1865: Lizzie May Ratliff to Francis Marion Henderson

Lizzie’s “beau” and future husband, James “Chaos” Brown

This letter was written by Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) May Ratliff (1841-1932), the daughter of Thomas Boswell Ratliff, Jr. (1805-1891) and Sarah A. Henderson (1813-1892). Lizzie married James Cahan (“Chaos”) Brown (1841-1916) in November 1865. James was the son of Joseph Brown and Elizabeth Cooper, who emigrated to the United States from England in 1841 on a ship named Cahon (or Chaos); James being born at sea. During the Civil War, James served in Co. K, 14th Iowa Infantry, and participated in the battles at Fort Donaldson, Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg Landing, Pleasant Hill, Tupelo, and was with Sherman in his march to the sea. After their marriage, the Browns settled on a farm near Sperry, Missouri.

In the letter, Lizzie mentions her brother Lewis L. Ratliff (1844-Aft1910), who enlisted in Company C, 30th Iowa Infantry and served three years. She also mentions her brother David Calhoun Ratliff (1835-1920) who was then in California, and later (1867) married Lucy Jane Adkins (1848-1874) in Missouri City, Fort Bend, Texas.

Lizzie wrote the letter to her cousin, Francis Marion Henderson (1837-1903), the son of Silas Miller Henderson (1811-1886) and Sarah (“Sally”) Gorham (1818-1862). Francis later married Emily Berry (1845-1915). Silas Henderson and Lizzie’s mother, Sarah Henderson, were the children of David E. Henderson (1770-1826) and Elizabeth Gano (1776-1847).

Envelope

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Mr. Marion Henderson, Concord, Morgan County, Illinois

At home, Pleasant Grove, Iowa
March 18th, 1865

Dear cousins,

Page 1

I again seat myself down to write you a few lines which will inform you that we are all well truly hoping this will find you the same. Your kind letter has been received and contents duly considered and was glad to have a letter. From your first letter you wrote, I thought I answered it and think so yet, and as for getting mad, I never thought of such a thing. I never get mad at fun. I am too great a hand for fun to get mad at foolishness. You need not be afraid of making me mad in fun.

We are having dreadful muddy weather here at present. The roads are almost impassable in places. It rains and snows pretty near all the time. I hope to the land it will stop some time so we can get out of doors again. We have been having lively times here all winter and it don’t seem right for me to stay at home. I wish you was here awhile. It would not seem so lonesome to me. I bet I could talk a week to you and never stop.

Page 2

George Emerick’s folks talk of coming down soon and a lot of the youngsters from up there. He said there would be about a dozen of them. You bet we will have a good old time. I wish it was so you could be here too.

David is still in California. Lewis is well the last we heard from him. He is with [General] Sherman. He only has six months more to serve and then he says he will be a free man for a while anyhow. Oh yes, my beau has got home from the army once more. He served his three years out and returned home without a scratch. Good for him.

Well, it is getting very late and I must soon close, hoping to hear from you again. Give my love to all. I will close by sending you cousin love. Your cousin, — Lizzie May Ratliff

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