Kate Stone’s Civil War: The very poorest people

A reluctant Stone leaves Tyler to return to Louisiana, but one minor disaster after another make it a bitter journey.

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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)

A reluctant Stone leaves Tyler to return to Louisiana, but one minor disaster after another make it a bitter journey.

 

Sept. 11, 1865

Hopkins County, Texas

Here we are … wearing away the time as best we may for two days and nights in a real prairie hut awaiting relief from our place, thirty miles away. The carriage stands in the yard with a crushed wheel, and we are mired up in all sorts of dirt and discomfort in the middle of the wildest prairie with not a tree or a house in sight. We broke down two miles from here journeying on our way to Lamar County with nothing in sight but the broad sweep of the prairie and one lonely tree. We made our way to that. No gentleman with us, no money, no possible way of getting on, and in a great hurry. We were in despair. Richard mounted a mule and scoured the country to find a carriage, wagon, or wheel to take us on, while we with parasols, books, and cushions, betook ourselves to the grateful shade of the tree to await his return. I was fast asleep in the tall grass, and Mamma and Sister were dozing when Richard got back. He could not find any conveyance, but a lady two miles away would give us shelter. So there we were in for a two-mile walk under the burning sun and over the shadowiest prairie with a wind blowing hot as a sirocco of the desert. The prospect was appalling, and I foolishly burst into tears. Mamma scolded. I remonstrated. But soon we cooled down in temper., if not in person, and commenced our weary jaunt to shelter.

It is the roughest two-room affair with six or eight people living in it, and with nothing to eat this last day but bread and milk and butter. They killed their last chicken for us yesterday, an old, old hen, but the people are as kind as they can be, and as hospitable. They give us of their best and are really sorry for us. There are two women and a girl and not a scrap of ribbon or lace or any kind of adornment in the house. I never saw a woman before without a ribbon. They have not even a comb. They are the very poorest people I ever saw.

We — that is Mamma, Sister, Johnny, and I — broke up our establishment and started on short notice from Tyler on last Friday, and our entire trip has been a chapter of accidents since. A wheel crushed four miles from town, and after spending most of the day in the woods we returned very reluctantly to Tyler, We had gone the rounds the evening before making farewell calls and hated to return after so many solemn leavetakings, but go back we must.

The room is filling with the family so must close my book.

The bugs are awful, and so we three slept last night on the carriage cushions and a bolt of domestic out on the front gallery, much against the wishes of our hosts who seemed to think it inhospitable to allow it. But it is impossible to sleep in the rooms with four or five untidy folks, being bled from every pore by the voracious bugs. The natives do not even toss in their sleep from them. They do not know the bugs are there.

A glorious full moon, light enough to read by, and a pleasant breeze. We quite enjoyed our outdoor bunk, especially as we had not slept for two nights. Oh, the happy summer days of our life in Tyler. … And all this discomfort would have been spared us if My Brother had only come out when Joe did and made this trip to the farm in Mamma’s place. Poor Mamma, what a weight of responsibility and trouble she has had on her hands. …

Mollie Moore gave me a pretty copy of The Lady of the Lake as a souvenir of our happy friendship. Shall I ever see her cheerful face again? …

 

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. …

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