Friday, September 9, 2016


Image result for trials of the earth

I’m reading (and listening to on Audible, depending on what needs doing at the moment) a wonderful book called Trials of the Earth, set in the 1890s up to the 1930s, not too far from where I grew up. This woman---this real person who told her own, real story to a reporter in 1932,  does beat all for sheer grit and a spirit of the joy of survival that I’ve not seen in many fictional characters, let alone in the real world.   It’s certainly giving me a deeper appreciation for my own family’s struggles and labor and dedication to the land and hard work.   My family on both sides were mostly from that area, just one county apart, and I look back in amazement at the pure-D determination and keepin’ on Keepin’ on that just keeping a roof over your head must have taken. 
Quite a few men in the family fought in the Civil War, and one of my Great-Grandfathers has been a sort of family legend, for he survived ten devastating battles:
Gettysburg, Falling Water, Bristoe Station,  Battle of the Wilderness,  Spottsylvania, Hanover Junction, Cold Harbor, Ft. McCray, Fort Bratton, and he was taken POW at battle of Hatcher’s Run in April, 1865 and released after taking the Oath of Allegiance in Maryland in June, 1865. 

The following is from a letter written by him in 1915; one of the researchers of our “tree” says that his memory of the order of things is a little off, but I got the above list from his military records.   Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity may recognize the rambly sentences and unrelated tangents which so pepper my own prose---must be a family trait.   I have also seen a copy of the letter, but have not held it in my hands.  I cannot imagine the honor of holding and reading those hand-written pages.

 "I was born in Franklin County, Tenn., the 3rd of April 1838. My father moved to this county the next winter before I was one year old on a place now belonging to Mr. A P Hudson, joining land with Mr. Ruben Cox. He was there when we moved there and was the only man that lived near us. My father then bought a place 9 miles east of Coffeeville on the Pontotoc road where he died when I was about 15 or 16 years old.

"The Indians were in this country when we moved here, also some bears, wolves, turkeys and squirrels were plentiful. Times were altogether different then to what they are now. No railroads were here, then people took their cotton to Memphis on wagons and sold it and brought back their supplies they needed for the coming year. If you needed a little money in the fall, your neighbor had it for you.

"Coffeeville at that time was all on the hill, there was only two business houses there at that time. Messrs. Newburger and Raybourn owned those stores.
"John Murry was sheriff, John Ramsey was his deputy sheriff. Mr. Ramsey was raised in less that one-half mile from where our present sheriff was born and raised. He went to see his best girl one day late in the fall. Her father had killed a hog the day before. The people in those days did not bob the hog's tails like they do now. While the old man was returning thanks Ramsey took his fork and lifted the tail on his plate and said he would have that piece sure. 

Monument to Davis' Brigade of Heth's Division of Hill's 3rd Corps in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia

"The Civil War came on. I volunteered May the 2nd, 1862, and got back home June 15th, 1865. I joined Captain John Powell's company at Coffeeville, went to Grenada and stayed a few days, then to Oxford and stayed a few days, back to Grenada and joined the regiment.   J. R. Miller was our colonel.  

"We went from Grenada to Richmond, Virginia. There we joined Joe Davis' brigade the second, eleventh and forty-second Mississippi regiments and two North Carolina regiments constituted the brigade. We joined Heth's division, A.P. Hill's corps. We guarded prisoners and did picket duty the most of 1863. The battle of the Wilderness was the first big fight we were in.
"The next fight we had was near Spotsvalina (sic) court house. The next was Gettysburg.   I had seven holes shot in my clothing, but I never had the skin broke all during the war.
State of Mississippi Monument at Gettysburg

"I had lived in Yalobusha County ever since I was one year old, except during the civil war. I am now living on a place I moved on in 1867 in two miles of the place my father settled on when he first moved to this county, joining land with the place he died on. I will soon be 78 years old. I never paid any fine of any kind and never have been arrested. I know no man who has been in Yalobusha County as long as I have been. 

"Hoping I will be the oldest resident,
I am, 
Yours truly,"


NanaDiana said...

Wow! What a wonderful piece of history there! I love stuff like that!
Hope you have a GREAT weekend- xo Diana

Kathy said...

That letter is amazing! Like Diana I am crazy about stuff like that. That's why I was a history major in college. You have a gem for sure.

GSL said...

The most impressive "Yours Truly" I may ever come across. Darling Rachel, I don't need any genetic analysis to confirm that his prose chromosome made a direct trip into your beautiful pen.
I have a sudden craving for sautéed hog tail.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

What a wonderful piece! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Beverly said...

Rachel, I can't begin to thank you enough for sharing this. What an incredible treasure to have in your family.

My husband and I both do genealogy research. I started when I was eight years old, so that means I have been working on this for 56 years. We each spend time working almost every day, and we never tire of it. It is a lifetime adventure for us.

Kim S. said...

I have a couple of old letters written to family during the War. A state archivist filed them and then scanned them onto paper and a disc. You've inspired me. I need to get them out and start transcribing them. Wonder words - they DO seem to run in the family!