Loreta’s Civil War: Some varieties of life

Velazquez explores Mormon beliefs, enjoys a new friendship, and appreciates the beauty of her new home.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 68: Velazquez explores Mormon beliefs, enjoys a new friendship, and appreciates the beauty of her new home.

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To my great satisfaction, my husband at length got tired of working in this region and under so many disadvantages, and concluded to try his fortune elsewhere. He had quite a notion of New Mexico, which he thought held out inducements for fortune-seekers but I was beginning to be out of the notion of the whole business and was anxious to be among a different class of people from those who, for the most part, make up the population of the mining districts. There was so much outrageous swindling going on when we were there residing that I was disposed to regard almost any move as a good one and very willingly turned my face eastward again.

We went first to Salt Lake City, where we remained for some time, and I consequently had excellent opportunities afforded me for becoming intimately acquainted with a number of Mormons and of learning a great deal about their religion and their manners and customs.

The lady with whom I boarded had been an early convert to Mormonism, had resided at Nauvoo at the time the exodus was determined upon, and had been one of the band of emigrants, who, fleeing from persecution, had sought a home among the mountains of Utah. She had been one of twelve wives and was a strong advocate of polygamy. When she saw that I really desired to know something about Mormonism, not from mere curiosity but from a genuine wish to gain information that would enable me to form an impartial judgment, she took great pleasure in answering all my questions and in providing me with facilities for pursuing my inquiries.

She was a very intelligent woman, and her account of the persecutions to which the Mormons were subjected at Nauvoo, and the suffering and hardships they endured during the long and toilsome journey to a place where they hoped to be forever undisturbed, was most interesting. She had quite an extensive library, to which I had free access, and she took a great deal of pains in directing my reading and in explaining points which I found to be obscurely stated in the books.

As I was the only boarder in the house, my husband being away in the canyon most of the time, we were naturally thrown much together, and after we became intimate she took me into her confidence to an extent that she would not have done had we been comparative strangers.

Among other things, she showed me her Endowment robes, which she wore when she became a member of the Mormon Church. This dress consisted of a linen garment, something like a pair of drawers. It was very full and had a body and sleeves attached. Over one side a heart-shaped piece was cut out, and the edges worked with a button-hole stitch. Curious figures were also worked on the sleeves and on the left hip. The robe proper was something like a priest’s surplice. The slippers, which, like the rest of the dress, were of linen, resembled moccasins. A tall pointed cap with holes for the eyes, which is drawn down over the face during the ceremonies, completed this singular attire.

The decorations worn by the men while taking the oath were also shown to me. They consisted of a regalia of Mazarine blue silk, with a representation of the Temple of Solomon in the center and a heart surrounded by a number of emblems similar to those in use by the Masons. She told me that the oath was very similar to that which the Masons used, and that it was administered to both men and women.

During my residence in Salt Lake City, I became acquainted with Brigham Young, and a number of the bishops, and other prominent Mormons, and I formed a very high opinion of them. There certainly has seldom or never been so well-governed a people as the Mormons were before the Gentiles found them out and insisted on intruding on their domain. As for polygamy, it is a part and parcel of their religion and has the sanction of the same Bible that the Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, acknowledge, and I cannot see why the Mormons should not be permitted to hold their religious beliefs the same as other sects. I do not believe in polygamy myself, but if other people think it is right and choose to practice it, that is their business and not mine.

Whether polygamy, however, be right or wrong, there is this to be said in favor of the Mormons. The men marry according to the custom of their church, and they acknowledge and provide for the women who bear them children — which is a good deal more than a great many people who denounce polygamy and Mormonism do. The Mormon religion professes to be based upon the Bible, what they call “The Book of Mormon,” being merely a later revelation, and I have heard as good, sound, practical sermons preached in Salt Lake City by Mormons who worked hard all the week earning bread for their families as I ever heard anywhere.

I have listened to the preaching of nearly all the principal bishops, and I never heard any of them utter a word that was not good doctrine, calculated to make men and women better and more honorable in all their dealings with their neighbors. Most of these sermons were in a much more practical vein than some I have heard in fashionable churches a good many hundred miles eastward of Salt Lake City, but I liked them none the less for that, and I respected the preachers, for, so far as I was able to see, they practiced exactly what they preached and did not have one religion for the Sabbath and another for working days.

I never saw or heard of a gambling den or a drinking saloon being kept by a Mormon, and many of the degrading vices which flourish in Gentile communities were absolutely unknown in Salt Lake City when the Mormons were its only residents. Even now, the standard of morality is higher in this and other Mormon towns than it is in any place that I know anything about between Omaha and the Pacific coast, while in real thrift and industry the Mormons are out of all comparison superior to their Gentile neighbors.

These people went to Utah, hoping and expecting to separate themselves from the rest of the world in order that they might worship God in their own way without molestation, and they ought to be permitted to do it. Through many years of toil and indefatigable industry they transformed the barren wilderness into a blooming Paradise. Conducting the water down from the mountains, they succeeded in bringing the sandy plains, covered with sage bushes, under cultivation, and what was once a dreary desert is now fertile fields, yielding luxuriant harvests or orchards bearing the most delicious fruits.

During my stay in Salt Lake Valley, I boarded for several months in the house of Bishop Nilo Andrews at Sandy Station and was on very intimate terms with five of his six wives. They were all smart women, and their children were, without exception, fine looking, strong, hearty, and intelligent. The bishop was passionately fond of his children and took the greatest pains to have them well educated. His daughters he escorted to all public gatherings and entertainments that it was proper for them to attend and did all in his power to make life enjoyable for them.

The bishop was about sixty years of age and was as hale and hearty as a man of thirty. He was not a bit afraid of work and could get through an amount of it that would have shamed many a younger man. I never want to receive better hospitality than I did from him, and when he found that I was desirous of obtaining correct information about the Mormons, he expressed himself as willing to tell me anything I wished to know.

He was quite a learned man, and like all the Mormons I ever met, was thoroughly posted in the Bible and in biblical history, and was able to explain in a satisfactory manner the points of coincidence and differences between Mormonism and other religious systems. The bishop told me that the greatest pains was taken in the matter of religious instruction, and that men and women who could not read, and even quite young children, often knew most of the Bible by heart.

There are a number of sects among the Mormons, between which some jealousy seems to exist. Of these, the Brighamites, the Gadites, and the Josephites are the principal. What the differences between them are I never could exactly make out. Another matter I never clearly understood was the status of sealed wives. I could not comprehend by what theory a Mormon could marry a widow for her lifetime, while all her children born of the second marriage would belong to the first husband in the next world.

The city of Salt Lake is located on the banks of the River Jordan, a stream which connects Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake. It is about three miles distant from the mountains, which lie to the eastward. The streets are very wide and are, many of them, very handsome in appearance, being lined with cottonwood and sycamore trees and having streams of water running through them. This last is an especially attractive feature.

Most of the houses are well built and are very neat and pretty, being supplied with all the conveniences and comforts reasonable people can desire. Each house has a small garden and orchard attached, which are invariably kept in the best possible order.

Brigham Young’s residence is of stone and is surrounded by a wall. Over the entrance is a bee-hive, emblematic of industry, and over the large gate is a spread eagle. The house is plain and not at all pretentious, but it is neat and substantial looking. The walls of the office are ornamented with some fine portraits of Joseph Smith and other Mormon celebrities.

Brigham Young is a light-complexioned man, rather inclined to corpulency, but strong and hearty in spite of his years and the labors he has undergone. He has a large, full head, a keen blue eye, and an easy, affable manner that is very engaging. I found him to be a pleasant, genial gentleman, with an excellent fund of humor and a captivating style of conversation.

The great Tabernacle, which will be used for the purpose of worship until the Temple is completed, is an immense building which will seat fifteen thousand people. The pews are built in tiers, so that each person in the building can have a view of the altar. The altar is a large and imposing structure. In its rear is the organ and a space for the choir. This organ is the second largest in the world. It was built entirely in Salt Lake City. The work on the Temple is going on all the time, slowly but surely, and the expectation is to have it finished by the time of Christ’s second coming. He will then dedicate it, and it will be the great religious center of the world, where all true Christians will come and worship.

Every ward of Salt Lake City has its public school, and efforts are made to give every child a good practical education. There are four large hotels, three banks, three printing offices, a large, well-regulated hospital, numerous manufactories of various kinds, and several flouring and other mills.

There are several large towns in the neighborhood of the city, and new settlements are continually springing up. Springville, about fifty miles to the southeast, is a very beautiful place. At the time of which I am writing a railroad down the center of the valley was in operation, and two others were in contemplation.

The mineral wealth of Utah is practically inexhaustible. Iron, gold, silver, copper, lead, salt, gypsum, soda, arsenic, and slate abound in immense quantities. Salt Lake is a very large body of water, of a much greater specific gravity than that of the ocean. No living thing can exist in it, and in its deepest parts no soundings have ever been able to find a bottom. There are three islands near the middle of the lake, which are said to be rich in metals. In the southern part of Utah, called Dixie, cotton and cattle are raised. On the banks of the Sevier River are very fine grazing lands. The Mormons claim that there have been some discoveries of gold and silver made in this section.

Taking it all in all, my residence in Salt Lake City was both pleasant and profitable to me, and when the time came for me to say farewell to my Mormon friends, I did so with many regrets and with many wishes that they might escape persecution from their enemies. I could not agree with all of their religious doctrines, but I learned to regard them as an industrious, hard-working, and honest people, and as, consequently, deserving of respect and sympathy.

After a sojourn of a number of months in Utah, I prepared to journey eastward again, having scarcely bettered my fortunes, but having seen some varieties of life worth seeing and having gained some valuable experiences, not the least valuable of which was that mining speculations are things that people who have consciences should have as little as possible to do with.

Have a rum cake

This is a recipe for the Dan Mudd Rum Cake, one of my all-time favorite desserts, named after a former colleague from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

This is a recipe for the Dan Mudd Rum Cake, one of my all-time favorite desserts, named after a former colleague from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

I made one this morning. It gets better and better every year.

Enjoy.

The cake:
— 1 cup pecans, halved or coarsely chopped
— 1 package of yellow cake mix, any brand but not a pudding mix
— 1 package of instant vanilla pudding mix
— 4 medium or large eggs (not extra-large or jumbo)
— 1/4 cup cold water
— 1/2 cup vegetable oil
— 1/2 cup of rum (any kind of rum, but do not use a Jamaican-type of rum)

Directions
— Preheat oven to 325F degrees
— Grease and flour 10-inch tube (angel-food type) pan
— Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan
— Mix all cake ingredients
— Pour batter over nuts
— Bake for about 40 minutes
— Cool for about 30 minutes
— Make glaze while cake is cooling
— Prick deeply all over the top of the cake with a toothpick or thin knife
— Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides, allowing glaze to soak into cake
— Keep spooning the glaze over cake until all glaze has been absorbed
— After all has cooled at room temperature, run knife along edge of cake and along center tube, and remove cake from pan

The glaze (make while cake is cooling)
— 1/2 cup of butter or 1/2 cup stick oleo (do not use tub or watered-down soft spread)
— 1/4 cup of water
— 1 cup of sugar
— 1/4 cup of rum

Directions
— Melt butter or oleo in a medium-sized saucepan
— Stir in water and sugar
— Boil for five minutes, stirring constantly
— Remove from heat and cool slightly
— Stir in rum slowly
— While warm, spoon over cake

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Out of time

An early-spring Texas cold front has scattered Stone’s beloved flowers, and she sinks into a depression as friends suddenly turn their backs and her brother wants to fight his school nemesis again.

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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)

An early-spring Texas cold front has scattered Stone’s beloved flowers, and she sinks into a depression as friends suddenly turn their backs and her brother wants to fight his school nemesis again.

April 1, 1865

Tyler, Texas

A wild March wind is howling around the house, scattering the glory of the white and pink blossoms that have made the town so lovely for the last week. The white and purple lilacs yesterday were in full bloom, great plumes, redolent of perfume, but today the rude norther has drifted the fragrant petals far and wide. On the mantle is our first spring bouquet, wreathes of flowering almond, tufts of brilliant phlox, a handful of the coral honeysuckle loved by the boys, gold and purple pansies, as large as those in Louisiana, and sweetest of all, the cluster of purple and white lilac. Lilacs grow so much better in this red soil than in the swamp.

Though the buds and flowers of fair spring are with us, we are feeling the truth of the poet’s song, “What is friendship but a name?” Our refugee friends, Mrs. Carson and Mrs. Savage, have grown cold toward us, and we do not know what is wrong. It worries Mamma very much. Though we may pretend not to feel the wound, it is no less painful. As to Mrs. Carson, Mamma long ago realized that she had no conception of real friendship. Her nature is too shallow to be true to anyone. The last friend is always the best with her. But Mamma had a right to look for real friendship at Mrs. Savage’s hands, but she has not secured it. Her friendship is … worthless. … She showed plainly in the affair of the house that Mamma’s interest was as nothing to her compared to Mrs. Alexander’s, a friend of a few months. Mamma is disturbed by it, for she considered Mrs. Savage one of her very best friends.

Mrs. Alexander sent to ask Mamma to let her keep the house, but that would deprive us entirely of a home as Mamma had given up the one we are in and planted a garden at the Alexander house. It was impossible and we will move in May. We will be glad to move to the Brazos this fall and put the past and its false friends behind us. …

Beauregard is all right. We hear that Gen. Sherman is dead. …

Johnny is in a dreadful humor and makes us all feel it because Mamma will not allow him to have another fight with Charley Ligruski. Boys of Johnny’s age are generally self-willed and disobedient, Mamma can do but little with him, and now he is of no assistance to her. Everything seems to be going wrong, most probably because I myself am out of time, and so no more scribbling until I am myself again.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Full of life and fun

The party that bonded the Stones to the Tyler community was a success. But Stone herself enjoys an even greater success: a new beau, Lt. Holmes.

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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)

The party that bonded the Stones to the Tyler community was a success. But Stone herself enjoys an even greater success: a new beau, Lt. Holmes.

March 9, 1865

Tyler, Texas

The tableaux passed off as a grand success and made quite a nice sum of money. It is quiet now. Most of our soldier friends have left, one new acquaintance remaining, Lt. Holmes, a Louisianian. He took part in the entertainment and we saw him frequently. Before he came, Lt. Dupre told us he was so “fast ” that he would not bring him to the house, but he came with someone, and as far as we can tell is behaving all right. He seems full of life and fun. …

Mamma received today her application for My Brother’s transfer. It was disapproved, and so that ends our last hope of seeing him until this cruel war is over. We hear all the troops on this side are to be ordered across the river to reinforce the Army of [Northern] Virginia. When we hear from Jimmy again, their command may be marching over. It is a dark hour for us now. Only bad news, but the darkest hour is just before the dawning.

Miss Mollie Moore, “the Texas song bird,” has been very kind, lending us books, among others new novels. … They promise to be quite interesting. I am hoarse from reading aloud so long tonight. Mamma was tired and lying down. It has been too cold today to do anything but hover over the fire and read. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The most enjoyable life

Stone finally embraces in writing her Tyler, Texas, community as she and her mother help residents raise money for home Confederate veterans.

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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 finally embraces in writing her Tyler, Texas, community as she and her mother help residents raise money for home Confederate veterans.

It is astonishing, given her vivid condescension to and disdain for Texans recorded in past entries, to see Stone not just befriend Tyler residents but to also dismiss any potential disparagement from her fellow Louisiana refugees.

Note her new friendship with Mollie E. Moore, who will eventually become a celebrated poet and successful writer.

March 3, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Our interest for the last ten days has centered on the all-engrossing theme of tableaux. All the society young folks of the town with Mamma as head and front of the affair are busy getting up an entertainment, tableaux, music, and charades, to raise money for establishing a soldiers’ home. The natives, very unexpectedly, asked us to take part; and as Mamma knows more of such things than all the rest of them put together, she soon found herself sole manager of the affair and I am her [deputy]. I have taken no part but they kindly allow me to attend all rehearsals, and I have had a gay time but for being bored to extremity by Dr. Weir, whom I nearly hate.

We have become acquainted with all the creme de la creme of the city, and from one to a dozen are always dropping in to discuss something or ask Mamma’s advice. I know most of the love affairs of Tyler now. I hope Janie Roberts and Lt. Alexander will make a match. They are very much in love with each other and it would be quite suitable. The young people have rehearsed here several times when it was too bad to go to the church. …

Anna Meagher was asked to play at the entertainment but some feeling of pique prevented her, and they all speak most contemptuously of the whole affair. But we are glad the ice is at last broken, and we are friends with the people of the town. It is far more agreeable, and there are many nice people when one finds them out. Mollie E. Moore, a poetess, is a charming girl and we are becoming quite friends. They live near. The other refugees can laugh at us if they like, but we are having the most enjoyable life. …

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. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Living so delightfully

Back in Texas from her sojourn to Oak Ridge, La., Stone finds her Tyler home as raucous as 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)

Back in Texas from her sojourn to Oak Ridge, La., Stone finds her Tyler home as raucous as ever.

Dec. 4, 1864

Tyler, Texas

We are just back from church, and it was a delightful walk there. Mamma, thinking the church would be too cold, deserted us at Mrs. Savage’s and Mrs. Newton joined us. An excellent sermon from the new Baptist minister. There were many gentlemen but few ladies and quite a number of new officers, but Dr. McGregor, my only acquaintance. All the officers we knew here in June have gone. Dr. McGregor and Joe Carson, who is home on furlough, are our only visitors at present. Did not see Maj. Buckner in church. Suppose he has gone back to Louisiana. We have seen him frequently lately and he is a most agreeable, entertaining visitor. I wish they would station him here. …

The house does not seem as comfortable as formerly. Living so delightfully for the last six months and being so waited on and petted have spoiled me I am afraid. Unfortunately Johnny and Uncle John are not on speaking terms. There was a general quarrel while Mamma was away, and Uncle John will not make it up. As Johnny is but a boy, it seems very unreasonable. As we are so crowded in the house, it makes it doubly disagreeable. Then Kate has added a new baby to the general confusion. Fortunately it is a good little mite, but we cannot say the same of Sally. She is a little trial but is getting to be quite pretty. Johnny makes a pet of her, since he is very fond of little children. If we only could have the house to ourselves, but there is no hope of that. Poor Uncle Johnny is so helpless. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: I suffered intensely

As Stone works her way back to Texas, a toothache adds to her discomfort and fear throughout a journey through wild and war-torn swampland.

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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)

As Stone works her way back to Texas, a toothache adds to her discomfort and fear throughout a journey through wild and war-torn swampland.

November 1864

On the road to Texas

We got off from Col. Templeton’s Monday morning, all sorry to part after a delightful summer and fall with not a disagreeable incident to mar our intercourse. They have been the soul of kindness to me, one and all. The direct road through the swamp is impassable, and so Capt. Wylie piloted us a new route. Capt. Wylie, Johnny, and I were on horseback, and about 2 o’clock we reached the hill road without getting bogged down as Johnny had in coming through the old road. We dismounted, entered the carriage, and bade Capt. Wylie a warm farewell, thanking him for his many courtesies. …

It was a rainy day and we did not reach Monroe until about sunset. Capt. Brigham met us, and we waved him adieu as we crossed the Ouachita on a flat. We passed the night at Mrs. Scale’s at Trenton, much to Johnny’s disgust as he does not like them. Some gentlemen called, and we had cards. After they left, Lucy and I tried our fortunes in divers ways as it was “All Hallow’e’en.” We tried all magic arts and had a merry frolic, but no future lord and master came to turn our wet garments hanging before the fire. There were no ghostly footprints in the meal sprinkled behind the door. No bearded face looked over our shoulders as we ate the apples before the glass. No knightly forms of soldiers brave disturbed our dreams after eating the white of an egg half-filled with salt. …

The third morning we left in a cold drizzling rain with a splendid lunch and a jar of pickles, and with kisses and good wishes of the family. I had a raging toothache, because of sitting all day in wet shoes after passing the swamp. Capt. Wylie’s solicitude on the subject of my thin, wet shoes was not uncalled for at last.

Our trip to Vienna was disagreeable. We stopped at twelve, built a fire, enjoyed our dinner, and then smoked leaf cigarettes. They relieved my tooth for a time, but the pain returned. For several days I suffered intensely, nearly ruining all my teeth I fear by using creosote, caustic, and any strong thing people recommended. Our supper at the hotel at Vienna consisted of cold stewed pumpkins, cold greens, and cold white cornbread. Nothing else but cold well water. The breakfast was nearly as unpalatable, but it was warm. We had nothing to eat all day except the pickles, which Johnny first ate and then drank the vinegar. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Fairy castles in the air

Stone offers a slice of life in Oak Ridge, La., as her caretakers search for a window of safety to escort her back to Texas.

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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 offers a slice of life in Oak Ridge, La., as her caretakers search for a window of safety to escort her back to Texas.

Oct. 15, 1864

Near Oak Ridge, La.

We have kept on the even tenor of our ways with no hairbreadth escapes by land or sea to ruffle the calm. There are still occasional reports of advancing Yankee raids, but all blow over and no Yankees yet, though this country is still defenseless. …

We have little company and pay few visits, but we enjoy the days, and the weeks fly by like magic — no startling events to mark them off. Capt. Wylie and Dr. Wylie are here. They amuse themselves during the day, but in the evening we all assemble, play chess or cards, and carry on long and animated discussions on all topics under the sun. All the older members of the family are very fond of argument and discussion and are thoughtful talkers and well educated, though one must know them some time before finding that last out.

We made a rule fining everyone for each lapse in grammar, which worked famously for awhile, until we found we would soon all be bankrupt in both purse and temper, and by tacit consent it was dropped and grammar is no more alluded to. Mrs. Templeton said she knew she would never be fined. She knew every rule in the book, but she was the first and most grievous offender and hated worst to be reported. … We lounge in rocking chairs building fairy castles in the air, mapping out lives of goodness and noble endeavor, until Mrs. Templeton rouses from her half-doze on the bed and sends us all to rest. …

Our pleasant days are drawing to a close as Mamma writes she will send Johnny at once for me, and we are looking for him every day. Capt. Brigham rode in from Monroe to tell us that the long expected tableau would come off the next evening and that he had come in to escort us out. Early the next morning we three girls and Sally McGraw with Jimmy, Capt. Wylie, and Capt. Brigham as outriders and the maid Henrietta bringing up the rear, made our way to Monroe under many difficulties. We had a most trying time after reaching there, owing to Capt. Brigham’s blundering. We did not enjoy the tableau as we were too worried and were thankful to be all safe at Mrs. Templeton’s next evening.

Oct. 30

The last time I shall write here. Johnny arrived with the carriage two days ago, and we start home tomorrow. This will end a most pleasant visit, or rather visitation, for I have been here more than three months. All the family have been unfailingly kind and have done all in their power to make me enjoy the time. I certainly have had a most charming visit and grieve to leave them. Then I shall have to break off two most promising flirtations. My only comfort is in thinking of the lovely trip Johnny and I are going to have a comfortable carriage well stocked with lunches, a good driver, strong mules, no hurry, and a lodging every night with friends, good roads, and fair October weather.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The petted darling

Stone endures some new Arkansas friends as she chokes back tears over the loss of one from Louisiana.

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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 endures some new Arkansas friends as she chokes back tears over the loss of one from Louisiana.

March 20, 1864

Tyler, Texas

I spent last week in the country, just the wildest most remote section of civilization, with the Goddards, who were complete strangers until then. They are from Arkansas and were recommended to us by Julia some time ago.

We had seen some nice-looking strangers at church in the morning. In the afternoon in the midst of our animated chat with Capts. Smithy and Empy, callers came. The young ladies were announced and introduced themselves. They were so cordial and said they had come the twenty miles to meet us and to carry me home with them and were so insistent that I could hardly refuse, particularly as Mamma urged me to go. So I accompanied them next morning just twenty miles from anywhere.

Mr. Goddard has a hat factory established there, and we spent the time as pleasantly as one could in a rough new house perched on a white sandbank in the midst of a limitless pine forest with rather silent strangers. No amusements except riding horseback on rough horses over roads of deep white sand studded with stumps. Only the necessaries, none of the luxuries of life. On the seventh day I was only too glad to come home, though I had to do what none of us had ever done before — drive home in a buggy driven by an old, old Negro man. Mr. Goddard had promised to bring me home at any time. He would not hear of Mamma’s sending for me, and so I was helpless to get away. I shall not forgive any of them for sending me back in that style, and I never want to see any of them again. I was scared all day long, coming so slowly through those lonely woods, few houses on the way. The old driver was as respectful as possible, but the idea of the trip was perfectly repugnant. Mamma did not like it one bit more than I.

Mamma returned Saturday. She succeeded in her mission and My Brother will be transferred to this department if he can get across the river, but that is very doubtful. …

Mamma heard that Kate Nailor is dead, leaving a little child. My darling girl, I can never love any other friend as I have loved her. She was all that was good and pure and most beautiful, and hers was a happy, lovely life but for My Brother whose hand alone had given her myrrh to drink. She was the petted darling of her entire household never refused any wish that could be gratified.