1863: Unidentified Young Woman to her Aunt

Screen Shot 2019-12-14 at 3.11.02 PM
How the author might have looked in 1863

The identify of these correspondents has not yet been learned but I’m going to post the letter hoping that someone may recognize the names of those mentioned within it and send me a comment. My impression is that it was written by a young woman, old enough to teach school but likely not yet married. She may have had a brother named Alonzo. She likely resided in Nevada, Wyandot County, Ohio, which is where the letter was datelined in September 1863—just one month before the hotly contested Ohio Gubernatorial Election between John Brough who ran on the Fusion Unionist Ticket, and Clement L. Vallandigham who ran as a Peace Democrat (Copperhead). In Wyandot county, the political sentiments were nearly equally split between the two nominees. Vallandigham won the county by 11 votes out of 1,668 votes cast. Brough, however, carried the State.

The letter conveys the tragic news that the author’s relative, Daniel McJunkin (1813-1863)—a farmer in nearby Richland county, Ohio, was murdered for his political views but the letter does not state whether he was a Unionist or Copperhead.


Nevada [Ohio]
September 10, 1863

Dear Aunt and the rest of the friends,

I received a letter from Mary Jane Smith this morning and she informed me of the sad affliction that has befallen you. But dear friends, those dear lambs have only gone to rest a little while before you. They are only released from pain and you are called to struggle on a little longer without them and always remember that “everything worketh together for good to them that love God.”

Screen Shot 2019-12-13 at 4.22.51 PM
Published in Cleveland Leader on Tuesday, 22 September 1863

Uncle Mc’s have also met with a severe affliction. Daniel McJunkin was killed last week. Yes! He was murdered! They had been threatening what they would do with him and were always abusing Lucy Skates and one night there was singing in the neighborhood and Daniel had gone with some other gentlemen to keep order and when he was coming, one of those rascals stepped along side of him and commenced swearing what he would do with John McJunkin and he told him if he had fuss to settle with John, he could just settle with him. And with that, another one behind him struck him in the back of the neck with an instrument called a slug. All he said after he was struck was, “Boys, raise me up.” He fell back into the arms of someone that happened to be near and these fellows help carry him to the house and had to give bail for their appearance the next day.

Lucy Skates and John had gone to Mansfield to a party and they sent after them but did not tell them that he was dead until they got home and she took a spasm and kept on having them all night. Oh! it is horrible to think that one neighbor will murder another on account of politics. They intend to stay on the farm this winter.

I intend to stay at home and go to school this winter. We are going to have an excellent teacher and I think it will be best for me to stay at home.

Wednesday morning

I received your letter this morning and was very glad to hear that you were well. Aunt Sarah would have gone in to see you but on both mornings she was quite sick and she thought it best not to go. And in our own family we have all had a turn of sickness. I was quite sick for one week. I was all broke out all over my body with something that looked like the measles but the doctor did not know what to call it. Alonzo has been sick for about two weeks but is better.

But I shall have to close as it is nearly school time. I forgot to tell you that I am teaching yet. My school will be out two weeks from today. Enclosed you will find my miniature which I had taken in town.

Please write soon to your friends in Nevada

Mother send her heartfelt sympathies in your afflictions for she understands your feelings for she too has been called to mourn the loss of children.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s