April 14, 1862


Letters © Stacy Renee Morrison

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, April 14, 1862

Busy washing all day, heard from William.  Went over to Aunt Maria’s and Eliza’s after tea.

Tuesday, April 15, 1862

Busy.  Had a nice long letter from William.  Went up to (…) after tea a little while,

Wednesday, April 16, 1862

Wrote to and heard from William.  Went out a little while after tea.

Thursday, April 17, 1862

Heard from William.  Mary Abby came down in the evening.

Friday, April 18, 1862

Good Friday.  Went to Church in the morning.  Heard from William.

Saturday, April 19, 1862

Went up to Providence in the afternoon to meet William.  Mary Abby went up to Mrs. Curard.  Was so disappointed my dear did not return.

Sunday, April 20, 1862

William came about 9.  Did not go to Church all day.  We took a walk in the afternoon.

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week

The entry that struck me the most this week, was on Saturday when Sylvia went to Providence and discovered that William did not return.

It made me think that covering communication in the 19th century was something of importance.

Letter writing was surprisingly quick and efficient in the mid-19th century, although there were disruptions in the mail service due to the Civil War going on, but mostly this was in the south, or correspondence to and from the soldiers.

In 1822, it took only 11 days to send mail between Washington, D.C. and Nashville, Tennessee.

By 1828, there were 7,530 Post Office and 29,956 postal employees and mail contractors and carriers.  Andrew Jackson created the Postmaster General post.

1847 was the first year that the U.S. Postal System issued stamps.  Postal rates were standardized at 5 cents for under 300 miles and 10 cents over 300 miles for a one sheet letter, but by 1863 the universal stamp based on weight, eliminating distance as we know it today, went into affect.  That same year the U.S. Mail Steamship Company acquired contracts to carry the mail from New York to Havana, New Orleans to California.  What really expedited the mail service was in transportation of mail via the railroad.  By 1862, this was an incredibly efficient means of delivering mail.  The Railway Mail Service was officially inaugurated in 1869.

Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1844.  Telegraphs communicated messages over telegraph lines in seconds, but a trained operator needed to transcribe messages.  Telegraphs were expensive and sometimes smaller towns did not have a receiving center for them.

Providence, as the second larger city in New England behind Boston, certainly had a telegraph office and William could assuredly have sent Sylvia one, so why were their messages crossed on April 19, 1862?

April 7, 1862


Frank Benson The Sunny Window

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, April 7, 1862

Rode up to Providence.  Decided to go down to Benton.  Had a splendid time, came home at night and William went to New York.

Tuesday, April 8, 1862

Went out a little while.  Sewed all day.

Wednesday, April 9, 1862

Ditto, Ditto.  Heard from William.

Thursday, April 10, 1862

Went down to the house to work.

Friday, April 11, 1862

Down at the house all day.  Mary Abbie and I went to the Church tea, had a nice time.  Sherry took us to ride in the evening in his wagon.

Saturday, April 12, 1862

Very busy all day.  Mary Abby and (… ) me down a little while in the evening.

Sunday, April 13, 1862

Went to Church in the evening, sat with Mary Abby.  Drank tea at Grandma Bullock’s with William in the evening.

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week

During April 6th into April 7th the Battle of Shiloh was taking place near Pittsburgh Landing in western Tennessee.  It was a Union Victory in the end.

While Sylvia was in Bristol sewing, the casualties were great. On the Union side there was 13,047 casualties and on the Confederates there were 10,694. This was five times the number at the First Battle of Bull Run in July of 1861 and more than all of the war’s major battles to date.


Thure de Thulstrup, Battle of Shiloh

How a woman’s reality was so different than a man’s then.  She was protected from all of these horrors.  

William was a soldier for the 82nd Regiment of New York Volunteers. I am not sure how he got out of service in the war so quickly.

As Jud, William’s brother would write to Sylvia just after the Battle of Bull Run. The war was going to be a long a bloody one.


Mary Cassatt, Young Woman Sewing in a Garden

March 31, 1862


The Last Night I Shall Spend In My Dear Old Room © Stacy Renee Morrison

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, March 31, 1862

Windy,  Packing all day.  Started about 4 from Brooklyn.  Found William at the boat and H Burnell.

Tuesday, April 1, 1862

Arrived in Bristol, found Mary Abby waiting for me.  Went to see Ma in the evening.

Wednesday, April 2, 1862

Went to see my relations in the afternoon and to ride with Mary Abbie.

Thursday, April 3, 1862

Did not go out.  John Henry called in the afternoon. Had a letter from William. Had quite a military funeral for Bristol.

Friday, April 4, 1862

Lovely weather.  Went to ride with Mary Abbie up to the farm.  Had a letter from William.

Saturday, April 5, 1862


Sunday, April 6, 1862

Went to Church in the morning.  Found William had arrived.  We went up to Grandma Bullock’s after tea.

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week

Sylvia is back in Bristol.  This makes me very happy.  She will see the lilacs bloom on the family farm and spend the spring riding with Mary Abbie.  I wonder if Anita is around? John Henry is still a presence.

The funeral in Bristol on April 3, 1862, might possibly have been for Sergeant Simeon A. Newman.   

Sergeant Simeon A. NEWMAN was a resident of Bristol, and one of the original members of Company G.  He was a seaman by occupation, and was thirty-two years of age at the time of entering the service.  He was appointed first corporal, and, on the 12th of August, 1861, first sergeant. He fell sick during the folowing winter, and died in Columbian College Hospital, Washington, March 18th, 1862.  His body was brought to Rhode Island and interred at Bristol.

If he died on March 18th would a April 3rd funeral be right?

The most immediate of death’s challenges was a logistical one, the burial of soldiers in the aftermath of battle.  Armies were not ready for the enormity of the task that confronted them, particularly in the aftermath of engagements that left thousands of bodies carpeting battlegrounds like Antietam or Gettysburg. After a single day of fighting at Antietam, for example, 23,000 men and untold numbers of horses and mules lay killed or wounded.  Neither side’s army had grave registration units; soldiers were not issued official badges of identification, there was no formal policy of notification for the families of the slain, and neither side had an ambulance service.  Makeshift crews of soldiers were detailed after battles to dispose of the dead and often found themselves lacking basic necessities such as carts or shovels.  These failures of capacity were made evident in the length of time it took to attend to casualties.  A week after Antietam, a Union surgeon reported that, “the dead were almost wholly unburied, and the stench arising from it was such as to breed a pestilence.” As a result, bodies were often thrown into unidentified mass trench graves.

In such circumstances, tens of thousands of soldiers died unknown, and tens of thousands of families were left without any consoling knowledge of their loved ones’ fates, circumstances of death, or place of burial.  At least half of the Civil War dead were never identified.  As the war continued, these realities became increasingly intolerable, and Americans worked in both official and informal ways to combat such dehumanization and loss.  Soldiers endeavored to locate, inter, and honor slain comrades; merchants created and marketed identity disks for soldiers; the men themselves pinned their scribbled names to their uniforms before especially dangerous encounters.  Voluntary organizations like the U.S. Sanitary Commission emerged and devoted their energies to compiling lists of killed and wounded from hundreds of Union hospitals, creating records of battlefield burials, and offering aid to families in locating the lost and, for those with means, shipping embalmed bodies home.  Families swarmed to battle sites in the aftermath of engagements to search for dead or wounded relatives, actively seeking information otherwise unavailable to them, hoping to fill what one northern observer called the “dread void of uncertainty.”

Excerpt quoted above is from a greater article by Drew Gilpin Faust found here:


It is entirely feasible that it would have taken more than two long weeks to send Sergeant Simeon A Newman’s embalmed body back home, considering the first priority would have been to save who those that they could, while memorializing those lost was secondary.

Yes, I am now confident this is the funeral Sylvia mentions.

March 24, 1862


Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, March 24, 1862

Busy sewing all day.  William and I went to call on Mrs. Wing in the evening.  

Tuesday, March 25, 1862

Went out to see Mrs. Davis and the De Wolfs in the evening.  Went to New York shopping.

Wednesday, March 26, 1862

Went over to New York.

Thursday, March 27, 1862

Went out made some calls.  Met John Smith to my surprise, he came and went to the Opera with us.

Friday, March 28, 1862

Went to New York after doing some shopping in Brooklyn.  (Rest of entry completely illegible).

Saturday, March 29, 1862

Did not go out all day.  Spring.  Went to the Farley’s staid all night.

Sunday, March 30, 1862

Went to Trinity Church in the morning. William came over around 4 o’clock. We did not go to Church in the evening our last night,  Sleeped with Augusta Farley. 

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week

In 1862, A.T. Stewart moved his department store to Broadway and 9th street. It was the beginning of a huge commercial expansion of opulent department stores up Broadway that attracted wealthy female shoppers.  It became known as Ladies Mile. It was one of the first places where it acceptable for women to go out and about unchaperoned.


In 1878 with the construction of the El train on 6th avenue, the area expanded even more with the construction of enormous Beaux-Arts buildings, including the Siegel-Cooper Dry Goods Store that was built in 1896 on 18th street and 6th avenue.

The store attracted 190,000 visitors a day.  

Perhaps when Sylvia wrote these words in 1862 she was going to New York to shop at A.T. Stewart’s store.  By 1896, she was making her purchases at Siegel-Cooper.

And in 2014, Henry James and I often go to the same location, which is now Bed, Bath and Beyond. 


HJ loves going in the shopping carts,


and I always close and my eyes and pretend it is…


Photograph taken on Ladies Mile from ephermalnewyork.wordpress.com

March 17, 1862


Journal, 1860s © Stacy Renee Morrison

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, March 17, 1862

It was very cold today.  I went to New York to buy a new dress with purple stripes and silver trim.  I came home and took tea with honey.

Tuesday, March 18, 1862

Went to a charity concert at the Academy.  Had a nice seat in the (…) box.

Wednesday, March 19, 1862

It was sunny today and I took off my bonnet while walking down Joralemon Street.  I wish I could have undone my braids too.

Thursday, March 20, 1862

William and I staid inside and played chess.  I won (…).

Friday, March 21, 1862

Read (…) all day.  Did not go out due to a great rainstorm.  I saw a rainbow.

Saturday, March 22, 1862

The devil has been gone for so long, I almost forget what he looks like.  

Sunday, March 23, 1862

Went to church with Annie.  William and I went to Trinity Church in the evening.

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, March 17, 1862

Dressmaking all day.  Went to New York about five.  We went uptown together and to Millies in the evening.

Tuesday, March 18, 1862

I made paper dolls. It took me afternoon, but I did not to cut off any arms or (…), bonnets or ribbons.

Wednesday, March 19, 1862

Busy sewing all day.  Had a note from William saying he must go to Boston. 

Thursday, March 20, 1862

Sewing all day.  Miss William so much.

Friday, March 21, 1862

Dressmakers all day.  William returned from Boston.  So glad.  We both stopped in at Mrs. Wing’s in the evening.

Saturday, March 22, 1862

Sewing all day. (…) to death. 

Sunday, March 23, 1862

Did not go to church today.  I pressed flowers in my bible instead.  Annie and I watched (…) walk by outside our window for hours.

March 10, 1862

Not that we ever gather this from Sylvia’s writings, but just to remind myself and everyone else, at this moment in 1862, the country is in the midst of the American Civil War.  The past few weeks the discussion has shifted more to dresses, plain and mourning, and we have neglected the key historic events of the moment. This is okay though, because Sylvia would rather talk about dresses, and of course I always love talking about dresses, but beyond ribbons and lace, a very historic battle took place at this moment in 1862.


The battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack in a 1886 Lithograph

Below is an article in the NYTimes about the battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor.  It was also called The Battle of Hampton Roads and it is considered the most important naval battle of the American Civil War.  It took place March 8 and March 9th in 1862.

In 2012, the Learning Network on the NYTimes posted a comprehensive article about this battle in the Historic Headlines column.


Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, March 10, 1862

Went to see Carrie Dodge a little while.

Tuesday, March 11, 1862

Went to see Augusta Farley a little while in the evening.  Mr. & Mrs. Morten spent the day here.

Wednesday, March 12, 1862

Went to the (…) Society of DaFarley’s Church.  William came in the evening, had a very nice time.

Thursday, March 13, 1862

Went to Miss Abbots concert at the Atheneum.

Friday, March 14, 1862

Did not go out all day.  Had a letter from Anna Holding.

Saturday, March 15, 1862

Did not go out today.  William brought me a lovely bouquet.

Sunday, March 16, 1862

Cold, did not go out all day on account of a (…).  Harry (…) came in the evening.


Wallpaper Sample © Stacy Renee Morrison

March 3, 1862


Gloved Arm © Stacy Renee Morrison

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, March 3, 1862

I came home found a telegram saying that Grandpa D’ Wolf was dead so had to give up going to the Sociable so disappointed.

Tuesday, March 4, 1862

Mr. and Mrs B went to Bristol.  William dined with us.  Mrs, Poole made me a nice long call.

Wednesday, March 5, 1862

Went to the market with Annie.  William dined with us.

Thursday, March 6, 1862

Dull and forlorn.  Did not go out all day.  Had a letter from Tina Doringh.

Friday, March 7, 1862

Carrie (…) and Mr. Hasbonck called.  We went to New York to Louises (…).

Saturday, March 8, 1862

Ma got home from Bristol.  We all went to New York to buy mourning.

Sunday, March 9, 1862

Went to walk with William.  We went to Dr. Farleys.  Put on my mourning for the first time.

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week


John D’Wolf 

Sylvia surprised me this week.  She seemed so nonchalant about the death of her grandfather, almost callous in her disappointment about not being able going to this party of sorts, due to the telegram dispensing sad news.

She was being honest though.  It was one of her occasional entries where  her words have emotional resonance, and even though her sentiment was cold, it was sentiment nonetheless, and I appreciate this from her.  

I am guilty as charged with romanticizing the romance of 19th century mourning. It seems Sylvia did this too though… 

Obituary for John D’Wolf

John D’Wolf was the son of the Honorable John DeWolf, the merchant and sea captain, and Susan Reynolds.  John D’Wolf, or “Fessor” as he was known, was a distinguished scholar in English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Ethics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Astronomy.  He was a Professor of Chemistry at Brown University from 1817 to 1837.  He was also a poet.  In 1816, he wrote a famous address that was the keynote speech for the Fourth of July Parade in Bristol.

John D’Wolf was born on February 23, 1786 in Bristol.  He married Elizabeth James on December 10, 1806 and they had one son, named John James.  He later married Sylvia Griswold on May 3, 1819. She was the daughter of the famed Episcopalian Reverend, Alex Viets Griswold.  They went on to have four children, Susan Amelia, Algernon Sydney, Eliza Viets and Marie Griswold D’Wolf. 

He is survived by all of his children and numerous grandchildren, including Mifs Sylvia Russell Bullock.

February 24, 1862

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, February 24, 1862

Raining hard all day.  Augusta Farley spent the day with me.  Very Windy.  I do so hate to have William going out our last night.

Tuesday, February 25, 1862

Went up to Mrs Powers a little while.  Had an awful time getting my dress, hateful devil wouldn’t give it to me.

Wednesday, February 26, 1862

Went out to New York to do some shopping.  Went to see Nellie, dined with Williiam at Delmonicos.  He came home with me.

Thursday, February 27, 1862

Busy getting for the Hepds at the Metropolitan.  Had a splendid time.

Friday, February 28, 1862

Went to Mrs. Percius.  Willam came with me.

Saturday, March 1, 1862

Augusta Farley came a little while,  William did not come, felt so lonely.  He had to go to a party.

Sunday, March 2, 1862

Went to Trinity Church this morning.  Harry Bunnell and William came to tea.  Mr. and Mrs. Bullock went to New York. (Last time I ever saw your brother Fred) we did not know it then.

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week

Fred, although I do not know who he was, or whose brother he was for that matter, what I do know about this entry is that she wrote the second part (Last time I ever saw your brother Fred, we did not know it then) after the fact.  This is the first time I have encountered this.  She indeed went back through her journals.  She reflected upon her daily events, both from the immediate past after they happened, and again from a further distance.

Sylvia and William dined at Delmonico’s, which adds a fun piece of New York History to the week.  Delmonico’s was an incredibly fashionable restaurant during this time period. It is credited as the birthplace of the Delmonico Steak, and it is also understood to be the first restaurant where people could order dinner from a menu a la carte. I am not sure if they dined at the location at 2 South William Street or the one on 14th Street and Fifth Avenue.   Sylvia, as she often is, was not so specific.

And that darn, hateful Devil.. wouldn’t give her dresses, so I am going to give my beloved Sylvia some new ones to wear.


Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1862-1863



Metropolitan Museum of Art, French 1862


Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1860s


Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1860s

And a lovely dress for her for next year…



Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1863

February 17, 1862


William Lincoln.

This week was a sad day in American History.  William Wallace Lincoln, the  eleven year old son, of President Abraham Lincoln died.  He died of typhus fever, which was very common in disease-ridden Washington D.C. at the time.  With the Civil War was raging on, death was everywhere, but the death of this little boy had great emotional resonance and impact.


Prayer © Stacy Renee Morrison

To make matters even more heartbreaking, Tad, Williams’s younger brother was also severely sick with the disease, although he would eventually recover.  Robert the oldest son, was at Harvard College.  He was ultimately the only child of the Lincoln’s that would survive his parents.


Composite of the Lincoln Family made from multiple photographs. 

Mary Todd Lincoln was inconsolable.

President Abraham Lincoln was said to have uttered these words when he saw his dead son:  My poor boy, he was too good for this earth. God has called him home.  I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so.  It is hard, hard to have him die!”


Below is a video of Lincoln speaking about this tragedy. 

I love historical re-enactors.  In a way, this is really what I wish to do… 


Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, February 17, 1862

Snowing.  Did not go out.  William came and spent the evening.  

Tuesday, February 18, 1862

Went to the lower end stayed until 4 o’clock.  Had a nice time talking with Mrs. Farley.  William and I went to see Mrs. Poole in the evening.  

Wednesday, February 19, 1862

Went to the Philharmonic rehearsal.  Had a nice time. Sick for my dear William, might need (…) all the evening.

Thursday, February 20, 1862

Busy getting ready for the (… ).  Had a very nice time.  Saw several presents that I knew.

Friday, February 21, 1862

Went out to see Dora who is going to Hartford tomorrow and Jessie Dimock.

Saturday, February 22, 1862

William with us.  Went to the Academy of Music to the L’enfants Perdon Animable.

Sunday, February 23, 1862

Went to Trinity Church in the morning.  William came over to see me.  We went to hear Agassiz at the Academy of Music.

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week

Although, I have looked over Sylvia’s journals before and read for days that I know were significant in her life, this is the first time I am reading entry to entry, day to day.  I do not skip ahead.  I read each week at the time I am creating the post.  It has become a bit of a game because when I form a hypothesis I sometimes learn the following week whether something I predicted was right or wrong.

Last week when I thought perhaps Sylvia was at a botany lecture, half in jest, it turns out she was actually at a biology lecture.  In February of 1862, Louis Agassiz gave six lectures at Brooklyn Academy of Music on the structure of animal life. 

What a lovely discovery!  

When going back to the entry the week before, the word I could not make out was a squished and partially smeared “Agassiz”.  As I predicated last week, Sylvia was both at the BAM and NYAM at the same time. Sylvia was everywhere in 1862.  Sylvia has become 1862 for me.

February 10, 1862

Sylvia’s Journals

Monday, February 10, 1862

Dined with William.  He came home (…) with me.

Tuesday, February 11, 1862

Did not go out all day.  William came.  I do wish I had a pleasant home.

Wednesday, February 12, 1862

Carrie came to spend the day + night.  Fern, Augusta, Farley and William came to tea.  We had a nice time in the evening.

Thursday, February 13, 1862

Carrie and I went to New York about 12.  Went to the concert at the Athenium,

Friday, February 14, 1862

Jennie Dimock spent the day with me.  We went to see (…) at the Academy in the evening.

Saturday, February 15, 1862

Went out to see Mrs Davis and spent the day.  William came to tea.  Had a very nice time.

Sunday, February 16, 1862

Went to (…) Church in the morning.  William came about 4,  We went to Trinity Church.

Thoughts on Sylvia’s Week

I assumed that Sylvia went to the Academy of Music in New York, but I did a little research and it turns out that BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) was founded in 1862, so she might have been at this newly built theater on Montague Street, near her home in Brooklyn Heights.  I cannot seem to find what was the performance was this evening and Sylvia’s writing is unclear to the fact.

She may have been there that night, but I thought I would cover my bases in case she did go to the New York Academy of Music.  If so, she would have seen “Linda di Chamounix” which was an opera by Donizetti.  The famous Miss Kellogg was performing.  


Here is a portrait of Clara Louise Kellogg, originally made by Matthew Brady, but now affixed to a tote which can be purchased on zazzle.com for $15.95.

She was considered the first U.S. born prima donna and the first American born opera singer to achieve success abroad.  She made her musical debut in Rigoletto at the New York Academy of Music.

And here is a youtube video of a 1969 performance, by the American prima-donna, Beverly Sills performing the same role in Linda di Chamounix.


It is funny how history works sometimes…  I know the Academy, but she could have been in Brooklyn or Manhattan, or she might have even been at both places at the same time.  Or I may even be presupposing the Academy of Music onto an entirely different Academy that she is referencing.  Maybe she went to a botany lecture at an educational academy.   History, as the word seemingly denotes, is never steadfast in its objectivity.  It is murky and hazy, but this ultimately makes it more fun.