Friday, December 28, 2018

Elegant but Practical Gifts - Japonisme Parasols in Paintings by American Artists

Edward Horace Nicholson (1901 – 1966) Lady with Umbrella

Ethel Mars (1876 – 1956) Nice

Ethel Mars (1876 – 1956) Umbrella

Guy Rose (1867 – 1925) The Model

Hamilton Hamilton (1847 – 1928) A Gust of Wind

Hamilton Hamilton (1847 – 1928) Lady with a Parasol

Hamilton Hamilton (1847 – 1928) Stroll through the Garden

Jean Mannheim (1861 – 1945) Lonely Tea Party

Karl Albert Buehr (1866 – 1952) In Repose

Karl Albert Buehr (1866 – 1952) Red Headed Girl with a Parasol

Karl Albert Buehr (1866 – 1952) Under the Parasol

Karl Albert Buehr (1866 – 1952) Young Lady with Her Sunshade under the Trees

Karl Albert Buehr (1866 – 1952) Young Woman with Parasol

Lillian Mathilde Genth (1876 – 1953) Summer Morning

Lucy Drake Marlow (1890 – 1978) Parasol

Marguerite Stuber Pearson (1898 – 1978) The Red Parasol

Susan Ricker Knox (1874 – 1959) In Lilac Time

William John Hennessy (1839 – 1917) The Japanese Parasol

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Slaves - Food "Beef at Christmas..."

Reuben G. Macy, a member of the Society of Friends, Hudson, N. Y., who resided in South Carolina. "The slaves had no food allowed them besides corn, excepting at Christmas, when they had beef.''

Mr. William Leftwich, a native of Virginia, and recently of Madison Co., Alabama, now member, of the Presbyterian Church, Delhi, Ohio. "On my uncle's plantation, the food of the slaves, was corn pone and a small allowance of meat.''
The most important practical use maize, or corn,  was as meal. To make meal, harvested maize was dried & then stored. As needed, slaves used a mortar & pestle to grind, or “pound,” the dried kernels into a powder that could be baked to make a variety of breads or soaked to make grits. Mortars & pestles were commonly called “corn pounders.”

Hon. Robert Turnbull, a slaveholder of Charleston, South Carolina. "The subsistence of the slaves consists, from March until August, of corn ground into grits, or meal, made into what is called hominy, or baked into corn bread. The other six months, they are fed upon the sweet potato. Meat, when given, is only by way of indulgence or favor.''

Mr. Eleazar Powell, Chippewa, Beaver Co., Penn., who resided in Mississippi, in 1836-7. "The food of the slaves was generally corn bread, and sometimes meat or molasses.''
A settler in Potter County, Pennsylvania, using a hominy block for crushing corn to make grits. The pestle is attached to a sapling, which allows for easier pounding.

Thos. Clay, Esq., of Georgia, a slave holder, in his address before the Georgia Presbytery, 1833. "The quantity allowed by custom is a peck of corn a week!"

The Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser, May 30, 1788. "A single peck of corn a week, or the like measure of rice, is the ordinary quantity of provision for a hard-working slave; to which a small quantity of meat is occasionally, though rarely, added.''

W. C. Gildersleeve, Esq., a native of Georgia, and Elder in the Presbyterian Church, Wilksbarre, Penn. "The weekly allowance to grown slaves on this plantation, where I was best acquainted, was one peck of corn.''

Wm. Ladd, of Minot, Maine, formerly a slaveholder in Florida. "The usual allowance of food was one quart of corn a day, to a full task hand, with a modicum of salt; kind masters allowed a peck of corn a week; some masters allowed no salt.''

Mr. Jarvis Brewster, in his "Exposition of the treatment of slaves in the Southern States,'' published in N. Jersey, 1815. "The allowance of provisions for the slaves, is one peck of corn, in the grain, per week.''

Rev. Horace Moulton, a Methodist Clergyman of Marlboro', Mass., who lived five years in Georgia. "In Georgia the planters give each slave only one peck of their gourd seed corn per week, with a small quantity of salt.''

Mr. F. C. Macy, Nantucket, Mass., who resided in Georgia in 1820. "The food of the slaves was three pecks of potatos a week during the potato season, and one peck of corn, during the remainder of the year.''

Mr. Nehemiah Caulkins, a member of the Baptist Church in Waterford, Conn., who resided in North Carolina, eleven winters. "The subsistence of the slaves, consists of seven quarts of meal or eight quarts of small rice for one week!"

William Savery, late of Philadelphia, an eminent Minister of the Society of Friends, who travelled extensively in the slave states, on a Religious Visitation, speaking of the subsistence of the slaves, says, in his published Journal, "A peck of corn is their (the slaves,) miserable subsistence for a week.''

The late John Parrish, of Philadelphia, another highly respected Minister of the Society of Friends, who traversed the South, on a similar mission, in 1804 and 5, says in his "Remarks on the slavery of Blacks;'' "They allow them but one peck of meal, for a whole week, in some of the Southern states.''

Richard Macy, Hudson, N., Y. a Member of the Society of Friends, who has resided in Georgia. "Their usual allowance of food was one peck of corn per week, which was dealt out to them every first day of the week. They had nothing allowed them besides the corn, except one quarter of beef at Christmas.''

Rev. C. S. Renshaw, of Quincy, Ill., (the testimony of a Virginian.) "The slaves are generally allowanced: a pint of corn meal and a salt herring is the allowance, or in lieu of the herring a "dab'' of fat meat of about the same value. I have known the sour milk, and clauber to be served out to the hands, when there was an abundance of milk on the plantation. This is a luxury not often afforded."

Professor A. G. Smith, of the New York Medical College; formerly a physician in Louisville, Kentucky. "I have myself known numerous instances of large families of badly-fed negroes swept off by a prevailing epidemic; and it is well known to many intelligent planters in the south, that the best method of preventing that horrible malady, Chachexia Africana, is to feed the negroes with nutritious food."

Mr. Tobias Boudinot, St. Albans, Ohio, a member of the Methodist Church. Mr. B. for some years navigated the Mississippi. "The slaves down the Mississippi, are half-starved, the boats, when they stop at night, are constantly boarded by slaves, begging for something to eat.''

Philemon Bliss, Esq., a lawyer in Elyria, Ohio, and member of the Presbyterian church, who lived in Florida, in 1834, and 1835. "The slaves go to the field in the morning; they carry with them corn meal wet with water, and at noon build a fire on the ground and bake it in the ashes. After the labors of the day are over, they take their second meal of ash-cake.''

Mr. Eleazar Powell, Chippewa, Beaver county, Penn., who resided in Mississippi in 1836 and 1837. "The slaves received two meals during the day. Those who have their food cooked for them get their breakfast about eleven o'clock, and their other meal after night.''

Mr. Nehemiah Caulkins, Waterford, Conn., who spent eleven winters in North Carolina. "The breakfast of the slaves was generally about ten or eleven o'clock.''

Rev. Phineas Smith, Centreville, N. Y., who has lived at the south some years. "The slaves have usually two meals a day, viz: at eleven o'clock and at night.''

Hon. Alexander Smyth, a slave holder, and for ten years, Member of Congress from Virginia, in his speech on the Missouri question. Jan 28th, 1820. "By confining the slaves to the Southern states, where crops are raised for exportation, and bread and meat are purchased, you doom them to scarcity and hunger. It is proposed to hem in the blacks where they are ILL FED.''

Rev. George Whitefield, in his letter, to the slave holders of Md. Va. N C. S. C. and Ga. published in Georgia, just one hundred years ago, 1739. "My blood has frequently run cold within me, to think how many of your slaves have not sufficient food to eat; they are scarcely permitted to pick up the crumbs, that fall from their master's table.''

Rev. John Rankin, of Ripley, Ohio, a native of Tennessee, and for some year's a preacher in slave states. "Thousands of the slaves are pressed with the gnawings of cruel hunger during their whole lives.''

Report of the Gradual Emancipation Society, of North Carolina, 1826. Signed Moses Swain, President, and William Swain, Secretary. Speaking of the condition of slaves, in the eastern part of that state, the report says, "The master puts the unfortunate wretches upon short allowances, scarcely sufficient for their sustenance, so that a great part of them go half starved much of the time.''

Mr. Asa A. Stone, a Theological Student, who resided near Natchez, Miss., in 1834-5. "On almost every plantation, the hands suffer more or less from hunger at some seasons of almost every year. There is always a good deal of suffering from hunger. On many plantations, and particularly in Louisiana, the slaves are in a condition of almost utter famishment, during a great portion of the year.''

Rev. C. S. Renshaw, Quincy, Illinois, —the testimony of a Virginian. "The slaves have two meals a day. They breakfast at from ten to eleven, A. M., and eat their supper at from six to nine or ten at night, as the season and crops may be.''

American Slavery As It Is
Theodore Weld. New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1839.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Ex-Slave Mary Reynold's Christmas Memories


Mary Reynolds was born in slavery to the Kilpatrick family in Black River, Louisiana:

"They give all the niggers fresh meat on Christmas and a plug tobacco all round. The highes' cotton picker gits a suit of clothes and all the women what had twins that year gits a outfittin' of clothes for the twins and a double, warm blanket."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 & 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Woman's Work - December, 1859 Diary of Sarah Young Bovard, 31-year-old mother of 8 in Scott County, Indiana


About the writer: Sarah Waldsmith Young was born on February 21, 1828 in Hamilton County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Abner Young, born 1799 in Maine, and Jane Waldsmith, born 1806 in Hamilton County, Ohio. Her husband James W. Bovard had been born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1828. They married February 29, 1844 in the small crossroads town of Alpha in Scott County, Indiana, which was nestled in southern Indiana.

By the time she began her diary in 1859 at age 31, she had eight children: Oliver William, February 9, 1845
Marion McKinley, January 11, 1847
Maria Jane, February 4, 1849
Freeman Daily, January 9, 1851
Melville Young; December 6, 1852
Abner Sinclair, October 13, 1854
George Finley, August 8, 1856
James Carvossa, July 20, 1858.

One of her children had died before she began writing her diary. Oliver William Bovard died Nov. 11, 1857 at 12 years, 8 months and 6 days old. By 1866, Sarah would have four more children, two would go on to become college presidents.
Diary of December, 1859

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1859 Still raining. High water-rains all day-commenced sleeting in the evening. No school--the children come home at noon. I spooled Ruth's jeans. The notorious Mr. Brown was hanged to day in Virginia St
Notes:
Sarah's "notorius Mr. Brown" was Connecticut-born John Brown, 59, who led a raid on Harper's Ferry, and was executed on December 2, 1859 in Charles Town, Virginia. Unlike most Northerners, who advocated reasoned resistance to pro-slavery forces, Brown was compelled to violent action to end slave-holding. Fed up with the pacifism of the organized abolitionist movement, he reportedly said "These men are all talk. What we need is action - action!"
Brown's final "action" was the 1859 raid he led on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He seized the federal arsenal; killing 7 (including a free black); & injuring 10. He intended to arm slaves with weapons liberated from the arsenal, but the attack failed. Within 36 hours, Brown's men had fled or been killed or captured by livid local farmers, incensed militiamen, and still armed U.S. Marines led by the soon to be famous Robert E. Lee.
"Had I interceded...in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father, mother, sister, wife or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been right. Every man in the court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment," John Brown declared in court after his conviction.


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1859 I stay home with the children--keep Catherines (sister) babe and she goes to meeting. James, Maria Jane (daughter born 1849) all went to Chapel to meeting. Slippery walking--sleet and snow frozen mist rain-thaws. I write some at night. I went to help feed the sheep.
Note:
Sarah was taking care of baby Sarah, the daughter of her sister, Catherine Young Sampson (born 1832) who married Scott County farmer Isaac Sampson (born 1827) in 1851. By 1859, Catherine had 4 children: Martha Jane, age 6; Edward Mathias, age 4: John Luther, age 2, and Sarah, age 1.


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1859 We was cold last night. The coldest time I ever seen, do not get much work done. I sew all day and tell scripture stories to the children-hear them say lessons. James cuts wood and does the feeding. Oh how my tooth aches. Sad company. All well.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1859 Some moderate this morning. I commence weaving this morning. But have to quit and wash the clothes. I fry some crills. Sew and nurse the babe. Hurry--try to get some work done--too much to do to get along with our troubles. James went to mill with some buckwheat in the sled-hauled wood.
Notes:
I think crills or cruls (probably a corruption of the word 'curls') were like today's curly fries. One reasercher found a recipe for Potato Crulls in a Chicago publication of 1883: Pare good, smooth potatoes raw. Cut them into thick slices. Cut out the centers with an apple corer, making rings. Take a small penknife and begin inside and cut the slice all around into a coil or string as thin as may be without breaking through till the knife comes out at the outer edge. Fry the crulls in hot lard, light colored. Drain, and sprinkle with fine salt. Another researcher thought they might have been twisted sweet cakes.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1859 James helps pap kill hogs to day. I weave. James comes home at noon then goes to Maria Byfield's (wife of her brother Christian Young) to saw timber. The children goes to school. Little Jimmy (son 18 months old) is beginning to walk around. Frozen some--snow on the ground. Plenty to eat-not much work-these days are so short.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1859 Up early-James off to town. Mary Foster (neice) comes home with Maria Jane (daughter b.1849) from school to stay all night with us. Marion (son b. 1847) goes to husking of corn to Christian Young’s (Sarah's brother b. 1824). I wove to day. Catherine (sister) come to day. I sew at night. Little James Carvossa (son 18 months old) walk all over the place now.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1859 James cuts wood yesterday. I went to hunt him in the evening--thought a tree had fallen on him-found him still cutting wood. I waded through the snow. I weave till noon then wash. Mr. Belch comes, takes dinner with us. Takes till dark to wash the clothes. Very tired. William went by from mother’s.
Note:
Nicholas Belch was a neighbor.
Sarah's sister Ethe had married as a young teenager and unexpectedly became a widow within a few short years, suddenly alone with 2 young children. Ethelina Young (born 1842) was just 15 when she married Francis Peacock (born 1831) in 1857. Apparently, Francis died sometime after 1863. Ethelina was a widow living with her two children, Emma, age 11, and William, age 7, in 1870. In 1876, Ethelina married Nicholas Belch. In 1880, Nicholas and Ethelina Belch still were living in Scott County with two of his children, Willie (born 1869) and Emma (born 1870) and her two children Emma, now 21, and William, now 17, plus a new daughter, Carrie, age 2.
William is probably William Foster, the oldest son of Robert C. Foster and Catherine Waldsmith. Catherine was Sarah's aunt. Sarah's cousin William Foster was born in 1834.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1859 Now I have a cold time. A hard day’s work to render. Up late, done all my work to day. Plenty of meat and lard this year. Pretty good sleighing now--but I have no time to spare.
Note:
Apparently Sarah's husband had recently slaughtered an animal. Sarah was rendering whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats like tallow and lard usually for making soap and candles. Sarah would chop the fatty tissue into fine pieces and then cook it in a kettle of water slowly at a low temperature (less than the boiling point of water). Then she would let the mixture cool and separate the lumpy water and fat mixture from the solids.


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1859 Here it Christmas morning. We looked for visitors last night but did not come. Begins to thaw, the snow is melting fast. James took me to the meeting in the sled then to Mr. Thompsons--then home in the evening. Mother is here, She had company to day. We are all well. We have crulls and corn bread and sausage and sause to eat.
Notes:
David Thompson, 41, and his wife Mary A., 38, lived nearby with their 5 children.
Souse refers to various parts of a pig or other animal, especially the feet and ears, prepared or preserved for food by means of pickling.

You might enjoy reading Sarah Bovard's Diary from its beginning in January of 1859. Free websites containing all diary entries include: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~inscott/BovardDiary.html

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ex-Slave Nicey Pugh's Christmas Memories


Nicey Pugh was born a slave to Master Jim Bettis in Alabama:

"At Christmas time, Massa would have a bunch of niggers to kill a hog an' barbecue him, an' de womens would make' lasses cake, an' ole massa Jim had some kinda seed dat he made beer outen, an' we-alls drank beer 'roun' Christmas."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 & 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The problem that I have with these interviews is the language as reported by the interviewers. "The result," as the historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism...Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places."

Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Civil War Christmas letter home

A Civil War Christmas letter
Winslow Homer. Christmas in a Civil War Camp  The illustration is captioned, "Christmas Boxes in Camp - Christmas 1861."  It is the front cover of the January 4, 1862 edition of Harper's Weekly. The illustration features a group of Civil War soldiers enjoying a box of goodies. The box contains all the things needed by tired soldiers.  Several soldiers appear to be enjoying bread & pastry items.  Also pictured are books, wine, & fruit.  Perhaps even more important than the food, the box appears to be full of new socks & footwear.

By Jen Wolfe – December 22, 2011
University of Iowa Libraries December 22, 2011

In contrast to today’s holiday letters summarizing the year’s major events, Lieut. Andrew F. Davis’ Christmas note to daughters Orrilla, age 8, and Nan, age 5, catalogs the day-to-day minutiae of life in a Civil War camp. Mixed in with holiday greetings (“I hope Santa Claus in his rambles last night did not miss the stockings of my two little girls”) are observations on camp fare (“country people sell [meals] cheap enough if they were only cooked good but they are poor people who bring them and they have to cook them by the fire in skillets as they have no cook stoves”), scenery (“there is several hundred tents in camp and all with lights in them which makes them look like big lanterns scattered all over the country”), and reactions to news from home (“Tell your ma I am glad she has got her hogs killed but I am afraid she will work so hard that she will be sick again”).

Andrew F. Davis letter to daughters, Dec. 25, 1861
Camp Wycliff Ky.
Miss Orrilla Davis and Nan Davis
My dear little daughters,
This is Christmas night and no doubt while I am setting in my tent in a war camp, you are enjoying yourselves at the Christmas Supper which I understand you are having at the Court House. No doubt you are enjoying yourselves over your Christmas presents and I hope Santa Claus in his rambles last night did not miss the Stockings of my two little girls but put something nice in them to make them happy. I got a Christmas present this evening which was nothing more than a letter from my dear little girl, and I now hasten to answer it. I was very sorry to hear that our sweet little babe was so sick but I hope it is getting well before this time and no doubt but what I will next hear that you and Nan will both have the measels and if you do you must be patient and you will soon get well again. I was surprised that you could write so good a letter & I read it to some of the boys and they said it contained more news than one half of the letters that they got from Liberty.

We did not have to drill today consequently I do not feel as tired as I do some nights. I will tell you what we had to eat today as you no doubt would like to know. Well we had roast chicken, oysters, peach pie, dried beef, molasses, brisket, butter, crackers, milk, sweet potatoes, rice, eggs &c. So you see we did not starve. It was not cooked as nice as your mother could cook it but it was very good. We bought most of it from country people and they sell them cheap enough if they were only cooked good but they are poor people who bring them and they have to cook them by the fire in skillets as they have no cook stoves. Stuffed chickens ready cooked are worth 20 & 25 cts, pies 10 cts, cabbage 5 cts apples 6 for 5 cts. milk 10 cts pr qt. roast turkies 75 and 80 cts. Sweet potatoes 75 cts per bushel, and many other things about the same. Jo Miller is in my tent while I am writing and almost cried when he read your letter. George [Rinehart?] come back from the Hospital today and is nearly well again. All of the Liberty boys are well now and none of them are at Louisville now.

I send with this letter 2 papers which I want you to take to Mr Thomas for him to publish in the Herald. I want to know if you are going to go to School this winter I gave $2.50 for the picture I sent home to your mother and the one I sent to your Grandpa, Tell mother if she can get the two big pictures framed for $5.00 to get it done but not to give any more than that. It is the prettyest sight I ever saw to go out of out tents after night before the lights are put out as our camp is on hilly ground and there is several hundred tents in camp and all with lights in them which makes them look like big lanterns scattered all over the country. Tell your ma I am glad she has got her hogs killed but I am afraid she will work so hard that she will be sick again. I got weighed today and weighed 167 lbs without my coat on so you see I am well and getting fat. Tell Nan I mean this letter for you and her both and I want her to get in some sly corner and write me one some of these days. Tell ma and uncle Newton that I have not got a newspaper from them since I have been Kentucky. Wm Appleton got last weeks Herald tonight and I got to read it. The darkie I had to cook for me went home today and one of the soldiers is cooking for me now. Ab. Bennett was to see me this evening and is going home in the morning. I am glad to hear that Wally Smith has been promoted to Sergeant as it proves that he has been a good soldier. Mans Crist is Sergeant in our company now.

The drums are now beating for us to put out the lights so I must stop for this time but will write to some of you again this week. You must write to me often as that is the way to learn, and you don’t know how glad it makes me to get a letter from my dear little girls. No more this time from your affectionate father,
 A.F. Davis

Friday, December 21, 2018

Ex-Slave Emma Taylor's Christmas Memories



Emma Taylor was born a slave of the Greer family, in Mississippi. She and her mother later were sold to a Texan:


Sometimes de niggers danced and played de fiddle and us chillen played in de yard. We could stay up all night dem times, but had to work next day, and hardly ever stayed up all night. Dat durin' harvest or at Christmas time."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 & 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The problem that I have with these interviews is the language as reported by the interviewers. "The result," as the historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism...Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Reconstruction Christmas Memories of Mary Ames 1865


From A New England Woman's Diary in Dixie in 1865

This book relates the experience of two northern white women, Mary Ames, 1832-1903, and Emily Bliss, who were employed in 1865 as teachers by the Freedmen's Bureau and sent to South Carolina to open a school for former slaves. The account is told through excerpts from the diary of Mary Ames. It follows the women's journey to Edisto Island, South Carolina, formerly a region of cotton plantations, where many liberated slaves had been settled by the Reconstruction government. Ames tells of the poor living conditions of the former slaves, and the widespread decay and squalor of the homes on the island--including the abandoned plantation house in which she and her companion settled. Despite inconveniences such as a leaky roof, insects, snakes, and inconsistent rations, the women managed to establish a school with an enrollment of well over 100 students, both children and adults.

The women remained on the island for a little over a year. Ames' diary entries tell of her dealings with the former slaves, and document their social and religious life. She also tells of the difficulties of day-to-day life in the Reconstruction South, including the lack of food, water, and other necessary supplies. By May of 1866, the Freedmen's Bureau announced that they would no longer support the school. The women closed the school in July, then returned to Massachusetts in September, a little more than a year after they had arrived. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Christmas, 1865
All of us at headquarters were invited to dine on Christmas with Captain and Mrs. Towles, and their friends on Wadmelaw Island. It was a foggy morning, and we were not in the best of spirits. Four of the soldiers rowed us in a pontoon. The dinner of wild turkey, etc., was excellent. The ladies who were asked to meet us, and whom we liked, had been sent out by the Philadelphia Society. Captain Towles had got a fiddle and an old negro to play it, and insisted upon our dancing, because it was Christmas and we must be merry. It was bad music and worse dancing, but we danced ourselves into a great heat and great good spirits. At seven we started for home....

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ex-Slave Ellen Butler's Christmas Memories


Ellen Butler was born a slave to Richmond Butler, near Whiska Chitte, in the northern part of Calacasieu Parish (now a part of Beau Regard Parish), in Louisiana:

"On Christmas time they give us a meal. I 'member that. I don't 'member no other holidays."


Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 & 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The problem that I have with these interviews is the language as reported by the interviewers. "The result," as the historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism...Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places."

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Dolly Sumner Lunt 1864 in Georgia


A Woman's Wartime Journal: an Account of the Passage over Georgia's Plantationof Sherman's Army on the March to the Sea, as Recorded in the Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs. Thomas Burge) :

Dolly Lunt Burge, 1817-1891, was born in Maine in 1817. As a young woman, moved from Maine to Georgia with her physician husband in the 1840s. By the time she began her diary at age thirty, Dolly had lost her husband and her only living child to illness. A devout and self-sufficient schoolteacher, she soon married again, to Thomas Burge, a planter and widowed father of four. In 1855, she gave birth to their daughter, Sarah, called Sadai. Upon her second husband's death in 1858, Dolly independently ran the plantation, located in Mansfield. She remained there during the Civil War, witnessing Sherman's march through the area. Dolly married a final time, in 1866, to Rev. William Parks, a prominent Methodist minister. Dolly's diary is filled with news about her daughter, her struggles, and her slaves. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

DECEMBER 24, 1864.
This has usually been a very busy day with me, preparing for Christmas not only for my own tables, but for gifts for my servants. Now how changed! No confectionery, cakes, or pies can I have. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard. Christmas Eve, which has ever been gaily celebrated here, which has witnessed the popping of fire-crackers [the Southern custom of celebrating Christmas with fireworks] and the hanging up of stockings, is an occasion now of sadness and gloom. I have nothing even to put in Sadai's stocking, which hangs so invitingly for Santa Claus. How disappointed she will be in the morning, though I have explained to her why he cannot come. Poor children! Why must the innocent suffer with the guilty?


DECEMBER 25, 1864.
Sadai jumped out of bed very early this morning to feel in her stocking. She could not believe but that there would be something in it. Finding nothing, she crept back into bed, pulled the cover over her face, and I soon heard her sobbing. The little negroes all came in: "Christmas gift, mist'ess! Christmas gift, mist'ess!" I pulled the cover over my face and was soon mingling my tears with Sadai's.
.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ex-Slave Martha Bradley's Christmas Memories


Martha Bradley was a slave to Dr. Lucas of Mt. Meigs, Alabama, long before the War between the States:

"But Marster Lucas gin us big times on Christmas and July. Us'd have big dinners and all the lemonade us could drink. The dinner'd be spread out on de ground an' all the niggers would stand roun' and eat all dey wanted. What was lef' us'd take it to our cabins. Nancy Lucas was de cook fer ever'body...In de winter time us'd quilt; jes' go from one house to anudder in de quarter. Us'd weave all our ever'day clothes, but Marster Lucas'd go to Mobile ever' July and Christmas and git our Sunday clothes, git us dresses and shoes and we'd sho be proud of 'em."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 & 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The problem that I have with these interviews is the language as reported by the interviewers. "The result," as the historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism...Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places."

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Mary Jeffreys Bethell 1861-1862 in North Carolina


Diary of Mary Jeffreys Bethell, January 1st 1861 - Dec. 1865:

Mary Jeffreys Bethell, born in 1821, was the daughter of Phereba Hinton Jeffreys and farmer and Methodist preacher George Washington Jeffreys (1794-1849). She married William D. Bethell in 1840 and spent most of her life in Rockingham County, North Carolina. Mary Jeffreys Bethell's diary has infrequent entries beginning on 1 January 1853 and ending 6 January 1873. Diary entries discuss Bethell's home and neighbors; her religious activities; the activities of her children, several of whom died young, and children in the Torrien family, whom Bethell referred to as nieces and nephews and who lived in the Bethell household for many years. There are frequent mention of Bethell's journeys with her husband to Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and thoughts of moving the family out of North Carolina. During the Civil War, the diary also includes the activities of sons Willie and George in the Confederate Army, including George's adventures with the 44th North Carolina Regiment and his capture and imprisonment at Johnson Island. Bethell's husband joined the Army in 1864, after which Bethell wrote of the difficulties she endured in her husband's absence, including the departure of their slaves. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

December 25, 1861
This is Christmas day, a beautiful day but very cold, how different this Christmas from last, now our Country is filled with armies to defend our country from the Northern army, many bloody battles have been fought, hundreds have been killed on both sides, and a great many soldiers have died in the camp from disease and want of attention while sick, it is sad to contemplate, perhaps the Lord is chastising his church, I believe he permits it for our good.I have two sons in the army, they have enjoyed fine health, the Lord has blessed them, I thank and praise him for it. I hope and pray that they may get home safe to my arms.

December 25, 1862
This is Christmas day, a most lovely day for the season, it is almost like Spring. I hope 'tis a token of good, that the Lord is going to bless us if it is his will. I hope the war will soon close and that we may have peace..

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Ex-Slave Charlotte Beverly's Christmas Memories


Charlotte Beverly was born a slave in Montgomery County, Texas. She has lived most of her life within a radius of 60 miles from Houston:

"Every year they have big Christmas dinner and ham and turkey and allus feed us good. Us have Christmas party and sing songs. That was sweet music."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 & 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The problem that I have with these interviews is the language as reported by the interviewers. "The result," as the historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism...Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places."

Friday, December 14, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Mary Chestnut 1863-64 in South Carolina

Mary Chestnut's A Diary From Dixie:

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, 1823-1886, was born in Stateburg, South Carolina, in the High Hills of Santee, to Mary Boykin and her husband, Stephen Decatur Miller. Her father had served as a U.S. Representative (1817-19). He later became the governor of South Carolina (1829-30) and a U.S. Senator (1831-31). She was educated in Charleston at Mme. Talvande's French School for Young Ladies, where she became fluent in French and German and received a strong education. On April 23, 1840, Mary Boykin Miller married James Chesnut, Jr., a lawyer and politician eight years her senior. Like her father, he became a U.S. Senator from South Carolina and served from 1858 until South Carolina's secession from the Union in 1860. Once the Civil War broke out, James Chesnut, Jr. became an aide to President Jefferson Davis and a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. Mary Boykin Chestnut began her diary on February 15, 1861, and ended it on August 2, 1865. During much of that time she lived at Mulberry Plantation in Camden, South Carolina, in the midst of thousands of acres of plantation and woodland but with many visitors. The diary was of her impression of events as they unfolded during the Civil War. She analyzed the changing political fortunes of the South and its various classes. She also portrayed southern society and the mixed roles of men and women, and complex situations related to slavery. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Christmas Day, 1863.
Yesterday dined with the Prestons. Wore one of my handsomest Paris dresses (from Paris before the war). Three magnificent Kentucky generals were present, with Senator Orr from South Carolina, and Mr. Miles...Others dropped in after dinner; some without arms, some without legs; von Borcke, who can not speak because of a wound in his throat...Poor fellows, they laugh at wounds. "And they yet can show many a scar." We had for dinner oyster soup, besides roast mutton, ham, boned turkey, wild duck, partridge, plum pudding, sauterne, burgundy, sherry, and Madeira. There is life in the old land yet!


1864 December 27th.
Oh, why did we go to Camden? The very dismalest Christmas overtook us there. Miss Rhett went with us - a brilliant woman and very agreeable. "The world, you know, is composed," said she, "of men, women, and Rhetts" (see Lady Montagu). Now, we feel that if we are to lose our negroes, we would as soon see Sherman free them as the Confederate Government; freeing negroes is the last Confederate Government craze. We are a little too slow about it; that is all.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ex-Slave Lou Williams' Christmas Memories


Lou Williams was born in southern Maryland. She and her family were slaves of Abram and Kitty Williams, and Lou served as nursemaid to her master's children from the age of eight until after the Civil War. She then went to Louisiana where she worked as a cook for several years before moving to San Angelo, Texas:

"We allus gits Saturday evenin' off to wash our clothes and sometime we has dances Saturday night...We has corn shuckin's and big suppers and on Christmas day massa buys us de present, most times shoes, 'cause we didn't have any shoes."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Anita Dwyers Withers in Virginia



DIARY OF ANITA DWYER WITHERS 1860-1865

A devout Roman Catholic, Anita Dwyer Withers, wife of a United States and Confederate army officer, lived at her home in San Antonio, Texas, and briefly in Washington, D.C., before the Civil War, and in Richmond, Virginia, during the war, before returning to Texas in 1865. The diary, 4 May 1860-18 June 1865, mainly records her life in the Confederate capital, her concerns for her husband, John (d. 1892) and children, social visits, the Catholic Church, news from battles, rumors and threats of approaching federal troops, and temporary visits away from the city. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Christmas Day 25th. [Dec.] Wednesday. [1861]
We went to Church at 10 O'clock. Father McMullen preached a very good sermon. After Church we all went to Mr. John Purcell's and took a glass of egg-nog, and from there we went to see the Sisters, Mrs. Randolph took us ladies in her carriage. (The Stable of Bethlehem was beautiful.) The little Orphans sang for us. About five we walked up to Mr. Menard's to dine--we returned about nine..."

1862
"Christmas day I went to Church at half past ten. My Husband was busy and could not go--he had to attend to every thing for Mrs. Whiting, her husband had to be buried the same afternoon--It was the saddest Christmas I ever spent--no person dined out, though many were invited. We were to have dined at Mr. John Purcell's."

1863
"On Christmas day Col. Williams & his family, Capt. Wade & Capt. Myers & wife dined with us. We had a mighty nice dinner--cake, Jelly, Blanc Mange and many nice things."

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ex-Slave Hannah Crasson's Christmas Memories


Hannah Crasson was born a slave on John William Walton's plantation 4 miles from Garner and 13 miles from Raleigh, in Wake County, North Carolina:

"Dey gave us Christmas and other holidays. Den dey, de men, would go to see dere wives. Some of the men's wives belong to other masters on other plantations. We had corn shuckin's at night, and candy pullin's. Sometimes we had quiltings and dances."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Sarah Morgan Dawson 1862 in Louisiana



A Confederate Girl's Diary: Sarah Morgan Dawson

Born into a wealthy New Orleans family, Sarah Morgan, 1842-1909, was the daughter of an influential judge who moved his family to Baton Rouge when Sarah was eight. Morgan began her diary in 1862 at age 20. Her family became divided, as some broke from regional loyalty to support the North. When Union soldiers captured New Orleans in 1862, Morgan was at first impressed with civility of the officers, but when Baton Rouge experienced the same fate, her attitude changed dramatically. Morgan and her widowed mother were forced to move back to New Orleans, where in 1864, they learned that two of her brothers died of disease in Confederate ranks. Morgan never returned to Baton Rouge. In 1874, she married Frank Dawson, a newspaper owner, who died 10 years later, leaving Morgan with two children. In her later years, Morgan moved to Paris, where she died on May 5, 1909. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1862
Yesterday, being a beautiful day, I was carried down in honor of Christmas, to meet Captain Fenner and Mr. Duggan who were to dine with us...We had an exquisite Christmas gift the night before, a magnificent serenade, a compliment from Colonel Breaux...While all goes on merrily, another rap comes, and enter Santa Claus, dressed in the old uniform of the Mexican War, with a tremendous cocked hat, and preposterous beard of false hair... It was a device of the General's, which took us all by surprise. Santa Claus passes slowly around the circle, and pausing before each lady, draws from his basket a cake which he presents with a bow, while to each gentleman he presents a wineglass replenished from a most suspicious-looking black bottle which also reposes there. Leaving us all wonder and laughter, Santa Claus retires with a basket much lighter than it had been at his entrance. . .Then follow refreshments, and more and more talk and laughter, until the clock strikes twelve, when all these ghosts bid a hearty good-night and retire.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Ex-Slave Angie Garrett's Christmas Memories



Angie Garrett was a slave on a boat owned by Capt Mooring running between Mobile, Alabama, and Aberdeen, Mississippi. On land, they lived in Dekalb:

"Us didn't git no presents at Christmas. Sometimes us had a cornshuckin'."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of in Union, South Carolina


Christmas During the Civil War in South Carolina
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940.
Mrs. Ida Baker, E. Main St., Union, S.C.
Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (11/10/37)

REMINISCENCES

"At Christmas times during the Civil War, people in Union did not have luxuries, at all. Union was only a village, & the stores did not carry much at best. Charleston was blockaded & even Spartanburg which was not much larger than Union at that time did not carry luxuries in her stores, either in food or wearing apparel.

"Those who had money could not buy, for it was not to be had. Everybody had to use parched wheat, parched okra seed or parched raw sweet potato chips for coffee. Not even tea came in. We used sassafras & other native herb teas both daily & at parties when the herb teas were in season. Some were good, but the substitute coffee was not. The darkies cut the potatoes up into small squares & parched them in the coffee parcher. This coffee needed no sugar, but for other things we used sorghum for sugar & it was a poor substitute. I liked the okra seed better than any of the coffee substitutes.

"Women of the South think that the cereal companies got their idea from them for making the many cereals which are on the market. Before the war, cereals like grapenuts & wheat flakes were unknown.

"We had plenty of food during the war. The woods were dense & they were full of wild animal life, & the streams were full of fish. On Christmas the dinner tables were weighted down with turkey & other wild fowls & many delicacies from the garden, field or stream. No one ever thought of not enjoying the coffee & tea. If sugar was missed it was never mentioned. Even the darkies boasted of the fine coffee & tea brewed from the herbs & wheat.

"Beautiful clothes were rare during the war. Most folks had to go back to the loom & spinning wheel of Revolutionary times. Of course the age of 1800 ushered in a new era in dress, & by the time the Confederate war came along, women wore gorgeous silks & satins, & in those days it took many yards of cloth for a dress.

"However, during the war we -- my sister & I -- did not have to resort to coarse homespun cloth for our clothes. A man, Mr. William Keenan, who built the house where Mrs. T.C. Duncan now lives, was a merchant. He went out of business & my mother bought four trunks full of silks, satins, brocades & linens from him about this time, which was at the outbreak of the war. Mother had these trunks stored in our attic in the house where Mrs. J. Clough Wallace now lives. That is the Meng house. Little girls could sew at the age of twelve in those days. They thought nothing of doing a tedious piece of needle work or hand embrodiery at that age. However, Union had a dress maker at that time, a Mrs. Frasier.

"Mother, my sister & I made our clothes from the things in those trunks. We only made now clothes at Christmas time during the war, & the materials in the trunk lasted."

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ex-Slave Alice Houston's Christmas Memories



Alice Houston was born October 22, 1859. She was a slave of Judge Jim Watkins on his small plantation in Hays County, near San Marcos, Texas and served as house girl to his wife, Mrs. Lillie Watkins for many years after the Civil War. At Mrs. Watkins' death she moved with her husband, Jim Houston, to San Angelo, Texas, where she continued her services as mid wife and nurse:

"On Christmas and New Year we would have all de good things old marster and ole missus had and when any of de white folks marry or die dey sho' carry on big. Weddin's and funerals, dem was de biggest times."


Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Sarah Lois Wadley 1860-1864


Diary of Sarah Lois Wadley August 8, 1859 - May 15, 1865

Sarah Lois Wadley, 1844-1920, was the daughter of William Morrill Wadley (c1812-1882) and Rebecca Barnard Everingham Wadley (fl. 1840-1884) and lived with her family in homes near Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, Monroe and Oakland in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, and near Macon, Georgia. Entries in the diary document in detail opinions and events in the life of an articulate and alert young woman just before and during the Civil War. Early entries include a detailed description of a family trip from Amite, Louisiana, to visit relatives in New Hampshire. Entries during the war describe reactions to war news; life in the vicinity of Monroe, Oakland, and Homer, Louisiana, including comments on freedmen and federal troops; and some activities of Sarah's father, William Morrill Wadley, who managed the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad and served as Confederate superintendent of railroads. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tuesday, Dec. 25th / 1860.--It is Christmas day, the great festival of the year, but this Christmas is not very merry to us, nor, I dare say, to many others in This country. Dr. Lord said last Sunday that we ought to let the great wave of political troubles roll by for a while, and try and forget the exigencies of the times during Christmas, the anniversary of that day in which rose the sun of Righteousness; but this is very hard to do. We can have no tangible expressions of merry making, which though far less dignified than a deep Christian rejoicing goes very far towards promoting universal thankfulness and love in the household... Uncle Moses and Aunt Jane are coming to dine with us today... We spent Christmas day very quietly, our only extra amusement was going to the Christmas tree at the Church.

1861
We had a very pleasant Christmas; the day after Christmas day, Miss Mary and I fixed up a little pine tree as a Christmas tree, we had no costly gifts, but a few sugar plums in lace bags, and some home made Cornucopias with two or three little wax candles made the tree very attractive to the children. Father had a few fire works too which he had forgot to bring home Christmas eve, and we were delighted looking at them. The negroes had a supper and dance up at the place and we all walked up to see them, Father was very much pleased to see them dance, and as their house was small and smoky so that we could not look on with any pleasure, Father had our long room cleared out and had them go in there and dance. We stayed looking at them till nine o'clock, and then walked home again.

1862
Friday night I had a most pleasant surprise. Father came home and said that Eldridge had a paper box on the waggon--marked for me... When it was opened there lay a very pretty chair made of velvet, ornamented with ribbon and straw and the seat of which, being raised, showed a space nicely lined with flannel, it was a fancy jewelry box from Miss Valeria, she had it made for a Christmas present...Father left for New Orleans yesterday, we expect him back Saturday night.

Dec. 25th/ 1862--Christmas night, it has been a sad Christmas day to us Father was not here, we received a dispatch Tuesday night saying that he must return to Richmond before coming home, it was a great disappointment, since we had at least hoped that he would arrive Christmas eve. Today has seemed just like Sunday, while at dinner we received some papers one of which contained a list of the wounded...

Friday--Dec. 26th...
The negroes are busy barbecueing and cooking for their party tonight, they may have to start away before day, but we shall let enjoy themselves while they can. We have been watching the negroes dancing for the last two hours, Mother had the partition taken down in our old house so that they have quite a long ball room, we can sit on the piazza and look into it. I hear now the sounds of fiddle, tambourine and "bones" mingled with the shuffling and pounding of feet. Mr. Axley is fiddling for them, they are having a merry time, thoughtless creatures, they think not of the morrow. I am sad, very sad, tonight, last Christmas Father watched their dancing with us; where is he now? where shall we all be next Christmas...

Christmas week, 1863
There is to be a ball in Monroe Christmas eve, I have received an invitation and yesterday Mrs. McGuire sent to urge me to go with her, but I am far from wishing to participate in such gaiety. I shall go to Mrs. DeLary's concert because Miss Mary is to play and sing, otherwise I should not think of it. It is to be on next Monday night...

Wednesday, Dec. 30th. 1863...The day before Christmas was busy cooking all day, and this made us feel a little like Christmas was coming. Father and Miss Mary went into town that day and brought out some candy and pecans with which we filled the children's stockings, they woke up before day in the morning and were highly delighted...we had our stockings hung up and candy in them, and Miss Mary scratched the chimney bask in imitation of Santa Claus' carriage wheel tracks, Georgie came in our room in the morning and related with a wondering air how he could see the marks of Santa Claus feet on Mother's room chimney, we then showed him ours and he was strengthened in his belief. After they were dressed, the children ran out to distribute candy among the little negroes and before breakfast all had disappeared. When our late breakfast was over, we made egg nogg for the negroes, who gathered round the back door highly delighted, there were many of them, for most of the railroad negroes were here. When they had all had a glass round, Mother filled her great punch bowl again for the "white folks..." We had singing and playing for an hour or more in the evening, and then closed the day with a few pages from Homer's Iliad... Altogether, our Christmas day was better than the last, principally because Father was here, but yet it was by no means merry, as it could not be now when our prospects are so uncertain and gloomy.

1864

All Christmas day I kept saying over and over "it is Christmas" to keep myself in mind of it. It was very much like any other Sunday, only sometimes we would hear a "Merry Christmas," which sounded hollow, like the echo of past times; we had an egg nogg in the morning but drank it with only an occasional attempt at hilarity...we had a very fine dinner...In the evening we had some ice cream which the children malted at the fire, and so the day passed. I had an hour of pleasure when I read the Christmas service and beautiful Psalms and lessons and again in the evening when Miss May and I contemplated the glories of the setting sun.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ex-Slave Eda Rains' Christmas Memories


Eda Rains was born a slave in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1853. In 1860 Eda, her brothers and mother, were bought by a Mr. Carter and brought to Texas:


"Now, I mus' tell you all 'bout Christmas. Our bigges' time was at Christmas. Marster'd give us maybe fo'-bits to spend as we wanted and maybe we'd buy a string of beads or some sech notion. On Christmas Eve we played games. 'Young Gel Loves Candy,' or 'Hide and Whoop.' Didn' know nothin' 'bout Santa Claus, never was larned that. But we allus knowed what we'd git on Christmas mornin'. Old Marster allus call us togedder and give us new clothes, shoes too. He allus wen' to town on the Eve and brung back our things in a cotton sack. That ole sack'd be crammed full of things and we knowed it was clothes and shoes, 'cause Marster didn' 'lieve in no foolishness. We got one pair shoes a year, at Christmas. Most times they was red and I'd allus paint mine black. I's one nigger didn' like red. I'd skin grease off dishwater, mix it with soot from the chimney and paint my shoes. In winter we wore woolen clothes and got 'em at Christmas, too."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Julia Johnson Fisher of Georgia


DIARY OF JULIA JOHNSON FISHER, 1864

Julia Johnson Fisher, 1814-1885, was a native of Massachusetts, living with her husband, William Fisher (1788-1878), and her children in an isolated area in Camden County, Georgia, near the Florida border. The diary contains comments on conditions and incidents of daily life, family and neighborhood news, personal thoughts, and reports of military activity in the region. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1864
On Christmas day we fared sumptuously. Mrs. Lynn dined with us and furnished the turkey. We had some chickens and a piece of fresh pork. Gussie had been off ten miles and brought oysters--so we had an oyster stew and chicken salad, minus the greens, potatoes and rice. The turkey was dressed with corn bread. Our dessert was a corn meal pudding wet with water, enriched with bottled huckleberries and pork fat; sauce made of borrowed syrup and flour--it was excellent, how we did relish it! but we talked of the good pies and bread and cakes that linger in remembrance, and the nuts and apples that pass around so freely in that land of plenty. It is hard to be so entirely deprived of them but we try to console ourselves with the fact that we enjoy better health and appetites. We are always hungry-- hungry the year round, but do not grow fat.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Ex-Slave Molly Ammond's Christmas Memories


Ex Alabama Slave Molly Ammond:

"Us was treated fine. Our folks was quality. We had plenty somp'n t'eat, but dem slaves hadda work powerful hard though. Atter dey come home fum de fields dey was so tired dat dey go right to sleep, except when de massa had barbecues. Christmas was de big time; dere was several days to res' an' make merryin'..."

Photos & quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Meta Morris Grimball 1862 in South Carolina


Journal of Meta Morris Grimball: South Carolina, December 1860-February 1866: At
the Grove Plantation, St. Paul's Parish, South Carolina

Margaret Ann "Meta" Morris Grimball, 1810-1881, was a descendent of Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1830, she married John Berkley Grimball (1800-1892), who owned a rice plantation near Adam's Run, South Carolina. They had nine children, whom they brought up at the plantation and in Charleston. During the Civil War, the family sought safety in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The plantation was confiscated by federal troops but returned to the family in 1866. The Grimballs were unable to continue mortgage payments and lost the house in 1870. Meta kept a diary before, during, and immediately after the Civil War. In it she records the major events of the day and their effect on her family's life. Grimball juxtaposes common domestic concerns with larger issues related to the Civil War, including slavery, personal safety, and religion. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1862
Daughter Elizabeth had a charming Christmas day...She was invited to spend the day with Mrs Dawkins, at Union, where there is a very nice Episcopal Church...There was a plentiful breakfast on their arrival, and then the Christmas tree for the children, with little gifts made by kind hands. After the tree they practised the Church Music, then went to Church, where E. took her place in the Choir, they returned to Mrs D's, had a real Christmas dinner...We went to hear Mr Whiteford Smith preach in the morning, had a fine sermon...came home to a dinner of Roast pig and a pudding, which we all enjoyed...In the evening short cake, and a great deal of pleasant talk. - Just now we have some sausages, and I am glad Mr Grimball is with us to enjoy them.

Son Berkley writes that his Christmas passed very pleasantly, they had a fine breakfast, of Opossum, Partridges, corn bread, & butter. A dinner with company. - In the Evening Theatricals a burlesque on the Ghost Scene in Hamlet. The dying scene of Lady Macbeth, and then a piece called the stolen pig, a man comes to the Captain of the Company complaining of having lost a pig, & says his negro, Cuffy, saw who took it. The Court Martial is arranged and the whole company called out, and Cuffy is made to point to the man who stole the pig. The part of the negro is played by Simons; and to the great delight of the negroes present, composed of teamsters, & servants there was music between the acts. Berkley lead the Orchestra, which consisted of 2 Violins, a triangle, bones, a drum. The end of the play is that the man is sentenced to death, and dies like Othello.