[At Christmas, 1924, Harold C. Vaughan wrote to his maternal aunt, Mary Jane Pool Scott Wood of Elizabeth City, asking her to relate her memories of the Civil War. Born in 1847, 'Aunt Mamie' was 14 in 1861. Mrs. Wood responded with this letter. Notes follow the transcription.]
Jan 30th, 1925
Your letter of the 24th is before me but I fear you will be disappointed by the little information I can give you.
You of course knew that everybody in this place fled in terror the day after Roanoke Island was taken by the enemy and a few gunboats came up and bombarded the town doing little damage as the shells went beyond the houses and burst in the open fields.
After a few months the enemy, finding nothing nothing in the almost deserted little town worth wasting their ammunition on, stopped coming, and we moved back home, where we might have stayed had it not been for the actions of the blockade runners or bushwhackers.
Next move was to South Mills where we stayed for some time and did not come home until the troops camped all around us had left. When we did, most of the homes were unoccupied, so your father selected the old home opposite the Martins and moved in there.
Every day or so, troops would come pass thro' the town, sometimes camp for a night, sometimes pass right on. Finally a detachment of troops, New York men and well-behaved gentlemen -- or well-disciplined troops I can't tell which -- were quartered in the Martin home just in front of us and a Massachusetts detachment in the old Grandy home. Every woman in the town had to go there for a pass if she wished to leave the town and take the oath of neutrality -- your mother and I took it there.
Most likely your father took the oath of allegiance there or probibly he was compelled to do so one night when he was arrested and taken on board a gunboat anchored in the harbor but released next day.
Mr. Bradford might to have told you that his brother-in-law, a paroled Capt. in the Confederate Army did so as well as every man within the lines that they could reach. Mr. Bartlet Fearing, he also became manager or head clerk in the first Yankee store opened here after the war. I never heard of Capt. Kent but after the companies I speak of were withdrawn and the coast was clear for travel in the Chowan River I was sent to school in Raleigh and saw life on the other side. I always thought Kent your brother was named for his uncle William and and Kent a fancy name, and he was not born until the year '77, twelve years after the war ended and the Yankees, notably Mr. Robinson & Broderick being received in society.
Am very sure your father's sympathies were with the South after his state seceded tho like many other fine men of the state he may have been a Union man before that time. Never did he ask those officers to his home or associate with them in a friendly way tho in some way Capt. Kent must have befriended him or his family. I was too young to know the Cluffs and as my sisters did not like them was never told anything about them. I only know that your mother never used her middle name and did not like the idea of having been named for one of them.
But I have sweet memories yet of dear old Grandfather Musgrave tho he was very old and I very young when he died. He was always so good to his little orphaned grandchildren but of course at that age I could not judge his traits or culture of mind, only recollect him when we were tired of play and night was coming on, he would take George, his namesake, on one knee and me on another and tell us weird tales and sing funny or pathetic songs of ould Ireland, and that he was always our refuge in times of trouble.
Am sure you are right about Mrs Wiley's relationship to your family, your grandmother's much-loved cousin, for she talked a great deal about her cousin Claudia Wiley.
As you say it was often a matter of life and death with the people living within the Yankee lines. They had no choice but were compelled to take the oath tho' we consoled ourselves by confiding to our friends that we did it with an oriental reservation. Your father had a family to support, he could engage in no kind of business without their permission and there was nothing for him across the lines.
Am sorry I know so little to write you Hal but am sure what I have written is correct. Our lives have improved greatly since the war, last Saturday the town gave $370,000 for the privately owned utilities, water, sewerage and lights and will spend much more on extension and improvements.
We will never become a city, but are a big town.
If at any time I can be of use to you don't fail to write me, and hope you come out when you visit this way again.
I greatly appreciated the happy Christmas messages sent at the time.
'South Mills' The community in neighboring Camden County in which the writer's father, James Chamberlain Scott, had grown up.
'your father' Francis William Sharpe Vaughan, an attorney
'your mother' Annie Mae Cluff Scott Vaughan, the writer's sister
'Martin home' 'The Old Martin Place' was the home of Col. William F. Martin and family. The Vaughan and Martin families were close friends. Col. Martin's wife, Elizabeth McMorrine, was tenuously related to the Vaughans.
'Kent your brother' William Kent Vaughan was the eighth of the nine children of Frank Vaughan and Annie Mae Cluff Scott, the writer's sister. Harold was the sixth child.
'dear old Grandfather Musgrave' was a native of Trillick, a village in County Tyrone, in present-day Northern Ireland. His daughter, Margaret Cluff Musgrave, was the mother of Annie Mae and Mary Jane Scott.
The writer indirectly refers to Matthew Cluff, whose emigration from County Tyrone preceded that of his Musgrave cousins. Cluff established himself as a leading businessman in early Elizabeth City, but upon his death in 1845 left the Musgraves only the home they lived in. The rest of his fortune went to his clerk, who became a rich man.
'George his namesake' George John Musgrave Scott, born in 1849, was the girls' youngest sibling. According to census records, he grew up in the home of Frank and Annie Vaughan. He became a medical doctor.
'her cousin Claudia Wiley' Claudia Cattelle Mulrein Hamilton Gregory, born in 1807, was the daughter of Mary Mathews, a daughter of General Thomas Mathews and Molly Miller. Gen. Mathews, for whom Mathews County, Virginia was named, was a native of St. Kitts. He was appointed Brigadier General of the Virginia Militia in 1793. Frank Vaughan was a son of Claudia Hamilton Ellegood, whose mother was Sarah Gasey Mathews, Mary Mathews' sister.
[Harold C. Vaughan received news of Aunt Mamie's death by telegram March 31, 1926. She had died the night before.]