Kate Stone’s Civil War: How many idle hours

Stone’s last entry of 1865 is filled with sadness and gives hints of what a grim future holds. But amid those dark hints, a small flame of romance stirs.

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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’s last entry of 1865 is filled with sadness and gives hints of what a grim future holds. But amid those dark hints, a small flame of romance stirs.

Nov. 17, 1865

Brokenburn

My Brother amd Jimmy are off hunting, fishing, and spying on the land. Little Sister is absorbed in papers a month old, and I, having made my afternoon toilet — a habit of old that I may as well forget now that evening visiting is a thing of the past — have literally nothing to do and nothing to read except Shakespeare, and one cannot read him all the time. We certainly conned that book in Texas and on our various carriage trips. Mamma and Johnny should nearly know it by heart. There is no resort but scribbling. How many idle hours this book has filled.

Uncle Bob is the best old darkie. He has done the best he could to care for things and is as humble and respectful as ever. Every now and then he brings up presents of candy, raisins, and nuts. Aunt Laura’s silver service was buried in the yard, and Uncle Bob in walking one day stepped into a hole. He investigated and found the barrel head had decayed and sunken in. He did not say anything as the Yankees were on the place at the time. He quickly covered it up and that night slipped out and took it to his house, carefully hiding it, but it became noised about among the Negroes and a few spoons were stolen. I suppose his wife, Mary Ann, told as she is the real typical free darkie. The next day he packed the silver all up and took it down to Mrs. Graves to keep. He said he could no longer care for it, and now we have it all. He is the only Negro we know that would not at once on finding it have given or sold it to the darkies. He wants to rent some of the land and plant for himself next year. Mamma will let him have the land rent free. He sold his last cotton for $1 a pound. I wish we had a thousand bales.

Mamma should be back today. I wonder what she will bring us. We bought our first piece of Yankee finery in Shreveport, a broad black belt with an immense buckle for me.

In camping out this trip, we had every appliance for camping, and people who like camping would have found it pleasant. …

Shreveport seemed nearly as busy a place as New Orleans in the old times. … From there to Judge N. Richardson’s, the prettiest place on Bayou DeSaird. How more than comfortably they live in that stately comfortable home with the beautiful yard with its trees and shrubbery, splendid orchard, and well-worked garden, and with all the old servants and the most lavish table. … Lt., or Mr. Holmes now, came out twice to see us while we were there. He is looking handsome and was beautifully dressed. But alas, he has been spending a wild summer and fall, and though he assured me marrying would reform him, I believe not, A dreadful risk for any woman. I fear there is little hope for him. Ho expects to go to Maryland soon on a visit to his mother. That may save him. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: At home again

Stone finally achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

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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 achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

Nov. 16, 1865

Brokenburn

At home again but so many, many changes in two years. It does not seem the same place. The bare echoing rooms, the neglect and defacement of all — though the place is in better repair than most and the stately oaks and the green grass make it look pleasant and cheerful, though gardens, orchards, and fences are mostly swept away. But if the loved ones who passed through its doors could be with us again, we might be happy yet. But never, never, never more echoes back to our hearts like a funeral knell at every thought of the happy past. We must bear our losses as best we can. Nothing is left but to endure. …

Mamma and Johnny went yesterday to Vicksburg. Mamma hopes to make arrangements for planting next year and will buy indispensable housekeeping articles and replenish our wardrobes, now sadly in need, if she can get the money.

We have by dint of much scrubbing and little furniture made the east room habitable. Mamma, Sister, and I occupy that. So vividly it brings back the memory of dear Aunt Laura and little Beverly that I start at the slightest noise and almost fancy I can see them. Jimmy joined us at Shreveport and brought the intelligence of little Elise’s death, poor, frail little flower. No one could look at her tiny white face and fancy her long for the world. She was a dear good baby.

How still and lifeless everything seems. How I fear that the life at Tyler has spoiled us for plantation life. Everything seems sadly out of time. But no thoughts like these. We must be brave, and to give way to the “blues” now is cowardly. … We think we shall be able to pick up enough of our furniture scattered through the country to make two or three rooms habitable and that must suffice us until better. …

129. Mable John: “Take Me”

I could not agree more with this assessment. Her yearning tears my heart apart. This is one of my all-time favorite songs of any genre.

Motown Junkies

Tamla RecordsTamla T 54050 (B), November 1961

B-side of Actions Speak Louder Than Words

(Written by Andre Williams and Mickey Stevenson)


Note the mis-spelling of 'Mable'. Scan kindly provided by Robb Klein, reproduced by arrangement.  All label scans come from visitor contributions - if you'd like to send me a scan I don't have, please e-mail it to me at fosse8@gmail.com!A complete change of pace and mood from the big balladry of the A-side Actions Speak Louder Than Words, this is a louche, gospel-inflected quasi-blues, occasionally chaotically disorganised and occasionally near-devotional in its direct intensity.

It’s a much better record than the A-side, something which becomes obvious right off the bat. The band are up for it, despite a few lapses (including the bass player dropping right out of time very noticeably at the end, a flub which may have been enough to spike this as a potential A-side), opening the record identically to the Supremes’ Never Again before heading off in a whole different direction.

The backing singers are in full flow too, alternately gospel and blues, reminiscent of the best work of the choir who’d earlier…

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Kate Stone’s Civil War: A sad 1863 ends

As 1863 came to a quiet close, Kate Stone — bathed in early evening firelight and unnerved by the brutal gales of a Texas winter — recorded some final thoughts on her grim situation.

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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 1863 came to a quiet close, Kate Stone — bathed in early evening firelight and unnerved by the brutal gales of a Texas winter — recorded some final thoughts on her grim situation, made less uncomfortable by determined effort and endurance. The sense of loss weighed heavier than ever on her heart and mind. She missed her brothers, her friends, and her Brokenburn neighbors. Her community, she mourned, was “scattered to the four winds.”

Christmas Night

Tyler, Texas

The day has passed most quietly, not a cake, not a visitor. We did have an eggnog but only the servants enjoyed it. Made of mean whiskey, it smacked of Texas. We missed our regular Christmas visitor, Mr. Valentine. He has been with us for the last three years. I wonder where he is now. Only one present on the place, a fine turkey from Mrs. Lawrence. Last Christmas morning when dear little Beverly raised up in bed, and looking at her stockings saw only some homemade toys, bedstead and chairs made of white pine by the plantation carpenter, hid her head, sobbing that she “would not have the ugly common things.”

Aunt Laura told her how bad that was and that poor Santa Claus had done his best but he could not get through the Yankee lines. Presently the little, flushed face was raised and an apologetic little voice faltered out, “Table, I begs your pardon. Bedstead, I begs your pardon. I will keep you and play with you. You is nice.” What a dear little heart she is. …

A cold, moonshiny night, a warm room, and Mamma dozing at ease in our only rocking chair before a bright fire. The chair has accompanied us in all our journeyings since leaving Monroe and, though not a thing of beauty, it is a joy forever and seldom without an occupant. Sad to say, it is showing signs of wear, but it has acted the part of comforter in our weary pilgrimage. …

Mrs. Lawrence has been kind about lending us her books, but we have about finished her library. Have read history until I feel as dry as those old times. Have nearly memorized Tennyson and read and reread our favorite plays in Shakespeare. Fortunately he never grows old. We hope Mr. McGee will be able to get “Harper’s” to us. We wrote to him for it. That would keep us stirred up for awhile at least. The literature of the North is to us what the “flesh pots of Egypt” were to the wandering Israelites — we long for it.

Never a letter but brings news of death. Mr. Catlin is gone. And when we saw him last spring, what a picture of vigorous health he was. I wish we could hear from Lt. Valentine. Our old neighborhood is scattered to the four winds.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Pride must have a fall

Death, Yankee prisoners, pride grounded into nothing … Stone stared into a quiet Texas night with fear and sadness.

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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)

Death, Yankee prisoners, pride grounded into nothing … Stone stared into a quiet Texas night with fear and sadness.

Nov. 13, 1863

Tyler, Texas

This week Mrs. Carson, the little girls, and I are alone. Mamma has gone to Shreveport, taking Eddie Carson with her. Mr. Smith is again taken into the militia, thanks to Maj. Little’s dislike of refugees, and Mamma has gone to the headquarters of Gen. Kirby Smith to try to get a permanent discharge for Mr. Smith.

The turnout for the trip was essentially Texas: the high Jersey with white body and black curtains and two shaggy mules with shuck collars. It was anything but stylish. They say pride must have a fall, and ours has had many a tumble since we left home. How I hope Mamma will be able to buy a carriage this trip.

Jimmy has gone to the prairie to stay during Mr. Smith’s absence. He started off with a dreadful toothache, on a rough little mule. Hope he will return free of toothache and on a horse. We rode with him as far as the Yankee camp. Mamma had some business with the commanding officer, and we went out with her. A number of the prisoners escaped the other day, and the townspeople are very apprehensive of their burning the town. They put out guards every night, and they take turns in guarding the prisoners. One of the prisoners was shot yesterday for disobedience of orders. He died in a few hours. …

Death does not seem half so terrible as it did long ago. We have grown used to it. Never a letter but brings news of the death of someone we knew. Another girlhood friend off the list, but none do I regret like Kate Nailor, the first and best. …

Alone as we are tonight, I feel a little afraid of the escaped Yankees. So I will put out the light, pull the cover over my head, and go to sleep.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Sad Christmas

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

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. …

‘Arch of rosy clouds’

Part 10 of this special series focuses on John Ruskin, an English writer, academic and critic who, like so many others presented in the Morgan Library exhibit, turned to a diary to assuage the pain of depression and anxiety.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 10 focuses on John Ruskin, an English writer, academic, and critic who, like so many others presented in the Morgan Library exhibit, turned to a diary to assuage the pain of depression and anxiety. Ruskin, however, went a step further and used his diary as a primary resource in the study and analysis of his own disorder. As the introductory essay points out, Ruskin “was determined to study his own patterns and learn enough about himself to remain sane. … He re-read his earlier entries, searching for signs leading up to his breakdown, underlining key words and phrases, compiling an index of his experience, and putting down on paper all he could remember of his psychotic visions.”

“No getting things done in this house. Lost all yesterday calling on Marshalls in morning. Fine afternoon, throwing down stones in the wood with Diddie and Maggie. Exquisitest purple I ever saw on hills, in afternoon, and arch of rosy clouds all over old man [a nearby mountain] and opalescent green-blue and rose over blue Helvellyn, divine, but my evening spoiled by finding the poor chaffinch’s nest in ruins, and nestlings dying. A hawk, I fancy, pouncing on the mother;– not able to return for the brood. “

Examine images of his diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘A child of love’

Part 9 of this special series focuses on Tennessee Williams, the famed playwright, who embraced his diary as shelter from the depressive snowstorms that ravaged his life

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 9 focuses on Tennessee Williams, the famed playwright, who embraced his diary as shelter from the depressive snowstorms that ravaged his life. Success, drugs, sensual companionship, even public accolades like a Pulitzer Prize (for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”) all failed to calm his suffocating anxiety, loneliness, and despair.

“A child of love — dined on the terrace with the cathedral spires lit up and a mass choir singing Catalonian folks songs on the Square below. Then love — came twice, both ways, and divinely responsive as if a benign Providence, or shall we be frank and say God, had suddenly taken cognizance and pity of my long misery this summer and given me this night as a token of forgiveness.”

Examine images of his amazing diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

‘I have deprived my family’

Part 7 of this series focuses on Walter Scott, a 19th century British author who fought depression and debt late in life with the inspiration and energy gained from keeping a journal.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 7 focuses on Walter Scott, a 19th century British author who fought depression and debt late in life with the inspiration and energy gained from keeping a journal. Four six years, the book became the place for him to ponder the depths and causes of his lifelong sadness, celebrate and record the famous people that moved in and out of his life, and preserve a private life he hoped his family would appreciate long after he was gone.

“November 20th. I have all my life regretted that I did not keep a regular [diary]. I have myself lost recollection of much that was interesting and I have deprived my family and the public of some curious information by not carrying this resolution into effect.”

Examine images of his powerful diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin