La Salle County IL Military
Civil War Letter from Emily A. Wheat Forshee to Lucy Hunt Gillit

 
 Letter from Emily A. Wheat Forshee, wife of "Doc" Thomas W. Forshee, to her mother, Lucy Hunt Gillit (Mrs. Benjamin Patterson) Wheat, of Tonica, LaSalle County, Illinois, during the early part of the Civil War. The stationary has, in the top left hand corner, a Union flag shield background topped by an eagle with outspread wings, and the foreground is a picture of col. e. E. Ellsworth in uniform. In small print across the top is lettered "Entered according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1861, in Clerk's Office of the District of the U. S. for the Southern District of Ohio".

West Canaan [Ohio?]

September 1st, 1861

Dear Mother,

Yours of Aug----- is at hand it found us better. Doc was sick three weeks, & 10 days of this time I thought he would not live. He has so far recovered that he has his company nearly ready for Camp he wants to go to camp with his men by the 10th of this month. I don't know for certain when I shall come out there. Sometimes he talks like he would send me out, as soon as he goes in camp, then again he says perhaps I had better stay here till his company is called in the West, and then we can all come together as far as St. Louis, he get a furlough & come out to your house with me. I am very sorry that you are all sick, but hope you will be better long before this letter reaches you. Jennie [3rd daughter, born 14 September 1860] is not well today it is pretty hard to find us all well at once. Camp meeting was held a week ago near Doc mother's. I made calculations of going, but as my luck most generally is, some of us got sick to keep me at home. So I could not go at all. If Joseph [Gillit Wheat, her brother, born 29 August 1840; transcriber's great-grandfather] wants to go in the army he had better go with Doc in the Cavalry. O, I wish I had no children, I would go with Doc right in the army; I would go as hospital nurse of the company. I would not impose on your good nature by sending five or four young ones for you to take care of while I was gone so there it is. I get provoked sometimes when I think of it. I am sorry L. E. [younger sister, Laura Emmeline (Mrs. Kenody C.) Wheat Cooley, whose third child arrived 29 September 1861] is having such a hard time it is strange what causes it. I am sorry she has to have another addition in the family. I am thankful I am clear & hope I shall remain so forever. I never want another [she had two more daughters, born 5 July 1863, Lucy Ellen; and Ida May, born 18 May 1866 who lived less than 1½ years]. I have more than I know what to do with. How has father got? Did you have any blackberries out there this summer? I never saw them so plenty in my life as they were here this summer. I managed to get a few Doc was sick just at the best but I went out since & got what I have there are lots of Elderberries. I will dry all I can of them. They make a very good pie if you make them right.

I think it is perfectly foolish for Ken & L. E. [not too clearly written, but probably Kenody and Laura Emmeline; see above] to think of moving to Ohio, especially on the Ohio river for how do we know how soon the line will be the battle field? They have already threatened it, & I think they had better stay away till after the war, don't you?

Sept. 8th. I have been waiting to see if Doc would get his company ready to go in Camp. He expects to go in Camp Chases Tuesday 10th; but I am fearful he will not be able to stay very long, on account of his health. I have been to the County Fair at Gordon [Darke County, on the Illinois border], the 4th day - they had a barbecue for the soldiers; quite a nice time. Today we went to a basket meeting. I saw Mr. Olney and wife from Fairbury. They have come in on a visit; will go back the first of Oct. I shall try & be ready to go back with them. Then Mr. Olney can see to my baggage -

Write soon.

Emily -

Transcribed 15 November 1994, from copy furnished by JoEllen Davis Meuninck of South Bend, Indiana, October 1st, 1994. Not edited or corrected in any way from original. Lorrie Foster Henderson

Epilogue: Doc Forshee was a physician and a widower with two children, Harriet and Winfield Scott Forshee when he and Emily married 16 May 1854 near Georgetown, Brown County, Ohio. Their oldest daughter, Laura M., born 9 March 1855, was killed 13 June 1865 when she climbed on a chair while her mother was on a brief errand, and got her father's Civil War pistol from a cupboard. She accidently cocked it and was trying to release it when it fired, killing her instantly. Emily appeared not to recover from this tragic death, and herself died sixteen months later, at Kinmundy, Marion County, Illinois. Her brother, Joseph G. Wheat married "Nellie", Mary Eleanor McCoy (my great-grandparents) when he returned (wounded and captured) from the Civil War, farmed, then became a pharmacist, then a medical doctor licensed in the state of Iowa. On retirement due to health, he moved to Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where his nine children attended, and some graduated, from Cornell College. Laura E. had five children; she died at age 50 years in Marshalltown, Iowa. "Ken" died in 1904 in Colorado, where their oldest daughter, Cora Alice (Mrs. William Little Graham), lived. Three of Emily's children lived to adulthood and married; two had children. On September 30th, the end of the month in which the letter was written, Rev B. P. Wheat, (father of Emily, Laura, and Joseph), died. Note that Emily had inquired about him, and that Laura's baby, Olive arrived the day before his death.
[Source: AGS Quarterly, vol. 36, no1, March 1995]
 

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