Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Cowles family papers

Abstract

The Cowles family papers (dated 1862-1886, 1910-1912, 1928, 1949, undated; 0.35 cubic feet; 17 folder, 3 photographs) comprises letters, papers, and photographs that document the Cowles family of Geneva, Ohio during the Civil War.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Cowles family papers
Extent
0.35 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Letters.
Correspondence.
Military life.
Perryville, Battle of, Perryville, Ky., 1862
Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
Sherman's March to the Sea.
Family.
Farm life
Death
Military hospitals.
Military orders
Typhoid fever.
Arrangement
Collection is arranged by subject. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0903: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Cowles family papers, 1862-1886, 1910-1912, 1928, 1949, undated, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
The Cowles family of Geneva, Ohio consisted of Alexander H. Cowles (1807-1891), his wife Laura Ward (1811-1892), and their seven children: Orinda E. (1834-1863), Nicias B. (1836-1910), Edwin R. (1838-1928), Zeri (1840-1863), Marilla E. (b. 1842), Louise L. (1845-1927), and Caroline E. (1847-1862). From information in the letters, it is possible that Marilla was deceased before the outbreak of war. Orinda was married and left behind a husband and two young daughters.
Nicias worked as a teacher, mill proprietor, and deacon over the course of his life. In 1863, he married Roba E. Green (1838-1890) and together they had two daughters, Laura Lulu (1866-1937) and May K. (b. 1870). He and his family remained in Ashtabula County, Ohio.
Edwin and Zeri both joined the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War, joining the 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in July 1862. Both participated in the Battle of Perryville in October 1862, shortly after this Edwin was diagnosed with typhoid and sent to a hospital while Zeri continued into Tennessee with their regiment in the Army of the Cumberland. Zeri spent his time in Tennessee chasing General Morgan and aided in the reinforcement of Murfreesboro after the Battle of Stones River. While in Tennessee, Zeri contracted what is identified as chronic diarrhea in his family's letters (more than likely a type of dysentery or gastroenteritis), and passed away in June 1863. Edwin recovered from typhoid at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky in 1862, and by May 1863, was on detached service as a clerk at his regiment's headquarters at Camp Dennison. April 1864, Edwin rejoined his regiment at Ringgold, Georgia where he partook in the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman's March to the Sea, the Campaign of the Carolinas, and Johnston's surrender at Bennett Place in April 1865. Between returning to his regiment and the end of the war, Edwin was hit twice by minni ball bullets, which wounded him on his temple and back. He then marched to Washington, D.C. for the Grand Review of the Armies in May and then was subsequently mustered out of service in June 1865.
Following the completion of his military service, Edwin went into the trade business as a grocer in his home of Geneva, Ohio. In 1868, he married Pluma L. Jaquays (1839-1921) and together they had two daughters, Anna Elizabeth (b. 1871) and Alice Winifred (1872-1960). In 1892, he was put in charge of the American and National Express Companies office near his home. In 1910, Edwin and his wife moved from Ohio to California to live with their daughter's family.
Louise goes on to marry Samuel Castle (1835-1906) in 1869, and together they have two sons, Charles (b. 1870) and Arthur (b. 1877).
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Cowles family papers (dated 1862-1886, 1910-1912, 1928, 1949, undated; 0.35 cubic feet; 17 folder, 3 photographs) comprises letters, papers, and photographs that document the Cowles family of Geneva, Ohio during the Civil War. The letters are primarily from Edwin and Zeri Cowles, writing to their family while serving in the Union Army. Zeri writes about participating in the Battle of Perryville, chasing General Morgan across Kentucky and Tennessee, encountering friends from home, helping to reinforce Union-held Murfreesboro, going on scouting missions to deal with rebels, his personal health and its decline until his death in mid-1863. Edwin writes to his family, describing being involved in skirmishes and the Battle of Perryville, contracting typhoid fever, recovering at military hospitals in Louisville and Cincinnati, volunteering to help control a mob in Cincinnati, becoming a clerk at Camp Dennison, rejoining his regiment at Ringgold, experiencing trench warfare during the Atlanta Campaign, and following General Sherman through the sacking of Atlanta, the March to the Sea, and the Campaign of the Carolinas until the surrender of Confederate General Johnston. In many of his letters he also inquires about the health of his remaining family members, his sadness at having lost three siblings, suggestions to his older brother on not getting drafted, how he can help get his brother Zeri's personal effects back to his parents, and assistance in making plans for the future upon learning he will be coming home soon.
Letters to Edwin and Zeri come from their parents, siblings, and friends. In the letters, they discuss life at home, attending social events, how the family farm is faring, visits from family and friends, personal health, the deaths of two of Edwin and Zeri's sisters, the marriage of their older brother, local gossip, rumors heard about the war, questions about Zeri's death, and the family's hopes to see them again soon.
Papers in the collection include Edwin's military service record, his discharge information, biographical sketches of Edwin and his wife, 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiment reunion information, and newspaper clippings of obituaries of Edwin and relatives. The photographs depict Edwin's daughter, his in-laws, and the regimental flag for the 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
The Cowles family papers collection is part of the Wade Hall Collection of American Letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Zeri Cowles to Louise Cowles, 1862-1863

  • Box WH-110, folder 3
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Zeri Cowles to Nicias B. Cowles, 1862-1863

  • Box WH-110, folder 4
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Zeri Cowles to family, 1862-1863

  • Box WH-110, folder 5
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Edwin R. Cowles to Louise Cowles, 1862-1865

  • Box WH-110, folder 6
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Edwin R. Cowles to Nicias B. Cowles, 1862-1864

  • Box WH-110, folder 7
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Edwin R. Cowles to family, 1862-1865

  • Box WH-110, folder 8
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Louise Cowles to Edwin R. Cowles, 1863-1864

  • Box WH-110, folder 9
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Mother to Edwin R. Cowles, 1863

  • Box WH-110, folder 10
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Nicias B. Cowles to Edwin R. Cowles, 1863-1864

  • Box WH-110, folder 11
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Letters from Edwin R. Cowles, 1863-1874

  • Box WH-110, folder 12
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Letters to Edwin R. Cowles, 1863-1864, 1898

  • Box WH-110, folder 13
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Letters to Caroline Cowles, 1862

  • Box WH-110, folder 14
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Cowles family letters, 1862-1865, 1949

  • Box WH-110, folder 15
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Edwin R. Cowles biographies, 1928, undated

  • Box WH-110, folder 16
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Edwin R. Cowles military service records, 1864, 1886, undated

  • Box WH-110, folder 17
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Cowles family papers, 1889, 1925, undated

  • Box WH-110, folder 18
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Newspaper clippings, 1910-1912, 1928, undated

  • Box WH-110, folder 19
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Photographs, 1874, undated

  • Box WH-95, item 1-2
  • Box WH-100, item 3
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UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is open by appointment only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Materials must be requested at least 5 days before your appointment.

Researchers must have an SCRC Researcher Account to request materials. View account set-up and use instructions here.

Questions? Contact SCRC via our Contact Form.

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You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.

If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.