Letter # 5; July 1861

‘Dear Sisters, Mary and Fanny,

 I was not prepared to hear of brother Charles’ death. I thought he had no settled disease but was only feeble. He is gone and I cannot cherish the hope of seeing his face on earth again. I trust we shall meet in heaven. The time is not distant when we shall all be gathered home, but when I glance at my little ones I thank the Lord that he spares me to them.’

‘The bills of lading were in the letter (you sent). The vessel may have arrived already. I hope Jeff Davis’ privateers will not get here and share the contents of the precious barrel. I am glad to hear there is a bonnet in it for me.’

The reader will read more of Captain Richard Floyd’s, exploits as a Confederate privateer later. He captured some thirty Northern cargo ships and their cargo ended up in Richmond.

 ‘I have received the letters you sent as we have no other means of learning about the war except by hearsay. I have no room to write what I feel about the war. I fear there is more passion than principle on both sides. There is a strong Union sentiment here but we also have many southerners.’

‘The new county was organized in June by election of officers. Emory came out as candidate for the Union party. The other man was supported by southern men. There was a strong suspicion he is not for the Union as he was invited to deliver an oration at the fourth of July celebration but did not attend. Emory did not get the office.’

The reader may question, why didn’t Emory attend the celebration? It might have clinched the election for him. Was it because he was a poor speaker in public and shied away from the honor? Susan’s letter does not tell us.

 ‘Some days Emory plants corn all day and plows by moonlight. He has planted three acres of corn, squashes, melons, and beans. Some of the crops are not fenced in. Emory must haul his fencing from the mountains so we must watch the garden night and day to keep out wandering cattle and hogs.’

‘In June Emory paid off the other half of our claim. The children and I moved up the hill. Now we have a fine spring of soft water a few steps from our back door. The house fronts on the lake with a lovely view across our five acres to the water’s edge. There is a small strip of land between us and the shore with a dusty road by our front door. Emory sleeps below to watch our crops. Our house is larger. It has two rooms; one twelve by sixteen feet and the other, the kitchen, is smaller. That part has no floor but the earth. We shall pull the other house down and haul it up here for more room.’

‘Now we live in Lake County. The new town is called Lakeport. There is no post office and all mail is sent to Big Valley as before. I close with love to all the family circle. I remain your affectionate sister, Susan.’

 Letter # 6; 2 February 1862

‘Dear Sister Fanny,

 Jessie is five weeks old yesterday. My ‘boy’ turned out to be another girl.’ ‘We are having a most unusual winter. The levees at Sacramento have broken and the city has been under water for two months. Marysville is almost washed away and the loss to farmers is immense. The Sacramento River is now thirty miles wide. Our lake has risen beyond all expectations. Our garden is under water and the house we lived in last winter is surrounded by water two feet deep. We did not sustain any loss but others have had cattle drowned and hay destroyed in submerged barns. The grist mills are useless and people are out of flour. They have to eat boiled wheat and home-made hominy in place of bread. The fields are all submerged and the farmers are discouraged about grain for the coming year. Emory dug up out fruit trees and moved them up on the hill. Your affectionate sister, Susan.’

Next Episode: The Second Year of the War

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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