Saturday, June 14, 2014

E. M. Ross Letter ~ 1867
No One to Protect Us

The Civil War is over but the sting of defeat is fresh. Elizabeth Magruder Ross writes to a nameless niece about the devastation of war on Windsor, the death of Smith Coffee Daniell and his four children since the completion of the house.

Smith Daniell has in his 1860 household Eliza Ross, 55 years of age, born in Maryland. In this letter, Ross refers to Daniell's wife, Catherine, as Sister. I have not seen anything in the census records that supports they were siblings, maybe, it was a term of endearment.

January 25th 1867

My dear Child

Seeing your likeness to day prompts me to undertake my long neglected duty: though sevelal (sic) months have passed, since the reception of your most welcome letter. I have not forgotten that it ought to have been enswered (sic) long ago but plead as usual my extreme dislike, to writing; time passes away so rapidly that it seems to be but a few days since I received it. I was delighted to hear from you all once more; I had almost dispaired (sic) of ever hearing from again.

Sad changed have taken place in the last six years. Smith Daniel and four of his little Children have died, only six of us left, my Sister Catherine, Pris, Tom, and little Smith who was born six months after his Fathers (sic) death. We had no one to protect and fight for us during the war: the anxiety and trouble we passed through is pass (sic) discription (sic), all of our property taken from us, one hundred and sixty five horses and mules taken from us, three steame (sic) gins, three thousand bals (sic) of cotton burnt at one time. Our hous (sic) searched about twenty times; Grant made this his headquarters for two days and then made our house a Hospital. Had between (sic) foure (sic) and five hundred wounded in the house at one time they would not suffer us to leave the house; aloud (sic) us four rooms in the third story.

Our cook, cookes (sic) our meals out at her house, and brough (sic) it in a waiter from day to day until they left here, The smell from their wounds was very offensive we could hardly bear it. They made our yard their burying grond (sic). If we made any complaint, they would threaten to burn our house, so we had to bear it patiently.

We feel thankful that our house and lands have been saved to us we can rent out or lease our plantation so that we will be able to live comfortably.

I loaned Tenly one hundred dollars about seaven (sic) years ago, he promised to pay me back again when he got able; I wish you would try and collect for me. If you can get it I will let you know in my next letter what I wish you to get for me with it. I am very sorry to hear that your Mother’s health is not good. When you answer this letter you must tell me some thing about all the family how you are getting along.

What has become of Susan? Is her Father living yet? If you doo (sic) let me know. I would like to hear some thing from all our old neighbors (sic), how they are getting along. Particularly Mr Brown.

You did not say who Olinsker had married I would like to know. Let me know how many Children Josephene (sic) has, give my love to them all when you see them, and to all that ask for me.

Let me know how your Grand Fathers family are getting along. You must take time and write me a long letter. You can write a great may (sic) things that would be interesting to me, whilst I have nothing to write that would be interesting to you.

I have not written for so long a time I have almost forgotten how. You must overlook all mistakes.

Give my love to your Mother and all the family I remain with much love your

Affectionate Aunt E. Ross

The Magnificent House ~ Windsor
The Brick Makers of Windsor
Cecilia Beall's Letter ~ 1854 Reunion of Slaves
E. M. Ross's Letter - 1860 Go Without a Servant
E. M. Ross' Letter ~1867 All Our House Servants Left Us

Ross (Elizabeth Magruder) Letters - Z/1480.000/F/Folder 1
Letters found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History.


  1. There is so much in this letter. It contains important information about what life was like after the war from the perspective of the writer. .. and it also contains details about family relationships and happenings. Letters are a lot like diaries. They provide a sense of what someone was thinking and feeling at a point in time.