Letter from Civil War Vet in 1916 to his Grandson Studying to be a Minister


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#24
Yes my father would have been 2 years old when that letter was written. It's funny GG Scott name was Samuel Joseph Scott(SJ Scott), his son my Grandpa Scott was named SJ Scott and my dad was named SJ Scott Jr. Dad took a departure naming me Robert Edward after Robert E Lee.

The attitude of my dad is a lot of ways carried over from his ancestors. I recall in Dad's latter years got pretty hard of hearing and talked louder than he realized. I recall taking him to doctors office's and cafes and him referring to Blacks in the establishment as "******s" it his loud tone where they could hear it. I felt like crawling under a table:>) He treated them with respect when he talked directly to them but when he referred to them, always ******. So I did that a little as a child and maybe as a teen but when I grew up and worked with them and worshiped with them I refer to them as I would anyone else except when I need to distinguish Race, then I say Black. I never recall dad having any Black friends.

I have a Black friend I use to work with that we became good friends but since I retired we only text each other now at holidays with best wishes. We now live a state apart. He and I can talk about anything without any problems. He is one who thinks for himself and don't let
any prevailing Black culture mentality dictate what he thinks of believes. I found that very refreshing in him. I decided by the same token I shouldn't get caught up any prevailing White culture mentality that I can't think things through for myself, what's right or wrong. Of course Bernard and I both agree that the Bible is the true rule of Faith that settles it all. Platefire
 
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#25
I remember in 1955 my first day in elementary school. Segregation had just started in Bluefield West Virginia. Because of the uproar my mother walked with my brother and I to school.. She made comments when a few Cretans started throwing eggs and calling names. The first thing she said was shame on them, boys don't you ever judge anyone by the color of their skin. You shouldn't judge at all. It's what is in the heart that counts. I had black friend all through school and never thought twice about inviting them home to play. Even in college one of my best friends was black and he was shocked when I took him home with me for dinner one day. Those were bad times. There were bombings 1968-69 at my college one night when walking to my car from the student union. A bomb went off in the physical Ed building. Luckily there were few injuries and the bomber was caught. The college I was attending had been a college for black students until the late 60's. Some folks on both sides were at fault for the incident.
 

Michael W.

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#27
What a fascinating letter to read! It gives new insight from those who experienced reconstruction from the white Southern side. Another learning experience for me.
 

Pat Young

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#28
I have debated with myself about sharing this letter on this forum simply because it could be offensive to readers by today's standards of looking back at the war and the attitudes that prevailed in that day. However it is History and no matter how pointed and abrasive it may be it was the opinion of my Great Grandpa Samuel Joseph Scott who was writing this letter to advice his Grandson Allen who was going to Seminary to become a Minister. So please take this as a historical document/letter of a Southern Civil War Vet reflecting back on his war experience 50 years after his service.
To give you a little background of who my Great Grandpa Scott was, here is a section I took out of my family history documents:

"Samuel J Scott married Evie McClendon. The marriage license is dated April 30, 1861. According to family legend, he left for the Civil War a few hours after the wedding. The Civil War records of S. J. Scott show that he enlisted in April, 1861 at Aberdeen, Miss. and was a company Muster Roll as Pvt. in the 11 Miss. Infantry, Co. I, and then mustered into service May 13 at Lynchburg, Va. In Oct, 1862 he was Corporal in 17 Batt'n Cavalry(Sanders) of Tenn. having enrolled at Aberdeen, May 1 1862. He was wounded at Thompson's Station and detailed as tax assessor in kind at Prairie, Miss. He was still serving in this capacity in Dec, 1864."

When this letter was written by Great Grandpa Scott who was working as a Realtor in San Antonio Texas and this letter was written on his company letterhead. My Grandpa Scott also was a Licensed Trader with the Indians in Oklahoma territory after the war where he ran a trading post, but that's another story! Here is the letter:
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Several times the letter uses the phrase "Nigg@r and mule." Does anyone know what that means? He refers to a Northern man as a "Nigg@r and mule sort."

My first thought was "40 acres and a mule." Another was that it was short for "mulatto." He does discuss the gradual driving out of black women from domestic service as a good thing since it would decrease the number of mulattos, so the idea of race mixing was clearly on his mind.
 
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#29
Thank you for posting the letter. My grandfather was the step-brother of a Confederate private killed at Shiloh. He is buried at West Point, Miss., where your ancestor lived after the war. Though Grandfather was born in Calhoun County, he early on came under the care of another much older half brother who lived in West Point. Their name was Fox.

Another commonality was my grandmother’s sister and her husband who moved from nearby Starkville, Miss., where he taught at the college, to San Antonio around 1915. Like your ancestor he also got into the insurance business. Their name was Snow.
 

dlavin

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#30
Just now seeing this. Great letter, in the sense that its living history. If we all only read and ingrained our brains with ideas we agreed with, where would be as a society? I can understand your reluctance to post, and am greatly appreciative that you did post it. It would be a disservice to me if I took the letter in today's context, and read it for what it is, a sign of the times.
 

byron ed

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#32
Thanks for posting. IMHO the letter is a great insight into the mind and heart of a noble Confederate veteran. You will notice most of his acid is reserved for the "N----- and a Mule" crowd, his designation for the two-faced Northern liberals pretending to care for the emancipated but using the situation of the Reconstruction for their own profit, deceiving and pushing negroes into bad behavior in the process. It is those N------ he professes to hate, not those he encountered just trying to get by, who apparently he had sympathy for. In fact he apparently had no actual personal prejudice, accepting the negroes in his own circle for who they were, even defending their rights as settlers against the "N----- and a Mule" crowd, as he puts it.

btw we have to set aside his use of the word N------ . Decades ago it really was just common colloquial (among whites anyway) that didn't have an especially mean intention to it. I'll bet many of the white people here know of a great or g-great relative that used the word boldly in public and within the family.
 

Patrick H

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#33
There are bits and pieces of so many of these posts that prompt me to respond. As I stated earlier, I don't find the letter offensive at all, although I sometimes flinch hearing or reading the "N" word. The attitudes expressed in the letter were commonplace not all that long ago, and I think they are far from extinct even now. When I was a boy, lots of black people were highly respected and well like citizens in my town--but they tended to be deferential to whites. As a kid, this didn't seem unusual to me because it was the status quo in my town. I knew and liked many black elders. I didn't have as many black friends my own age, but it wasn't necessarily because I avoided them or that I was taught to avoid them. In fact, I was taught to respect and see the best in everyone. I did have a few black friends even in my earliest years. One of them lives diagonally across the street from me today and he remembers us being playmates when we were five years old. Oddly, I don't remember that, but I remember knowing him when we were college age. Another was a classmate for several years. She was an extremely gifted musician and a nice person. But I remember her suffering from some racist slurs and attitudes from others. Her family moved before we graduated--perhaps to get to a bigger city. I don't know. Another black friend and I became very close during college. We spent time together at school and also when we were home together on some weekends. This was in the difficult 60s when we might both have suffered some incidents for hanging out together, but we weren't afraid and we stayed lucky. We're still friends although we live in different towns now and don't see each other as often. He's a bishop in his church now and an extremely gifted speaker and preacher. He is amazing at a funeral!

I was asked if my dad related any of his experiences about race relations to me. He was born in 1906. His father was born in 1857 and actually remembered some incidents from the Civil War. I am sure my dad knew many CW veterans from both sides during his boyhood. He didn't talk to me much about his boyhood because his mother had a terrible stroke when he was twelve and she was an invalid until she died four years later. I think my oldest aunt more or less finished raising did, and I think he was on his own a lot of the time. I don't think his young teenage years were much fun for him. He was a very talented musician, too. When I was learning to play rhythm guitar, we'd sit on the patio and play old standards and swing tunes together. One time, out of the blue, he told me about an old black guy he knew when he was a boy. This man played blues and sometimes played slide guitar. He taught my dad some of his techniques. I remember wondering whether it was difficult for dad to navigate the inter-racial waters of Boonville, Missouri during the 1920s. Imagine going to this black man's house and sitting on his porch with him and taking guitar lessons in 1918--in a segregated town! I thought he must have been very brave. Dad probably didn't think anything of it at all.

I mentioned knowing and liking many black elders when I was a boy and later a teenager. One man I especially liked was Mr. Jenkins. I always used the courtesy title "Mister" when speaking to Mr. Jenkins, because that's just what you did when you addressed an older person. But he was one of those deferential people and as I got a little older I could see that it seemed to make him a little embarrassed. I guess "Mister" was normal coming from a little kid, but kind of unusual coming from a nearly adult white male. While on one of my cemetery walks some years ago, I stumbled upon (almost literally) Mr. Jenkins's grave--a military headstone. It turns out he was one of our heroes in uniform during WWI. He never told me that. He always just smiled and exchanged greetings with me.

What I'm trying to say is that I suppose attitudes held by lots of whites and blacks tended to keep us all "in our places" when I was young and when my dad and his elder friend and Mr. Jenkins were young. If I had been as bold as my dad was, imagine the stories I could have heard from some of my black elders!
 
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#36
I am truly amazed to come back and check on this thread to find so much valuable input from everybody's history and experiences.
I was raised in a small town Zwolle, La. named after a German town when started in the late 1800's when the railroad came through.
I would call this a sawmill town because in had two sawmills which was the life of the town. The white population was centered around the main street commercial part of town. The town had what was called "Negr@ Quarters". We had two N Quarters in this town. One located by each saw mill. These were mostly unpainted shotgun houses side by side that covered a square mile or so in each location. I don't know how they got there but I figure they were built by the owners of the sawmills to accommodate Black workers in the sawmills and they probably got charged rent. I was raised close to one of these sawmills on the South side of town and only the millpond seperated us from the mill I would say 1/4 mile away. For those that don't know, mill ponds were used to dump logs in to loosen the bark in the days before de-barkers were invented. My dad was a Forester for International Paper Co and I found out the house he bought and lived in was formally owned/Built a by a Black Family. Within about 100 yards of the house was the millpond spillway that had a concrete dam/overflow passage. There was a 50 foot long footbridge going across the spillway drainage ditch that led to a trail across millpond dam that led straight to the mill. Everyday Blacks working at this mill would walk the trail beside our house across the footbridge to the mill who didn't have a car and walked to work. A many a morning I was awakened to Blacks walking along the trail laughing, talking and carrying on, on their way to work. When the millpond would overflow in the spillway, many fish would be washed into the pockets of water in the drainage ditch. When this happened many Blacks would fish this drainage ditch and catch much fish. When they would catch a fish they would shout for joy that could be heard up to our house. Every fish caught was a celebration.
As a child I played and fished around the spillway a lot as it was my main playground. I never recall any problems between blacks and whites back then. Everything seems to work in harmony. I recall as a pre-teen would ride our bicycle's over in the Black sections at night and watch from a distance the open tent revivals that happened often. We would also have bicycle races with the blacks. I recall a Black boy named Steve was the fastest of all. Nobody could outrun him on a bike. I really didn't have any close black friends as a youngster, just acquaintances. It would be latter in life that I would have actual Black Friends. This was how life was in the 50's and 60's in I would say was a predominantly Black town in the South. We never locked our doors. Theft was almost unheard of. Platefire
 
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#37
I wanted to edit the above post but the edit tool is no loner optional for some reason? Any how as a adendum to the above story wanted to say the all white school I attended wasn't integrated until 1966 as I recall and I graduated in 1965. BTW the first job I had after graduating from High School that summer was the Sabine Lumber Co. Saw Mill. The one that was 1/4 mile away. All I had to do was cross the footbridge accross the millpond spillway, walk down the path on top of the millpond dam and I was at work. I worked there 3 months for $1.25 per hour prior to going to Collage. Strangly on the crew we worked on, I don't recall any Blacks on that crew. During that three months we brushed hooked/cleaned company land lines, build fence around mill property, tore down old Lumber Sheds, burnt brush piles cleared by dozers and worked with a logging crew to clear openings to access downed logs. Guess we were the go to green horns guys. The Blacks mostly worked in the mill operations and on the logging crews. That mill is now a Rail Car Repair Facility. The other mill site is now a Plywood mill. Most all the shotgun houses are gone and replaced with trailers, better houses and in some cases government houses. Platefire
 



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