Category Archives: Ohio Homefront

1861: Polly (Sackett) Giddings to Claudius Joseph Giddings

An unidentified Northern Mother (Rob Morgan Collection)

Though I cannot confirm it, I believe this letter to have been written by Polly (Sackett) Giddings (1822-1864), the daughter of Thomas and Lucy Sackett and the widow of Emery Sidney Giddings (1815-1851). The “Grandmother” mentioned in the letter would have been Polly’s mother-in-law, Philothea (Fish) Giddings (1782-1868)—the widow of Elisha Giddings (1780-1855). “Maple Grove Farm” was the name of the Giddings estate in Cherry Valley that eventually was taken over by Sidney’s brother, Josiah Marvin Giddings (1812-1892). The “Grandpa” mentioned in the last line of the letter would have been Polly’s father, Thomas T. Sackett (1794-1864) who resided in Geauga County, Ohio. Polly Giddings was known to be a member of the First Congregational Church of Wayne in Ashtabula County. According to the History of the church, she became a member in January 1847. Her husband’s parents were charter members in 1832.

If the letter was written by Polly, then it was addressed to her son, Claudius Joseph Giddings (1843-1928) who was apparently in relatively poor health and living with an Uncle’s family, possibly working as a printer while attending school. Polly’s son, who later went by the name “Claude J. Giddings” moved to Vasalia, California, in the 1870s and became a banker. According to his obituary, he attracted attention when at age 64 he married 21 year-old Anna Olsen.

The letter contains a well-crafted statement that captures the sentiment, undoubtedly, of many mothers who resided in both the North and the South who saw the approach of war unfold before them and despaired that they might lose a son in an irrational conflict brought on by extremists with opposing views, drawing the “conservatives into the perils and horrors of civil war.”

[This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent on Spared & Shared.]

Transcription

Maple Grove Farm
April 22, 1861

My dear Joseph,

Your Grandma is anxious about you and insists I should write although my last is unanswered. There is so much excitement all over the country and especially about you in Pitts. Yesterday while at church, Esq. Abel Krum, 1 our Representative to Columbus, entered the church direct from that City with exciting war news. He went into Mr. [Heman] Geer’s 2 pulpit to announce that when he left [Columbus], Jeff Davis was marching to take Washington and probably now they were engaged with the Federal troops fighting. He then came on to our [Congregational] church requesting that our citizens would call a meeting and see who would volunteer for defense of the Southern part of our state [Ohio] where they had already been skirmishing. He had not yet been to call on his family. Returns to Columbus this Monday morning again.

Tomorrow evening the citizens meet. The cannons have been heard here this morning and again since three o’clock, the wind very strong in the east and the air filled with smoke ever since sunrise. Shouldn’t be surprised if its from the fire of our public buildings. And so the antagonist factions have succeeded in drawing us conservatives into the perils and horrors of civil war. If the fire eaters of the South and ultraist of the North alone could meet and both get whipped, it might cool off their excited blood. But here we are in a family quarrel like naughty children trying to break the Will of a deceased parent. So we of the South and North, trying to break the Constitution, having lost in a manner respect for the opinions of the Fathers who with wisdom framed it and adopted the motto, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

“And so the antagonist factions have succeeded in drawing us conservatives into the perils and horrors of civil war. If the fire eaters of the South and ultraist of the North alone could meet and both get whipped, it might cool off their excited blood. But here we are in a family quarrel like naughty children trying to break the Will of a deceased parent.”

—Polly (Sackett) Giddings, 22 April 1861

Well politicians have their plans, military men theirs, and Jeff Davis his. But above all, God has His and “causes the wrath of man to praise Him” and the remainder “He will restrain.”

Your Grandma fears you may be so enthusiastic that you may be persuaded to volunteer. I trust not. I should not be willing except you have first given your heart to God and then, if prepared to die and it was necessary to thus take your life in your hands and go to defend your country’s honor, I should not object.

George proposes to visit us in July or August and we wish you to accompany him as he will stat but a few days. Grandma thinks it would do you good, improve your health, &c. We think if you would come home and work on the farm a little, it would help your health and divert disease while this night printing will fasten upon your system. George has an engagement to teach in the institution for 10 months—salary 200 dollars. teaches algebra, geometry, philosophy, Latin, &c., and gets time to study. Commenced the 12th of April. I know you must be very busy but I do want you to write.

John Brown is in Canada. 3 Has been all winter drilling the colored people (for active service somewhere—so say the abolition friends here). The professed purpose has been to help and persuade them to emigrate to Haiti. Alfred works for Wolcott. Spends the Sabbaths at home and when you and George come, I will keep house at home and entertain you. I shall not got to Illinois at present.

Have late news from Aunt H. and C. Both are well. Carrie is so happy with that blue-eyed baby. George says Cousin Virginia’s boy weighed 11.5 pounds. How are they all at Uncle Robert’s? Have you joined society again. So write soon. From, — Mother

Grandma is bad. Can scarcely get up or down. Grandpa is doing alone. Shall have 9 cows. Have 5 calves.


1 Abel Krum (1805-1881) was born in Kinderhook, Columbia county, New York. He died in Cherry Valley, Ashtabula county, Ohio.

2 Heman Geer (1819-1892) was a Congregational Clergyman in Ashtabula county, Ohio. He was in the pulpit of the Wayne Congregational Church from October 1857 to January 1867. He died at Tabor, Iowa.

3 A reference to John Brown, Jr. (son of the martyr). The Detroit Free Press on 19 May 1861 had less than kind things to say about Brown’s attempts to relocate escaped slaves from Canada to Haiti: “That notorious character, John Brown, Jr., is now at Windsor, accompanied by an ebony-colored individual who styles himself Captain Tate and hails from Hayti. Does John Brow for one moment entertain the idea that, by bringing his Haytien friend with him to exhibit as a specimen of what Hayti produces, he will prevail upon the Canada niggers to leave a country where they can subsist by stealing, and go where they will be obliged to labor for a livelihood? It cannot be accomplished; it is beyong the power of man.”

1861: Mary C. Stewart to Sarah Elizabeth Russell

Libby Russell, ca. 1855

This letter was penned in June 1861 by a young school teacher who signed her name “Mary.” The content of the letter suggests to me that she was actually from the same same village as the young woman she was writing to which was her friend, Sarah Elizabeth (“Libbie”) Russell (1834-1925), the daughter of Luther Russell (1802-1878) and Polly E. Russell (1806-1896) of Streetsboro, Portage county, Ohio. The 1860 US Census for Streetsboro reveals a school teacher by the name of Mary C. Stewart (b. 1832) who was single and living with her parents. Since it was not uncommon for school teachers to leave their hometowns and teach in rural school districts while boarding with families of the students, my hunch is that this letter was written by Mary C. Stewart though of course I cannot confirm that by anything in the letter.

Mary’s patriotic envelope and stationery immediately arrest the eye but what is most interesting and appropriate is the postmark “Freedom, Ohio” given the content of her letter. Written prior to any major battle, Mary’s letter foreshadows the “blighting scourge” that is about to descend on the Nation, delivering “horror and despair” to the mothers and sisters who are already “shedding bitter tears over loved ones that have left them for the battlefield.” Mary lays the cause of the war on the evil “Slavery!” but also expresses her belief that the “agitators” (abolitionists) are as much to blame for sparking the war because they “sought at once” to eradicate the evil rather that trust that task to God.

The recipient of this letter (Libbie) never married. Her younger sister, Helen M. Russell (1841-1881), was betrothed to Corp. James (“Jimmie”) Fitzpatrick of Co. D, 104th OVI. He was shot in the head in the fighting near Dallas, Georgia on 28 May 1864 and died two days later.

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

Transcription

Addressed to Miss Libbie Russell, Streetsboro, Portage County, Ohio
Postmarked Freedom, Ohio, July 1 [1861]

Freedom [Portage county, Ohio]
June 21, 1861

Dear Libbie,

Your kind letter was received long since and would ere this have been answered had not time laden with its many duties sped so swiftly onward giving me no opportunity to perform the pleasant task of writing to you.

I am teaching. Have a pleasant school of about thirty scholars. Plenty to do have I not? Yes, I find no time to loiter by the way to cull the flowers of ease and pleasure. Tis well for to the clarion call of duty so we owe strength of purpose and earnestness of life. Rousing the soul from its lethargic slumber and thrilling its inmost recesses, it breaths an inspiration that bids us, “do and dare”—noble things. I love to think of the many hearts that have responded to this call and gone forth to gladden the world by their deeds of love, silently and patiently they tread the uneven places, evincing that spirit of self forgetfulness that seeks not its own.

In the unwritten history of such lives, is a moral heroism, unequaled by many whom the world calls great, and I doubt not that in the day of final judgment, hearts that have thus lived and suffered will have won the brightest crown.

There is Libbie now but one topic of conversation in our little village. “War” is on every tongue. Mother and sisters are shedding bitter tears over loved ones that have left them for the battlefield. Is it true that the war-cry is sounding throughout our land? That our nation, once so prosperous. is to be visited by such a blighting scourge, making desolate our homes and spreading horror and despair all around? To me it seems like a fearful dream. I cannot realize it.

Our glorious Union, purchased by the brave heroes of ’76—gone forever. And what has been the rock upon which it has been wrecked? Slavery! a fearful evil that has ever been a dark stain upon our nation, and now threatens to prove its overthrow. The subject of slavery has been agitating the political world for many years and I can but think that many of the agitators have lost sight of that declaration—“Vengeance in mine. I will repay saith the Lord.” In their mistaken zeal they have sought at once to utterly eradicate an evil—that time and the power of which is ever on the side of right can alone destroy. Evils exist all around us over which we may weep and pray, and yet they be not removed. We can only commend our cause to God, believing that in His own time He will remove them. The question of slavery and all party distinctions are now forgotten in the desire to “save the Union” and I trust that it may yet be preserved, that the stars of our national banner may never be diminished but sustained by the brave descendants of the patriots of ’76—may continue to float proudly over our land. May God speed the right.

Oh Libbie, I want to see you “so bad” and all your friend at home. Present my kind regards to them and Helen. Tell her that I think of her often. May God bless her in her labors and make her useful in training the tender mind of youth.

Give my love to the Miss Combs. Tell Addie I do want to write to her but cannot find time. My love to Nancy Russell and tell her that she need not be surprised if she should receive a letter from me for I am thinking of writing. Libbie, please write soon—very soon. I have enclosed a letter to the scholars which Hellen will please give them. Also a note to Addie and Emma Patterson. When will [you] visit me Libbie? Ever your friend, — Mary

1862-63: John Mortimer Carr to Pembroke S. Scott

These letters were written by John Mortimer (“Mort”) Carr (1827-1904) of Taylor Creek township, Hardin County, Ohio. Mort was married to Maria Scott (1838-1871) in 1854. The couple had four children at the time these letters were written; Thornton (“Thornt”) Washington Carr (1855-1889), Jennie B. Carr (1857-1929), Maud Charlotte Carr (b. 1859), and Scott Sieg Carr (b. 1862). Census records inform us that Mort was a farmer but these letters reveal that he was also a stockman who raised hogs for the Eastern markets as well as sheep.

Mort wrote the letters to his brother-in-law, Pembroke S. (“Snook”) Scott (1842-1864), a private with the 118th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered into service on August 11, 1862. This regiment saw action as part of Burnside’s Campaign in East Tennessee from August 16- October 17, 1863. Afterwards, they served near Kingston, Tennessee, until moving to Nashville in December. They then joined the Atlanta Campaign from May 1 to September 8. Pembroke was killed in battle on May 14, 1864 at Resaca, Ga. [See 1862: Pembroke S. Scott to Jane (Patterson) Scott published on Spared & Shared 18]

In the first letter, Mort writes of getting into a scrape with Charles Quinn (1818-1865) of Rush Creek township in Logan county, Ohio. The scuffle began with name calling (“Abolitionist!”) and resulted in thrown punches and a knife plunged that fortunately missed its mark. Though both parties pressed charges against each other, it apparently did not amount to much. Heated disputes such as this between civilians on the home front were probably more common than we realize today as news of Lincoln’s impending and controversial Emancipation Proclamation became more commonly known and debated in the fall of 1862.

Letter 1

Addressed to Mr. P. S. S. Scott, Falmouth, Ky., 118th Regiment O. V. G., Company B, In care of Capt. Kramer

Rushsylvania [Logan county, Ohio]
November 17th 1862

Mr. P. S. S. Scott, Esgq,
Dear Sir,

Yours of the 2nd inst. at hand was truly glad to hear from you and to hear that you was well again and was with your regiment. We are all well here at present and the folks in this county are generally well here.

Nothing of interest has transpired from my last but I got into some difficulty with Charley Quinn and he called me a damned abolitionist and struck me two or three times and then I took out my knife and stabbed him in the side. But lucky for him it was a glancing stick and went down instead of going in so I did not hurt him very much. We was by ourselves and he had me arrested for stabbing with intent to kill and he says he is a going to put me to the penitentiary but I do not feel much alarmed about that. I had him arrested and we had both of our trials before the same justice and we are both bound over to court and I think he will not make more than four times. Court commences the 25th inst. and we will soon know our dooms. It is causing me some trouble and will cost me right smart but I think that will be all that he can do.

I have a lot of hogs ready to ship to New York but cannot get back in time for court and I will have to sell in Buffalo if I do not sell here before I start. I will start on the 19th inst. and I have to be here on the 25th for court.

I wish you was here to go with me to Buffalo and then you could go to Niagara Falls and see one of the grandest sights that the human eye ever beheld.

I received a letter from Miller and he is a getting very low but he expects to be discharged. Dock is a getting better very slow. He says he will always be a cripple. I got a letter from J. W. M. and he is not very well but says he likes the service better that he expected. I received a letter from Mort Stiles and one from Joe and one from you all the same day and one from Frank the day or two before and one from Miller and Dock today. Mort and Frank was well. Mort said he had got a letter from home and Harper was home with the typhoid fever and one of the Colonels of that parts had come home and he had took Bill Hardin prisoner near New Orleans and he was married and was in the Rebel army. So he may get what he deserved. Goodbye, — Mort

Capt. [Solomon] Kramer is here but I have not seen him.


Letter 2

Rushsylvania [Logan county, Ohio]
December 29, 1862

Mr. P. S. Scott
Sir,

Yours of the 16th inst. [came to] hand in due time [and] was truly glad to hear from you once more and to hear that you was well. We are all well here at preset and I hope when these few imperfect lines comes to your hand, they may find you enjoying good health. There is nothing of interest a going on here at this time as I know of.

Christmas is passed and I believe the girls and the old bachelors had a party at H. H. H. on Christmas night but I do not know how they enjoyed themselves. They say they had an oyster supper. That is all I know about it. I just got home the night before Christmas from Buffalo. I was down with the hogs and found rather a hard market but I got out safe without making very much money. John Clark and Henry Rumsey went along with me and they went down to the [Niagara] Falls and enjoyed themselves well. Spent the Sabbath down there. I am a going down again next week and then I expect to go on to New York City and John is a going along with me. I wish you was here to go with us. You would have a very nice time. You would have time to go and see the Falls for U expect to stay in Buffalo as much as ten days and you could have time to see all there is to see down there.

I want to take down about three hundred hogs this time. Oh how I wish you was here to go along with us. I have not had any news from any of the boys from the Army of Virginia since I last wrote you. I have not been about home very much for some time and I think there must be some letters at the [post] office. I have not been to Rushsylvania for three months.

I believe John C. Bailey 1 was wounded in the late battle at Fredericksburg in the leg and since then he has had to have his leg taken off above the knee. So you see he will always be a cripple. I do not know whether J. W. was in the battle or not. I have not had any letter from him since the battle. If he was in the battle, he may be amongst the dead. I do not know what to think about him. I would like very much to hear from him.

I believe that Doc is at Point Lookout in the hospital yet. They say old Noah Rogers is getting fat as a bear. I believe there has nothing of interest transpired here for some time. I believe that they say that Frank [M.] Rose was married on Christmas day to one of Jim Haney’s girls [Eunice]—a very poor choice the girl made, I think. What think you? It is a rose with a thorn in it is my opinion

Well, P. S., I am writing by candle light and all of my family is around me. Maud and Jennie is laying on the bed, Sieg is asleep in the cradle. Thornt, Johnny, and Maria is looking at the pictures in my new dictionary. I got a new atlas and dictionary that I paid $18.50 for—the best in use.

I believe that I wrote you in my last that I got through with that Quinn scrape without much trouble. They say he carries a revolver for to shoot me but I do not feel much alarmed about it. If I never die till Charles Quinn kills me, I think I will live to see the war close anyhow.

I believe I will have to bring my letter to a focus. Maud says I must write a letter to you for her. Thornt says he is well. Jenney says she will send you an apple if I will put it in this letter but you will have to excuse me for I cannot get it in the envelope. We have some very fine apples and I wish you had some of them anyhow for New Years.

So good night and I wish you a happy New Year. — Mort

Write soon as you can and believe me ever your sincere friend, — Mort to Snook

Thornt says as for them chickens you wanted to know about, he says his advise is to take all you can get from them old rebels and talk to the girls in the borques [?] He says if he was you he would have a nice turkey for dinner on New Years Day if they was any Rebel turkeys that could be drafted in or around your camp. That is what’s the matter.

You said you thought you would try to get a furlough to come home on New Years. Well I wish you may get one for I would like very much to have you to take dinner with me a New Years Day.

1 John Catlett Bailey (1832-1922) of Taylor Creek township, Hardin County, Ohio, served as a private in Co. D, 4th OVI. He enlisted on 1 June 1861 and was discharged for medical disability on 24 April 1863. We learn from this letter that Pvt. Bailey was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 that necessitated the amputation of the limb, leaving him a cripple. He was married to Hortense Shepherd in 1878. He died in Kenton, Ohio.


Letter 3

Rushsylvania [Logan county, Ohio]
June 10, 1863

Mr. P. S. Scott
Dear Brother,

I received your kind letter some time ago and was truly glad to hear from you and have neglected to answer till now awaiting for to have something of interest to write you but they have nothing of that kind transpired so you must excuse me if I do not write you anything of that kind. But in the first place, we are all well here and they was all well at our Mother’s yesterday and John he was well enough to be out last Sunday night to see some of the fair sex. So you can see that it is all right with him.

Well I have got through planting corn and I did not get very much planted. I only got about nine acres planted. We had to clear all the ground that we planted but it is a coming up very nice. But it has been so dry here that they can nothing grow to do much good. The wheat is this part of the country is a going to be very poor. It cannot make over one half crop. It must be six weeks since we have had any rain to do any good toward wetting the ground here and they are still planting corn yet.

I just sheared my sheep yesterday and Maria, she is a going to work up some of the wool and I will have about ninety dollars worth to sell. I saw Mr. Canaan when he was here and he told me that you was alright and was lied first rate by all of the men in the company and I was very glad to hear that. And he said that you would et a furlough for to come home he thought before long. I would like very much to see you and would come down to see you if I had the time to spare. But if you are well and can get to come home, I suppose it will be alright.

I received a letter from Mort [Stiles] written the last days of May. He was well then and was in good spirits and he thinks that things look alright down there in Virginia. He is still at Suffolk but he thinks or says itis the opinion that prevails amongst the men and officers that that army will be moved to Hooker’s army soon.

I got a letter from J. W. M. a few days ago and he was just tolerable. Well, he was not in the battle but is one of the guards that guard the cattle and he says he has very easy times. Well, I suppose Noah Rogers was killed in the Chancellorsville Battle for he amongst the missing and it has been reported since that he was found in three or four days after and was buried and I am inclined to think it is true. They are picking up some of the deserters here now and making the balance run and hide in the woods.

So write soon and believe me ever your friend and brother, — Mort

to Snook

1863: Lizzie (Wilson) Rice to John Birchard Rice

Lizzie (Wilson) Rice

This letter was written by Sarah Eliza (Wilson) Rice (1842-1928), the daughter of James William Wilson (1816-1904) and Nancy E. Justice (1821-1904) of Fremont, Sandusky county, Ohio. Sarah—who went by “Lizzie”—was only 19 years old when she married John Birchard Rice (1832-1893), an 1857 graduate of the medical department at the University of Michigan, in December 1861.

During the Civil War, Lizzie’s husband served on the medical staff as assistant surgeon of the Tenth and then as surgeon of the Seventy-second regiments of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was also surgeon in chief of a division in the Fifteenth Army Corps and of the District of Memphis. Following the Battle of Shiloh, Gen. W. T. Sherman went out of of his way to praise Rice in his after action brigade report: “I take the liberty to refer to the important services of Surgeon John B. Rice and the assistant surgeons of the 48th, 70th, and 72nd [Ohio] Regiments. They have labored at the landing among the wounded almost incessantly night and day, taking no sleep for two days and nights.”

In this letter, Lizzie shares home-front information with her husband including the excitement raised between Union loyalists and secession sympathizers who were derisively called “Butternuts” or “Copperheads.” Her youthful exuberance relating social activity and local courtships is on full display as her husband is about to embark on an expedition down the Mississippi from Memphis to Young’s Point, opposite Vicksburg.

More on Surgeon John B. Rice:

Five of John’s Civil War letters are on-line, graciously made available to researchers at the Ohio History Connection where they are housed under the title, John Birchard Rice Civil War Letters. The Auburn University Digital Library also has a letter from Surgeon Rice to his wife dated 24 October 1864 on-line.

For an excellent article mentioning Surgeon Rice, see—“Skinned out for Memphis like Tom O’ Shanter with the devil after him,” General Samuel Sturgis, the 72nd Ohio, and the Guntown Disaster, Dan Masters’ Civil War Chronicles, published 8 June 2019.

Transcription

Home
March 28th 1863

My Own Darling Husband,

I wrote you a long letter day before yesterday, but having nothing in particular to do this evening will write you again. There is nothing going on worth writing about. It is as dull as can be here. Was out to an exhibition last evening which was as good as such exhibitions generally are. Saw Mr. Willard there and he inquired about you as he always does when he sees me.

Surgeon John B. Rice, 72nd OVI

There was a “Union Supper” over at Hocke’s Hotel 1 last evening. The way they come to have it there was this. One evening last week a number of these butternuts about town (Frinefrock 2, [Bruce] Lindsay, and others) went over there to hold one of their meetings. They abused Lincoln and the soldiers and talked “secesh” so strong that Hocke ordered them out of his house. They remonstrated, but he told them to go. They then told him that they would get their horses and go and that it would ruin him. He told the hostler to get their horses ready as soon as he could and let them go. Said there was something in his heart that told him he ought not to let them do so and he would not have it. The Union men were so pleased when they heard it that about one hundred of them went over there last night and got their supper. Do not know whether [Benjamin] Brundage & Owen were there the night they were ordered away or not.

Owen is very much taken with Live [Olivia] Bartlett. 3 Thinks she is perfection. He pays here a great deal of attention and would not be surprised if he cut out Oakley. 4 She would do a great deal better to take him, if he was not a butternut. That is the only thing I know against him. He is smarter than Oak and has a profession while Oak has no trade, profession, or anything else. The most he has ever done towards making a living is teaching school and clerking.

I received yours of the 14th day before yesterday. I cannot tell you how glad I was to hear that you had been promised a “leave of absence” when this expedition was ended. Hope it will not be very long. You had better take good care of your new clothes for I want you to present as fine an appearance as possible when you come home. I want folks to see that I have reason to be proud of you. I will not tell you how many compliments Mr. Glenn paid you, nor what they were for fear it would make you vain if I did. Amos Word has returned to his regiment. Charlie Norton has been promoted. Have almost forgotten what he is now but think it is Captain. You wrote that the weather was very pleasant. Do you have much rain? It rained here all this week until yesterday when it was very warm and pleasant. Tonight the ground is covered with snow.

Your brother Rob is expected home in a few days. He has got his “sheepskin.” Did I ever tell you that Lou Gessner 5 had gone back into the army? They are going to have a “Continental Tea Party” 6 out to Clyde next Thursday evening. Have heard a number of ladies say that they thought of going out. Ella Watson called here yesterday but I was not at home. She told me when I called on her that she was very anxious to see your picture. Said she had not seen you since you was a little fellow. That was the time I suppose when you was so much in love with her. I heard the other day that one of my schoolmates (a girl about my age) was married to a widower who had ten children. I think she is a goose to marry a man with children. She is now living in Springfield, Mass.

It is very late and will have to stop writing and go to bed. Suppose I have made about fifty mistakes in this letter. Have been talking and writing at the same time. Is Gen. [James William] Denver going down the river with you? Remember me to all friends. Suppose Owen has told you all the news that I have written, hasn’t he? He must have a special correspondent here at home who keeps him posted in regard to what is going on. But no more tonight. Did Gen. [Ralph Pomeroy] Buckland give you that kiss I sent by him?

Write often to your darling wife, — Lizzie S. Rice

All send love

Monday, March 30

Did not get this letter in the [Post] Office yesterday and it will not go out until tomorrow morning. I suppose you will get it as soon as if it had gone out this morning. Have no doubt but it will lay in the office at Cairo or perhaps travel around two or three weeks before you get it. Do not forget to write often. Affectionately your wife, — Lizzie


1 Christian F. Hocke, (1820-1863) a native of Germany, operated the hotel in Fremont, Ohio. I note that Christian died on 10 June 1863, just two and a half months after this letter was written. His 17 year-old son who was also named Christian, took over the operation of his father’s hotel and was identified as the proprietor in 1870.

2 Judge Thomas Peter Finefrock (1826-1909) practiced law in Sandusky county. He ws married to Emma Ellen Carter (1835-1910) at Fremont, Ohio. Finefrock was a life-long Democrat who took a very active role in leading the ultra-Democratic Party in an anti-Administration campaign.

3 Olivia Jane Bartlett (1842-1879) was the 21 year-old daughter of Brice J. Bartlett—a lawyer and former mayor in Fremont, Ohio. Olivia married Israel Oakley Totten on 29 March 1864. When he died two years later, she married Capt. John George Nuhfer.

4 Israel “Oakley” Totten (1841-1866) enlisted in August 1861 in Co. F, 49th OVI. He was wounded in the Battle of Stones River and discharged in August 1863. His father, William Oakley Totten, was a shipbuilder in Fremont.

5 Dr. Louis S. J. Gessner was an Asst. Surgeon on the 37th OVI. He later served briefly as the surgeon at Camp Chase, Confederate POW Camp in Columbus, and then was sent to Nashville where he was Chief Surgeon at Hospital No. 11, Army of the Cumberland, 1863-65.

6 A “Continental Tea Party” seems to have been an event designed to inspire patriotism during the war, conjuring up images of the Spirit of ’76. Some newspaper accounts of such events indicate attendees may have worn continental clothing.

1864: H. F. Chad to her Nephew

How Mrs. Chad might have looked.

This letter was written by a woman who signed her name H. F. Chad, though I can’t be certain of the middle initial as the script is unusual. She datelined her letter from Orwell, Ashtabula county, Ohio, but I cannot find any public record online under that surname even if I search under the name Chadd instead which was the more common English spelling. I can only assume they moved into the area after 1860 and left before 1870. The woman and her husband seem to be farmers based on the content of the letter and she indicates that they were having a new barn erected on the property that was being framed by Marshall Howard, a local carpenter.

She wrote the letter to an unnamed nephew who was clearly serving in the army—probably engaged in Grant’s Overland Campaign. She mentions that she was sending him some tea in the envelope and I can only assume that the lithographed paper with scenes of Washington D. C. on one side and of flowers on the reverse contained a small pouch of tea at one time.

Transcription

Orwell, Ashtabula county, Ohio
June 19, 1864

My kind and affectionate Nephew,

I now seat myself to write a few lines to you in answer to your welcome letter of the 7th that came to hand yesterday with the glad tidings that you was still well and hearty which I was very glad to hear and so was your Uncle. We had a letter from William written the 31st of May. He and Seymour was well and hearty then. They were eleven miles from Richmond. I hope the next letter I get from you that you will have the good luck to be in Richmond safe and well.

So I will send you a drawing of tea so you can take tea. I sent William some twice. He is very fond of tea.

I hope the war will be over by the 1st of July so you can have a day of rejoicing and Independence. The reason I send so small a piece of paper is so I can send some more tea and I am in a hurry for I have a hired man to get dinner for this Monday, the 20th. I had company come yesterday so I did not get it wrote but I will do better next time.

We are going to have a new barn. Mr. [Marshall J.] Howard is framing it. They think they will raise it Thursday.

You say it is very hot weather down there. We have had a very cold spring except a few days. We have had 4 days what you may call warm weather and we have had no rain to speak of for 3 weeks. Yesterday it tried to ran but did not rain enough to lay the dust. This morning it just warm enough to be comfortable.

We think of you poor fellows down there having to march and fight these hot days and I thank the Lord too for sparing you thus far and have faith to believe he will watch over you and bring you safe home.

Mrs. Sheredeen [Sheridan?] had a letter from Mack [?] wrote the 8th. He was all right then and in 5 miles of Richmond. Carol is done going to school this spring. She has been sick with 6 boils but not as bad as 6 balls would make her, I guess. Oh yes, we had two quite hard frosts this month but they did not hurt anything right here. Our corn and potatoes, oats and beans look first rate, and peas, but they are sowed late.

I often wish I was a bird that could fly down there and take a peep at you and over the field to William but I can’t and is it all right. God knows what is best. So I will leave you in God’s care and close this scribbling and do better next time. write as often as you can for we like to hear but we know you can’t have much time. This is from your aunt, — H. F. Chad