Adkinson Family Papers

1863 to 1994?

The following items are available at the Duggan Library Archives, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.). A finding aid is available.
Thanks to Patricia Schuring for transcription assistance.

[Irvin Adkinson?] letter fragment to Mary, Jane, and Nancy Adkinson, 24 Aug. 1863, Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, (Hanover, Ind.).

Blackberry, Illinois
August 24, 1863

Dear Mary, Jane and Nancy,

Let me write you a kind of company letter.

You are all at home having your little social circles, your innocent jokes and now and then, perhaps, a good natured kind of a "spat." But all goes off pleasantly, though maybe wearily sometimes. Home seems to you sometimes a little monotonous, doesn't it? I know I used to see some days, when I was at home, when everything I could possibly think of amusing myself with was all worn threadbare and my thoughts, after they had gone out in every direction and finding nothing worthy of interest, returned to me again and wandered about in my dry brain till in the midst of their vacancy they were lost in a kind of desolate confusion. But, by and by, after a time of dreary dreaming something would open up in a way of pleasant pastime. Now I am wandering about a lone "Old Bachelor" style, rubbing and jostling against strangers.

Now and then a "blue" day comes and I think of home among known and tried friends and then think of my meandering pilgrim like life and then I say "it's all in a lifetime" and then I try to persuade myself that the best of the wine is only being reserved till the last of the feast. This is the kind "air castle" hope that I have always lived by. As the boy upon the height dares not look down, so I dare not look back. My marching is always pleasantest when I have the largest reconnoitering party out ahead. But I can't help looking down South toward home if I do not dare to look back and if I should never think myself of how pleasant that home was. Yet, I should be reminded of it whenever I would meet any one who had been acquainted at our house. How often it has been remarked to me "How pleasantly your father's family always seemed to get along together." Aunt Nancy had much to say about it. Won't you ask Father and Mother if they remember one Sunday morning, when I was about fourteen, after breakfast I put on my clean clothes and watered a horse out in the orchard and then put off, without permission and with asking, to Mr. Reed's to go swimming with his boys. I shall never forget that day. I think I never was more severely punished than I was that afternoon on my way home.

Well you think this a funny letter, don't you? Now something else, Minnie's letter and Oliver's money have been received. I heard you had a very pleasant party at our house not long ago. Never invited me at all! I suppose it was a select company. You thought I wouldn't hear anything about it. But since I have, you will be good enough to tell me who was there. A select party at our house! I am interested to know who they were and where you got'em. I received a letter


Elizabeth (Adkinson) Furnish (and Samuel Furnish), letter to Francis and Eliza Adkinson, 28-30 Jan. 1864, Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, (Hanover, Ind.) (note).

Henry, Illinois
January 30th, January 28th, 1864

Dear Brother and Sister,

I received Mary's kind letter just as I was about to dine but could not eat till I had devoured the contents of the letter. As I have done justice to this sorry scanty meal I will endeavor to write you a long epistle. Firstly, we are all enjoying a comfortable degree of health at this time. My general health is tolerable good. I have been troubled some with pain in my left side lately and have headaches a good deal. I was glad to hear from all the folks. I would like to know what William Tower has done with the farm he bought. Well Francis, if you want to smell a little cool fresh air, just come out here. It is a beautiful winter day. Just as clear as it could be and a little cold, but nothing like the middle of the week was. It was just as cold as it could be, I think. But it is a good winter. It is too cold to snow or rain and so it is dry and the river is frozen over and has been for about six weeks. Samuel and John are gone to Lacon today, about eight miles, with the team. People cross the river with heavy loads on the ice but Samuel won't do that. He has crossed once empty. He teams all the time, only when it is too cold. Notwithstanding the cold, I am all right, not a hair on my head is white yet. I and the little girls are as warm as muskrats in their holes. The girls haven't but a few steps to go to school. You wanted to know about the papers, well, you can give them to M. Wesley if you want to. We got a letter from David Leap. He said he had paid three hundred and eighty dollars of principle and he did not say anything about the interest, whether he had paid it or not. I wrote to him about the tax and I also wrote to Wesley about the mortgage, for we did not know how to proceed as Leap said he wanted to pay off all this spring. So I expect you had better just give the papers up to Wesley and let him fix it up. Write when it starts, it only takes a letter 3 days to come after it is mailed.

Well, you wanted to know the particulars about our new farm. It is a large farm, all of 35 acres, all under cultivation. A house, a well of water, a cistern and a stable. I believe some apple trees, I don't know how many. It lies joining Brother Joseph's on the west. Samuel bought it off one Gibbons. He paid 900 dollars cash down for it. We will move to it this spring if nothing happens and if he doesn't sell it. He has been offered one-thousand dollars for it but the payments did not suit. He hasn't made a fortune by coming out here yet but we have seen a little of the world. I expect if I was to go back there I would be afraid the high trees would fall on me. I guess I have told you all of this story. Sister Eliza, you wanted to know about Jane. She lives in town here. Elias is at Memphis, he is doctoring soldiers, and he has got to be a doctor. John Adkinson lives here. Fanny Sarah and Elizabeth Mary all live in Henry. Fannie's man and Lute Buch are both in the army, they were drafted last fall. They are at Bowling Green, Kentucky. William and Melinda live out on the prairie about 2 miles. Old Ginny Colvin is there this winter. Margaret Russell was here last fall. Betsy is dead and Margaret married old Mosey. Tell Orinda to write and tell me about Lucy Betty Eben. Lidy, kiss the babies for me. Tell Linda to write. Tell James to write, tell all the folks to write. Give my love to Aunt Ann. Tell Tabitha to write direct to Henry, Illinois.

S. and E. Furnish to F. and E. Adkinson


Jane Adkinson, undated essay, [c. 1869], Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, (Hanover, Ind.) ( note).


Who can picture half the horrors attending a civil war?

Men are called forth from pleasant homes and kind friends, all that makes life desirable, to kill, and butcher their fellow men.

There must be no shrinking from duty, unpleasant as it is. Their country must be saved at all hazards. Hard as it is, they bid home and friends farewell, perhaps forever, to go forth to slay those men who would destroy the country.

Take for example, the war that has been waged in these United States. When the southern people were striving to destroy our Union; when men were willing to go forth, and give up their lives rather than that this country should fall into the hands of such unprincipled men. They go out to meet the enemy on the field of battle. The shot and shell are flying in every direction; striking one here and another there. Wounding some and killing others. Then groans and shrieks are mingled with the din of battle. Those who are not hurt, the sight of their wounded and bleeding comrades maddens almost to fury and they fight with renewed energy. Thus the fight goes on until one of the armies is conquered. Then they all retire from the field, taking their dead and wounded with them. These are some of the scenes of war.

Jane Adkinson


Mary [(Elden) Adkinson?], letter to "Home, 2 Mar. 1875, Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).

West Concord, N.H.
March 2nd, 1875

Dear Home:

This time it is my turn to write sad, oh, so sad news.  I never knew before what sorrow was, in reality.

Our poor dear Irvin has gone home.  He is safe, and it is well with him, but oh, it is so hard to be left without him.  And as he said before he died it would be such a blow to father and mother.  Last night I received May’s letter with the sad news of Linda’s death, and both so near together.  It is a heavy blow indeed to father and mother.

The last time I wrote you Irvin was better, and we hoped he would get up and be better than he had been before.  He did not take his bed till Saturday night, before he lay on the lounge much of the time.  He changed doctors on Monday, and thought he should get well, but he failed every day till he died on Tuesday morning at half past two – Dec. 25th. 

I think he had not been out of the house for three weeks and a half, I think.

He supposed that he would recover until I told him on Wednesday what the doctor said.  He was not afraid to go for himself but he worried about me and the children.  My health being so poor, of course, gave him greater anxiety, but we shall be provided for in some way while we stay.

We had quite a talk, alone on Wednesday afternoon, that will be a comfort to me to think of.

He died very easily, but I think he suffered considerably before, though he was very patient.  He made a will giving everything to me.

The life insurance, and a note of $320 with interest, due next fall, is the most.  We had a nice team but it was not perhaps more than half paid for.

The people are and have been very kind indeed, doing everything that they could.  I don’t know what I shall do.  My health is so poor that I am unable to work or to stand up scarcely any.  Can sew a little.

I hope uncle and aunt will come and advise me.

The body was laid in the cemetery here, but I may, sometime, have it placed by my father and mother and brother if I should go to Maine.

I write you thus because I suppose you will want to know all, and I shall want to hear from you about the baby and all.

Did you receive the telegrams and the postal card, last week?

Yours in great sorrow and affliction,



O. P. Adkinson, letter to grandparents, 15 Mar. 1877, Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).

March 15, 1877

Dear Granfather and Granmother,

I am well and hearty.  I received Mary’s welcome letter yesterday.  I received her letter giving Fogs pedigree a few days after I got here.  I was not much surprised his talk and actions on the road out caused me to suspicion that all was not right, but I did not think that he had acted quite so mean and sneaking as he had tried to get me to go with him into the Southern part of the state but I refused.  I left him at Emporia about 75 miles south east of here and have not heard from him since.  He said that he would write to me when he got to Hutchinson but I haven’t heard from him.  I have hired out by the month for 8 months at $18 per month.  I could have got about $2 or $3 more on the month by waiting until the middle of May to hire but I think I will make as much in the long run by hiring now.  I like the country better the more I see of it.  I think a person who could not be satisfied with this country so far as the lay of the land and richness of the soil, healthiness and climate are concerned could not be satisfied with anything.

There are plenty of grasshopper eggs deposited but the people here say they will hatch out and fly away before they harm anything except the wheat and if the prairies do not get afire before they hatch out they will set them afire and by that means burn the greater part of them after they hatch out.

I am getting pretty well acquainted with Frank Rogers and wife, like them first rate.  Frank is well educated and a fine man of good sound sense, and I think his wife is one of the finest women that I ever met.  I cannot say so much for Lizzie and family, they always treat me as well as I could wish to be treated but they are always quarrelling and contending among themselves, and I believe that Lizzie’s man is the principal stumbling block.

We are having splendid weather now and the people are busy making garden.

I haven’t been to any kind of gathering except meeting since I have been here.  The reason is I don’t like the society of the young folks, they are too rough and there are too many bad characters among them.

Tell Mary to write often and write all the news as will have to depend on the letters from home for enjoyments of a refining character.

Give my love to inquiring friends.

I remain as ever, your loving grandson.

O. P. Adkinson

"The Adkinson Family," undated essay, [1994?], Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College, (Hanover, Ind.)


Francis Adkinson and Eliza McHenry were married December 15, 1831, at the residence of the bride's parents, 1-1/2 miles east of Enterprise. Commenced housekeeping on the school section joining the store place. Lived here one year and here their first child was born. They moved from here to the farm joining the one in which they moved the following year and which has been their home during the remainder of their life. Here their other children, eleven in number, were born.

Hugh, the eldest child, was born Nov. 7, 1832. He loved his books and made rapid progress at school. He acquired a good common school education and graduated at the Commercial School in Indianapolis. He united with the Freewill Baptist Church when near his majority and preached for that denomination several years. He was married to Lydia Orem in 1857. Hugh was a dry goods merchant in Bennington, Ind. for several years. He then moved store and family to the mouth of Log Crick (Lick, Creek) where the town of Markland stands. In a few years he returned to Soapville, not far from his first home, and entered the service of a medical house in Indianapolis as a drummer, after which all trace of him was lost. He was the father of three children, Oliver P., Henry W. B., and Emma.

Samuel, the second child, was born April 20, 1834. He was always a good son, kind to his parents and always watching for a chance to help his father on the farm. He became an honorable and upright man, loved by all who knew him. He married Armda H. Hufford in the year 1837. A lovely woman in every way, exerting great influence for good over husband and children. He commenced housekeeping on the farm adjoining the Adkinson homestead, removing afterward to the old Hufford. He enlisted in the Civil War in 1862 and remained till the end of the war. He was a ________preacher for several years until failing health forced him to give up active work. He moved to Kansas in 1887, from there to Indian Territory, then moved back to Indiana. Settling in Carrollton, Ky., where his two children Austin and John B. engaged in an extensive lumber business. He only lived a short time after his return, having been a great sufferer for years from stomach trouble. His wife only survived him by three months.

Ruben, the third child, died when he was eleven months old.

Irvin, the fourth child, was ambitious for a professional career. He spent much of his life in school after acquiring what knowledge he could with the home advantages. He attended school at Rising Sun, Hillsdale in Michigan, and Oberlin in Bangor, Me. He was ordained by the Freewill Baptists for the ministry. He was President of the Ridgeville College at the time of his death, which occurred Feb. 25, 1875, in Fairport, Maine. He was married in Bangor, Me., to Mary J. Elden, in June 18, 1868. Mary was a dear Christian lady who proved to be a true helpmate. To them were born two children, Roy C. and Blanch.

Melinda, the fifth child, attained a fair common school education, teaching in the common schools. She was married in the year 1858 to Foyleman Shadday. She died on the 17th of February 1875. To them were born five children, one of whom died in infancy. The children were Ida R., Winiford, May, Frank A., and Grace.

Joseph McHenry, the sixth child, was born in the year 1841. He worked on the farm and taught in the common school. He was of a kind, sunny disposition and a general favorite. He entered the army as a private in 1863, was wounded in both legs at the battle on Point Lookout and died in the hospital from the effects of his wounds, June 7, 1864.

Melissa was born in 1842, being quick to learn and a close student she, at an early age, had finished her education as far as home advantages permitted and entered college with her brothers at Hillsdale, where she remained for a year. She returned to her home and taught several terms in the common schools of Switzerland, Jefferson, and Clinton Co., and married in 1865 to Joseph A. Hart. Eleven children were born to them. Namely Frank, Stella, _____ , Daisy, Cora, Brion, Bernard, Ernest, Leslie, and Ada.

Oliver C. was a teacher in the common schools and attended college at Hillsdale for two years, helping on the farm when at home. He enlisted in the army and served one year ____ ____ _____ infantry. He went to Kansas in 1866 or 1867 and taking a soldiers claim of 160 acres he married and settled there. Coming to Indiana on a visit to his father's in Dec. 1873 he drowned when crossing Brusher Fork Creek on his way home with his sister, who was teaching and boarding away from home. His wife (Julia R. Sloan) and two little ones, Frank and Oliver, after a brief visit returned to their western home.

Effie, the ninth child, was always the confident and counselor of the family. Of a bright affectionate nature she was beloved by all. She taught several terms in common schools. She was married to Alan W. Smith in 1866. To them were born 3 boys and four girls, namely, Carrie, Rollin, Irvin, Effie, Albert, Lela, and Mabel.

Nancy, familiarly known as Nannie, was born in 1847. She helped in the home acquiring as good an education as the home schools and love for reading could give her. With her natural love for beauty and considerable natural talent she might have become an artist perhaps if she had possessed the means for cultivation. She married Calvin R. Smith in 1871. One child was born to them, Della E.

Jane I. was of a sensitive, shy disposition. With a depth of character, unsuspected by few because of a reticent nature as good and pure as a mortal can be. It was a terrible blow to her family and friends when she drowned with her brother, Oliver, while returning from her school.

Mary, the last and least, lived with her parents until the death of her father, May 20, 1880, after which she resided with her mother until the death of the latter on the 1st of April 1896. She was married to W. Scott Danner in 1883. Four children came to bless their home, one dying in infancy, namely Maude E., Roy S., Ella J., and Mary E.

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