1865: Elam Culbertson Williams & Mary Ann (Thompson) Williams to Ashiel Washington Thompson

This letter was written by Elam Culbertson Williams (1819-1891), the husband of Mary Ann (Thompson) Williams (1828-1915), to his father-in-law, Ashiel Washington Thompson of Jefferson, Chesterfield county, South Carolina. Elam was ordained as a minister in 1845 and served as pastor for Meadow Branch Church, Wingate, North Carolina, from 1846 to 1855. Prior to the Civil War, held property in Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, including more than 30 slaves.

In his letter, Elam advises his father-in-law to move his property out of way of Sherman’s army who were anticipated to pass through South Carolina on their way north.

Sherman’s troops burning a railway depot in South Carolina.


Union, North Carolina
January 18th [1865]
Wednesday morning at home,

Dear Father & Family,

We got home last night and found all well. We got to Mr. Parker’s on Monday night on Lane’s Creek. Father, I lost my watch key and I suppose I must have dropped it where I fell down. It has a small brass chain [attached] to it. If you please, look for it for me. I would be glad to get it again.

I will say to you that the depot at Salisbury was burnt on Friday night. About half the town was burnt and a great amount of provisions. It is said that Raleigh was burnt also, It is the Yankee work. Mary says [to] tell you that you that you had better to move all that you can out of the state, but you know best for [ ] but that is done to assist Sherman. And I understand that our soldiers are deserting every night and going to the Yankees to keep from starving.

Father, do as you please, but I think you had better make room for Old Sherman to pass for he will surely come this spring. I want to hear from you soon and I want to hear from Mr. D. Johnson. Write or come soon. Your affectionate son and daughter, — E. C. W. & M. A. W.

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