Saturday, March 15, 2008

Letters From History

My paternal grandfather's family is from the hinterlands of northern Pennsylvania. From what I can tell they've always been good, hard-working, not rich people. His parents were barely-making-ends-meet dairy farmers--especially during the Great Depression--and didn't even own their land. I know that my grandfather and nana would periodically send money back to his parents. I have some of the canceled checks.

My parents are both better off financially than I am--and I expect that after several decades of work. I can't imagine it being the other way around, of supporting them. I guess I'm pretty lucky.

Grandpa's people were "savers". I used to be a saver, but I've changed somewhat. But they saved everything--which is affording me an opportunity to enjoy a treasure trove of pictures and letters.

And I'm going to share some of these letters with you.

My great-great-great-grandfather, Joseph Leonard, was drafted into the Union army in November, 1864. At the time he was as old as I am now--thirty-twelve. I don't have any of the letters he wrote home to Pennsylvania, but I do have a few of the letters sent to him during his 7 months as a soldier.

I'm going to scan those letters and post them, one at a time, here on this blog.

I marvel at the beautiful script and the choice of language. I enjoy the first-person glimpse into the lives of the people who wrote those letters. I cringe at my great-great-great-grandmother's poor spelling, but who knows how much schooling she had. Her writing, though, is beautiful.

So with this introduction I create a new label, Letters From History, and take you back to near the end of the Civil War. I hope you enjoy these letters as much as I do.


nebraska girl said...

I can't wait to see these letters. no one in my family was really a saver, so we don't have anything beyond my great-grandparents.

russelllindsey said...

That is too cool! I love family history and history in general. My Grandma has letters that were sent to her by her grandparents back in the 1950s. They are certainly treasures.


Dan Edwards said...

Cool ! I have a newspaper clipping of a letter sent home by one of my US Civil War ancestors (Pvt. James Dunlap, Co. B., 87th Ill. Infantry, Died May 1864, burial Memphis National Cemetery --- he didn't make it home, died of chronic dysentery.) Looking forward to reading your family historical letters !

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to your letters. None of my family has letters like this. Amazing that yours does.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Thank you so much for this!

Darren said...

It is genuinely my pleasure. I'm glad you appreciate it.

Ellen K said...

I have a stack of love letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother when she was a girl in what was then the Oklahoma Territory. I don't know if I can bear to read them. I never really got to know her. She died when I was five. There's also a stack tied with a purple ribbon of letters that my Dad-then 18 years old-sent home from Japan during the Occupation. I don't know if I can bear to read those either. I may donate them to a WWII archive if I can find one that is interested. He would never talk about that time in his life. It must have been terrifying.

EHT said...

Now these ARE the kind of things you save. Thanks for letting me know you were posting these. Now they are here for posterity unless you take down your site....please don't.