This letter was written by Eveline (Hanks) Ostrander (1808-1888) the wife of John Ostrander (1804-1865). Eveline and John were married in 1829. John Ostrander was a lawyer, a merchant, and a hotel keeper in Kanona, a hamlet northwest of Bath Village in Steuben County, New York.
Eveline wrote the letter to her son, Dwight Huntington Ostrander (1836-18xx) who served in Company A, 108th Regiment, New York Volunteers during the Civil War. He rose to the rank of Captain. He was wounded several times: 1862, age 26, Antietam, MD; 1863, age 27, Chancellorsville, VA; 1864, age 28, Wilderness (Spotsylvania County VA); and 1864, age 28, Hatcher’s Run VA.
Long after the war, from his residence in Luling, Texas, Dwight H. Ostrander wrote the following autobiographical sketch:
I was born in the town of Bath, Steuben County, State of New York, on the 16th day of November 1838. Was raised partly on a farm and part of the time in a country store or at work in a law office. I enlisted in July 1862, in Company A, 108th Regiment, New York Volunteers (Captain H. B. Williams). Was all through the war and received a bad wound in the left arm. Since the war I resided in New York State till April, 1869. Went to St. Louis and resided there till February, 1874. Spent my time there as bookkeeper and correspondent for the firm of L. M. Rumsey & Co. Came to Texas in 1874, located at Galveston, and remained there six months; from thence to Austin, where I only remained a few weeks; thence to this place, then a new railroad town just springing up out of the prairie and post oak flats as if by magic. Here I have remained for nearly sixteen years in all kinds of business, sometimes in mercantile, sometimes buying cotton or speculating in the staple in some way…. Yours truly, — Dwight H. Ostrander, Late Captain, 108th NY Volunteers
Eveline mentions her other son, Edward E. Ostrander (1831-18xx) in this letter also. Edward was a private in Company A, 23rd New York Infantry. Edward was married to Fanny Gay.
August 8th 1864
[Kanona, Steuben County, New York]
Saturday evening John brought Lieut. [A. T.] Wells in about four o’clock. He also handed me your letter of July 31st just received.
Wells made a very short visit, had stopped at Bath with the 2 o’clock train, took a horse and carriage to come up, would leave to take the train at Bath at ½ past nine. I think him very pleasant and companionable. Was sorry he could not spend more time with us, though I did not feel the visit to be very agreeable to him. We were tired, had not much cooked. Nancy had been away two weeks (she came home last night). We were only keeping soul and body together until her visit was ended. I think I did not ask him to visit us on his return, don’t know as anybody thought of it, and last he would not take the trouble to call if he should be so happy as to be released. I wish you to request him to call without fail. He knows we would be happy to see him but perhaps he respects formalities too much. He said he should go to the Front if he could get there. Did not know whether he was in the service or not. I have no hope of his return if he can beheld. I do not wish any one obliged to stay there, but on your account, I am not anxious he should leave until you can come with him.
Edward’s last was dated July 25th. He was well. Had heard nothing of Clinton [Ostrander] or any of the boys since they were lost. Sarah received 2 letters from Matthews last week. Wells had not received your letter. Had been looking for one some day.
Saraett Palmer died last Wednesday morning after an illness of one week. Was buried Thursday afternoon. We could not go to the funeral. Near and his wife went.
It commenced raining here last week Sunday night and it has rained steadily until Thursday morning. It has revived the corn, potatoes, and whatever of vegetation is still alive. Truman Warner and Cousin Myra ¹ are at Hornellsville. He was elected State Senator in Arkansas, is here on business, returns to Arkansas in 2 or 3 weeks. Myra will stay till October. John McAlmont’s daughter Myra is spending a few weeks also. We expect her to visit us this week in company with a gentleman friend of hers who lost an arm in the Rebel Service at the Battle of Helena, Arkansas. ² They are both attending school in Philadelphia. Her father brought her there in ___ for 2 years. Aunt Samantha died in February, I believe.
I don’t know a word that was in your letter to Near but Mert says Near had a letter of five sheets from Dwight, which he was all day yesterday reading to Copperheads on Barker’s stoop. I suppose it annoys your Father some to have you write as you do to political enemies. Not one of them would befriend you if you was in want but would take your last cent if you put it in their power. I have no respect for men who will not use their influence in behalf of their own soldiers in the field. I don’t want to hear a man say, Good enough for them, they have no business there &c. &c.
I have no more time to write. It is near mail time.
Don’t forget to urge Lieut. Wells to call and see us soon as he returns, if he comes before you. Write often, — E. Ostrander
¹ Ostrander’s cousin, Myra C. McAlmont (1832-1921), was the daughter of Daniel McAlmont (1794-1839) and Samanatha Dunham (1799-1864) of Hornellsville, New York. She was married to Truman Warner of Little Rock, Arkansas.
² Myra McAlmont was born October 1, 1844, in Weymouth, Ohio, to Dr. John J. McAlmont and Martha J. Gregg McAlmont. When Myra was three, the family moved to Arkansas. Myra married Confederate soldier Francis Terry Vaughan (see mention of “Frank Vaughan” injury in 3 August 1863 Diary of Ralph Leland Goodrich) on November 14, 1866, and had one son, Milton Vaughn. Myra McAlmont Vaughan wrote articles on a variety of subjects including women’s issues, education, and history. She died in 1919.