Mt. Pleasant [Iowa]
March 7th 1863
As this is Saturday and I’ve nothing of much importance to do, I spend a few minutes telling you a few items of news connected with myself & surroundings which if you don’t want to know you can just stop reading now.
First I must tell you that I received your precious little billet of February 26th. Yes, that was the anniversary of the day you left Mt. Pleasant. I thought of it too but I won’t tell how I felt. I think my last two must have been a long time on the road or you were a long time getting ready to write. I also think you are really unkind in your resolutions “not to write only when you have news” when you know with what pleasure your letters are received at home. And then it’s not news your friends want, ’tis kind words from the loved and absent one. That is what I think and now for what I do, have done, and will do.
You will see from the date of this that I have left Liberty. It is a month earlier than I expected to be free, but mud got so deep I could not get to and from the schoolhouse on foot and I thought it was time to stop. So I sent a petition to the school meeting last Monday for leave of absence which was granted and I got to town yesterday, Dick & _____ & Lucy came up with me & moved me away from Liberty for good. I can’t say I was much sorry to leave for that school has been a great burden on my mind and hands. Yet it was like leaving ____ to leave ______.
There were several quiet interesting things transpired during the last two weeks of my stay of which you are doubtless informed before this. Dan’ _____’s visit was quite a circumstance. He and I were great friends at first but … I made his …. a few days before he left. I am sorry I did but it was certainly unintentional on my part & I’ll have to try & make it up with him if I ever see him again. Sam Willeford ¹ has been at home some time but I haven’t got the pictures yet. John has promised to bring it to me tomorrow when he comes up to see Jasmine. I didn’t want you to send that group home if you wanted to keep it. We could have had another taken here. John Kerr ² came home a few days ago. I haven’t see him yet. By the way, I have a new ________.
Newt & that little red-headed girl you remember of seeing at Tippecanoe are married February 22. ³ She & I will go to St. Louis in a short time — perhaps in a week or two. I’ll make them a short visit & then for Ohio. I don’t expect to be contented to stay there. Don’t have any idea of staying longer that till fall, but I’m going to see some of the world if I can.
If you find any news you think proper to write to me within the next three weeks, send it here. Perhaps you will not care about continuing a correspondence with me after I go away. If you so decide, I suppose I must consent with a good grace but I presume letters from an old friend will be doubly welcome when I see nothing but strange faces around me.
Hoping that when I again visit Liberty I may have the privilege of seeing L. A. I remain as ever your friend, — Neal
I think you have forgotten your promise. You told me when you got that picture that when you got tired of looking at it, you would bring & not send it to me. I recon I’ll have to excuse you this time if you’ll never do so again.¹ Samuel (“Sam”) Willeford, Jr. (1843-1909) was the son of Samuel Willeford (1815-1899) and Rhoda H. Jackson (1815-1899). He married Sarah A. Bailey in 1862. He enlisted with the 4th Iowa Cavalry, Company D in November 1861 but was mustered out on 6 February 1863 at Helena, Arkansas, just weeks before this letter was written. ² Andrew John Kerr (1835-1867) was Neal’s brother-in-law. He married Philena Alden in 1860. In September 1862, John Kerr enlisted for three years in the 25th Iowa Infantry, Co. H, which was organized at Mt. Pleasant. He was mustered out of the service on 22 February 1863 at Young’s Point, Louisiana — after less than six month’s service. ³ Red-headed Percilla Crawford Parcells married Neal’s step-brother, Isaac Newton (“Newt”) Rhodes (1836-1919) on 22 February 1863 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. She was born in 1844 in New Jersey. She died on 29 August 1888 in Iowa. A portion of Newt’s obituary reads: Born in Warren County, Ohio, April 9th,1836, he came with his parents to Iowa in 1851 and settled on a farm west of Mt. Pleasant where he has made his home until the time of his death. Raised as a Methodist he, in his younger life, was an active and ardent worker in this church and will be remembered by his former associates as a man to be depended on for any work that he might be called on to do. About the year 1878, he was converted to and embraced the Seventh Day Adventist faith, since which time he has been well known among the members of this church as a faithful worker in support of the principles that he believed to be right, and an advocate of the sublime truths as taught by the Divine Master of the Universe. Intensely patriotic to his government at all times, he has the distinguished honor of being one of the first to enlist on the first day of Lincoln’s call for volunteers and left for the front at once as a member of Co. I, First Iowa Infantry, serving continuously with this regiment until mustered out when he re-enlisted in the 14th Iowa, and there served with an honor to his country until the end of the war, taking part in practically all the campaigns that his regiment was engaged in. [Daily News (Mt. Pleasant, IA) 9-3-19]