Civil War Scrapbook

July 4th, 1860

Today is a very special day. Not only is it independence day, but it is my birthday. In the quarter this morning, my sister woke me up and sang happy birthday to me. My sister, Mary, always makes me feel special. She is only 3 years older than me but still cares a lot about me. Our Mother, Agy, doesn’t give us a lot of attention and especially our Father. My family lives on a plantation in Johnson City, Tennessee. My Father, Charley, lives in a different quarter than the rest of my family. His quarter is closer to where he works, the field. My quarter is closer to the house. My Mother works in the house along with my sister and I. In a way, I guess I am happy I work in the house. It is a lot easier than working outside with my Father. Talking about my father, I wonder if he will tell me happy birthday today.

Mr. Potter (plantation owner) lets his kids come out to play pretty often and his daughter secretly plays with me. In fact, she is the one who gave me this scrapbook and convinced her dad to teach me how to read and write. I work inside the house cleaning with my sister. My Mother changes her jobs often because she gets in trouble a lot.

When Grace (Mr.Potter’s daughter) comes out to play with me, she always teaches me songs and hymns to sing. And today for my birthday, she brought me this. She told me I can use it to write notes to her when she visits me and use it to express myself. Now I have an excuse to use my reading and writing lessons. Wait...I think I see my Father!

January 5th, 1862

Long time, no see. In 1860 a thing called the Civil War started.. I am so confused by all of this, and even more confused on why Mr.Potter left his beloved plantation and gave his wife permission to be in charge. Not saying I am upset he left. I am actually extremely happy Mrs.Potter is in charge. She has a nicer tone to her voice and is more pleasant to be around. But the way I interpret pleasant must be different than how others do.

Grace gives me scraps of some newspapers articles when her mother finishes reading them. I share them with the rest of my quarter, and my Father if he is around. I read a lot of Abe and how some like him, some hate him, and some democrats support him. Also, I read a lot about Jefferson Davis and how basically nobody is in love with what he does, especially his congress. Apparently it is a “close” war but I have confidence that the Union will win. Grace thinks I am on her side (the Confederacy), because that is the side Mr.Potter fights for. She has no clue how badly I want to get out of this place but she also has no clue how grateful I am for her. Without Grace I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things.

January 12th, 1863

One day ago I was freed from the plantation. After the slaves heard the news about the Emancipation Proclamation, we all went crazy. There is gates around the fields that we all took down and jumped over. The Potters tried to make us stop but we were stronger. My family moved up North. I was happy to finally be free but my Father is still gone often. He decided to join the Union army. Now I see him less than at the plantation. All I hope is he is safe and will put all his heart into it. My Mother, sister, and I pray everyday hoping we will come out with a union victory.

When we were walking up North we ended up finding some soldiers camps and my father ended up leaving right away. He sent the rest of my family to Kentucky. In a day or two we will be traveling to Indiana. I wouldn’t say the soldiers were too fond to have my father. I just hope everything goes well.

Up in Indiana, I heard we will be moving in with one of my Mother’s friends. Her husband is also in the war fighting for the Union. I wonder what her house is like. I wonder what it is like to live in a house. -------- Before we moved away from the plantation, Grace gave me this scrap of the article about the Emancipation Proclamation.

May 7th, 1863

Margaret (Mother’s friend) let me read the newspaper. It is weird not having Grace give me it anymore. I wonder how Grace is doing. I wonder how her father is doing. I wonder how my father is doing. He did write me a letter. He told me his opinion of the war. I feel like because of my Father’s past, he is putting all his efforts in to get back at the people who hurt him. I would agree.

In the Harper’s Weekly, it was talking about Chancellorsville. After I read it, I started crying for an hour. My mother came and checked on me and then stole the newspaper out of my hands. I haven’t seen her since. After I read the article, I am worried if we will still win the war. With Lee and his outstanding skills, I don’t know if we can win this. I am worried if my Father is alive or not. All I want is a letter from him saying he is alright.

Without my father, it is pretty scary. It’s hard to survive out in the real world. There is 3 black woman in a house with one white woman. Without the men in the house, the strongest person here is Margaret's dog.

June 12th, 1863

Still no letter from my Father. All I need to know is if he is alright. I know Margaret’s husband is alright. He has been sending letters constantly.

Margaret’s dog (wishbone) died yesterday. He really was a great dog. He always slept in my room at night and we started to become really close. I guess in a way he kinda filled in the spot for Grace. Even though he was a dog… Now we lost the strongest person in the house. Margaret sent a letter to her husband. She told him about Wishbone. Wishbone was his whole world. I wonder how he will take it.

I asked Margaret to get another dog. She asked me when my birthday was and she would consider it. The last birthday gift I got was this scrapbook.

April 14th, 1865

The war has ended but still no dad. Margaret’s husband is back but still no father. My Mother said we have to leave in a couple of days to find our own place. She told me it wouldn’t be as nice as Margaret’s house or not even similar. But that is not what I am worried about. I am worried about my father, but I am happy the war is over. I am so relieved and happy for other families whose loved ones made it. I am mostly relieved that I am no longer a slave and now a northerner. I am ready to take on life solo. My sister has already taken off, but because my mother is getting ill and old I am staying with her. It is coming closer to the day she dies. Then I will be completely solo. No Father, Mother, or a Sister to lean on. All I want is Grace back. Grace and I could survive together. I wonder if she is okay. I heard about the plan for the South, but it keeps changing. I hope she is happy because that is what she deserves.

My Mother has been extremely emotional. She keeps saying she doesn’t want to leave this earth without her love by her side. I can’t imagine what she is going through. She was a slave, kept from her husband, freed, then her husband left to war, then he never came back, and now she is ill. All I know is I will always be by her side. She always strived to have the best for me. Now I will fight to support her the best way I can.