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Kate Stone’s Civil War: Sad Christmas

July 31, 2012

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, the daughter of Louisiana cotton plantation owners who chronicled her turbulent life throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone’s first entry for 1862 was a somber one. The shadow of her brother’s death darkened the holiday cheer.

Jan. 6:

Christmas passed very quietly with us. Greetings on all sides but no gifts and not many good things prepared beforehand. Had the customary eggnog before breakfast, but not a prize nog. It was made of borrowed whiskey with a strong flavor of turpentine. A lovely day, so warm that we sat on the gallery until bedtime.

Julia Reed came on the twenty-seventh and stayed until today. This is the first Christmas in our recollection that was not a time of fun and feasting. We missed Ashburn’s kiss and blithesome presence.

Mamma invited the two Mr. Valentines, father and son, to dinner, thinking it would be pleasant for Other Pa (Stone’s maternal grandfather) to meet the older man, and rather to our surprise they came and stayed until sundown. We never heard of Mr. Valentine, Sr., paying a social visit before. He is odd, just as we fancied he would be, but an excellent talker. He and his son are strikingly alike in looks, manners, and turn of mind, though they generally take opposite sides on every proposition. Mark, Jr., says they are forced to do so to have something to talk about the long winter evenings.

Mark, Jr., acquainted us with his fixed determination to pay us a New Year’s call. So Julia and I hurried back from our ride that misty, misty morning and looked for him all day. In the afternoon we begged Mamma to let us pay our expected visit to Mrs. Savage, but she would not allow it. So he ruined our plans for all day. It will be long before we let an engagement with him keep us in again.

The morning after Christmas Mamma gave all the house servants holiday … and they all went down to the quarters. She hired some of the field women, who were busy in the backyard drying out lard, making up sausages, cleaning feet and so on. …

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