For sale are several different POST CIVIL WAR RECONSTRUCTION ERA CORRESPONDENCE from the Perrine Family of Ohio. This sale includes
– three different 1870s era stamped US postal cards with handwritten messages
– three different stamped envelopes
– a love letter written to a US sailor which may date to the civil war.
The contrast in writing styles between the mail written by the husband and his wife couldn’t be greater. The content of the man’s writing is strictly factual and consists of describing the weather, lodging accommodations, and weather on a business trip to the South. While the style of the woman’s writing is all heart felt emotion and poetic. The love letter was handwritten on Union stationary.
It’s interesting that during this era there was no return address and the mailing address was just a name and a city. There was no street address. One sad letter implores a relative not to visiting a relative because in all probability he will have passed before you can arrive. A superb historical treasure trove.
The time between 1865 and 1877 is known in US history as the Reconstruction era. After the American Civil War, the government attempted to redress the inequities of slavery and its political, social, and economic legacy and to solve the problems arising from the readmission to the Union of the 11 states that seceded from the U.S.
In the 1840s and 1850s, lower postage rates and the advent of prepaid postage stamps transformed the mail system in the United States. The price of mailing a 1/2 ounce letter from coast to coast dropped from 40 cents in 1847 to just 3 cents by 1863. On October 1, 1883, the rate was lowered again to 2 cents per 1/2 ounce.
In the South, patriotic stationery did not begin with the outbreak of the Civil War period but with the secession of southern states after December 20, 1860. But federal pro-Union designs of stationery are unknown until the war commenced. In 1861 after the civil war started, there was a rapid production of printed envelopes and stationery to accommodate the tremendous outburst of patriotic sentiment. It has been estimated that with varieties of different text and colors there are more than 20,000 different designs.
The text of the love letter is as follows:
“O my love he is a sailor boy so gallant and bold. He’s straight as any flag staff and just nineteen years old. For to cruise the wide ocean he has left his own dear. And my heart is a bustin because hes not here. His parents, they (illegible) him to a carpenter. But seafaring life very much he did very much prefer. For his spirit was tremendous and fierce to behold only nineteen years old. In a young man bred a carpenter and O my bosom it is totted just like the rolling sea . For fear that his affection don’t still point to me. For a sweetheart can be found in each part I am told especially for a young man only nineteen years old. And its only for my love I grieve and for fear a fine formed man won’t never be mine. All the cash of India both silver and gold I’ll give for my sailor boy only nineteen years old. In vain does his rival assail my true heart. And beg me my lover no more bewail to unfold. O it aint to gray hairs my young heard while there is hopes of a sailor boy only nineteen years old. O I wouldn’t a tinsmith revile or despise. Providing no other hadn’t first met my eyes. But fifty five years though begotten with gold ain’t equal to a sailor boy only years old nineteen. Night and by day O my friends they have besot me by make way but I tell them no (illegible) with me can. For the first love is warm but the second is cold, so I stick to my sailor boy only nineteen years old. And if my dear husband he shall be never but lay a stiff corpse in the bottom of the sea. The needs of a widow so dismal to behold I’ll wear for my sailor boy only nineteen years old.”
Aug 17, 1874 Postcard with a Cincinnati, Ohio postmark addressed W. H. Perrine, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dear Emma last Friday the 14th I mailed $30 in P.O. Orders which I (illegible) you will all night. Ren is so low that I can in on Sunday and are with him today also your Mother and Lex we think he will not live more than two or 3 days and think it will be of no use for you to hurry up on that account for in all probability it will be all over with him before you reach here
Aug 20, 1876 Postcard with a Cincinnati, Ohio postmark addressed to W.H. Perrine, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
We are waiting with all the patience that we profess for that letter which is to decide as to over visiting you this year. Sickness alone preventing. All met here. Mother
P.S. When health improving that is what we wish to learn
Jan 1st, 1879 Postcard with a Pensacola, Florida postmark addressed to Mrs Eurora L. Perrine, Mount Healthy, Hamilton County, Ohio
A happy New Year to you all. Leaving N.O. at 5 pm Monday evening I should have arrived here at 6 am yesterday. A construction train got off the track between N.O. & Mobile and we were delayed 9 hours. Had to lay over at Mobile from 8 am yesterday till 11 pm. It rained almost constantly as that I did not get more than half a square from the depot to and that but twice to get something to eat. Of course I was used up when I got here so I took a room at a hotel slept two or three hours, got breakfast started to find a furnishing moving forward a poor one all 2.00 per week, took is for a week and shall work in this afternoon. The sun is out today for the first and is very pleasant indeed. Will