Sunday, August 10, 2008


This lady is Ellen Stevens Davis Eungard, my great-grandma and of course the great grandma of all my Ryland cousins. She was named Ellen, after her mother, but was always called Nellie. She was the child of Chester Dana & Ellen Madden Stevens and was born September 15, 1862. She had two marriages, first to Joseph Clinton Davis, from which our grandma Jessie C Davis was born, and second to James Eungard, from which Chester Eungard was born. But this story is not about Nellie's adult life.

In genealogy there are lots of surprises. Sometimes those surprises blow you away. And this is one of those times. Two very priceless letters from the Civil War years were handed down in the family of my Aunt Marie Ryland Wilson. She passed these letter on to her youngest daughter. And my cousin Nancy has shared them with me. Here for all of you cousins to feast your eyes on are these letters.

This first is is a partial letter but what remains is simply beautiful. It was written on September 30, 1862, to "Little Ellen, darling" Little Ellen at that time was 2 weeks old. The letter reads:

"You do not know that your father is in the army and you will not understand when MaMa reads you your little letter, but Ma will save it for you until you can understand and until you can...."

The next letter is more easily read. It is dated in December of 1862 and is signed "Your Father, C. D. Stevens."

These pages are so fragile. Nancy graciously allowed me to scan them so we all can have as near the original copy as we will get -- and of course once scanned, they will not get lost.

Not only does finding things like this give me a closer link of my own heritage but it also drives me to the history books because now I know for sure that I have a personal stake in the Civil War. Interestingly, I can find no record of our Chester Stevens serving in the Civil War. This is why genealogy never ends. There is always a loose end to tie up.