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Will's, Letters & Legends

On Jan. 20th, 1838 William Archibald Leland married Margaret Warren Ish of Leesburg, Louden Co., Va., daughter of Peter Ish and Margaret McCune. She came to Tuscaloosa as a young girl to visit her relatives, Dr. John Drish and family, and was married at the age of 17. The Ishes or McCunes may have been Catholics as she and some of the younger children joined the Roman Catholic Church. In later years she joined the Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn. where she spent her last years with her daughter, Mrs. Mary Leland Hume. Here are two letters she wrote to her husband's niece, Eliza Wood Stevens: (Note: The first letter was written shortly after the Civil War, the Leland Family indeed was divided between North & South)


Tuscaloosa, Feb. the 23, 1865

Miss Eliza W. Stevens

My Dear Niece

Your pleasant missive from the sootty City of Pennsylvania (Note: "Sootty City" she refers to Pittsburgh. Eliza Stevens was in college in that vicinity, probably at Beaver College, Beaver, Pa., a Methodist institution opened in 1853.) has at last found its resting place in our sunny home in Alabama.

Most heartily and with true delight do I welcome you as My Dear Niece; and be assured that the contents of yr letter in which you established your right to call me your dear Aunt is highly appreciated not only by myself but each member of our household has been gladdened and brightened by yr sentiments and the messages of love contained in your precious letter.

Henceforward I sincerely hope that many such communications may find their way to our home, through the medium of your pleasant pen - Very anxiously indeed have we looked for tidings from you all and as months rolled bye and still no answers came to the several letters which we wrote - we almost despaired of hearing again. Thrice welcome then - is your letter and I feel assured that this one will not be the only one when I tell you that it not only gladdened all hearts generally - but made yr Uncle William feel ten years younger to know that his loved brothers and sisters and their families were all doing so well. It has been said that the little things make up the sum of human happiness, so it is - no words can tell you how much brotherly feeling warm and true (your little pen with the few drops of ink on yr small sheet of paper) have called up - you should be very happy and proud my dear Niece that you have caused so much happiness - Could you have seen your Uncle William as yr letter was read to him, I am sure you would feel most glad that you had written - Tears unbidden and uninvited, those which will flow and cannot be controlled - rolled down his wrinkled cheeks as thoughts of that loved home of his childhood. With a Father & Mother and many a sister and brother now called up to memory dear by allusions in your letter. It stirred his heart to its very depths with sweet thoughts of the past and present and future positions of the old families, and our young ones, yr letter makes us all wish for a more intimate knowledge of each other by the blessing of letters if we are debarred the dear and long wished for privileges of personal acquaintance - our part of the land has sadly changed by the force and effects of the four years of war. But we have great recuperative powers and are rapidly recovering, And we believed that the mighty power of superior mind, will yet prevail and be the ruling element of power in the whole land, we are not conquered yet, we sleep - but we are not dead, but we all wish for peace, but it seems that the Radical party do not intend for us to have our rights in the union, but I believe that we of the South have friends enough in the North to keep that party down. I hope so for the good of all -

I wish to know all about Sister Mary and her family - and if you have her direction please be so kind as to send it to me - when you write again give me yr dear mother's direction, also Baldwin's and Charles and all the families - those to whom I cannot write I will get my children to correspond - Since I wrote to Baldwin my Son Willie has gone to Tennessee - he is merchandising with his Brother in law and is very much pleased John is here - studying medicine with his Pa and expects to go on to Philadelphia next fall to attend medical lectures, that is, if his Pa can collect his money. Mary is also with us at present and I too am a grandmother, as Mary has a fine boy nearly two years old. My fourth child is twelve years old. Her name is Maggie Dungleson, next is Morgan Clements of nine years, then Corrine Banks who is a very interesting and bright child of seven yrs, and last comes Harry Lee a blue eyed noble looking boy of three years - these are my jewels they and my husband are my all as I have no sisters and no brothers.

You said in your letter that Sister Judith sent "not cold and formal words, but heartfelt and sympathizing ones to greet me" - and I say that no language not the warmth of the Italian nor the beauty and rarity of the French could half express the warm and devoted feelings of my own heart for generally it goes forth to meet each member and connection of the family, with an affection equal only to the intense depth of loving which for long years I have felt for one of them - just think I have been married 29 years the 20th of the past January, it seems but yesterday. I look older and use specks and am somewhat gray but feel just as young as ever.

Now my dear Niece in closing my letter - let me insist on a prompt answer and a continuation of correspondence, I wish to hear all about each member of your family that is I mean all the connections. I feel interested in all, and especially in you who have so thoughtfully and kindly written to me tell me more of your Sister - kiss her for me and your Cousin Mary. It would greatly delight me to receive yours and Jinnie's (Virginia Stevens) photographs will you not gratify me by sending them -

John did correspond with Sister Mary and some of her children but though Mary and himself have both written since the surrender we have heard nothing from them, John and all of us remember with affection the visits that your Father and Baldwin paid him in prison at Camp Chase and hope someday to return it - With earnest wishes that we may hear from you very soon and love for all yr Fathers and Uncles families and Jinnie and yourself I close my letter praying that our heavenly Father may watch over and bless us all, I am your

affectionate Aunt

Margaret W. Leland

N B excuse all mistakes

Note: This second letter is 4 years later.


Tuscaloosa, Alb. Feb. 9, 1869

To Miss Eliza Stevens

My Dear Niece

I wrote you last summer and have never received one line from any of you since until your letter to Willie. I also sent Sister Judith and Baldwin Mary's Photograph. & that was the last I heard, but I directed to Zeno, Ohio & you have moved to Zanesville. I lived there myself one year, when a child dont like the place I received a nice letter from Sister Mary Cox while your Uncle William was in Ten. her health is not good but they seem to be doing pretty well they have moved into the town near called Ashmore. is Lizzie Gallup's husband dead, or do you know. I inferred from sister Mary's letter that he was. how is Brother Baldwin & his children - I think he or his children some of them might write to me, what is Augustin doing. & his daughter Mary I believe is her name. I mean the one who did not get along well with her stepmother. (Note: She means Frances, J.A.C. Leland's oldest daughter who married John Baker) I would like to see her. write me all about them & about my relatives in Ohio and Illinois I like to hear of you all, and I would like to see some of you, if not all, any of you that can come will always find a cordial welcome in my house if I am living. if nothing happens and we all live next fall I expect your Cousin Mary and family to come home on a visit. cant you go to Mary and come with them, write to her about it and fix it all up, so I shall look for you and Jinnie both, I am not fixed up like I was before the war to entertain my friends, but my heart is just the same, the Yanks could not touch that, but never mind. you come along and maby I can marry you to some nice fellow and keep you southm & we will have a railroad by that time, I expect john at that time if he lives. you know I am a strong Catholic & on tomorow Lent commences when we have to fast and pray forty days except sundays, your Uncle & myself and four little children all belong to the roman Catholic church write to me soon & I will write more. God help you and yours is my prayer

M. Leland

Eliza excuse this. you are in my debt to the amount of two letters. burn my letters up