THE CIVIL WAR LETTERS OF BARNES NEWTON SMITH
11th West Virginia Infantry
Transcribed by Ellouise (Smith) Pritchett
The following list and letters were some of those found in an old trunk around 1948. The rest have been scattered among different relatives and have been lost over the years. Some are damaged so parts are missing and others are difficult to read. These will be transcribed in modern spelling and punctuation. They may be scanned into a file so that the original spelling and punctuation can been viewed at a later time.
Joshua Smith was born Oct. 27, 1818
Emily Smith was born November 19, 1821
Mary Elizabeth Smith was born June 18, 1841
Henry B Smith was born November 18, 1842
Amy Ann Smith was born November 13, 1844
Barnes N Smith was born June 8, 1847
Sarah Katharyne Smith was born September 16, 1849
Mathew J Smith was born February 17, 1852
Solomon K Smith was born April 24, 1854
Jeroam H Smith was born July 14, 1856
Amy Ann Smith deceased August 1, 1846
Mary Elizabeth Smith was married to
Henry Barr February 13, 1857
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W. Va. Calhoun Co.,
Jan the 30th 1869
Mr. Levi Reed
In accordance with an order made by the Committee of said Washington Township on the 23rd of Jan., 1869 you are hereby notified to precede immediately and turn over to your successor in office all funds, books, papers, and all other property that is or may be in your hands belonging to the office of Treasurer of said township.
B. N. Smith, Clk.
Duplicate Notice served by me this day, this the 30th day of Jan. 1869
B.N. Smith, Clk
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The following letter has a hole in it so a few words are missing. Apparently it was written by Barnes N. Smith to Henry Barr.
February 1st 1865
USA Hospital, Grafton, W.Va
Dear Brother and Sister
It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to write you a short note. I am enjoying good health at present and I hope when these _______________ to hand they may find you all enjoying the same good blessing of health. My wound is doing well at this time.
Give my respects to all the Union folks in that section except a portion for yourself.
Write soon if you please. Well I have nothing of importance to write at present so I must close for the present.
I remain your brother and friend until death.
B N. Smith
(On the back of the letter)
if you please when you write you will let me know which one of the letters got there first, the one that father sent to mother or the one that I mail today.
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The next letter is from Thomas Goff to Joshua Smith
April 2 65
I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well and hope you are all in good health and doing well. I have bought land and have moved on it (looks like “of k”). We live about two miles and a half west of Knoxville which is the County Seat of Marion County. I bought one hundred and twenty acres. (ti – it?) has forty acres in cultivation. I gave eight hundred dollars for it. Unimproved land rates here from five to eight dollars per acre, improved land from ten to 25 dollars per acre. We are about 14 miles west of the railroad at Peeler. That is the station where people get off in Marion County.
I have passed through two winters in Iowa and the longer I stay here the better I like it. We had a dry and pleasant winter this winter. March has been the warmest month we have. Sowed some spring wheat and have plowed some for oats. Corn is selling from ’60 to 65 cents. Per bushel. Shelled wheat 1.25 flour five per hundred. Dry goods have taken a fall here.
I understand the land in Virginia has taken a great rise. I think you had better sell your land and come here. I think you would like it here. The (oil matter?) hasn’t got up here yet but I do not know how soon it will. Joshua Osbourn has moved here. He says the oil blossom is as stron(g?) here as he ever saw in VA. We don’t say much about it. We want our friends to come out here and buy land before the excitement gets high. In Marion County is a quantity of good coal and where the coal is there is the oil sign. If you do ever move to Iowa come to see Marion County before you buy. I think this is a good country as you can find. lived one year in Decatur but did not buy there. I like it better here. We moved here the last week in February. We live about sixty miles (?) . Levi Smith he lives about (either 75 or 15) miles from the railroad.
I must close at this time. Remembering my best respects you and family and to all inquiring friends. Write to me and direct your letter to Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa.
Thomas Goff to
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The next letter is written on lined paper with what appears to be a congressional seal pressed into the upper left corner. It is a small rectangle with rounded corners. Inside, at the top, is the word Congress. In the middle are three domed objects – probably a building – and across the bottom is the name E. Smith.
B N Smith
Sept. 16th Garden Grove Iowa
My Dear Nephew
I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I received yours and was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was well. We are all enjoying good health and doing as well as we can. We have had a dry summer and corn is not a full crop. Wheat, oats and grass I have never saw better than this year and fifty miles North of here corn is excellent and crops of all kinds is most abundant. I believe I have written time and again about as much about the country as I can and only repeat the same. The country rich and fertile and level enough for convenience. The health of the country is good. The nearest point of railroad under contract is twenty-five miles. The nearest point on the location 12 miles. This is the East and West road. The North and South road from Galveston Texas to Lake Erie(?) comes within 12 miles of here. This road is under contract in several places in this state. They arfe at work pretty much all through this county. I live on the waters of Grand River, Skunk Des Moines Cedar and various other streams wind their course through the state.
I have this rough stock enough for convenience and but little spare. I have a good wagon and team, 8 head of cattle, 23 head of sheep, and 17 head of hogs, three stands of bees.
I am more than glad to hear that you stand firm with the Republican party for that is the only safe party. Beware of the Johnson party for he is a traitor heart and soul and his followers is in full union with the most hell deserving rebels of the South. A young man I think could not do better come west. I suppose your father is dead though I never heave had anything certain in regard to it. I would be glad you would write and tell me the condition of the family. I should be more than glad to see all of the family. Land is cheap here.
Thomas Goff and folks is all well and doing well and are good union people with the exception of Barnes, he is a rebel.
Write soon. L J(?) Smith
To B N Smith
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January, 22nd, 1867
Pine Bottom, Calhoun Co., West Va.
It is with pleasure that I seat myself this morning to drop you a few lines which I hope will come to hand soon and find a hearty welcome with my love. Now, my dear, these lines leaves me enjoying good health. I hope when they come to hand they may find you enjoying the same good blessing of health.
My love, I received your very welcome letter wrote Oct. 25th, which came to hand Dec.the 30th. I was very glad to see that respectable little note from under your hand, although little it be. Well I guess I should not complain of its shortness because little things are most loved; little ? (looks like Taylets or Toylets) little diamond most made. That you love the best is the least because you can put it your heart and have room for more.
My love, I would like very much to see you. I would come upif I could know you was at home. I will come and see you soon after I find out where you are.
Now my dear the mail seems to be very uncertain by some means, and I know not why. It seems like poor incor______ to write any when the mail is so uncertain. We must not get discouraged and quit writing, if we quit(ing) we need not expect getting letters. Let us continue to write and we will be sure to get some after the letters started some time if not all.
Well, my dear, I must close for the present hoping to hear from you soon. Write without delay.
I remain your friend until death. Now I must bid you goodby for the present hoping to hear from you soon.
Barnes N. Smith to
Miss Elizabeth J. Reip
(In a different hand at bottom of the letter is this note. The signature, Edith, is in the middle of the exhortation as though she wrote the first sentence, signed the note then wrote the second sentence. The ink is different and very faded.)
Jane if you write again write a little more for he complains so much.
Edith _______ _______ write nothing _______ (maybe very) loving if you wish. Study well what you do.
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February the 10th
Pine Bottom, Calhoun Co.,WVa.
It is with pleasure that I take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines in return to your very kind note dated Dec. the 29th which came to hand last week and was received with all pleasure. My dear, I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was enjoying good health and was getting along well.
Now, my love, I am happy to tell you that I am enjoying good health at present and above anything else I am more happy to tell you that since we last met I have been made able to rejoice in the love of God. Now Jane, I used to think I enjoyed myself in Him but then I knew nothing about substantial joy. Now I intend by the Grace of God to live a faithful soldier that I may die in the Army………
Now my dear, I was very glad to hear that you was getting along so well with your study. Good education is a great thing. Now Jane, I would like very much to see you. I trust it will not be long till we shall see each other again. Now my dear, I trust this will come to hand soon and find a hearty welcome with my love.
Well, I must close for the present by asking you to write soon as this comes to hand, if it be your will to do so which I hope and trust it will be.
I remain yours until death.
Barnes N. Smith
Miss Elisabeth J. Reip
Excuse bad writing and spelling if you please.
When this you see
Remember me though
Some few miles
Apart we be
Sure as the Bible
Is the Book Devine
I hope and trust
That you are mine
B. N. Smith
Miss E. J. Reip
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Alonzo was out here about two weeks ago and I could have went home with him had the roads not been so bad. I thought it almost impossible for me to get there at such a time. I expect to remain here until the school is out.
The letter I am answering was open when I received it. You may send me that song ballad if you please.
Now I must bring my letter to a close as it is school time and I have been away from my studies to long now. Please excuse this bad writing. So no more at present but remain your
E. J. R.
E. J. Reip to! Apr the 3rd 1867
Rudy, Roan Co. W. Va.
Very kind, much esteemed and often thought of friend it is with extensive pleasure that I seat myself to answer your sweet letter which I received Apr the 2nd 1867. Bearing date Feb. the 10th 1867. I am happy to tell you that I am enjoying good health and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same great blessing. I am glad to know that you have been made able to rejoice in the Love of God for religion is a glorious thing and I pray that you may hold out faithful and die a soldier in the army of the Lord.
I was at meeting last Sunday. I had a very nice time as it was such a nice day. Mr. Thomas preached.
I am still going to school at the same place, but I am not boarding at the same place. I am boarding at Mr. Silas Seamans’s at the forks of the right hand fork of the 3 forks. The first school is out and another one take up at the same place.
Mr. B. N. Smith
OH Yes, I Forgot
To tell you to write soon the most important part of my address. Now do not neglect to write soon.
Remember well and bear in mind
A trusty friend is hard to find
Jane E. Reip to B.N. Smith
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The following letter is written on lined paper with an imprint of a seal in the likeness of the bust of George Washington.
June the 22nd /69
Null (?) My only brother-in-law.
I was glad to peruse a note from you containing so much (self) desirable and genuinely satisfactory information. I had heard about your attachment to the Baptist Ch. and it was that I wrote the german (?) concerning and something about the boy.
I would like to see him and hope you will be situated so as to give him a thorough education. You was talking of going to school. I will give you an instance by way of encouragement. A professor of Morgantown College commenced his education in a manner at the age of 30.
I am glad though a moralist to hear of the good that is being done in that vicinity and hope that all may prosper although I do not expect to see that part for a number of Suns.
Tell J. B. I didn’t try to play off on him. I don’t know why Jane never gives me a word of consolation, when she knows I am a poor lonely girl so far from home, and never had but one daddy and mammy in the world.
Well we had a very fine exhibition. I got to exprpess myself one time on the stage before an audience after practicing a good (-eol ?) When we were practicing before the exhibition the teachers told me I did well. I told them they were only flattering me, to get me up again on the stage but they vowed they were in reality.
Faith(?) and give my regards to J. W. B. please.
I suppose you have all heard that the Central Pacific Railroad was completed more than a month ago from St. Louis to the Miss. River to San Francisco Bay, a tributary of Pac and the salute was fired more than a month ago in Chicago, Ill. on Lake Michigan.
I want to go and walk in the cementery in Graften e’er long. Write again.
G. C. R. to B. N. Smith
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Mr. B. N. Smith
I seat myself with pleasure this to let you know that I am well at present. I felt better than I ever did before. I am in Kansas. I am well pleased with this country. I was six weeks coming out here. From Parkersburg to North Topeka it is 941 miles. I am at work for a farmer near this city. He is the best fellow on his hands that I ever saw.
Well now about my land. You know what I wrote in my other letter as Math(ew) would be more apt to have a chance to sell it. I wrote to him if he got a chance to sell it. If you have not made any bargain with anyone for this land, let Math sell it. I think he will make everything satisfactory.
Well dear brother please do not be as neglectful as I was about writing. Please write soon. Write to North Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas and it will come to me.
If Savannia (Rogers?) is staying at your(s) house give her my love and best respects. When I write again I will tell you something(?) about this place. I am not married yet a but you better hope my intended will always stay with me. Tell me how you are getting along.
Solomon K Smith to Mr. B.N. Smith
This wrote the 29th of June 1873
Goodbye for the present. I wish you good luck and hope that I may have it too. Now let me say to Savannia if she is at your house; now Savannia do kiss the boys sweet and then make him stand around. Give them a bigger ? and tell them they have got to go.
When this you see, remember me
Thought many miles apart we be
Reversed below the lines on the back page of this letter, in different ink and handwriting is the following note:
A boy came here with some corn a while ago and said Worth would be over with the rest this evening. If he comes before you come to the house I will call you and you must come. E.B. Wood to E.J. Smith
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This next letter was easy to read.
Valle Mines, MO
Feb. 25 1892
My Dear Nephew-
I am very sorrow to hear of the death of my only sister – but we have to meet these many sorrows very often and finally go ourselves. I would like to have her date of birth if your please. I never saw or had one of her pictures – I don’t know anything about them.
Tell all the brothers and sisters of yours I very often think of them – I may come up there this next fall. I was glad to hear from you and about your family.
I would like to know how the R Road Bus is progressing up there – and if any one are bor(e)ing for oil near there. Has land gained any in price – well if I had Big Root down here I would put a park fence around it and go into the show business for if our western people could get a peep at the uphill business on it they would all pay to go in. Well we have some hills & rough country out here but not on such a grand scale as that oil soaked Big Root. I hope Ferrel will not pump the oil all out of it nor dig down them hills, for even West Virginia would not be a real fancy place without them beautiful hills at Big Root. I am down here digging lead ore this winter just for the fun of it – sometimes there is money in it.
Now if you will write soon I will get your letter here. But I am going early in March to Barry Co. – 275 miles west of here and about 30 miles south of Aurora Lawrence Co. Mo. I entered a piece of land down there and I will have to get on it and stay a few days anyway. I expect to be back here before long but I cannot tell just when. I expect to prospect through the SW of the state this summer. I have some good mineral finds on hand and will try and get something out of them.
Your letter never got here until this week. It went to the right place in the city and Henry had moved and it then went there and they sent it on to me. But I will get all my mail from this place if I stay a while in the SW.
Write soon and give me all the news.
Geo N. Bell
Valle Mines Mo
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This communique is written on ¼ sheet of lined paper. It has no date or salutation. While it has continuity within itself, I believe it to be a part of a larger letter.
He voluntarily told me several things about (?)heb and their family affairs. You remember about grandma getting some advise and also Sabe got some letters advising her to be careful about her land and money. These letters signed “Next friend” without the name was written he says by him. You remember the time they got a letter from Parkersburg: this fellow wrote the letter.
(The reverse side:) I left Charleston 30 past 4 yesterday am now at the hotel of a brother of Dr. Swentgel. It is raining very much today and I can get no horse today so I don’t expect to leave here till morning. It is now afternoon I am feeling well today with the exception that my legs are a tired. I have written several letters standing up.
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This letter is written on both sides of the sheet and sideways across the top of the front and back. Also do not know who “J.A.C.” might be.
Thursday, 6/1, 1900
Miss Johnson, yesterday morning I wrote you a letter which I see is not sealed yet and this morning’s mail is not made up yet and I send you another sheet. I am persuaded that the sooner you get tired of my reference to the past the better for me, for, though I do not like to make you sad, Ah never: yet in my association with you I do in a very unpleasant degree lose a dignified poise.
These past occurrences which I cannot hope nor want to forget, and which have brought about kind words that I do not regret, injure my progress in study. I do hope that, while all is for the best, and while I cannot complain of any thing that has been, yet, I declare I do hope that some kind providence will favor us with a right understanding of each other as well make happy.
What ever may be the welcome tide, Laura, I hope you will not doubt my pleasure for what you can make yourself most happy to do. You have told me much, yet you may be much more displeased than I allow myself to believe. The third Sunday I would be so glad had we as agreeable place for bashful folks to have a pleasant talk in the day, as in the “eve”; for I do not like to keep late hours and too well know that you do not like to be up late. But thanks to you for the great pain you have taken to make me able to enjoy my visits. Maybe I am too sentimental; if so, please pardon me.
Most likely I will not remain after night next visit, unless you make known that you desire that I do remain and then ten o’clock must start me home I think.
Laura, if you should wish to write me, do not be afraid of offending me. I you desire it, now, I will gladly or sadly surrender to you your letters on the third Sun. or before. You can understand me now, and what more could I do I kindness? If you will tell me I will be happy to do it. A friend still, I close with very kind regards. Longings for a long uninterrupted visit, such as I dream of but fail to enjoy.
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This last letter is written in pencil on lined paper. Capitalization is not as in the letter, but the spelling is as is. Worey (worry), phisical (physical), ceep (keep), wich (which), clime (climb), hits (heights) would be my translations.
Saturday Evening Nov. 29th
Dear son Albert Yours of the 22nd just received. I am sorrow to hear of your sickness and more so to hear of your financial straits and worey over other peoples failures wich is much harder than ordinary sickness. and will reduce both the phisical and mental force or any body that has the ambition to try to make an honest advance in this world. My hopes in this life were blasted by those that I have sacrificed for but you are young and if you can ceep from worey you can in spite of those losses clime the hits yet. I will go to Grantsville tomorrow unless something unforeseen hinders me will aim to start some money to you by Tuesday’s mail.
I have but @2.50 in cash but I think I can borrow some and I will have it if I can get it at all. If I fail it will be the first time. I will aim to mail this at Rosedale as I go.
(over) B.N. Smith
Dec. 1st, 1902
I made it here yesterday through rain and snow but feel fairly well today. Find enclosed O.E. Smith’s check for $20.00 which I have arranged to pay.
I will see Joshua if nothing happened with the next 2 or 3 days.
My next address will be
Venus, Gilmer Co., W.Va.
At the top of the second page, above the numeral 2, B.N. has written (we are all as well as common)