1868-1893, 1991, edited by Joseph S Johnston, 1991
I purchased this book years ago to learn more about the dates of births, marriages, and deaths related to the King and Queen Couny SHACKFORDs. Today I have a much greater appreciation for this book due to a renewed focus on SHACKFORD family history vs dates and am very thankful that Joseph S Johnson transcribed and preserved this diary.
Joseph Wesley Shackford, the author of the diary was born Jul 21, 1848 and grew up in King & Queen County, Virginia, son of Rev John William Shackford and Martha Cole McLellan. His father, John William Shackford had moved from New Hampshire to Virginia at the age of 17 leaving eight siblings in the New Hampshire and Boston area. The civil war began when Joseph was 13. Then in the fall of 1862 when he was 14, he lost four sibllings, Lela, Harvey Temple, Mary, and Nannie Lloyd to diptheria in about 11 days. (Source is the diary as I haven't found the death certificates). This left him with two brothers, Walter Emory and William H. In July 1863, his school closed due to the war and he worked on the family farm. In April 15, 1864, his brother Walter Emory enlisted in the Virginia 5th Calvary Regiment and was killed a year later in April 1865 leaving him with one brother William. Joseph returned to school in February 1867 living with "Cousin Watson Walker" (unsure if this is a relation of his grandmother Nancy Walker) completing his schooling in July 1868.
When Joseph finished his schooling in 1868 at age 19 he returned home to discover that his parents had made arrangements for him to visit his relatives in New Hampshire for the summer. His last trip to New Hampshire, was 15 years earlier with his parents before the war that separated the North and South.
Joseph's diary starts by describing his trip north from King William County to Richmond aboard a steamer to Norfolk. On Jul 21, 1868, his 20th birthday, he boards another steamer for a three day trip to Boston experiencing significant seasickness on the trip. He then describes his travels visiting relatives in Roxbury, Chelsea, Boston, Dover, Barrington, Conway, Charlestown, Cambridge before starting home on Sept 3, 1868 aboard a Steamer back to Norfolk, along the James River to Richmond and back home on Sept 9th.
This trip only covers the first 20 pages of the diary but it is written so elegantly that you can feel Joseph's conflict about visiting family that were strangers to him, his concerns about being in the North only three
years after the civil war. He describes how one of his relatives "will talk about the late national struggle, and show but little, or no liberality of feeling toward the Southern people." Also when he visits another family he states "I had a genuine welcome, after it was perceived that I had no murderous intent, if I did come from the "Land of Dixie"". During his return to the south he encounters a friend of his father who lives in Norfolk but sympathizes wtih the North and therefore is very unpopular. He then writes "Nothing but the stirring times through which we have passed, or times like them, can show so plainly the depth and power of National feeling...Here a brother becomes a brother's deadliest foe"
I'm amazed by the writing skills of this 20 year old who describes both facts and emotions equally well. The jacket of this book contains photocopies of the original diary making the reader realize that this diary is compromised of his free flowing ideas without the benefit of word processors or other editing tools.
This book helps me realize the importance of preserving diaries and historical letters. I'd love to find any other letters sent between SHACKFORD family members especially during the war or any letters setting up this trip for Joseph! Also it would be interesting to find out which other SHACKFORDS fought on opposite sides during the Civil War.
More about Joseph Wesley Shackford's life and those relatives he visited in the North in future blogs.