This letter was written by 22 year-old Elizabeth (“Bettie”) C. Shirley (1842-1873), the daughter of Zachariah Shirley (1819-1908) and Mary Polly Koontz (1815-1856) of Massanutten, Rockingham county, Virginia. Bettie married William E. Gaines (1833-1893) in 1866.
Bettie wrote the letter to her cousin, Ezra Paul Koontz (1846-1926), the son of Michael Koontz (1818-1870) and Hannah Fitzmoyer (1811-1882) who had a farm on Millcreek in Rinkerton near the town of Mt. Jackson, Shenandoah county, Virginia.
Sunday evening, February 5, 1865
My Dear Cousin,
Your very kind and welcome letter of January 30 was received with a great deal of pleasure yesterday. I just returned from Lexington a few days ago. I found them all well at home. Also left them well.
We have a great deal of talk here about peace. There are a great many people think we will have peace soon. I hope and pray it may be so. I am indeed tired of this cruel war. I know you all will be glad when you will be done looking at Yankees. I for one never want to look at another one as long as I live.
I have no news to write that would interest you and the girls must come up to see me if we have peace. I am so very anxious to see you all. Tell Cousin Milly she has never answered the last letter I wrote to her. I am glad to hear you have a chance to stay at home for awhile. I really hope you will never have to go in the army again but if you do have to go, be cheerful with the thought that you are fighting for a good cause and that through God’s providence, it will all be right some day.
Cousin Ezra, when you write again, I want you to let me know what you think about the times. I think it as bad as it can be.
Give my love to Cousin Milly [Emelia] & Addie [Adeline] and your Mother & Papa and tell them I would like to see them. I will now close my badly written letter as I have nothing of importance to write. I want you to write to me whenever you can. I will always be glad to hear from you. I have been looking for a letter from you for a long time. I began to think you did not intend to write to me when at last I got one. Goodbye and believe me your ever affectionate cousin, — Bettie C. Shirley
N. B. I will send you an obituary of sister Eveline’s death. I hope you will excuse all mistakes for you see they are plenty. I don’t know when I have made as many before, — B. C. S.