Letter home from the war

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, July 28, 2004

By Staff
I have received a whole book of letters written home by the McGowin boys during their Civil War days. I want to share a couple with you, but first, let me finish what I have on the family of Abraham Black.
Abraham was the son of William Black and Nicey Minchew. He was born 29 March 1831 either in Pike or Barbour County in Alabama. He is buried in a small cemetery known as the Black Cemetery located on a dirt road off Hwy. 55 (Travis Road) south of Brewton. He was a part of the Co. E. 15th Calvary Unit in the Civil War. He joined at Pollard in 1862 and was home on leave when his company was captured at Pine Barren.
He married Clarissa Odom, daughter of Emory and Charlotte Odom, who was born 25 May 1834 and died 13 March 1907. She, too, is buried at Black Cemetery. They were the parents of at least eight children, Clarissa Black (14 Sept. 1860) who married George Barnes, Abraham Black (1866-1912) who married Nanny Bowers, Elizabeth Black (1869) who married Jim Barneycastle, George Black (1871) who married Dell Peavy, John I. Black (1876) who married Nannie Floyd, Kenneth Black, Louisa Black who married Will Parker and Narcissus Charlotte Black (14 September 1860-2 Dec. 1930) who married Joseph Jernigan. Their children were Clare Eunice Jernigan (30 Oct. 1902-14 Feb. 1986) who married John Patrick Gillis, John Carey Jernigan (May 1881) who married Ida Frances Koon, Rosa Lee Jernigan (July 1882-21 Oct. 1973) who married Charles L. Kennedy, Josephine E. Jernigan (26 Nov. 1887-4 Nov. 1972) who married Edmon T. Montel, Arthur Calvin Jernigan (9 Jan. 1890) who married Ruby Palk Walling and Oliver Abraham Jernigan (July 1892) who married first, Naomi and second, Pauline Olsen.
It is the Jernigan family that I have the most information on as it pertains to the Black family. If you have any additional information, let me know.
Now back to the letters the McGowin boys sent home during the Civil War. These were given to me by a McGowin descendant, Carolyn Jordan. Some of them are rather cheery and some of them are heart breaking. I picked one that was written home by Alex McGowin Feb. 8, 1864 from Tunnel Hill, Ga. (I have a special interest in that place as my great-grandfather died and was buried there the first of January of that year).
Dear people
As we cannot tell what a day may bring forth I write you now while we have a chance. I presume you will have heard of Brother Lewis' death before you get this as I wrote you a few days ago.
I bound his clothing up in a small bundle, covered with a white cotten bag and branded: "Sam McGowin, Evergreen, Ala." and sent them by David W. Blacksher today to Dalton, to be expressed to you at Evergreen. I valued the things at $75 and paid $3 for expressage and received a receipt which I inclose in this letter, thinking it best.
You may inquire at the express office for the things and if they have not arrived you can have the receipt in the hands of some friend who can take them out of this office and keep them for you.
I gave his two pairs of new blue socks to the nurse at the hospital. The ribbed pair I put on his feet. The suspenders I gave to John as he said he would wear them out. His hat I have kept, intending to wear it myself, though too small for me, yet it is a better one than I can get and I need one. His pocket and its contents, which is his comb, and money etc., I have never examined the pocket book to know what or how much money is in it. I shall send it and also his knife the first safe opportunity.
I can say no more now, more than I am about, but not well. The painful duty of announcing to you the death of four of my brothers has devolved upon me first and last, but I am alone now with God what shall I do now, and where shall I find a comfort. As ever most affectionally, Your son and brother, Alex McGowin
P.S. I sent this letter in care of Mr. Blacksher thinking you would get it quicker he attends the office regularly.