November 1, 1863
Sunday. Louis [Adamson] & I, with the servants Emily and Mary, staid here last night. Sat up till nearly eleven o’clock talking of old times, what we had seen & felt in the family, wondering & talking about the future, down-spirited about the breaking up. The place looks desolate and gloomy. I had become accustomed to the ways of Mrs. Adamson. I do not think I can feel so much at home as I did here in any other place. Old Mr. [John] Adamson made a will, but what he left his wife [was] the privilege of willing her [property] wherever she pleased. He tore up his & she tore up hers which gave this house and lot to little Sallie Adamson, the daughter of Louisa. And after she made a will giving it to the church, she got [her husband,] Old [John] Adamson to go to the Presbyterian Church & did not give him any peace till he did. There was continual squabbling here. She took a good deal for the church. I suppose the poor woman needed liquor. Her body was always bad and some of the boys, Billy Hutt, caught her at it and told & she was compelled to stop. She lead a [hard] life but her own disposition made her a maid so long…
She thought at once when I first came here a good deal of me and when I would scold [her servant Emily], Mrs. Adamson would tell Sophie that I should not impose upon her. She could not allow anyone to do it. But lately she has told me that Sophie provoked her. I think she had more confidence in me & less in Sophie. She wanted Sophie to grow up & be a smart woman like herself. She did not want anyone to think she was dull. Sophie was, in some respects, like the little French girl in Jane Eyre, a rattle brain, noisy, shallow thing [who] thinks of nothing but play & dolls & dresses. In the will, she left Sophie a thousand dollars, but there is none. Mrs. Adamson treated Maggie Nelson badly for scolding Sophie. She slapped her on the face soundly. She went to the servants crying saying, “What do you think [of that]. Mrs. Adamson had the impudence to strike me in the face.”
November 2, 1863
At school. Taking things away [from Mrs. Adamson’s house] as fast as they can – a perfect tear-up. I don’t know what to do. Trying to get a house for school & to lodge in, and for [Mrs. Adamson’s servants] Emily & Mary to cook for me. Have not succeeded.
November 3, 1863
In school. Moving yet. Feel very sorrowful. Do not know what will become of me. Went with Egan to see the Chief of detective police to see if I could get a place. I may or may not. I do not make much at teaching. I have so few [students] and [many are] so irregular. Louis [Adamson] & I are the only persons in the house except the kitchen folks. [The others have] broke up and scattered whom I have become attached and accustomed. It seems like beginning again among strangers.
November 4, 1863
In school. Have a bad cold. Don’t feel like doing anything. Saw the chief of the detectives. He said he did not want me now. He had an order to make details for his men. I am sorry. He said if at any time he needed men, he would employ me. Running about all the noon and evening to see if I could sell the bale of cotton that is here. Saw Mr. Peake. Circus is in town. The Trustees of the church have the renting of this house & Bender told us to stay here until someone comes in. Probably we will stay till next week. I feel gloomy and down spirited. I do not make much in my school & I am afraid that I will not. I may lose Chunch Weaver.
November 5, 1863
In school. Saw Mick Egan [who] said he would take the bale of cotton and come for it tonight, but he did not. There is not much confidence to be placed in him. Saw Mr. Peake. He thought I had better keep on with the school. He said he had talked to Mr. Wassell & several [others] & they wished me to go on.
November 6, 1863
In school. Egan got the cotton. Still here at the house. (Paid $1.25 for tobacco.)
November 7, 1863
Saturday. Wrote letter to Charles Adamson. Down the street. Got letter from home, one from [cousin] Lucy Fiddis, & [one from cousin] George Stratton. Mick Egan was put into the Penitentiary this morning for beating a federal prisoner at the Penitentiary some time ago. Saw Dyer about [selling the bale of] cotton. Got paid $75 for it. Saw Provost Marshal [Chandler] about Egan. Got other men, Wassell &c. Done a good deal for Mick. I think we can get him off. I hope so. I have set things in motion if it will do some good…
November 8, 1863
Said Mick [Egan] is released. Had a bible class of soldiers at Sunday school – some officers.
November 9, 1863
At school. Moved from one room to another in school. Went up to Louisa’s. Paid for cotton $80.
November 10, 1863
Moving. Changed school back into old room. [The] Negros [came] down [and] fixed up a little at the school house tonight. Been turned up all day. I will be glad when we get settled. Louisa sent her half bale of cotton here for me to sell. Wrote a letter to Charles Adamson.
November 11, 1863
In school. Cutting wind is wearing. [School] room looks tolerable. I have not slept out of the house of Mrs. Adamson’s since I have been [a boarder] there, except a few days when at the Penitentiary and over a year ago when I went to Hot Springs . Feel lonesome and homesick. Have not got used to it yet. Mick Egan in jail. Took letter for Charles Adamson to [the post] office.
November 12, 1863
In school. Nothing new. Writing to George Stratton and Lucy Fiddis.
November 13, 1863
In school. Nothing new. Working.
November 14, 1863
Saturday. Working all forenoon fixing negro rooms. Afternoon, up to Louisa [Adamson’s], Mrs. Fulton’s (paid $23.00 for October rent), and saw Mr. Peake. Called at Wassell’s in the evening. Saw two Captains, one Colonel [and] saw a man from [my brother] Jim’s company [posted at Pine Bluff]. Wrote a letter to Jim. (Paid $1.50 for a pair of shoes for Trimble.)
November 15, 1863
Sunday. At church. Sent letter to [my brother] Jim. Margraff, chief detective, wanted to see me to give me a place for 60 dollars a month & rations, but [it was] not permanent [so I] did not accept. Thought it not best. Mr. Henderson, Presbyterian Chaplain sat in a pew with me [and] invited me to see him. He is staying at Dr. Dodges’.
November 16, 1863
In school. Fay Hempstead came today. Nothing new.
November 17, 1863
In school. Mick Egan got out of jail last night. I am troubled a good deal by the people in here, borrowing & smelling about the kitchen.
November 18, 1863
In school. Mick Egan came to see me. He was badly treated at prison [and] feels badly, but better than I expected.
November 19, 1863
In school. Feel sick. Getting along tolerably well. Saw [Ed] Sauter. He says he is doing finely. I hope he is. He says Walter Caldwell is a fool, & she too. I am glad he thinks so. I do not know how many [students] he has, but I reckon a large school.
November 20, 1863
In school. Cold & rainy.
November 21, 1863
Saturday. Down the street. Dr. Cobb gave me his due bill for the cotton. Working for negros nearly all day.
November 22, 1863
Sunday. At church. Writing &c. Sold 85 dollars of Confederate money for Emily for $8.50 greenback.
November 23, 1863
In school. Rainy a little. Cold. Nothing new. Cutting my own wood.
November 24, 1863
School. Cold. Down to Yoest’s. (Paid $1.50 for a load of wood.)
November 25, 1863
In school. Mr. Peake came to tell me that tomorrow was a Thanksgiving day & there would be service at the church. Mrs. Bridges’ son drunk again. Raised cane.
November 26, 1863
Thanksgiving in school. At church. Called on Egan. Fixing up room, &c.
November 27, 1863
In school. Feel sick. Rainy. Nothing new.
November 28, 1863
Sent letter to [Willoughby] Babcock & [cousin] Jim Fiddis. Per Mr. Peake, got one from [my sister] Augusta. Saw Mr. Peake. Nothing new.
November 29, 1863
Sunday. At church. At Negro meeting with Mr. Peake. At night, saw Egan.
November 30, 1863
In school. Lost two boys – Fulton & Pollock. Very cold. Down the street evening.
The Chief of Detectives in Little Rock in 1863 was Capt. A. T. Margraff. This military police unit worked under the general direction of the Provost Marshal.
The letter from “home” [Owego, New York] was the first that Goodrich had received since the suspension of mail service between the North and the South shortly after Arkansas seceded from the Union. The envelope actually contained two letters – one from Goodrich’s sister, Sarah, and one from his mother. They read as follows:
October 18, 1863 Owego [New York]
Dear brother Ralph. I am so glad that we can write to you again with something of a feeling of certainty that you will receive it. We have written to you often within the past two years but it always seems that you would not get them. Now I hope there will be no trouble, but we hear the Confederates are gathering around Little Rock. We were so glad to hear from you again and that you had seen [our brother] Jim. I do not wonder that you were almost wild after going through so much. Write us more particulars about the taking of the city… I was afraid Jim was not well enough to start off on an exploration, and were you not glad to see each other? Did he know you as readily as you did him? We had quite a scene here when we received your letter sealed with black. Ma almost went into hysterics before she could open it but it was such good news to know that you were again under our protection in the Union once more.
I am glad you heard of Pa’s death so soon. I wish you could have all seen him. We have a very good photograph of him taken just before he was taken sick in the spring. There is one for each of us. We have sent one to Augusta. Pa took a very hard cold in April by being out one wet day with the hired man cutting down those two Balm of Gilead trees at the back of the house and was not well afterwards. The doctor was afraid of congestion of the lungs. He was a long time getting up and was very feeble. He used to take his cane and walk slowly about the yard. He walked over to Mr. Bristol’s twice and out to the barn two or three times. He looked feeble but we did not think he was to die so soon. I think he knew he would not live long. We miss him so much. He had a great deal of pain in his head. Sometimes he said it could not hurt worse if someone was driving a nail into his head. With all his suffering, he was cheerful and pleasant [and] was always so glad to hear from us all. He is gone from us and I feel that he is happy for he was a good man. It was good to hear what some of the poor said of him after he died. We are a lonely house.
George Berry lives here now. I do not know for how long. George and Ed Stratton are both in the store. It is now Truman, Stratton & Company. George boards at Aunt Lucy [Fiddis]’s. He was in the army over a year. He went in the first company that went from here & was promoted to Lieutenant. [Your cousin] Lucy Stratton went west to Cleveland some time ago with her father. He left her there and she is there still visiting friends of her mothers. The Stratton boys hardly ever come here now and George does not seem at all as he used to – only at times he gets in a funny fix.
Mr. [William] Smyth used to ask [your sister] Mary if she heard from her rebel brother. Lawyer [Benjamin F] Tracy is in the army as Colonel, and Mr. [Willoughby] Babcock also went as Captain but has been promoted – I have forgotten to what rank. He was a long time [at Fort Pickens and Pensacola] in Florida. Nat Davis went in the first company and nearly all the young men about here. Austin went as Captain last fall. He wrote to Lucy & sent his photograph with his regimentals on, but she never answered it. Johnson is raising tobacco at Pipe Creek. He called at Aunt Lucy [Fiddis]’s a short time ago & enquired about you. Tom Page & Will Ellis always enquire about you. They are both married now. All your friends have been anxious to hear from you.
[Your sister] Mary comes home quite often. [She and her husband Gurd Horton] live in the Broadhead house. I suppose [your brother] Jim told you Lee [Goodrich] was married. Charley Nealy was married two weeks ago to Adaline Janes – his second wife died last summer. Did you know that Uncle Elizur [Goodrich’s business] had failed and [his son] Fred had to teach last winter to pay his way through college. And [his other son] Jamie is in a Jeweler’s store. They lost the two little boys with Diptheria a year ago. Aunt Betsy Tryon’s oldest son Goodrich died at Shreveport more than a year ago. Aunt Rachel Goodrich, Uncle Ralph’s wife, died a few weeks ago. Lewis Moss sent you his wedding card a year or more ago. The lady’s name is Elizabeth Mashall. Frank Platt has been very sick. They do not think she can live long. Ed Platt was in the army but was sick all the time and got discharged. Since then he has married Emma Ketchum & he has turned into a respectable man. Janett McCallum was married last fall to Cal Patch & lives in Towanda. Angelo [McCallum] is Captain in the army, and Will has just gone to West Point .
I hope you are having a larger school and trust times will be brighter with you. I wish you might be at home this winter. Why have you given up being a lawyer? If you are to be a teacher through life, I hope you can get a professorship in some college. I feel as if I had not written half I wanted to but as Lucy says, you ought not to have too large a dose of news at first. If we had known that you was in the army, we should have felt even worse than we did about you. What a horrible thing this war is. And now we hear there is to be another draft in December. I fear it will last years yet. It is hard times here. Everything is very high, but it is not half so bad as it is with you. Will it be safe for us to send you a package? If so, what would you want us to send most?
Have you written to [your sister] Augusta? She has her hands full with three children now. What an awful thing that raid of Quantrill’s at Lawrence was. I sincerely hope it is not so bad with you as you feared. Write soon again. I hope you will receive this. Do you have the chills much? All send love. Hope you will see Jim again and now goodbye. May God bless you, my brother. Ever your affectionate sister, — Sarah [Goodrich]
I would write another sheet but will send it for you to write home. I want to ask so many questions. I am glad Mrs. Adamson is so kind to you. She has our thanks for all the kindness she renders you. I do hope things look brighter to you by this time. Write often.
Dear Ralph. We was glad to hear from you and hope that you will always be in the Union now. I have written a number of letters to you and directed them as you wrote to have me to Mr. Cox of the International Hotel, Memphis, and if he would _______ or on other words send you what belongs to you, would hear considerable news and get a few stamps. I wrote to you about your father’s death and after that sent a letter and cut the obituary notice on his death out of the Gazette and sent that. Did [your brother] James get the [Owego] Gazette I sent him? He had left Helena when we sent the paper. What had been the matter with James and was he able to go off? I hope he is back and that you can see him again. He is very saving or he could not save so much. I hope you will see better times now and that you will have more scholars. About your father’s will, I did not know as you knew anything about it but when a man makes a will, it has to be proven by law or if there are none but own children and if all agree to it, it can be settled without going to law. If each one will give each one a kind of quit claim deed that they agree to have go just as the will says. This paper that you sent us is of no use. I do not think it is but Stephen can enquire. I think we may have to have it settled by law and it will cost 40 or 50 dollars now. If we can hear from you and James, if you can get up this kind of quit claim deed, we may try to that way if we do. Stephen must go to Mr. Madill and get one and send you so that you can know how to do it. I want to hear again from you and James too before we do anything about it. Sarah is writing all the news. I send you one stamp. It is all I have left. Goodbye my darling boy. – [Mother]
Ralph doesn’t mention in his diary when he received it, but his mother wrote him a letter dated 15 November 1863, from Owego, New York, giving him more family news:
Owego [New York]
November 15th 1863
My dear Ralph,
You do not know how I want to hear from you and James too. I have written 3 times to you since we heard from you and I wait and expect every week to hear but the weeks pass and still no letter. What can be the reason? Can it be you do not get our letters, or do you write and we do not get them? The last we heard from James was what you wrote and I do not read anything about the army in west in our papers. I think sometimes James is sick and perhaps you are too. I would have Stephen get their deeds and send them to each of you if we could hear from you and then you would know how to get one to send him.
We are all usually well. It is a sunny Sunday and we are all at home. We have two boarders. Did a Mr. & Mrs. Bryan board at your Aunt Lucy’s before you went? Mr. Bryan has been turned off this road and is on another railroad in Virginia — is conductor. He wanted we should board his wife and child Bell. She is 4 years old and we have taken them to board this winter. She has the south chamber, has a stove, and it is furnished nicely and comfortable, but Bell is some trouble and that is no mistake.
Our neighbors and friends are about as when we wrote last. There was a good many wounded and some killed in that battle of Lookout [Mountain?] from around here, but I do not know as you was acquainted with any of them. Editor Smyth and Beebe fight back and forth in their papers. The Republicans carried the day by having the soldiers come home to vote that would vote Republican and now we are to have another draft in less than two months. All the Democrats will have to go. $300 will not clear them from this draft. Stephen does not want to go but I fear he will have to go.
Anson Booth that boarded to your Aunt Lucy’s and went to school — his marriage is in the [Owego] Gazette this week. He is married to Miss Lucia Hart.
They are to have a great exhibition at the [Owego] Academy Thursday and Friday evenings of this week. Mr. Prindle is head of the Academy. Nat Davis is in Owego. He has served his time out in the army. He went as corporal but came back a commissioned officer. Angelo McCallum is enlisted. He is Capt. now. John German in Capt. James Thurston is Quarter Master, Lawyer Tracy is Col. George Stratton boards at your Aunt Lucy’s. Ed Stratton has gone to New York to buy goods. We expect Lucy Stratton is in Owego. We expected they would come over here yesterday. Lucy Fidelis send word that they were coming.
They have had another letter from James [Stratton]. He is on Ship Island 100 miles from New Orleans. He has send his mother 25 dollars twice. She has put an addition on to her dining room and the money that James sent her has done her good. Lucy [Stratton] has commenced teaching again. She has several new scholars. If she had a large room, she would have a large school. She has about 30 now.
Sunday Evening. Sarah would finish this but Mrs. Bryan is quite sick and she has gone up to stay with her and cannot. And Stephen is going to the Village in the morning and I want to send this so I will finish it, not knowing whether you will ever receive it. I hope this will find you doing well and in good spirits.
All join in love to you. Goodbye. From your affectionate, — Mother