Lightfoot Paper, 1865
The pink sample is like the dress Sarah sold to me. I wish thee would get something as good and be sure that it is neat and pretty, rather dark too.
Gainesville [Georgia] May 28th 1865
My dear, dear Sisters. Mr. Dodge and his son Henry need to leave this A.M. and say they expect to start for the North early next weeks and they are willing to carry letters for us so I will embrace the opportunity to write by them. (I would rather embrace my sisters than an opportunity!) This is very poor paper. I am afraid it will not be intelligible.-
You at the North do not know any thing about the war – it was too far off – you did not feel it – you were not Blockaded did not have to wear Bow-wow shoes and Cat Skin slippers or braid hats for your children and I am glad that you did not feel it an am sorry for those here who are suffering from want of the necessaries of life. There is scarce a day passes that we do not have some poor woman here to get a little corn or meal to feed their children. We all through have been nearly eat out of house and home by the soldiers returning to their homes. One night we had eleven stop to get supper and all wanted their horses fed too. I fear there will be suffering in the South before the crop is made. Tell Ruth that I rec’d [received] her letter by 7th of June and wishes she had written on a larger sheet. Tell her I want her to write and describe their new plans and the house and closet in it. I should love to see the place. How is Ada [?] I wonder if she is most as tall as our Sarah. I believe she is only nine months older. Our Sarah is tall and spare – (rather comely) fair and most every one that sees Eliza [illegible]’s likeness thinks it was taken for Sarah. I showed it to Mrs. Rich and she says “when did you have it taken?” – I want to see all our nephews and nieces as well as the rest of you. How does Mary occupy her time? Tell her that Nicholas can say the Creed as well as she can – he has
learned it at Sunday School – He and Sarah go. – The war has ended as we wished it. But there are some who must be bitterly disappointed. Mr. Hall for one – he was rich before the war and he strained every energy to gain this cause [;] invested his property in Bonds (Confederate) had two hundred thousand dollars invested in them. His is so much disappointed that he talks of leaving the Country. The ladies seemed entirely devoted to the cause they were always knitting for the soldiers or doing something. Last fall they commenced having prayer meetings to pray for the success of this cause – held them every P.M. till the weather became too cold. I never attended one of them or knit a sock or took a stitch for one of them. I was asked to contribute to buy something for the shirts for the first company that went from here but I told them I could not conscientiously do it. So they left me in peace and quietness but I do not expect they wished blessings on me. We have passed through safely which I feared sometimes we should not do when I would hear of Union men being killed. The worst thing that ever happened here in Gainesville took place early last Nov. – Some twenty four Confederate soldiers brought about the same number of men prisoners from Pickens and the neighboring county[;] said they were part of a home guard that was organized to keep out of the army. The next day they sent twelve of the prisoners on to Athens and about noon they took the other twelve and carried them a half mile the other side of the village [;] tied them three and three together and shot them down. They borrowed the spades of Mrs. Banks and told her they were going to make the men dig their own graves. They did not do it [;] they
went off and left them all in a heap and the people from the village went out the next day buried them. We did not hear of it till the day afterwards. The [_usdens] were with the soldiers and helped murder them. They are desperately wicked men, live in Pickens. The men never had any form of trial and the soldiers would not go out to shoot them til they had got some spirits to drink. One of the men killed was only sixteen years old and begged piteously for his life. But there was no mercy in the men. Such lawless doings as that terrified me. – Miss Philo Banks was married about a month since to a Lieut. Henry Blackshear said to be a fine young man of four or five years younger than herself. I think I wrote to you at New Year’s that Susan was married to a Mr. Plodger [,] Presiding Elder. That is something ahead of a Circuit Rider. – Mrs. [illegible] Brown has a young son – her first child. Miss Ann Brown has a dreadful eruption on her face[;] has had it more than a year[;] has recently been in Augusta for medical advice – is now staying at the Sulphur Spring.
We have been planting early peas for two weeks [;] our late and best peas are just beginning to bloom. Wheat and Rye are headed up. Did Mrs. Stephens take a great interest in the progress of the war? Did you not get discouraged in the early part of the war by the success of the Confederate arms? Did Cornelius make any “peace makers”? I saw an account of one Monitor that he made – the “Catskill”. – Sarah and Ben are expecting to be free – they have behaved well during the war. Sarah sold me a dress last year to make Sarah some dresses of. I agreed to give her a new calico for it when the war [illegible] ended – If any of you come out here
this summer I wish thee would buy her a good calico[;] something neat and pretty – She never buys anything gay – has good taste. It was kind in her to let me have the dress. I will pay for it where you come out. I hope some of you will come out in peach time. The trees are loaded. I am as full of happiness as I can be – My skin is full because the war is ended and the Jeff Davis dynasty is ended – We were tired to death of it and him. What are you going to do with him and Gov. [Joseph E.] Brown?
Some people here seem to think that all the land is to be confiscated and the negroes set free. George does not believe that the negroes are to be freed without it is done by the States themselves [;] neither does he believe in confiscation except in the property of the leaders of the Rebellion. June 2nd. Mrs. Blackshear (Philo) and Mrs. [H____?] were out here day before yesterday. Mrs. Brown thinks the negroes are free by Lincoln’s proclamation. I told her that was a stratagem of war and not constitutional. She thinks that we are going to be colonies (or says so!) She is bitterly disappointed at the way things have turned out. I can make allowance for her feeling disappointed but not for her [enormous?] talk or Mrs. [H____?] I wished in my heart that she had stayed at home. – She (Mrs. Brown) says they will go to Mexico to live as soon as they can get money to take them there. Her son [James?] has been a Union man all through and I guess he gets disgusted with his mother’s talk. She presented a flag to the first company that went from here. – Did I tell you in that letter that I wrote New Year day that Mrs. Katie Thomas Hank was dead? She has left three little girls. Third day I went up to see Mrs. Dodge and bid them goodbye. They live where he has been [did] by the National church. She expects not to stop in New York but go right on to Maine (Saco).
[Upside down at top of page 5] I thought I would not ask things to carry the [illegible] I have written for thee but don’t tell [illegible] of [illegible] came out. Write soon to your sister [illegible.]
Her daughter Louisa (Miss Loo everyone calls her) will stop in Brooklyn and make a visit at 120 Congress Street. I hope thee and Mary will call on her. – I think you will like her – she is a great favorite in Gainesville. They have lived here three years and it would be pleasant to see her and talk about matters and things connected with the place. I was sorry that Mrs. Dodge was not going to stop [;] she is such a lovely person in appearance and character. I admire all of them – The Father Arthur Son & daughter. I told this son I was going to ask thee to call on her [.] I bought Mrs. Dodge’s sandals. I have been without Indian Rubber three years. Have some thick shoes. They did not make leather here that would wear like the leather we used to get from the North. I saw Mrs. Brewster’s little girl at Mrs. Dodge’s the other day – she had on a pair of cloth gaiters (Northern make) her mother bought them in Athens in the winter giving $75. for them.
Hannah my eyes seem to see something pretty – if any of our folks come out here this Summer of Fall I want thee, Ruth, Mary and Lucy each to send me samples of all the dresses you have had since the beginning of the war. Thee had a new silk that Spring the war commenced and said thee would send me a sample of it but it never came. Mrs. Rivers in reading that story that I was reading the in the Sunday Times that John sent me entitled East Lynne or the Earl’s daughter. I expect to get it and finish reading it. I would like to get hold of that story that I was reading the in the New York Times – The Silver Lord – it was very interesting and I have often thought of it and wondered how it all ended. What has Ruth done with that plaid silk she had – a purple and black plaid, a beautiful thing? I thought I never saw the dress but the samples.
[Upside down at top of page 6] The Dodge’s now think of going by the way of Chicago. Do not know how long they will stop there.
When thee writes please tell me how calico’s sell – very high I expect. I will send thee a sample of all the dresses I have had through the war. At the beginning of it I bought two dresses like the sample enclosed and those are all the new ones I have had. I hang on to all my old ones just as long as I could make them last and I often thought of the [illegible] amiss. If it had not been for the good supply of things I brought from the North that I bought and things that were given me I think I would not have weathered the storm. The little blue cloak that Lucy gave me for Sarah – she has worn three winters – Last winter I ripped it up [illegible] and let out what had turned up at the top and I think she will be able to wear it all winter. The Bible says “as your days so shall your strengths be” [.] I can’t help thinking sometimes that the back’s not strong enough for the burden, especially when it is [Corns?].
First day. P.M. My back feels strong enough to day for any burdens – I am feeling very well – have been up to Church[;] had called in to see Mrs. Dodge – I gave Miss Loo a pair of stockings that I knit form Sarah and she has outgrown them[.] I thought they would [fit]. Knit Adah – Ruth’s little girl – I asked her to give to thee to give them to Ruth – Inside of the stockings there is a packed cushion for James – Thee can give it to him when thee sees him. Hannah will thee [illegible] for my sakes take Miss Loo down to Ruth’s place to see her[?] – I asked her to write to me and tell me all about you when she got to Maine. I want her to see and get acquainted with Ruth lands family. I wish I had something to send to all of you – I hope Miss Loo will show thee the hat that was braided here – I braid such for Nicholas and Sarah. They are very durable. I will write a page to send to Ruth inside of this – Love to John, Mary “Pa” Cornelius Ruth and Family.