A difficult month in a difficult year. Benjamin H. Ellicott’s diary, continued, brings us close to the trials and tribulations of Americans in the middle of their Civil War.1 Previously, I omitted Ellicott’s comments on the weather, but this time I’ve decided to keep them; they seem to enhance the immediacy of time. It’s February, after all, not August.
I have previously published excerpts from the diary of Benjamin H. Ellicott, describing how he and wife Mary Ann Warford traveled from their home in Baltimore to Flemington, and then Locktown, to escape the difficulties of the Civil War, and how they decided to return to Baltimore after a few months.
The Ellicott Diary continues through the year 1863, describing the events of the War as seen through the eyes of a southerner who supported the Union cause, but disagreed heartily with the Lincoln administration. He was very much in sympathy with the Locktown Copperheads and members of the Delaware Township Democratic Club.
The most recent issue of the Hunterdon Historical Newsletter (vol. 51, no. 2) includes an article by me on the Democratic Club of Delaware Township. I thought the story an important one, so, for the benefit of those who do not subscribe to the newsletter, I am also publishing it here on my website, with a couple additional notes.
(I do hope you will consider becoming a member of the Hunterdon County Historical Society, which includes a subscription to the newsletter. It’s a great way to support the preservation of Hunterdon County history. Here’s their website: Hunterdon History.)
as seen through Benjamin H. Ellicott’s eyes
This post provides transcriptions of Benjamin H. Ellicott’s notes on the Civil War from March to December 1862. (I have kept Ellicott’s spelling, and inserted questions marks for words I can’t read.) For most of this time, Ellicott and his family were living in Locktown, New Jersey. Baltimore was their home, but they left it in 1861 after the attack on Fort Sumter. The family returned to Baltimore on September 24, 1862, and remained there until 1863, when they resettled in Hunterdon County.
During the Civil War, Republicans called Democrats who opposed the war “Copperheads,” likening them to poisonous snakes. Many of these “Copperheads” could be found in Northern States like New Jersey, and in Hunterdon County.
While processing the reams of archived material at the Hunterdon County Historical Society, archivist Donald Cornelius came upon a handwritten diary composed during the years of the Civil War. He was stunned and thrilled by what he found, a personal journal from a resident of Locktown written during those stressful years, 1861-1863. I am equally thrilled that he shared his find with me. Since the Civil War officially ended 150 years ago on April 9th, I would like to share with you the first pages of this fascinating document, written by Benjamin Harvey Ellicott.
In the most recent issue of the Hunterdon Historical Newsletter, Lois Crane Williamson wrote an article titled “The Last Slave in Franklin Township.” It shows that slaves were still living in Hunterdon County long after the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1804 was signed. The last advertisement for a runaway slave to appear in the Hunterdon Gazette was published on February 14, 1838:
Hunterdon County Needlework and Hunterdon County in the Civil War.
On Saturday (June 1st) I visited the Hunterdon County Historical Society in Flemington to see what had become of the familiar old Deats Memorial Library. Significant changes have been taking place there, triggered by the need to meet building requirements for handicap access. The results are impressive, and I am looking forward to spending time in these new digs.Continue reading »
The Winter issue of the Hunterdon Historical Newsletter, published by the Hunterdon County Historical Society, carried an article I wrote about the 1865 tax assessment lists for the County. I am reproducing it here, to make it available for online searches, and am also including a helpful comment/correction that could not be included in the spring issue of the newsletter. And be sure to visit the Historical Society’s beautiful new website.Continue reading »