Saving history, one letter at a time…
This letter was written by William Cornelius Holden (1841-1901), a private in Company K, 2nd Iowa Infantry. He was born in Frankfort, Clinton County, Indiana, on his parents farm where he remained until he was 15 years old when he went to Shelbyville, Indiana, to learn the printer’s trade. Three years later, in 1860, he moved to Ottumwa, Iowa, where he worked at his trade until he enlisted in 1861. His company fought in the battles at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Atlanta, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. After the war he returned to Ottumwa where he held an interest in the Ottumwa Weekly Courier. He married Louisa Sutherland Ross (1845-1936) in 1865 and later, in 1873, he moved to Orleans, Nebraska where he and Webster Eaton started the Republican Valley Sentinel. He remained in the newspaper business in Nebraska the remainder of his career, publishing papers in Kearney and Lincoln.
In the letter, William mentions receiving a visit from his Aunt Sidney Ivester (1823-1893), the wife of Enoch T. Ivester (1819-18xx) — a steamboat engineer — whose residence was on Seventh Street between O’Fallen and Cass Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri.
January 25th 1862
St. Louis, Missouri
Having waited some time for an answer from my last letter, and not received one, I concluded to write again to tell you that my Aunt Sidney Ivester and Aunt Analiza Packer came around to our quarters to see me last Wednesday.
When one of the boys came up and told me that there was two ladies in the Captain’s office that wished to see me, I was somewhat surprised and could not imagine who they could be. They introduced themselves, however, when I came into the room, and we had a very pleasant and interesting conversation for about an hour when they returned home. I went and spent the evening with them last Thursday night. Grandmother was there. She was well but does not look as hearty as when I last saw her. She would like to see you well. Sidney and Analiza introduced me to their husbands and I found them to be very sociable and agreeable men. The evening passed away so pleasantly that I was sorry when the time came for me to leave. I am going out tomorrow (Sunday) to spend the day with them if I can get a pass.
Well, father, I guess we will leave here next week some time — at least we have orders to have everything in readiness to move down the river. So if that is the case, I will not have much time to spend with my new found relatives. I wished I had known they lived here sooner.
Father, they wish to know whether you are married again or not. You told me you had went to housekeeping. I told them I supposed from that you was married.
Well, if there is an attack to be made on Columbus [Kentucky] this winter, our regiment will be in the fray. Gen. Grant is in this city now to get more troops to go to Cairo and he has chosen our regiment for one to go. Our regiment is now the pet regiment in St. Louis and all military men say we are the best drilled regiment in the West. Ours was the first volunteer regiment that entered Missouri at the commencement of the war.
But I must close. Write soon and direct your letters to St. Louis. If we leave here, the letter will be forwarded.
From your affectionate son, — Will C. Holden
by Charles A. Frey
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