Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Sunday, March 12th 1865
My dearest friend,
I must talk to you a little today. Oh! that I could say something to cheer and encourage you, to get you to look on the bright side of life, to hope on for future good. Last evening I read your letter of Feb 25th to [your sister] Mag’ and Oh! how it made my heart ache for you to hear you speak so despondingly and see no way of changing your fate. I would willingly give my life to make you happy and yet what can I do? It is not like yourself to be easily discouraged and I fear your health is not good. That would have a depressing effect upon your spirits.
Oh Lot, let us not grow despairing. I believe all will yet be well with us and with our country. Think of the future with brightest light, of the blessed happy home where love & peace shall forever reign & where you will find the rest you have so dearly earned, surrounded by those whom the strongest ties bind together. You will enjoy the blessings of the government you are now laboring to preserve. Think of this & don’t let your mind dwell on the bitter trials of the present more than you can help. Life & love are ours; let us hope on cheerfully. But enough!
I am and have been too busy to have time to grieve over anything. Wednesday we girls went out to mother’s. Found my old friend Jane Willeford ¹ (you knew her) had just died. I remained with the family until the last tribute of respect was paid. Oh! how sad it all was. Poor Jane, cut down in the prime of life without warning, her reason devoured by the fierce fever long before her body ceased to suffer. Even he who was to have been her husband was not recognized.
We stayed with mother and had rather a more agreebale visit than we commonly get there until yesterday morning when we came back to town. A letter was waiting Alice from home announcing the death of dear old Grandmother. ² She had been sick a long time, but is now happily released from suffering and gone to enjoy her home in Heaven. Her work was done and she’s at rest. Oh how glad I am that I saw her. Grandfather will not survive long, but he waits patiently for his Master’s call.
I got a note from Salem containing a call to come back and teach for them this summer and I suppose I’ll go. I generally do when they ask me to. If I go I shall begin the 3d of April (you remember that day last year). Have not promised them certain yet. That will allow me to close school before the 4th of July and by that time I hope to be permitted to see you home from the war.
The girls leave today. They are glad & I’m sorry to be left, yet willing to have them go. I was to have gone to Liberty tomorrow & the sugar making was to commence. But ’tis winter again this morning. Snow is falling fast. I hear the cars. Hope they bring a letter for me from Lot. For the present I must close. Hoping to remain yours hopefully until death.
— S. C. Alden
George Sharp ³ was buried Saturday after a short illness with fever.¹ Eliza Jane Willeford (1837-1865) was the daughter of Baley Willeford (1810-1890) and Sarah (“Sally”) Hunt (1808-1880) of Tippecanoe, Henry County, Iowa. The Willeford’s were neighbors to Rev. Samuel Thompson (Neal’s uncle and father-in-law). Sam Willeford, mentioned elsewhere in these letters, was a nephew of Baley Willeford. Jane and her brother John D. Willeford (1808-1880) were both residing with their parents in July 1864 when Neal visited them on their farm (see letter of 4 July 1864). Jane died on 8 March 1865 at the age of 27. ² Neal’s grandmother was Orpha (Rice) Alden (1796-1865). She died 4 March 1865. ³ George Jordan Sharp, Jr. (1836-1865) was the son of George J. Sharp (1809-1875) and Mary C. Edmundson (1808-1838). George enlisted in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry as a corporal and rose to the rank of 2d Lieutenant before mustering out in July 1863. [See Capt. Lot Abraham’s 1863 Diary.] He died on 9 March 1865 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.