1864: Aunt America to Hattie

The content of this letter indicates that it was written from Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri on 3 November 1864. The author addressed the letter to “Hattie” and signed it “your Aunt America.” The author also informs us that she is the mother of a young girl named “Lillie” and that she earns income as a school teacher. In spite of all these clues, I have not yet been able to verify the identify of the correspondents from census records

The letter relates the hardships faced by the residents of Cooper and Pettis Counties during the war when residents from the border counties sought refuge in their counties. These refugees suffered from inadequate food and shelter. The author also mentions the recent raid on Boonville by rebel guerrillas led by Bloody Bill Anderson who met up with Gen. Price’s army in Boonville on 6 October 1864. The rebels robbed stores in Boonville and stole horses from the vicinity as they recruited men in central Missouri to advance on Kansas City [Battle of Westport].


Boonville [Missouri]
November 3rd [1864]

Dear Hattie,

Your kind letter came to hand a few days ago and I hasten to answer. I was much pleased to hear from you all, and very glad to get that nice photograph. I think it is very good though not quite so good as one sis has in a case. I think the one sis has flatters you a good deal. Tell Lizzie I still keep looking for hers and a letter from her too.

Since I wrote to her we have had quite a time with the Rebs here. They came in and took all they wanted from stores and all the horses they wanted & left at their leisure, though were pursued the next day by the militia at at rather a slow pace, but finally made their escape how or where I know not though we have not heard of them since. Bro. Bell was in today. They are all well out there. Also at bro. Johns.

I am kept quite busy all the time with my school. Have just as much as I can do and but little time for writing, visiting, or anything else. But I presume it is best for me to keep busy. My mind is then occupied with my duties and not so much time for trouble.

Lilly has been very sick the last ten days with scarlet fever; I had to give up my school last week to tend to her. But she is now most well, and yesterday I resumed my place in the schoolroom.

I have not heard from sister Eliza very lately but were all well when I heard last. They are having much trouble all through their country and ours is filled with refugees from the border counties. Many must starve this winter, I fear. Indeed, I don’t know what is to become of a majority of them. Some are now living in tents up above Sedalia that can’t find houses  to go in. Some of the very best citizens of those counties have been driven off without anything scarcely. Some of our best ministers driven from home and living in old shanties scarcely fit for stables. god only knows what will become of us as a people. I presume it is not quite so bad with you as with us.

But it is now getting quite late and I must close. All are asleep but myself and I do not feel very well and ought to be asleep, but I get so little time to write that I thought I would write to you tonight anyhow.

Give my love to Lizzie and the little ones and to Mr. C., to Eliza and James. Make them all send me their photographs. write to me soon. Tell Lizzie I am still looking for a letter from her. I was about to forget to tell you we have had two snows and quite cold weather.

Good night from your Aunt America

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