Will Kell, the newest member of Special Collections

Congratulations to my friend Will.

The Top Shelf

Will Kell is the new Library Assistant II in Special Collections at the John Peace Library. He is a graduate student in the history program at UTSA and his area of interest is in Latin American history, primarily Guatemala during the Ríos Montt administration. Will is working on a master’s thesis entitled “Heavenly Discourse: FUNDAPI and Guatemala’s Attempt to Change Public Perception.” His thesis examines the relationship between the non-governmental organization Fundación de Ayuda al Pueblo Indígena (FUNDAPI) and Ríos Montt. Will has conducted research at the Tulane University Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the University of Texas at Austin Benson Latin America Collection, the Archivo General de Centro América, and the Biblioteca Nacional de Guatemala. Additionally, Will conducted several interviews throughout Guatemala. Aside from school and his research, he enjoys reading, writing, running, and traveling. He looks forward to working in Special Collections and assisting the…

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Kate Stone’s Civil War: Our only hope for peace

Stone learns the Hampton Roads Conference has accomplished nothing, which means the stakes for victory are higher than ever.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences 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 learns the Hampton Roads Conference has accomplished nothing, which means the stakes for victory are higher than ever.

Feb. 21, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Another rainy day. But Mamma is at home all right, and we are very glad to have her. Ben Clarkson came in Saturday on his way to see his people on his first furlough. He has been away two years and a half. He is a handsome fellow and scarcely looks older than when he left. How delighted his father will be to see him. He has only a twenty-day furlough, and it has taken him that long to get here. He will stay at home a month and rejoin his company at Tupelo, Miss. How vividly his presence recalls my two brothers. Had they lived, they might now be making us happy with their glad presence.

Sunday we all attended the Baptist church which was crowded to overflowing. We occupied a seat with some soldiers and their rations and came away with a goodly portion of the week’s rations whitening our skirts. Dr. Weir asked to walk home with us. I told him we came in the carriage when he innocently inquired had I not rather walk. Decidedly, I had not. Spent this afternoon playing chess with him. I beat him so easily now there is no fun playing with him. …

We hear the Peace Commission returned without effecting anything. Our only hope for peace this year now lies in emancipation or intervention.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: My escorts were disgusted

More food and supplies finally make it to Tyler, and Stone enjoys a crowded concert, if only to drown out the anguish of recent months.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences 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)

More food and supplies finally make it to Tyler, and Stone enjoys a crowded concert, if only to drown out the anguish of recent months.

Note her details on how the slaves make candles from Texas cactus.

Feb. 15, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Our garrison is reinforced and heavily provisioned. Warren reached here tonight after a six-day trip from the prairie with the long looked-for load of comestibles, and never could they have come in better time. The last flour had just been made up into biscuit in Capt. Birchett’s honor, and meat, sugar, candles, and everything else was waxing low. By the way, the servants make such pretty candles now. The candles look almost like wax. They boil a species of cactus in the tallow, and the candles are partly transparent and brittle and give an excellent clear light. Warren says the roads are nearly impassable. Mamma, when he left the carriage, was bogged down a few miles beyond Quitman, but Warren is satisfied that she will reach here today or tomorrow.

Capt. Birchett, after keeping me at home all day and depriving me of the pleasure of a ride with Dr. Weir, came up to tea and soon after bade us adieu for Shreveport and does not expect to be back for some weeks. We will miss him as he has been very sociable. Jolly Col. Hill and his demure, prim little wife called this morning and later Mrs. Benton and Mrs. St. Clair. No news except Mrs. Alexander, who lately lost her husband, will leave in a few days for San Antonio. And Johnny and I are eager to rent that house by the time Mamma arrives. Such a nice two-story affair with a pretty flower yard and in a nice part of town.

Dr. Weir spent yesterday afternoon here playing chess, and after tea I went with him and Capt. Birchett to a concert. Such a crowd. Not another person could have been crammed in and so many soldiers, but they were quiet and behaved well. The gentlemen all had to stand and my escorts were disgusted.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Peace blessed peace

Stone senses the end of the war is coming soon. She predicts the war will end no sooner than October 1865.

KS12

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences 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 senses the end of the war is coming soon. She predicts the war will end no sooner than October 1865.

Feb. 13, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Great Peace rumors are afloat, and Gen. Lee has certainly given Grant’s army a good drubbing. If he could only have annihilated them, we could sing. … God grant our dear boys may be unhurt. Dame Rumor is furloughing every fifth man in the Virginia Army who lives on this side of the Mississippi, and there is so much good news that the multitudes are jubilant. The more hopeful predict peace by July, but I think it will not come before October is painting the woods in autumn hues. What a lovely season it will be to journey home with peace blessed peace quieting all the land and nothing to molest or make us afraid. How joyfully will we take up our line of march for dear old Louisiana. What a merry cavalcade we shall be.

How the shriek of that steam whistle startled me, transporting me for the minute to the bank of the far rolling Mississippi.

Mrs. Bruce must think we are agents for renting houses. A letter from her introducing Capt. Pritchard, and one from him asking us as a great favor to rent a house for his family, who are on the way and will be here in about two weeks. Will wait until Mamma gets back, and then we will go on another house-hunting expedition. It is rather a trying job as the owners of the houses wish us to be responsible for the rent, and in this case we do not even know the people. These wily Texans want to bind one with all kinds of written documents, unintelligible but terrible in my eyes. I would not sign one for anything. Mamma attends to all that. …

Yesterday Little Sister fell off the gallery striking her head on a rock pile, making several deep gashes, and today it pains too much for her to attend school, though she took her music lesson. Little Sally has improved so much. She is a pretty curly-headed little thing with golden hair and blue eyes and is a great pet with us all. But she can never take Beverly’s place in our hearts — the perfect little child only lent to earth to show mortals how fair are the angels in Heaven. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: One of life’s greatest trials

With Mamma away, Stone remains in command of the Tyler home, and with that duty comes caring for sick friends.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences 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)

With Mamma away, Stone remains in command of the Tyler home, and with that duty comes caring for sick friends.

Feb. 12, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Mamma is still away, and from the condition of the roads we know not when to expect her. We miss her dreadfully, but we have had much company. Mrs. Carson has been sick, and we walk over there nearly every evening. Poor Mr. Alexander died recently, and Mrs. Hull, who had been sitting up all night, sent for me early one rainy morning to come and relieve her. I remained until dark, a most dreary day, for though Mr. Alexander was the merest acquaintance, we felt for his wife and children. The duty of visiting the sick and afflicted is one of life’s greatest trials.

Met a delightful gentleman when I spent the day at Mrs. Savage’s. He is Dr. Boone, a Missourian, handsome, elegant, the Medical Director for the Northern District, and is stationed at Bonham. He is trying to get Dr. McGregor to exchange with him. I only wish they will. He would be a social acquisition. He called with Dr. Weir yesterday morning and soon challenged me to a game of chess. I won the first and he the second and so the championship is undecided. He is to come as soon as he returns to play the decisive game. …

We hear today the enemy are advancing on Monroe. If so, we do not know when Henry will find Harrison’s brigade. Reports of a great battle between Lee and Grant. Our forces victorious.

There is no sewing hurrying us now. Sister gets off early to school after our usual breakfast, beef and biscuit, syrup, and homemade coffee monotonous, but the best we can do. …

Looking Back: It has to be done

Today in 1910, Johnnie W. Flores was born near Somerset, Texas, southeast of San Antonio. In 1941, Flores joined the Army, and, as part of the 36th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater, he saw and paid the war’s ultimate price.

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Today in 1910, Johnnie W. Flores was born near Somerset, Texas, southeast of San Antonio. In 1941, Flores joined the Army, and, as part of the 36th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater, he saw and paid the war’s ultimate price.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series will highlight a few of these fascinating lives.

Johnnie W. Flores, born on Feb. 10, 1910, was one of seven children living with their parents on a farm near Somerset, Texas. In his mid-twenties, Flores moved to California. He joined the Army in 1941.

His letters home encapsulated the evolution of the man’s character. The soldier faced down the horrific realities of war with practicality. He bought life insurance, and he sent half of his paycheck back to his mother. His letters also captured his romantic entanglements with young women in the U.S.

World War II brought him and his 36th Infantry Regiment to Europe, where he saw in late 1944 how war destroyed French communities and the “very green and beautiful” landscape. His letters captured his horror and his determined justification for such destruction.

By the end of the year, his family received news of the unthinkable. Read about what they learned and how they reacted, and the rest of wonderful profile here.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Our soldiers were powerless

Foreign recognition, a cease-fire, slave emancipation: Stone captures the desperate rumors in the air as the Confederacy falls to its knees.

KS10

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences 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)

Foreign recognition, a cease-fire, slave emancipation: Stone captures the desperate rumors in the air as the Confederacy falls to its knees.

Feb. 1, 1865

Tyler, Texas

An occasional letter from Jimmy. He had just returned from our old home near the river. How strange it seems for the boys to be going home and wandering at will over the whole country, not a Yankee to be seen. The army worms were our best allies. They made the enemy abandon the country when our soldiers were powerless to drive them off. There are rumors of an armistice, recognition by the powers, and emancipation of the slaves.

Raining today. Could not start Jimmy’s boy back. Jimmy must think Henry is never coming. Have nearly finished Jimmy Carson’s gloves. His hands are none of the smallest and knitting the gloves has been a task.

Have been reading the life of Stonewall Jackson. He was worthy to be idolized by all classes as he is. Have just finished The Hour and the Man by Miss Martineau, purporting to be a historical novel with Toussaint L’Overture, the leader of the insurrection in San Domingo, as the hero. He is represented as superhumanly good and great beyond all heroes of ancient or modern times. He and Napoleon were contemporaries and comparisons are constantly drawn between them, all in favor of this darkie saint. Napoleon is completely overshadowed by Toussaint. It is a disgusting book. The Negroes are all represented as angelic beings, pure and good, while the whites are the fiends who entered in and took possession of their Eden, Haiti.

Anna Meagher returned recently and sent for me to come and see her. She saw Jimmy several times. He is quite well. Her only news was about the Terrapin Neck cutoff which, if true, will place all our plantations above possible overflow. The Yankees are all gone and some of the old planters still at home. Jimmy sent by Anna the box of papers left concealed and all are in good order. We have written him to bring out the silver if possible. It is buried there. The old Negroes are still on the place, and Uncle Hoccles and Aunt Liza want to come out to Texas. Mrs. Newman was about to give a Yankee party. Both girls are at home and reported engaged to Yankee officers. One cannot believe that news. Nous verrons. We hear that Annie Newman is a beauty and a belle. Surely the age of miracles has not passed.

The pouring rains continue, and the house leaks dreadfully. We rather wade than walk.