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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
(Mary Nyhart Moyer, age 25)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
July 8,1862

(Private Stephen J Moyer, age 29
Company A, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers,
then on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina)

Dear Husband,
I have now sat down to answer your letter that I received on the seventh, and it found us all well but Elle (age 14 months), who is not very well. She has the summer complaint (diarrhea) very bad, however I am very glad that you are well again. I have been very uneasy about you these few weeks when I heard that you left Key West, Florida, and I am afraid that you will come to battle at Richmond (Lee had defeated McClellan there in June), but if you will I hope that there is one mightier there who will keep you from danger so you can return to us again.

I have not received that box yet, and will let you know as soon as I get it. I have written two letters to you since I received the last one from Key West. I wrote one letter on the 26th and one on the 29th of last month and I enclosed three stamps in the last one. I would send you some with this letter, but I can’t go to town to buy more. But I will write again before long, and then I will send you some. Try and get a furlough and come home once more to see us. You are gone six months already and how many more you will be gone no one can tell, dear Stephen. I hope that this war will not last very long so you can soon come home, but if it is as (illegible; possibly Israel, Stephen’s BIL) tells to all in Scranton, you will not come then. He has said that you told him only two days before you went off that you would get rid of me one way or the other; that you was going to war and then you was rid of me but I will not believe him that you said it. He makes us all feel as low as he can. Rebecca (possibly Stephen’s sister) is going to leave him this week. He is so ugly to her and the children that she can’t stand it anymore with him.

Frank (age 4) is not at home these two weeks. He is up at Lydia’s (sister Lydia Nyhart Smalser’s farm at Lake Winola with her husband and four children ages 2-8) and will be very glad when we get that money that you sent to have our likeness (photograph) taken to send to you. (Below) Then I want you send me yours so I can see how you look in your soldier clothes.

Oh, you do not know how bad I want to see you. I do not see how you can stay away. Oh dear Stephen, there is no night that I lay my troubled head on my pillow that I do not wish you lay in that bed too, and think of these tears that I have shed since you are gone. Oh Stephen, I do not believe that there is another such young person in the world who has had as much trouble as I have had since you are gone. I hope that the trouble will soon be at an end. I have worked for days at hoeing corn and potatoes and we are going to commence haying next week. It will help, but I can’t hardly stand it but I must dear Stephen. I want you to tell me whose likeness it was that you sent to me; and that ring was too small for Frank, and Elle had it on her finger and broke it.

Dear Stephen write as often as you can. I will get you some stamps and send them to you and then write to me every week. I will, too. And now I will close for this time. No more from your true and faithful wife,

Mary B Moyer to Stephen J Moyer

PS
Excuse all bad writing and spelling, for the tears come too freely to write good. Now goodbye until I can see you kiss this spot for your wife and children. Come home, oh come home once more.

 

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Scranton- about 30 miles south of my birthplace. Maybe back before the peak of the coal mining and the acid drainage that ruined so many thousands of miles of pristine streams.
Interesting to see how the Hard working, mosty dirt poor people wrote. The woman writes of hoeing the fields,and haying. Brings back memories of when i was a teenager throwing bales of hay myself with local farmers.
Its interesting how it seems that most of the dirt poor people back then had real character, were well spoken and considering what little formal schooling they got, intelligent,and in general a cut WAY ABOVE the "poor" welfare entitlement menality scum we see today. Good read.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Interesting to see how the Hard working, mosty dirt poor people wrote.
Not bad considering German was spoken in her home as a first language from 1737 until WWI, and she only had 8 years of education in Hamilton Twp schools.
 

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BobSm
I am guessing this must be a family member so you probably have this, but I did find a photo of Stephen on line. It looks like he made it home & passed away Aug. 5, 1915
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Unfortunately, Stephen didn’t return home to stay until January 17, 1865. He fought on the coastal islands of Carolina, Georgia and Florida, captured Jacksonville, and fought in Louisiana and in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. His regiment lost 290 killed or dead of disease out of a strength of around 1650 men.
 

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Not bad considering German was spoken in her home as a first language from 1737 until WWI, and she only had 8 years of education in Hamilton Twp schools.
Perhaps the quality of those 8 years of education was the difference. Different standards for a different era.

rayb
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
…BTW, I had not realized that "summer complaint" was other than a colloquialism limited to the mountain people of West Virginia. (Juice of blackberries was the traditional remedy.)
The malady was actually cholera to one degree or another, caused by drinking water growing pestilence in warm weather.

It's interesting that this young wife had a jerk of a brother-in-law harassing her, and a severely ill child while she was coping with running the farm all by herself. And probably very little money, to boot. At least she had some help getting in the hay. One can't blame her for unloading a bit.

Nor did tough times end for Mary quickly. Private Stephen Moyer didn’t return home to stay until two and a half years later in January, 1865. He fought on the coastal islands of Carolina, Georgia and Florida, captured Jacksonville, and fought in Louisiana and in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. His infantry regiment lost 290 killed or dead of disease out of a strength of around 1650 men. Stephen had been trained as a gunmaker in Tannersville, but as mass production drove small gunmakers out of business, he went to work for the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company before going off to war. Stephen and Mary went on to prosper, having a total of fifteen children, all of whom who reached adulthood also becoming successful. The family farmed for a time near my GGParents in Wyoming County, then as Stephen got older he returned to Scranton to work for the railroad.

Young Frank M Moyer, age 4, who was off visiting my GGmother’s farm (and standing so proudly by his mother in that wartime photo as the man in the family) would become one of Scranton’s leading building contractors with works that included the Anthracite Hotel and the Ontario and Western Train Depot, employing over a hundred men.

Last, Stephen’s sister Rebecca eventually did leave her jerk of a husband, as that family can’t be found intact after the 1860 Census. In 1870, Rebecca’s children were living with their aunt and her husband, a Breaker Boss for a coal company, in Scranton.
 
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