My second great grandmother, Adeline Hinson Driskell kept her letters and important papers in a treasured wooden box. It was only twelve inches long, six inches wide and eight inches deep. The lid was attached with leather hinges. When she died in 1896, her son’s wife, Martha Jane Youngblood Driskell, began to use the box for her papers. It was kept until her death in 1946.
Carrie Driskell Turner was Martha Jane’s only daughter. She was the third generation to add her correspondence to the box and did so until the 1920’s.
In 1979, Aunt Carrie showed the box to her nephew, John Cleburne Driskell and his wife, Ruth. They began to transcribe the letters and papers and piece together our family’s history. The Civil War letters were of particular interest to all the Driskell family. Here are some things Cleburne wrote about the letters:
” The letters involve almost exclusively the Hinson and Driskell families, who were farmers living in Calhoun County, Alabama in the vicinity of Jacksonville at the time of the joining of the two families by the marriage of Adeline Hinson to Washington Driskell on February 25, 1849.
“There is nothing about politics in the letters. Not one word is contained about slaves or slavery. Apparently none of these people were slave owners. There is no mention of plantations, land owners or overseers. There are frequent references to religious meetings and churches. Nearly all of these people owned their small farms; some referred to their woodlands and fenced fields as their ‘territory.’
“ Births, deaths and weddings were simply matters of course, warranting little or no discussion in correspondence. Mention of supples of corn, wheat and pork or bacon is made in practically every letter. There is no mention of a doctor anywhere. Ailments were described as fevers, chills, hives and consumption.
” Conveyence was almost wholly by steer wagon; only one letter mentions a mule and one other speaks of ownership of a horse. It is not clear how they traveled long distances.
“Surprisingly little is said about cotton as a crop; bales of cotton are never mentioned.
“It is not clear from the correspondence when Adeline and Washington moved to Forsyth County, Georgia. It is clear that they claimed a portion of ‘Wild Lands’ and built a long cabin in which they lived for a number of years, as evidenced by many tax receipts…They received letters from their kin in Alabama and Tennessee as early as 1860.”
The most touching letter in Grandma’s box is Adeline’s heart’s cry to her husband about their baby daughter’s death. This letter is in the story entitled “A Letter from a Heartbroken Mother”. We will never know if Washington read the letter because he lay dying in a Confederate hospital in Kingston, Georgia.
The lives of our ancestors become more real when we see their words and begin to understand their day to day lives, their hopes and their feelings. I am so thankful Grandma Adeline, Grandma Driskell and Aunt Carrie treasured these papers for our generation. Carrie and Grandma Driskell are pictured here!
We do not know which cousin is now in possession of this box, but I am sure it is honored because of its significance to our heritage!