Friday, April 8, 2011

Missing Civil War Letters

Due to the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, anything and everything pertaining to this historical period will be more active on everyone's radar. Hopefully, this collective genealogical/historical radar can help find a lost family artifact. Let me preface by saying that the chances of finding copies of these letters are extremely low, as I will explain below. However, hopefully this post will be tagged and hover out there in the interwebs to be discovered someday by someone who can help.....even if it is years later, just finding copies of them would be an amazing thing for our family.

The letters were apparently from my 3rd Great Grandfather, Madison Daniels, to his wife Mary Ann (Hill) Daniels back in Porter Ohio (Gallia County). However, there were several Daniels brothers who were also possibly writing back and forth at the time and perhaps their response letters exist somewhere out there as well (among their descendants?). The four brothers that fought during the war were:

John Quincy Adams Daniels - 56th Ohio Infantry - taken prisoner at Vicksburg and remained there until the end of the War.

Madison Daniels - 173rd Ohio Infantry (1864-1865)

Abraham/Abram Daniels - 173rd Ohio Infantry (1864-1865)

Silas Daniels - 179th Ohio Infantry (1864-1865)

Madison supposedly wrote about the upcoming election and favoring Lincoln, among other details of his unit's being stationed in Nashville. I would also imagine that their brother's prisoner status in Vicksburg could have been a subject included.....but unfortunately, I have never read them.

The reason these letters are in the category of 'needle in a haystack' is because they were reportedly lost in a fire somewhere around the mid-1980s. I was still a kid at the time, and so I don't remember a lot about the loss. They were in the possession of my Grandfather Charles Daniels of Cincinnati Ohio. I'm not sure how long he had these letters (possibly since the 1960s), but at some point he loaned
Daniels Brothers
L-R Charles & Horace
 them to his brother Horace Daniels....of undetermined locale. I can remember that Horace travelled A LOT. When the family talked about him, they mentioned Hawaii, Texas, his children in California, etc. and that was all in relation to recent places of residence. Apparently it was while living in Hawaii that these letters were lost in an apartment fire. I think the fire report was inaccurate? Not really - although word of mouth reports can be wrong. My hope is that somewhere out there they were photocopied and passed out to other family members, perhaps in the California area. If they were misplaced after a fire, and ended up in a museum somewhere, stranger things have happened. I have not lost hope that somewhere in all of my Grandfather's things, he may have taken photocopies of them to file away - even though he said he did not have a chance to copy them. My inkling of doubt for his memory in this area exists due to his obsession with photocopying. Even back when photocopying was not an easy task, he was copying everything! Later, after the loss of these letters, he even bought his own desktop copier machine. Grandfather's files are another matter entirely, and hopefully someday, we will be able to sift through everything for that happy surprise - copies of these letters! But in the meantime, we're hoping these soldier names might stick with folks as they conduct research this year, and for the next 5 years to come. Particularly in the western part of the country where the letters were last seen and where Horace's descendants may still reside. We would love to connect with them anyway as that branch of the family tree has always been a bit hazy for us.

BTW, on a side note, I ran across a couple of cool Civil War sites for Ohio:

Fight for the Colors: The Ohio Battle Flag Collection (Ohio Historical Society

Ohio in the Civiil War


faith120604 said...

Sadly I can't say that I've found letters from any Civil War era family members, but I did think to tag you in the 10 Things I Love tag. It can be anything at all and I love to see which 10 things you'd list for your blog. Favorite sites to dig around maybe? :)


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