CIVIL WAR, YELLOW FEVER, AND STEAMBOATS TO NEW ORLEANS. Gratia Turnbull Blake, née Fuller.
CIVIL WAR, YELLOW FEVER, AND STEAMBOATS TO NEW ORLEANS
CIVIL WAR, YELLOW FEVER, AND STEAMBOATS TO NEW ORLEANS
CIVIL WAR, YELLOW FEVER, AND STEAMBOATS TO NEW ORLEANS
CIVIL WAR, YELLOW FEVER, AND STEAMBOATS TO NEW ORLEANS

CIVIL WAR, YELLOW FEVER, AND STEAMBOATS TO NEW ORLEANS

An archive of family letters written to Gratia Turnbull Fuller Blake during the mid-19th century covering a wide range of historic topics including the U.S. Civil War, slavery, yellow fever, and a legal dispute over land in New York City. Born in Lawrence, Ohio, Gratia married Cincinnattus Blake (1830-1918), a farmer, Union soldier, and Sheriff of Gallipolis, Ohio, in 1857. Together, they raised six sons. This archive contains a six-page letter Gratia received from her sister-in-law, Mary B Fuller. Mary’s husband (Gratia’s brother) was Captain Emilius Fuller (1815-63), a Confederate Army officer, commander of the St. Martin Rangers Company Infantry in Louisiana, and captain of a boat called the Queen of the West. He was seriously wounded and taken prisoner when his boat was destroyed in Bayou Teche on April 14, 1863. He was transferred to Johnson's Island, Ohio, where he died on July 25. In her letter dated December 15, 1867, Mary’s bitter feelings about slavery and the war are still fresh. "I have the most of my work to do myself. I prefer doing it rather than have a free trifling negress around me. Their impudence I cannot ensure," she wrote from her home in St. Martinsville, Louisiana. "They are free as they may stave with their freedom for all I care. I can have a woman by feeding her of giving her a cabin or a room to sleep in and that would cost me less than when I owned them, for then we had to clothe, feed and take care of them when sick. Many of them are getting their eyes opened and say they have had no good times since the Yankees came among them." Along with their personal losses, Mary’s family is concerned about an outbreak of yellow fever. Her son, James, wrote to his Aunt Gratia on October 26, 1867 about "yellow jack" which caused 1/3 of the St. Martinsville population to flee: "133 names are published of the victims and except for one or two – they all died since September 11 and about 2/3 of the names only are given which would swell the mortuary list to about 200." An undated letter from her sister-in-law, Julia (Blake) Eaton (1836-1927), includes a negative report of her visit to Cincinnati: "I saw too much suffering while there to feel very happy. I saw a great many of the poor fellows that were wounded at Pittsburgh carried off the steamboats. Poor fellows. God help them." This collection contains 15 letters written in 1856-58 by Cincinnatis to Gratia before they were married. In October 1856, he wrote about all he is doing to yield a living from his Ohio farmlands in order tomake a home for his future bride: "If I do not buy a house, I shall have to build such as my means will allow. I shall have to earn part of the money if not raise my wagon cover and live under it. If my hut is of cornstalks and brush, I shall be happy if Gratia will share it with me." Another group of nine letters was written by Cincinnatis to Gratia in 1877-78 when he was running a steamboat operation, taking potatoes from his farm in Ohio to market in New Orleans along with other goods such as coal picked up along the way. "No good news to speak of and a great deal of bad news," he wrote on November 10, 1878. "Lost the big boat Trowbridge have only the small boat Blake left us. We can only run a part of a day or night at a time the wind is blowing now … the wind blew so hard that the waves came over the side splashboards … I think this is my last March trip forever and if we get this one down safe, I think it a miracle." The collection includes three other letters written to his "boys" and the family during this period. Another group of letters in this archive are related to the ongoing dispute over property in New York with a branch of Cincinnatus Blake’s family known as the "Brower heirs". His sister, Visalia, wrote on March 4, 1867 urging him to join other members of the family to cooperatively hire an attorney to pursue their rights: "We will proceed to enter into a contract with the lawyer whom we have selected as our council by which he will be bound to proceed to collect the necessary evidence to prove our heirship and title to the property in question as take such proceedings as may be necessary to enforce that title against the Trinity Church Corporation." Cincinnatus Blake was apparently distantly related to Anneke (or Annetje) Jans, who purchased a 62-acre piece of land in Manhattan, which her living children sold upon her death in 1671. A great-grandson of Jans, Cornelius Bogardus, later claimed his branch of the family had not legally given up its right to the property since his grandfather, one of Anneke’s six children, had been dead at the time of the sale and were owed one-sixth of the sale. After a century of legal dispute, the court rejected the claims. This collection includes a dozen other brief notes and letters from friends during the period. The latest letter in this collection is dated 1884, written to Gratia by her son Charles O. Blake (1860–1924) who asks for money as he is stuck in Fairplay, Colorado, likely trying to cash in on the gold rush: "I am still a prisoner in this dammed town and see no prospect of getting out of it until I borrow money of you." The collection also includes about a dozen mailing envelopes. The materials are housed in mylar sleeves. Most were folded for mailing, with some edgewear and occasional soiling. All are legible and in very good condition. A fascinating archive, rich in content. Item #72110

Price: $3,000.00

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