private in Company G, 95th Ohio Infantry. He rose to the rank of sergeant before being mustered out of the service. After the war Joseph was married to Arabella Wharton (1844-1916).

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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Sergeant J. M. Maitland, Co. G, 95th Regt. O.V.I., Memphis, Tennessee (to follow regiment)

[Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio]
July 31st, 1864

My Dear Son,

It is with pleasure I seat myself to answer your very welcome letter of the 23rd which gave us great satisfaction to hear from you again after so long a time. I am glad to hear of your good health and of your safe arrival back again. No doubt but you seen hard times and had some very narrow escapes and are very tired but I feel so thankful that your life has been spared through so many dangers and trials and I do hope you will still be preserved and kept by power divine. Still continue to cast your care on Him who careth for you. That God has been with you through so many trials, will never leave nor forsake you so long as you put your trust in him. We through the goodness of God are all well at present for which we feel very thankful.

Grier has gone to B. Church with Frank Taylor as there is a meeting in our church today on account of quarterly meeting at Pisga. We talked some of going but gave it up on account of it being so warm and dusty. Mr. and Mrs. Rettburgs are going and took Netty along with them. Grier brought Bill and Sally Sh____ home with him from Normal School last week one night to stay. They appear to be getting along very well at school. The school has been in progress one week. Grier and Billy goes in the buggy. They are all much pleased with the school. There is about 75 scholars and are not near all in yet.

There has been a great excitement here on account of the draft. There is one hundred and eight to come out of this township. The word came out from town last Saturday week in the evening that if they raised five thousand dollars against Monday morning, the men would be raised in other places and clear this township of a draft. Well, to work they went all day a Sunday and any that would not help they hoped would be drafted. So they raised the money but the men could not be had so I expect they will have to stand the draft. I believe if it had been for any other purpose they could not have raised that much money in one month so you see how the people about here feel about going to war and yet they  are very good Union people. ____ I would not give a fig for such patriotism. They very good when they can stay at home and enjoy life and have others fighting for them. I do not care much that they couldn’t get the men for I think there is some that has just as good a right to be in the army as you. But enough of that,

We received the package of letters and will take care of them for you.

Mary sends her best respects to you and wishes you to write to her soon. Well, harvest is about over and our wheat is in stock. Joseph Moss helped us and Abraham Weidman stocked for us so you only know it is well done. They intend cutting the oats tomorrow if it is a day fit. We have very dry warm weather but it has the appearance of rain today, I will now quit writing and give room for Grier. I now close by wishing you health and prosperity.

I remain your affectionate mother, — Ann Maitland

My dear brother,

I again attempt to write now again. I have not written to you for some time for the simple reason that I did not know where you had got to or when you would get back or anything about it. But I am glad and thankful that you have got back again safe and sound and that you still enjoy good health.

I am at present attending Normal School and getting along first rate and think probably I will get a certificate. Hope so at least. We have plenty of girls — about 4 times as many as boys. Bill Stewart, Bill Stonebraker, Albert Guthridge, and Evans does the teaching. So you see we have plenty of teachers.

As I sit by the open window this afternoon, I can hear and see the cars on the broad gage constantly passing and repassing all the time. I think it a great sin that they run so much on Sunday. We have not got the money yet that you sent home but it is at the Bank in Urbana and I will get it before long. Frank Taylor and Sal has got back from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

[unsigned — Grier Maitland]

 


1864: Charles R. Mosher to Augustine Sackett

Augustine Sackett(1841–1914)(Src: Anne Murray)

Augustine Sackett
(1841–1914)
(Src: Anne Murray)

This letter was written by Charles R. Mosher (1842-1867) who served in the U.S. Navy as a Third Assistant Engineer from 20 May 1863 until 3 March 1866. He was the son of John William Mosher (1811-1863) and Eliza Ann Meek (1812-1882). He is buried in Fishkill, Dutchess County, New York.

Mosher wrote the letter to Augustine Sackett (1841-1914), the son of Homer Sackett (1801-1871) and Flora Skiff (1808-1859). Sackett served in the Regular Navy, as an assistant engineer, doing duty on the ships Wissahickon, Chippewa, Ascutney, and Mattabesett. He was with the Gulf Squadron in the blockade of Mobile and capture of New Orleans; was with the North Atlantic Squadron in the sounds of North Carolina; was in the Roanoke River service, and in the conflict with the Confederate ram Albemarle. At the close of the war he resigned from the service and has since resided either at Lee, Mass., or New York City.

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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to 2nd Asst. Engr. Augustine Sackett, U. S. Gunboat Ascutney, New York City, New York

U. S. S. Chippewa
Broad River, South Carolina
January 28, 1864

Friend “Sackett,”

Your kind letter of the 19th and 20th ultimo have arrived today. I am glad to hear you are so well pleased with your ship for I am sure that adds much to the comfort of one in this life. To be  pleased with the ship and officers makes the time go smoothly by.

We are still down at Broad River doing our old duty — viz: going up and down the river — though last week we had a little fun shooting at the Rebs up at their picket station. We ran up within about 1,000 yards and anchored. Soon we commenced firing. We fired about an hour and a half. When failing to receive a reply, we ceased firing and started down the river to our anchorage.

Things remain about the same as they did when you was here. Our cabin affair turned out all right. We go up the river a short distance, anchor, go ashore, and dig clams, shoot birds, and yesterday we tried to fish a little but our net is too small so we did not get any fish.

I am still on the Glorious old Mid, but I think I will soon have a Dog watch so that the other Engineers will not think that I wish to do them out of the fun of standing the “Mid.” I saw by the papers that [Henry P.] “Gregory” was on the “Vicksburg.” [Thomas] “Heenan” ¹ thinks with you that Greg swore when he found who was in charge, “But such is life.”

Sackett, you must not expect a long letter this time for I have so many letters to write and a very short time to do it as the mail boat is behind time.

You had a good time home and are still having a good time. Well, old boy, I wish you success though I hope they won’t send you off on the “Chickopee” for I want to see you enjoy yourself in New York as long as you can. Our mail is not all distributed yet. And I want a letter from “Myra Burr” to find out whether she is home or not. If I find she is home, I will send you a letter of introduction and where she lives so that you can call on her which I wish you to do if you have time for my sake as well as for your own amusement. She will give you some music and sing for you. Besides that, you can give them my history. ²

Oh, I almost forgot. Mr. [Robert B.] Hine who went out with this boat on the first cruise wrote to “Heenan” to find out where Mr. [William] “Musgrave” was as he (Hine) says Mr. M. owes him the sum of $50. It seems Mr. M, got in debt with all who knew him and run off without paying them. But you know more about him already than I can tell you, so I may as well stop for I can hear but little good of him.

Last Sunday I went on a visit to the “Wabash.” Had a good time for almost 2 hours. After leaving the Wabash, we went to a revenue cutter which had just come in on the previous day from New York here. We had a good time. (I say we, for there was four of us here.) Each of us found someone that he knew. The only fault I could find with the officers was that they “drink strong drink” which I don’t like to see.

I must close though. Before this leaves the ship, I will add a P.S. Success and the best wishes of C. R. Mosher, Chippewa

P. S. Well Sackett, I have had a letter from my cousin. She is still at Washington so I cannot send you to see her. She will not be home for some time yet. We are having splendid weather down here now. In fact, have had all winter.

You spoke about those pictures. Don’t forget to send one. Give my kindest regards to Mr. Nones. The steerage officers all send their respects to you. Sackett, please excuse this for I don’t know when I ever wrote a letter so full of blunders. Yet I must say, I have been in a great hurry. Please write soon again and I will try to give you a better letter the next time. This is my sixth letter by this mail and I have one more to write. So you will see I have been kept quite full of business since the mail arrived. Excuse this for I have not another moment to spare. Write soon and oblige.

Yours truly, — C. R. Mosher, U.S.S. Chippewa

Part Third. Mr. [Robert H.] Thurston has just come down in the Engine Room. I asked him if he has any word to send to you. He says he wishes to be remembered to you and waits patiently to hear from you. He says he thinks the letter must have gone astray. Write to him for he is a good fellow.

— C. R. Mosher, U. S. Navy

¹ Thomas Heenan entered the US Navy as an Acting Third Assistant Engineer from 23 November 1861. He was promoted to Acting Second Assistant Engineer on 17 October 1863 and to Acting First Assistant Engineer on 28 April 1865. He was honorably discharged on 4 February 1866.

² Myra Clarke Gaines Burr (1844-1907) was the daughter of Samuel Jones Burr (1809-1885) and Caroline Chickering Read (1812-1877). They resided in Williamsburgh, Kings County, New York on Long Island. She married Dr. Henry Harrison Lowrie (1841-1916) on 16 November 1864 at Garden City. From the letter, we learn that Mosher was Myra’s cousin.


1867: John J. Wise to Henry B. Latimer

This square piano was made by J. J. Wise and Brother in Baltimore, Maryland about 1840. Smithsonian Institution.

This square piano was made by J. J. Wise and Brother in Baltimore, Maryland about 1840. Smithsonian Institution.

This letter was written by John J. Wise (1799-1879) of Baltimore, Maryland. He was the son of McKeel Wise (1755-1809) and Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Bonnewell (1779-1850) of Accomac County, Virginia.

John J. Wise established a piano manufacturing firm in Baltimore, Maryland in 1829, and he built a small number of square grand pianos and melodeons that were known to be of very good quality. In 1860, the name of the firm was changed to J. J. Wise & Brother, and instruments were built under the name of ‘J. J. Wise & Brother’, ‘John Wise & Brother’, and ‘Baltimore Piano Factory’. During the 1860s, the firm is listed at 31 Hanover Street. The company went out of business in 1877, and their instruments are exceedingly rare today.

Wise wrote the letter to Henry B. Latimer (1807-1885) — a prominent citizen of Atlanta who lived the last ten years of his life at Gainesville. He was a banker by profession. Henry probably purchased a piano from Wise for his daughter, Emma E. Latimer (1847-19xx) — a school teacher who resided with him in his Atlanta home until she married Dr. Henry Latimer Rudolph in 1875.

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to H. Latimer, Esqr., Atlanta, Georgia

Baltimore [Maryland]
July 25, 1867

H. Latimer, Esqr., Atlanta
Dear friend,

Glad to hear from you. I am glad to hear the prospects of a good crop still holds out. Regret to hear the money market is still stringent. Hope things will be easier this fall. Cotton and wheat will have the effect to bring about a circulation towards the South. There is plenty of money here but it requires a business demand to bring it out of the hands of capitalist or money holders.

I rejoice to hear you have a mild military dictator, ¹ but what business have you for a military chieftain. Surely there is peace in the land — at least there is no use for swords and shields. No one desires to look on one except to despise them. Where is our American Eagle with his trphies of freedom and liberty? Is is not a gross falsehood to talk of liberty and military commissions at the same time? How is it a man can be found to execute such a mission and a man to appoint such an one and at the same time declares he is acting without authority of law and constitution and uses his veto power — a strange consistency for longheaded men as appear to me. I would displace all the chieftains. There is but one executive. Then the President Johnson would be constant to his veto proceedings.

I will mail you some papers that you may see what we are doing and about to do. I had no hope that you had sold the piano but hope this fall you may find a purchaser. Keep a look out. Much obliged for your attention to the express.

Yours truly, — J. J. Wise


¹ General John Pope was appointed the Governor of the Third Military District on 1 April 1867, giving him total administrative control of the state of Georgia. He issued orders shortly thereafter regarding the registration of voters in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. He also issued orders that allowed African Americans to serve on juries, postponed elections, and banned city advertising in newspapers that did not favor Reconstruction. He was replaced by Gen. George G. Meade after 9 months.


1844: Hiram Bradbury Tebbets to John Clough Tebbetts

How Hiram might have looked

How Hiram might have looked

This letter was written by 32 year-old Hiram Bradbury Tebbets (1812-1890), the son of Bradbury Tebbets (1779-1823) and Polly Clough (1783-1846) of New Hampshire. Hiram B. Tebbetts earned a medical degree from the Boston Medical College in 1837 and practiced medicine for a time in the East and then in Louisiana, but gave up the practice to become a planter. In 1842, he married Laura Watson, the landed widow of Clayton Boone. He had several land holdings, but resided on a plantation purchased from the Grahams and the Benjamins that he called “Concord” for his home in New England.

Hiram wrote the letter to his older brother John Clough Tebbets (1805-1881) — a merchant in Boston. He married Mrs. Sophia (Williams) Whitman of Boston.

1844 Letter

1844 Letter

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to J. C. Tebbets, Esqr., Boston, Massachusetts
Postmarked Lake Providence, La.

Tompkin’s Bend, [Louisiana]
August 14 [1844]

Dear Brother,

I received your letter of last month informing me of your improved health etc.  It is the only letter I’ve had from you in six months. My health [has] been very good since I last wrote you with the exception of a brush of fever I had first of June as I’ve ever been since leaving the North. Laura has been in bad health this summer but it is now improving. She was attacked very much like she was last summer but has not been so sick as she was then.

I have no local news of importance to write. You have probably been informed thro’ the medium of newspapers that this country has been and continues to be almost entirely overflown. The river has been higher by several inches than it was ever known to be before. [See: Great Flood of 1844] It came over the banks early in April and still remains over. We are entirely cut off from communication with other parts of the country. Our only means of neighborhood travel is by canoes and boats. There are hundreds of Planters who are not making an ear of corn or a boll of cotton. The loss of cotton is estimated at some 400,000 bales and the damage sustained in other things is also immense. The country is in a bad condition. There are many who are making nothing and have nothing to go upon — have everything to buy and nothing to buy with. I shall not make more than half a crop though I am less injured than any of my immediate neighbors. The picking season has commenced but the weather is very unfavorable — have frequent & heavy rains.

Your business with H_____ will attend to as heretofore provided you do not come on yourself. I have been expecting your Sophia would come on and spend the winter and would like very much to have you so so.

You wrote me with regard to [our brother] Charles’ location for [medical] practice, etc. The encouragement offered to physicians is small in this part of the country. There are at least five times as many as are required to do the business. I will give you an example by stating the number and designating their location in my own neighborhood. At Providence — eight miles above me (this is a little town of about one hundred and fifty inhabitants) there are six physicians. On Swan Lake — seven miles back of me in the swamp — is another. Nine miles below on the river is another. Directly opposite on the other side of the river is another. All of these nine in number are not doing more than business enough for four. Three could do it all except a few weeks in the most sickly part of the season. The only way anyone can make anything by the practice of medicine at the present time is to go on a plantation to do business of the place for his board and get the practice of the neighborhood. when thus situated, he is at no expense and every dollar he charges is a dollar in his pocket. The object is such a case is to get into a well settled place where he can have a good field for practice. I accidentally found a situation of this kind and made money. But such places now are hard to be found. My old place was filled in less than two days after I left. There were several aiming for it but the first one there got possession and kept it. A good carpenter or blacksmith can make more money than a physician.

If Charles is yet undetermined where to go, I will make a proposition to him. I invite him to come on and spend a year with me or as much longer as he pleases. He can look about, see the country, see what opportunities there are for doing business, and if no sufficient inducement should offer to remain in this part of the country, he can then dispose of himself as he may think best. I will give him a good living, furnish him with a horse to ride, and give him books & instruments if he has use for them. I will afford him every facility for seeing the country and help him to find a situation if possible. But in order that he may not be disappointed, he should bear it in mind that he cannot come on here and make money at present. He must wait till better times. I would like very much to have him and Harriet come on and live with me as long as they can be contented. He he makes nothing, he will incur no expense.

1844 Campaign Banner for Clay & Frelinghuysen

1844 Campaign Banner for Clay & Frelinghuysen

You say you expect I’m in favor of Polk, Dallas & Annexation. You never committed a wider mistake in your life. I am in favor of no one of the trio. I go heart & hand for Clay, Frelinghuysen & Protection. Polk is a second rate lawyer — the minority candidate of the Baltimore Convention and a cowardly temporizer. He is narrow-minded, partial in his views, opposed to a National Bank, to the tariff, and to every true American interest. But he is in favor of what? Annexation — a pitiable footing on which to base a claim for the office of President of the United States. Contrasted with Henry Clay and how wide a difference do we see — a patriot, a statesman, a man of capacious mind, of consistency, firmness and integrity whose whole life has been devoted to his country’s welfare. Such a man is Henry Clay. I must stop. Tell everyone you [see] who make mention of me that I am a Whig up to the handle. Clay will be elected by a larger majority than Jackson was at his re-election —  by a larger majority even than Harrison got. I will bet on that to the amount of a round thousand.

Laura joins me in love to all. Yours etc., — H. B. T.


1864: James Hastings Drennen to Capt. James Galbreath Theaker

This captivating letter was written by James Hastings Drennen (1817-1896), the son of John Drennen (1785-1822) and Mary Power (1783-1821). James was 4 years old when his father died, and he was reared by an uncle at Wheeling Township, Belmont Co., Ohio. At age 13, he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After leaving this trade, he settled at Mt. Pleasant, Ohio.

Shortly after his marriage in 1841 to Isabella Ross Mitchell (1816-1884), he moved to a farm on Scotch Ridge in Pease Township where he farmed until moving to Martins Ferry. He was a Democrat, but later became a Whig, then a Free Soiler, and finally a Republican. He was a radical abolitionist and took delight in relating stories about the “underground railroad.” In later years, he owned and edited the Ohio Valley News in Martins Ferry. He was a member and is buried at the Scotch Ridge Presbyterian Church in Pease Township.

jamesgDrennen wrote the letter to Capt. James Galbreath Theaker (1830-1910).  James was born in Colerain Township, Belmont County, Ohio where he grew up and attended a private academy in Mount Pleasant. After attending a business school in Cleveland, Ohio, he returned to his home county, where he farmed and taught school until the outbreak of the Civil War.

He served in the war from 30 August 1862 to 6 June 1865 and was wounded at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. In the course of his service, he was promoted to captain in Company F, 50th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. From his induction into the army until his discharge, James wrote many letters to various members of his family. In 1973 a collection of 95 of these letters were published in a book called, Through one man’s eyes; the Civil War experiences of a Belmont County Volunteer: letters of James G. Theaker.

After leaving the army, James served for some time in Washington D. C., as secretary to his uncle, Thomas Clarke Theaker who was U.S. Commissioner of Patents. He then returned to his native Ohio and settled at Mount Pleasant. James married Martha Ellen Sharon 4 April 1872.

TRANSCRIPTION

Martins Ferry [Ohio]
August 22nd 1864

My Dear Sir,

I owe you an apology and a letter & I am going to give you both. Yours of July 15th found us right in the middle of harvest which was unusually late this year & no hands to be had so we had to improve every spare minute. I might have written after the days work was over; but I am getting old and writing by candle light is no pleasure & I wish corresponding with my absent friends to be a pleasure — not misery. We are not done hauling in our oats yet, but as this is a very wet morning, I am seated to give you the gossip of the day.

And first we are looking everyday for the return of our bold militia boys who have gone forth at their country’s call & I trust they will be able to recount deeds of valor done on the bloody field — but for fear their memories may prove treacherous I will merely suggest that there are rumors afloat of some very fast running — running that would grace the columns of the “Turf Register” — running with their backs to the foe, and a broad flowing stream in front which, however, presented no obstacle to their making the fastest time on record. Said running is connected with the throwing away of guns, knapsacks, haversacks, ammunition, blankets — in fact, anything & everything that might prove a hindrance to the great work before them — of leaving the foemen far behind them. But I trust it may be shown that the foe was unworthy of their steel — that the enemy came upon them in unnumbered hordes — that the disparity of numbers was greater than the tumultuous hosts of Persia that bore down on [King] Leonidas & his brave three hundred at the pass of Thermopylae. I know that our bold militia — the pride & glory of our noble state — can either give some good cause for running away, or explain the running away altogether. However this may be, their time is out and we have rumors every day of their approach but as yet only a few stragglers from the hospitals have arrived.¹

As to the weather, it has been extremely hot — in fact, very hot. That, taken in connection with the serocco blast predicted by that eminent astronomer Abraham Lincoln on the 5th of September several of our eminently useful & highly patriotic citizens of Scotch Ridge have found it necessary to emigrate to the umbrageous shades of Canada. Your old friends Hugh Pickens & Athelbert Alexander among the number. It is said that their friends have received letters from them in which they represent the mingled odors of Royalty and runaway negroes of that remote province of her royal majesty Victoria the 1st as delightful. One thing is certain, the population hereabouts is so dense that we could spare “a few more of the same sort” without serious detriment either to our patriotism or loyalty as a community.

As to the churches, the Martinsville congregation has got to so overrun with abolitionists, that those conservative christian patriots James G. Wiley and John Mitchell have found it necessary to demand their certificates that they may unite with Mount Pleasant, while Robert Finney refuses to attend or pay for the preaching of such an emasculated gospel, but fears to unite with Mount Pleasant though the fear that a taint of the moral leprosy may have crept in even there.

Our township has raised $20,000 by private subscription and the Trustees have ordered a Township levy of $10,000 to pay a bounty of $300 to 100 men to volunteer and thus save us from the danger, disgrace, and expense of a draft. Dr. Sedwick has been commissioned by the Governor to raise a company, has opened an office in Martinsville, & has 8 sworn in with about 30 others who say they are ready & willing to enlist in their country’s service. The prospect is very fair the Dr. says for raising the men, as other townships are doing nothing — or comparatively so. Colerain was to have a have a meeting last Saturday evening to see what could be done, but I have not heard the result of their deliberations. Richland refuses to do anything & thus far Mount Pleasant has not made an effort.

Talk of resistance to the draft is very common in the neighborhood, but I have not been able to trace it to any reliable source, and while I am free to admit that the copperheads are not altogether right in the upper story, I do not charge them with being such consummate fools as to make such a hair-brained effort. But if they should — why there will be occasion for parsons Olds & Medary to hang their churches in black for they will have lost many of their best members, and the copperhead candidates for public favor this fall will lose a goodly number of their warmest supporters.

As to politics, I don’t know what to say. Locally the cops [copperheads] have nominated the present incumbent for Auditor, Sheriff & Commissioner while our party have nominated Davy Thorburn for Auditor who I understand in in the last stages of consumption & will probably not live till the day of election. Somebody in Richland Township was nominated who thought somebody else should have been nominated & declined the honor. Squire [Jacob] Holloway of Flushing is our candidate for Commissioner. He is said to be quite wealthy, very unfeeling, and ambitious & therefore unpopular; but for the truth of the assertion, I cannot vouch as I have always found him very much of a gentleman.

The Cops [Copperheads] of course will nominate the Hon. Mr. [Joseph Worthington] White, the present incumbent, because he is disloyal and every way unworthy. Our men have re-nominated Hon. John [Armor] Bingham with Belmot County voting almost solid against him all the time, ostensibly because he has had it long enough and is unpopular, but really because he is antislavery — or rather was before the magnates of our party claimed to be so. We have some politicians in our county which I could wish were safely landed in Abraham’s bosom.

As to the Presidential contest, if there really should be any, or if it should rise to the dignity of a contest, I cannot speak. I do not think the Butternuts & Copperheads can harmonize at [the] Chicago [Democratic Convention], but if they should, it is no matter. Old Abe can beat any nag they may trot out, out of his boots, and we are just letting him elect himself in this state as we have other matters to attend to than fighting shadows. And the opposition has not even presented a shadow unless we count Fremont as such, and if he has a single supporter in the state he has failed to make himself heard.

I suppose you knew that Robert Amrine had sold out and gone to the West and James Steer has also sold to Lupton — his brother-in-law — and was to start today to Bainesville where he has purchased a large farm at $13,000.

I guess everybody is well that you feel any interest in. Gret [Margaretta] is so much obliged for that long letter which you were going to write. Write at your earliest convenience to your sincere friend, — James H. Drennen


¹ Drennen does not mention the unit by name but I believe he is referring to the 170th Ohio National Guard that was activated during the summer of 1864 for 90 days. They were engaged in a battle at Snicker’s Ford in July 1864 before being deactivated after 90 days service. See also — 1864: William Porter Phillips to Richard Lyons.


1844: H. Wilson Beckley to Solomon W. Beckley

This remarkable and lengthy letter was written by H. Wilson Beckley (1817-18xx), the son of Horace Beckley (1792-1877) and Abigail Willington (1794-1841) of Barre, Washington County, Vermont. Wilson wrote the letter to his younger brother, Solomon W. Beckley (1821-1847).

The letter contains an excellent description of the political atmosphere prevailing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during the 1844 Presidential Campaign — in particular, the Democratic Mass Meeting held in the city on July 4th and the speech by General Lewis Cass at the depot.

1844 Letter

1844 Letter

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to S. W. Beckley, Esq., Barre, Vermont
Postmarked Ann Arbor, Michigan

[Ann Arbor,] Washtenaw [Michigan]
House Room No. 4
July 1st 1844

Dear Brother,

Yours of the 13th was duly received. Was very glad to hear from you. Was astonished that Adeline had not received her letter which I wrote her soon after I received my tools which by the way came in good shape and very acceptable for $2.28 — cheap enough.

My health as yet is first rate. We have had so far a very wet season. It rains today (Sunday) if as some predict, one extreme follows another in this case and we have a long spell of dry hot weather, look out for breakers! There would not be well ones enough to take care of the sick one. What causes the sickness is the pond grows full of grass in July and August, the water gets low, the grass dries, and the miasmic fog which rises from that and the low lands or marshes makes an intolerable stench. If such is the case, if I don’t get it hitched on me, the good people of Michigan will see my back side — 34 dollars per month to the contrary, notwithstanding. But if it continues wet, it will be very healthy. I presume if I leave now, I shall not have the Ague at all and may not as it is but Eastern people have to become initiated to the climate by going through a process of the fever and the Ague which is a mean, mean dog to have. It depends on the attention given about the aggravation of the disease. Some have it very light; others which are careless have it very hard. Some never have it at all so you see it is a matter of chance.

I have not concluded what to do yet — whether to come home in August and then return in the fall, or run the risk of being sick by staying till late in the fall and then spending the winter in Vermont. Time and circumstances must decide that. If you will come back with me, I will return in the fall. In regard to your setting up here in Michigan, I have made no inquiries yet but will before I mail this. This place is pretty well stocked with lawyers. There is a number of judges on Ex Gov. Esqr. &c. and professors, teachers, etc. etc. There is a good deal of talent in Ann Arbor. If you wish to teach music next winter, you can do first rate here, I think.

I am chosen chorister and lead the largest choir in Ann Arbor which for excellence of tone and support of parts I never knew excelled though they need a teacher or need cuttinating [?]. I sing every Saturday eve and we have lots of singers in. I wish you were here to take my place. I feel my insufficiency. If you will come, let me know so I can make my calculations. You can spend the winter here without any danger, see the country, and see how you can do in your profession and leave Old Barre to settle their own quarrels or her divines. Bah!

July 3rd. 9 P.M.

Hon. Francis Granger

Hon. Francis Granger of New York — “6 feet 2 and well proportioned — fine figure” — HWB

I will now give you an imperfect description of matters and things as going the rounds. The Whigs have had a pole raised in the village for 6 weeks with a stuffed coon on its top. Beneath the same pole the American flag unfurled to the breeze — motto “Clay & Frelinghuysen.” In the rear stands a Clay pen (as I term it) where they meet to do business and talk politics. They chartered 3 locomotives with 3 trains of cars (they were trimmed with flags and banners) to go to Marshall — 70 miles west from Ann Arbor.  They go from Detroit and all the intermediate places to celebrate the 4th. It will be a mighty gathering. Hon. Francis Granger of New York, late Post Master General, I had the pleasure of seeing as he made a short call here today. He is 6 feet 2 and well proportioned fine figure, but the Whigs can’t do anything for Michigan is a Banner state.

Last eve the Democrats raised their Hickory pole far above the Whigs in the upper town amidst a mighty gathering and long and loud cheers, cannon, etc. This eve the Democrats raised another [pole] in the lower town in front of where I am writing. Tomorrow morning they raise another in the upper town for there is to be a multitude here tomorrow. So you see the Democrats are on hand. They go it with a perfect rush. They have some very smart men for leaders and as mean as they are smart.

7 A.M. 4th of July. It is indeed a delightful morn — the anniversary of our independence. It seems all life here grows from all quarters. 4 liberty poles with their respective banners. The Abolitionists cannot do much here — “Signal of Liberty ¹ to the con.” The pending contest will be a hard one here. I think Polk & Dallas will be elected. The new nom[inee] seeks to strike enthusiasm in the whole Democratic Party. It [Polk’s nomination] was so unexpected and I believe a southern scheme of John C. Calhoun to defeat M. Van [Buren] who was emphatically the people’s man.

In regard to [the] annex[ation of Texas], there is much to be said on both sides. It is enlarging our territory and that part too which is contaminated with slavery. It gives a greater range to slavery and more effectually giving the power unto the South. But my limits failed discussion for one. I go the Young Hickory and true democracy though the principles of the Liberty Party are the most democratic. There is today from 5 to 10 thousand present. In the forenoon we had a splendid Sabbath School celebration. We met in our respective churches and then all repaired to Presbyterian Church where there were speeches, singing &c. In the afternoon the multitude repaired in procession to the eminence just in front of the Depot to witness one of the most sublime spectacles that ever I beheld. 2 Locomotives from Detroit with a long train of cars with 1500 persons on board, the engines trimmed with hickory bushes, flags, banners, 4 [of] the most splendid military companies that could be, a brass band, and on behind car was a brass cannon pealing in thunder tomes. My pen is too feeble to describe the grandeur of the scene. Strings of waggons a mile long.

One thing more, the boys burst their cannon and most killed William — Mr. Redfield’s youngest son. Also Guy — Josiah’s youngest — was hurt pretty bad. ² He fired it off. It was emphatically a proud day for Washtenaw County. Oh, I forgot to say that Gen. Gov. Cass was present that called the gathering at the cars to escort him in. He is a noble-looking old fellow great man in every sense. He made an address, alluded to old times when he used to fight Indians. He is in favor of annex[ation]. He would make a good President. He is Michigan’s favorite and father — a very good man. ³

July 7th. Again I write and the reason I have not written this before is I have no leisure time. I never was so confined. I work week days, no evenings. Sundays we have 3 sermons so it is hard finding time to write. You will excuse me for being so long writing this. I am still well and enjoy life well. If I had my Miss Emeline here and my property, I should never return for the present, but as it is, I shall be at home some time. The gentle precautions in your last letter in regard to Miss Em may be of some use but I endeavor to keep myself right. I have some pretty strong temptations but they do not move me.

I expect Miss Mary, the oldest Hicks girl [Mary, L. Hicks, 1821-1903] will be married Thursday next 4th July to Mr. Pliny [Sykes] Lyman [1818-1868] of Shiawassee, Michigan some 30-40 miles distant. She is a little confiding innocent lovely girl. I have had many a good time with her for I knew she was engaged and I did not want to give the others encouragement. I have not committed myself at all and they think me engaged. You say you had ought to have let courting alone this 5 years and perhaps you had but you need not be married this five years. You can keep your virgin and improve her by your experienced counsel, literary attainments, &c, but for me I am old enough. But it remains yet to be seen whether I can maintain a woman or not. I feel rather ticklish about this business for I am getting pretty well along into the fixing.

I may take a start and be at home soon, and on my return home visit the falls and go by the way of New York and Boston. I want you to settle my business as soon as may be convenient and have it in a shape that I may have it together on my return. You need not drive but have that Smith concern settled if you can and that Champlain note. Perhaps Mr. Turney is going that way. If so, send by him. If not, perhaps I shall go there when I return. In regard to your setting up in Michigan, you can as well do it here an anywhere and it probably would require as much talent to do business here as there. There is new places opening all the while and why not for you as well as anywhere. You had better come here this fall and so look round, teach music this winter, and see the world some. There is nothing like blaring round, some do a great deal with a little while others with a great deal do comparatively nothing. It wants go-aheadittiveness to make a swathe through this world. There is no use of one’s cursing down for small things. Large oaks from a little acorn grow. I have always done somehow and I believe I can get a living somehow. It looks rather dark but if health is spared and no slip ups, I shall try it by and by. I have enough to make me ____ for I may not have business and to be idle with a woman on my hands for support is no pleasant theme to dwell upon, But I mean to trust to love and to be loved. He will give the necessary ability to acquire if proper application to business be observed. If I could conveniently get away from my work, I would go East soon but I do not presume it to have me leave till fall. Cannot tell what I shall do.

I wish I could see you and tell you verbatim how things are but I must desist for the present. You say you felt streaked when Kinoman wanted to settle. You say also you wish me to send you home some of the needful . I think it will be well for you not to be very flush with cash. You had better make close application to your studies for the present. You never have had to struggle through poverty as some have who have risen to eminence and wealth. I am willing to do all I can for you and the girls. I feel for them. I wish I was in a situation to do something for them and I will do all I can. I have a good many ways to pick off the change so that I do not have much to what I ought to.

I am aware of Slosson’s move by Miss Em. She tells me some things. She does not mind what is said. So you see, she is all confidence in me and shall I betray that confidence — no, never. I would rather suffer the tortures of the inquisition, it seems to me, than do it, Give my best respects also [to] Maria for she (good girls) sends hers to me often.

But I must close my epistle, trusting in ____ for the future it may be pregnant with sorrow. I know there would be such an alteration in Barre that I should not be contented and besides, what could I do. O, if that Smith house could be bought cheap now, would it not be a good time to buy it? If I could get it, it might be some inducement for me to stay in Vermont after all. Write whether you will come here or not next fall so I can make my arrangements accordingly. Give my hottest respects to all.

Monday morning, July 4, 1844

I now submit this incongruous mess to your scrutinery eye. Throw the mantle of charity on it for it comes from the honest hand of a poor mechanic. Please let me know and send me a _____ as soon as you receive this. Mary Hicks’ wedding is expected to go off Thursday. I expect to stand up with the other sis when she is married. Esther [Hicks] is a picture, no mistake.

— H. W. Beckley


¹ The Signal of Liberty was an abolitionist newspaper published in Ann Arbor. Its editors supported the Liberty Party who nominated James G. Birney and Thomas Morris on their ticket.

² Josiah Beckley (1789-1843) “was a person of wealth and property. He made several land purchases and, in the spring of 1836, opened a mercantile shop in Ann Arbor’s Huron Block on the east side of Broadway Street. The Signal of Liberty was published above the store,” one of its editors being Josiah Beckley’s brother, Guy Beckley. One of the young men injured by the accidental explosion of the cannon was Guy Beckley (1829-1893) who would have been 15 years old at the time.

[Source: The Underground Railroad in Michigan by Carol E. Mull]

³ The Ohio Statesman (Columbus, Ohio) ran the following article in it 31 July 1844 issue:

The Editor of “Signal of Liberty” takes the following notice of Gen. Cass and his remarks at the democratic mass meeting at Ann Arbor on the 4th inst. The Signal of Liberty is the organ of the abolition or liberty party in this State, and goes “to the death” against the annexation of Texas.

Lewis Cass

Lewis Cass

“Gen. Cass arrived at a late hour, he having been detained by an accident on the cars. He spoke briefly and comprehensively, with good taste. He referred appropriately to the day, and its celebration in the West at different periods since he had become a western man. Thirty-two years since, he had employed the Fourth of July in constructing a bridge over the Huron River for the passage of the regiment he commanded. He, with his troops, had been lost in the woods of Washtenaw, and were suffering from hunger and destitution in the county that now teems with all the varied products of human industry.

He then spoke of the party principles respecting a bank, tariff, &c., which he dispatched in a few sentences. The democratic nominees [Polk & Dallas] he knew personally, and could assure the democracy of Washtenaw that they were eminently worthy of of their most zealous support. He spoke at greater length on Texas, affirming that we must have  it; for if we did not take it, England would. He went on the grounds enumerated in his letter. Texas was an open country, and the possession of it would enable England to fill it with black troops, and assault the Southern States with her numerous armies, having a paradise before them, and leaving desolation behind. There was a large desert between Texas and Mexico, which with Texas annexed, would make a natural boundary between us and that Republic. He dwelt on the power and ambition of England, and the necessity of resisting her encroachments….

The whole of the General’s discourse was received with unbounded applause. He is a good sized, portly looking man, with quite a large head, evincing much force of character. As an individual, we have respect for the General. His moral character is said to be irreproachable, and he has through life been a strict total abstinence man. We remember that he was quite popular as a Governor of Michigan Territory.”


Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery