Saturday, September 25, 2021

Clarice Grant Hewitt's Civil War

 Civil War diary from a Louisiana woman.
The writer was once anonymous but current
genealogy and newspaper databases tell us who she was:
Clarice Grant Hewitt.

The 1860 Louisiana census found Clarice (Clarissa) and husband at their Ascension Parish plantation with one one son at home, the rest grown up; daughter Frances (the diary's editor) perhaps at school. James, born in New York is listed as a Sugar Planter with land worth $132,000 and other property worth $140,000, most of those assets in human beings. The census slave schedule for that year numbers his human property at 176 and he is far from the largest slave holder in the neighborhood, situated between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The Louisiana sugar plantation house 2 miles south of Donaldsonville, Louisiana on
Bayou LaFourche .

A biography of son James W. tells us that Clarice's husband "amassed
a great fortune" as a cotton factor and commission merchant,
meaning he was an agent for Southern cotton farmers, managing
their accounts and selling their crops.

Clarice Grant Hewitt (1808-1875) 

Clarice Grant was born in Kentucky, a first cousin (step-cousin it would seem) and childhood friend of Ulysses S. Grant who in 1860 was working in a leather store in Galena, Illinois.

Ulysses Grant in 1849

Clarice and James had at least six children; five lived into adulthood and the Civil War. 

Are these Hewitt children marked in a Louisville graveyard her lost boys and girls?
Henry Peter, Virginia, John Clifton, Charles Grant, Clara and, Morgan.

The youngest and only surviving daughter Frances published her mother's diary in 1910. Fanny was cautious in revealing their identities; her mother was "A Refugee" and people and place names were changed in the text.

In 1862 the Union Army occupied New Orleans. As troops under General Godfrey Weitzel marched towards Bayou LaFourche the Hewitts became refugees, spending their first winter in Alexandria up Louisiana's Red River. They continued to move on throughout the war, first to Texas.

For them and many other slave holders who worried about losing their human property, Texas offered refuge far from Union occupiers and freedom. Clarice naively implied the plantation people were given a choice. "Out of several hundred slaves only fifteen...boys remained."

One of the few light-hearted moments in their travels occurred in Alexandria, where James had bought a plantation (they must have been very rich!) and found on the premises a store that had been long closed. Among the new/old stock was fabric:

"Sixty yards of old-fashioned plaid barege, and
such a plaid!"

Undoubtedly a light printed wool something like these
large-scale plaids, quite the fashion 20 years earlier.

James W. Hewitt (1829-1863)

Three of the Hewitt's four sons were fighting for the Confederacy. Richard Marsen (Mayson) Hewitt, 30 years old, of Miles' Louisiana Legion had been captured at the Siege of Port Hudson on the Mississippi. James W. Hewitt, 33, had chosen to join the Second Kentucky, part of Kentucky's so-called Orphan Brigade, a Confederate Army from a Union State. Lewis Welch Hewitt, 22, was a member of the Seventh Louisiana.

Union troops at Johnson's Island Prison in Ohio

Clarice contacted her cousin, now General Grant of the Union Army, to intervene for Richard. Grant ordered he receive special care and offered to parole him. Richard refused and died in captivity. James was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia in 1863.

The Hewitts traveled next to Mexico and Cuba and then to France. When the war was over they returned to the re-United States, settling in New Orleans. James died in 1867 and Clarice in 1875. Their tombstone is in Louisville, Kentucky.

Daughter Fanny, the diary's editor, married in New Orleans in 1865 John Williams Walker Fearn, a Confederate diplomat and after the war U.S. minister to several European countries. (She refers to him it seems as Walter Fane in the diary.)

She was a rather famous socialite, friends with the Queen of Romania whose pen name was Carmen Sylva and together they advocated for the blind and visually impaired. Her second husband British-born journalist Arthur Inkersley was a San Francisco resident. The New York Times in 1910 described the groom as "a comparatively young man." Fanny is buried in Nice, France with an apparent death date of 1927.

Julia Dent Grant (1826-1902)

And just one more piece of gossip about those Hewitts, this from Ron Chernow's recent biography of Grant: On their wedding trip about 1848 U.S. Grant and wife Julia Dent Grant visited the Hewitts in Louisville, Kentucky. Julia and perhaps Ulysses hoped James Hewitt might offer him a position in his successful business but hints were not taken. Julia held a grudge. Her husband apparently did not.

Plaid barege wools from a sample book 1846-8

Read the Diary of A Refugee:

Clarice Grant Hewitt's Grave:

Read more about James Hewitt II's commander General Ben Harding Helm who died the same day at Chickamauga.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Charlotte Varnum Cutter's Civil War


Log Cabin quilt attributed to Charlotte Varnum Cutter (1803-1880)
Vinland, Douglas County, Kansas
Collection of the Watkins Community Museum

Charlotte Varnum was born in Dracut, Massachusetts early in the 19th century. In 1830 she married John Pierce Cutter of New Hampshire and gave birth to several children on their Dracut farm. Two boys died before the age of three but George, Alfred, Charlotte, Martha, John and Sarah survived into adulthood. 

When youngest daughter Sarah was born in 1845 John was listed as a Yeoman, a small farmer. A few years later he joined the Forty-Niners in California and died there in January of 1850 (possibly in a cholera epidemic that year.)

George Cutter (1830-1874)
Photo from Kansas History

Son George went west in the 1850s himself, spending time in Oak Grove, Wisconsin but as his obituary tells us: "Loving liberty...abhorring wrong...the Kansas Nebraska bill and the subsequent...slavery crusade in Kansas set him all ablaze."

He arrived in eastern Kansas in March, 1856 ready to fight for a free Kansas state. He also hoped to establish "a home for a widowed mother and his young brothers and sisters." He later recalled:

"I came on my own hook, by the river route. I took a Claim as soon as I got into the Territory on Coal Creek about ten miles from Lawrence. I went to work immediately and made the following improvements, to wit – built a Cabin – broke 6 acres."
George claimed land near Coal Creek
building this two-story frame house begun in the mid 1850s on
a hill east of what is now Vinland.
Photo from Kansas History

George succeeded in his goals, fighting in small battles in the Kansas Troubles, riding to Osawatomie with James Lane and John Brown family members in 1856 where he was shot several times, lucky to survive with just a limp for the rest of his life.

Charlotte and the younger children joined him in 1859 and by the 1860 census she was listed as a 56-year-old farmer with her five children.

The two older boys George and Alfred enlisted in the 9th Kansas Volunteer Infantry formed in March, 1862 along with several neighbors including Seth Kelly.

Alfred Cutter (1837-1915)
Portraits are from Kansas History

Corporal Seth Kelly (1836 -1868)

The 9th Kansas served in Missouri, Colorado, Montana and Arkansas over three or four years. Seth's diary for 1864 has survived in the family and great-granddaughter Anne E. Kelly Hemphill published the journal in Kansas History, Autumn, 1978.

The log cabin quilt, probably made after 1870, is pieced of
wool and combination wool/cotton fabrics, scraps from the fashionable
clothing of the 1850-1880 era.

Seth and possibly the Cutter boys spent winter 1863-4 not far from home, reinforcing Douglas County after the disastrous raid by Confederate Missourians a few months earlier under William Quantrill. 

A crude and fanciful depiction of Quantrill's Raid by
an artist who'd apparently never seen Lawrence, Kansas.
Nearly 200 men & boys were killed.

Seth's diary begins with his account of spending New Year's Eve, 1863 at Mrs. Cutter's and then a cold month in camp. On February 22, 1864 he was back at Mrs. Cutter's "at sundown. There I always find a welcome and kindness for which I fear I cannot be able to show sufficient gratitude."

Army life was slow that winter, drilling and waiting for Confederate threats. Seth spent free time reading---Wilkie Collins's novels and Bayard Taylor's travel book. Those New England transplants took pride in their literacy and Charlotte Cutter's home was the site of a lending library run by the young people, still in business in the neighborhood. 

In 1900 the library moved out of the Cutter house into its own building.

In spring the regiment went to Arkansas by way of Missouri seeing little action but some "beautiful little rebels" near Clarksville, Arkansas. In November they were home again. He and Alf Cutter "arrived about 8 o'clock at Mrs. Cutter's." He mentioned staying at Charlotte's home several times in December. "Saw several of the friends." That little house must have been packed to the roof with young people. We get a glimpse of Charlotte Cutter's role in the war, welcoming the neighborhood soldiers with meals and hospitality.

Charlotte's war, while undoubtedly full of worry for her sons, was relatively calm. Her postwar family crises, however, must have caused her a good deal of grief. Daughter Martha married Seth Kelly in 1866.

Martha (1841-) about the time of her marriage in 1866

Seth began this stone house in 1866 but died of cancer soon after, leaving
Martha with a year-old baby George, named perhaps for his Uncle George. 
The photo of  the seated women with Martha's sister Sarah and her
 is from about 1911.

Book still in the Coal Creek Library, perhaps a Christmas gift to Martha's son
George many decades later.

Charlotte's son George, who seems to have been a very popular man, died in an accident fording a stream (Coal Creek or the larger Wakarusa River?) in  November, 1874. The wagon overturned, he struck his head. People were still talking about it a hundred years later when I first spent time in Vinland.

The log cabin quilt has layers of pattern, alternating
darks and lights in complex fashion.

Charlotte died in her late 70s leaving many descendants in the

The house on the Cutter's land today was begun in 1913.

Read a PDF of Seth Kelly's diary in Kansas History in 1978:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hands All Around: Color Schemes and Set Schemes


Heidi's using eye-popping primaries with black.

I did some screen shots from our Hands All Around BOM
Facebook page. And a little photoshopping.

Shawn is alternating a nine patch and making doubles.
Some set and color ideas as we finish Block #9.

Nancy redrew the corners for a consistent triangle.

Lutgarde is making two sizes.

Laura is mixing color.

Elsie's adding drama with an alternate block.

Diane is sticking with neutrals.

Dena is piecing an alternate stairstep.

Carrie has been consistent in her backgrounds, not easy
to do when you don't know what the next block is going to be.

Ask to join the Facebook Group:
Post pix.