1862: Emma Ann Harrison to Uncle

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How Emma might have looked

This letter was written by 11 year-old Emma Ann Harrison (1851-1914), the daughter of John Harrison (1815-1883) and Mary Ann Murray (1819-1912) of Caswell county, North Carolina. Emma mentioned her brother Julius J. Harrison (1847-1878). Emma was married in 1879 to James Tinnin McAdams (1837-1894) who served briefly in Co. 6th North Carolina Infantry during the Civil War.

Emma also mentions the deaths of three daughters of Thomas Fitch (1813-1890) and Lydia Walker (1810-1890) of Caswell County, North Carolina. We learn that all three girls were victims of diphtheria. They were 20 year-old Minerva Ann Fitch who died on 12 May 1862; 14 year-old Lydia Susan Fitch; and 14 year-old Elizabeth S. Fitch who died on 22 May 1862.


Caswell county, North Carolina
May 28, 1862

Dear Uncle,

As I am quite lonesome this evening, I intend to spend a few moments in communicating to you a few thoughts to let you know that we are in the land of the living and are well except Pap. He has a very sore hand. He has not used it for a week.

I understand this morning that you had got your foot sprained. I want you to write to me how you got it done. Mother is a sweating over the loom these hot days. We have some pretty dresses in the loom. I will send you a piece of it when I get it made.

I was at a wedding the first day of May. All of us went but Pap, We had fine times. It was Miss Amy Jane Murray and Mr. James Eector. Samual Tate, Fred Blanchet, Doc. Dier’s daughter and Cousin H[enrietta V[irginia] Harrison was the waiters. I was at Uncle John’s yesterday evening. I am going to prayer meeting this evening. We have prayer meeting every Sunday evening. Old Prospect has taken a rise. You must make haste and come home and go to see Pertheny and get some strawberries.

Grand Pap received your letter Saturday night and also received one from Uncle Jim, ¹ Uncle Willis, ² and Uncle Buck. Uncle Buck is sick and has been ever since he joined his company. He said that he would be able to go to his company in a few days. He has had the chills and fever. He is 190 miles from Corinth [Mississippi] in a village called Enterprise in a private house. One of his messmates is waiting on him. He said that all the sick was ordered away—all them that was very sick to go to the hospital and them that was able to take care of themselves to go to a private house. There are 60,000 troops from Texas on the field. There are 250,000 at Corinth, 20,000 sick. He said that all of Uncle Bob’s ³ family was well. He wanted to know where you and Uncle Jim was and what division you was in and the number of your company so that he could write to you. Uncle Jim is in 2 miles of Richmond. Uncle Willis [Dameron] expect to be in camp in a month from now.

Aunt Martha [(Murrie) Dameron] said if we would come and see her, she would give us Irish potatoes and fried chicken. Pap has got your letter. You will hear from him in a few days. We got one from Uncle Jim today. We are anxious to hear from Richmond and hear of the 6th Regiment coming home. People thinks they are not going to be no wheat made this year. It just rains here by day and by night. We have just quit work here. Pap is mightily behind with his farm. He says that he will try and keep up with Old Betsy Gye.

We are busy fixing for the quarterly meeting next Saturday and Sunday. Mother says she would like to see you there with you big hymn book a singing. They are going to clean out the grove on Thursday. Mother has got two hens up a fattening for the meeting. All of Mr. Tom Fitch’s family has had the diphtheria. He has lost all of his daughters but one and that is the oldest.

Mother says make heart and whip the Yankees and come home and she will give you fried chicken. We had peas for dinner. We have some good chickens. Pap, Mother and Julius sends their best respects to you. Write soon.

— Emma A. Harrison

¹ “Uncle Jim” was probably James McAden Murrie [Murray] (1835-1887) who served at 1st Lt. in Co. B, 18th Virginia Infantry.  James was the younger brother of Emma’s mother.

² “Uncle Willis” was Willis Anderson Dameron (1830-1865) who was married to Martha Mildred Murrie [Murray]—a younger sister of Emma’s mother. Willis also served in Co. H, 6th North Carolina Infantry.

³ “Uncle Bob” was probably Robert Sanders Murrie [Murray] (b. 1827) of Caswell county. He was a younger brother of Emma’s mother. He was married to Rebecca A. Martin and resided in Texas after 1854.


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