26 December 1862: “he was sitting in the door playing the fiddle and aunt Dilsy was dancing fit to kill herself! It was sunday evening at that.”

Item description: Letter, 26 December 1862, from  Mary (Mame) Faucette (1842-1896) to her Aunt Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Garrett Lenoir (1844-1880).

[Transcription available below images]

Item citation: From the Lenoir Family Papers, #426, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Rectory Day after Christmas 1862

[Mrs. Thos. I. Lenoir, Forks of Pigeon NC]

My dear old aunt, I am spending the day with Matsie and we have concluded to drop you a line to let you know we are safer today, if we did get tight on eggnog yesterday! It is enough to set anybody to spreeing, the way we have been whipping the Yanks – and Seward and Burnside resigning, and all them things. Well we had a mighty eggnog yestermorning I can’t tell you all we did & said – that would be impossible – Jim walked off in the frosty air and went to and fro and wandered up & down in the earth and came by the Rectory and Mats and Miss Virginia were patting and dancing & carrying on in high style I thought Jethro must be there fiddling for them but it did not turn out so. Coot told us the other day, he came by “The Hall” (that is the name of Jethro’s establishment) and he was sitting in the door playing the fiddle and aunt Dilsy was dancing fit to kill herself! It was sunday evening at that. Mats and all of them spend the day at the Barn yesterday and Jethro came in in the evening and we tried to get up a dance but did not not have his instrument along. Poor fellow he looks like like he had been whittle down, til there is mighty little of him left. Lizzie honey what did you and your old mom do for Christmas? We had a mighty quiet time. Pats and I put on our homespun dresses and eat ginger cakes and looked at our sweethearts pictures all day. But why don’t I tell you Laura is at home! Coot brought her home last week and we are all together again for the first time since last Christmas. I could not help thinking yesterday how much we had to be thankful for! All together, and so comfortable and happy, and I knew so many persons must be suffering so! And the poor sick & wounded soldiers without one friend to look kindly at them. Sister was able to be up and with us all day yesterday. She has been very sick with ulcerated sore throat and looks very badly and is still weak. She was all ready to go to Williamsboro and I was all ready to go to Chapel Hill with her when she was taken sick. It seems as if the fates are against my going to see Liz__ but maybe it is for the best. I do not grieve about it. There is such a panic about small pox and every kind of disease getting all over the country, and people starving to death, and all that, but it seems like there is no kind of trouble that is not going on now. As I heard an old woman say the other day “seem like this country is might mighty tore up [“]. And she went on to talk about her son in the army, and said seem like she never was a far tore up in mind in her life. She looked like she was pretty far tore up in wardrobe also. Will and his family and Lou Mills have all gone to Rutherford to spend Christmas. They all staid here the first night, and we had such a good joke on Tom [.] Tom, and Jim, and some of the rest of us came over after supper to see them. Ed Bryan came after Lou, and the parlor was full. Lou and Tom carried on a great flirtation all the time Lou was here. Tom was in the Valley part of the time and she was over here some. And that night they were talking on, and Pee came frisking in – you know she always says big Tom, well she jumped up in his lay and said “big Tom I have concluded to quit calling you big Tom and call you Brother Tom”, everybody laughed and Lou said Mat had put Peez up to it, so they had Tom and Pats both pretty well forced out. We had a good laugh on Mat & Lou also. A day or two before Lou came over Mat received the likeness of a very handsome fellow and Oh! she was talking on about him fit to kill, but she would not tell who he was, and when Lou came She had not been here long before she began to talk about a “pretty fellow” she had, and that began about Thurs and you never heard the like. They would not show them to each other for some time. at last they concluded to show them, and they both had the very same fellow!!! Gen. Harper had given them to the girls and they thought they were fooling each other so nicely. But just wait my daughter til the “Col” (that’s Pierce Young) sends Mats his picture. that is you know he is going to send it to Mat for me to look at and I expected to “keep it, and look at it, and kiss it”! He sent his love to me too and told Mats to send him my picture Oh! I tell you I am mighty might nigh entirely tore up in mind about him and I was the first tore up that I ever was while they were fighting, but he was not hurt. Matsie wrote me a note about 9 o clock one night to tell me about it and the “beating of my own heart was all the sound I heard”. If I am getting old now I expect to be young some of these days! Well! Pats says she feels like she had been drunk a week and was just getting over it. I never was drunk that long myself, but I feel very sober today. But I have not told you Poor dear little Mat was sick. He is at Emory and Henry. I ask  cousin Edmund would go to see him. I believe he is going. I reckon he will think after while he cant be killed. He has been in so many fights. Brother Watts going to leave us next week and a new preacher named Oliver is coming. I believe thats all the news there is about town. You know Mr. Price and his family had left? Mrs. Wilber still lives at the College and keeps a school. Mats father has going to White Oak and Virginia Caison is staying here while he is gone. They were all well at the last when I heard. Jimmie went over there yesterday evening on his way to aunt Marys. He had gone down there to spend his vacation. Oh! I have not told you cousin Soph and Mr. Faucette are going to house keeping! They are going to live in Mr. Mat Rankins house. I am powerful sorry they are going to leave us. Lizabeth you ought to see mine and Mats new dress. they look powerful nice. The black and purple is Mats, it is made plain in the waist, mutton sleeves and trimmed with black buttons all down to the bottom of the skirt. I mean a row down in front. It fits her to a gnats – heel as Jim says. Mine is made the same way only it is trimmed with green buttons and has a pointed cape turned with a large green cord and green buttons. I was too sorry to hear about the Catheys. I hope they are all well soon. Be sure to remember me to them all. I wonder whats ever become of that sweet tater the Captain told you to bring me punish your good looks why didn’t you bring it? Kiss my dear uncle Tom a real Christmas kiss for one, and make haste to write to

Yours ever


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One Response to 26 December 1862: “he was sitting in the door playing the fiddle and aunt Dilsy was dancing fit to kill herself! It was sunday evening at that.”

  1. Todd Kesselring says:

    It looks like there is a gap in the transcription between the words “There is such a panic about smallpox…” and the words “…and everykind of disease”. The words in between are pretty amazing:
    “…now – that I feel afraid of that. By the way, are you dead yet? It would be a pity for you to loose the benifit of this epistle – you must be vaccinated – for I expect to write you again some of these days. I was a little amused to think how you run away from here from the smallpox, and now you have it in Waynesville – I hope you were mistaken about it being there thou. When the war began – all I thought about was, our friends going off and getting killed. I did not think about the smallpox…”
    She still sounds tight from the eggnog! Asking her aunt if she is dead! This is, I think, the best posting for 1862. A really great letter and we are lucky to have the benefit of this epistle.