March 1861

March 1, 1861

In school. Pleasant day. John Green, one of my scholars, is very sick & is not expected to live. Down the street. Got a letter from Austin. Reading, Mr. Mathews came over in the evening. Newton [McConaughey] came.

March 2, 1861

Wrote a letter home and one to Mrs. Adams [in] Florida. Went down the street. Afternoon, went to the [post] office & to Mr. Reardon’s. Evening, writing. Mr. Mathews came over and we played dominoes. Talking afterwards with Mrs. Syberg about seduction, &c.  She is a strange woman – fiery & headstrong, but is easily changed. Mrs. McCullock says to her boys, “Stop your noise. Stop it this minute. I’ll cut your ears off close to your head, I will.”

Quite a number of men here to attend the convention. Captain Churchill, one of the commissioners to get arms for the State, is here. [Christopher C.] Danly, the other, writes from New York [City] & says the city is a Babylon.

Page from Goodrich's Diary, Arkansas History Commission

March 3, 1861

Rainy. At Sunday school. At church. Communion. I staid but did not go up as I waited for others & they did not. It was raining when over & I offered my services & umbrella to Miss Gallagher. It was awfully muddy and rainy. We went some distance when we met a negro with an umbrella for her. She said there was one for her & called the boy & said it would save me the trouble to go [any] farther. She was very much obliged. I came home. I was a fool not to go on [with her]. Evening, at church. Tilla, Mr. [W. C.] Stout’s negro girl, was married in church. Staid with Mr. Mathews & Mrs. Syberg. We went to Dr. Wheat’s & had some supper & punch. Dr. [Wheat] was jolly. He said he thought that Mr. Syberg’s statue of the Greek Slave should be dressed.

March 4, 1861

Convention meets.

March 5, 1861

In school. Rather cold. Evening, boys called Mrs. Syberg the old shit…

March 6, 1861

Rather cold. Held a consultation with the boys & they all denied that they used the words to Mrs. Syberg. Mr. Mathews probably will sell me some land. Went down the street. Got a letter from [my sister] Augusta.

March 7, 1861

In school. Went down the street. Convention, but nothing going on.

March 8, 1861

Got a complimentary invitation to go to the panorama – the same [one] I visited at home with George Stratton (views on the Rhine & ascension of Mt. Blanc).

This last week I had an emission and stained my drawers & Aunt Lucy saw it when washing & told Mrs. Syberg. Aunt Lucy said I done something which she knew. I asked her [what it was]. Mrs. Syberg said Aunt Lucy found it out when she washed; my clothes bore the marks & Mrs. Syberg said I was quite a boy & a “Lutherian.”  Went to the panorama. Saw Cam Watkins. Said Henry was going to leave his father. Said he would engage me. Got a letter from [cousin] Annie Fiddis. Mrs. Igbey is a gay bird. She knows, and is not ashamed to tell. She says I must be the Doctor when the time comes for her cat to give birth.

March 9, 1861

Been making some tresses for plants. Mr. Mathews here a little while. Went down the street. Afternoon, reading & writing. Evening, Newton [McConaughey] came.

March 10, 1861

Pleasant. At Sunday school. When I went into the library this morning, Dr. Wheat did not raise his eyes or speak to me. At church, in the prayer for congress, Dr. Wheat has changed it to one for the State & for the Convention here assembled. Afternoon, went up to Governor Rector’s for Mrs. Syberg to find out when Captain [Syberg] is coming. Did not see him. Reading. Evening, went to church. Mr. Mathews came over and said that hot times were expected in the convention. The secession party would go out anyhow. He said some more scholars were coming tomorrow [and] wanted me to put on better clothes than I had been accustomed to wear.

[Editor’s Note: Goodrich’s Diary ends on March 10, 1861 and does not resume until April 1862. However, there are other documents that give some insight into Goodrich’s activities during this period. Later in March 1861, Goodrich received the following letter from his cousin Jim Fiddis who was working as a machinist in Alexandria, Virginia. It reads:]

March 24, [1861]   Alexandria, Louisiana

Dear Cousin. Your letter of January 28th was duly received, but as you will observe, it has not been duly answered. Of course you will excuse my negligence. I remain in excellent health & have not been homesick in the least. This is a very dull place – no excitement of any kind. But that makes little difference to me for I work ten hours everyday and after supper take a walk up the levee in front of the town and back to the house, sit down a  little while, and then “gentle slumber ‘ore me glide.”

And some evenings we go out in front of the house, sit upon the levee and look at old “Red” [the Red River] as she rolls on to the “sea.” Sometimes four & five boats chance to meet here at the same time. There are a great many first class boats in this trade. A little while ago, the “Roberts” went down [the river] with a band of music aboard playing “ Dixie .” She makes the trip from New Orleans to Shreveport & back every week. That is fast running. The “Grand Era” has been running it all winter till two or three weeks since she smashed her machinery. They worked her too hard. Now the “Round & Bros” are trying the “Roberts.”

I am not very well posted in the “news of the day” but about here everyone is steadfast & true to their newly organized Government and will fight to the last if needs be. I am a citizen of the “Southern” Republic and in my profession represent a “Southern Mechanic.” And if it becomes necessary to fight the Federal troops you can count me in.

You wrote me that you had a situation in view in this place. Was it in the State Seminary? You inquired about the society of this place. That is something that I am perfectly ignorant of for since I have been here, I have not spoken to a lady with the exception of Mrs. [Mary Elizabeth] Stevens & her sister and only then to say good morning or how-do-you-do. Stevens keeps part of the hands & [D. C.] McElroy (his partner) the balance. I board with McElroy and we keep bachelor’s hall. I assure you, we do not have many formalities or much ceremony in our style of living. I am very well pleased and think I shall stay all summer – at least as long as I can agree with my employers.

The other day I received a letter from [my sister] Annie and one from [my other sister] Lucy. And also one from Taylor – a young man that boarded with mother. They were all well at home [in Owego, New York]. We are having right fine weather. The planters have planted their corn and are putting in their cotton.

Please write soon. From your affectionate cousin, — James Fiddis


Probably John Green, age 13, the son of Harriet Frances [Booker] Green (1819-1902) – a native of Kentucky. John’s father, Rev. Joshua Fry Green, died in August 1854.

This convention was called to consider an ordinance for secession from the Union. The convention convened on March 4th and adjourned March 16th with the ordinance defeated.

Captain Thomas Churchill (1824-1905) was a Confederate major general during the Civil War and would become the governor of Arkansas in 1881. In 1861, he and his wife Ann Sevier became the proud parents of Juliette Churchill who would grow up to become Goodrich’s third wife.

Wolfstenberger’s Panorama, billed as the “mirror of the world”, was painted on two miles of canvas according to the [Little Rock] Arkansas Daily True Democrat of 9 March 1861.  The [Little Rock] Weekly Arkansas Gazette of 16 March1861 also mentions the panorama saying, “for the past week, [the theatre] has been occupied by Mr. Grace, in exhibiting his Panorama of remarkable places in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Taken as a work of art, this is a rare exhibition, and it is, besides, very instructive.  Mr. G. goes from here in the direction of Fort Smith.  We bespeak for him a good reception by the people in the Western end of the State.”

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