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Will's, Letters & Legends

William A. Leland (Jr.) ran away from home and joined a Confederate Company when he was 15 years old, After the war he lived on the plantation and was quite a letter writer himself. The following is a letter from him to his cousin Ellen Cox:

Battle Flag of 41st Ala. Inf.

Tuscaloosa, June 10th, 1869

Miss Ellen Cox

Dear Cousin-

I recieved your Mother's much appreciated letter some time since and she told me that you would expect the next one from me I will not disappoint you. I feel ashamed that I have not replied sooner, however it would occupy much time and space to write my excuses, therefore I shall forbear, and trust cousin, to you to render up an excuse for me to my dear Aunts.

Cousin Ellen, as this is my first attempt, if I fail to interest you, I hope you will make due allowance for my non interesting epistle, and not condemn your Cousin Willie's powers of entertaining until you know him better. I hear from Lide Stevens occasionally and through her of my Father's relations in Ohio; Now will not Cousin Ellen write to me? and be the means of keeping memory's chain bright, and unbroken between brother and sister who have been so long separated. I know that your Mother is the favorite with Pa of All - for he speaks of her more frequently and has often told me when we were alone what a noble women his sister Mary was. I hope you will keep me posted in the future and our correspondence will prove a mutual pleasure as well as improving to both.

Cousin we "so called Rebels" have not the same elasticitty of heart as in former days, yet our brave people bear up nobly under the yoke, and still entertain the hope if being able some day to march bodly from under it, God knows when that happy day will come. We were once the happiest people in the world, but four long years of terrible war has wrought a sad change in our sunny south, there is many a "vacant chair" in southern homes that constantly remind the Father of his last blessing upon an only son, the Mother of her last farewell, they are gone, angels have "wafted their names above", and we that are left will preserve their deed and the glorious cause in which they fell ever fresh in our memory. Cousin we have a hard time of it down here. Mr. Yankie thinks that we are not able to protect ourselves, and this thinking keeps us well supplied with blue coats, we have a garrison here now, arrived by last boat and I wish they were anywhere else, for I hate them with all the powers that be, forgive me cousin, for being so bitter but I have sufficient cause for all my hatred. Perhaps when I write again the Yankies will be gone, I will be in a better humor and can write you a more interesting letter. Cousin you may have some curiosity to know what kind of a youth your Cousin Willie is. I have not the time at present to give you a secription but if you have any desire to know him ask your mother to describe her brother William to you when she last saw him and you will have a fair sample of your cousin W.A.L. Jr. When you write me tell me all about your mother's family particularly yourself and don't show me how much you appreciate my letter, by waiting a long time to answer.

Love and a kiss to all,

Your Cousin


P.S. Excuse my writing with a pencil, but I am at the plantation and have no pen suitable to

write with.

Excerpt from a letter from William A. Leland (Jr.) to his Cousin Ellen Cox:

"Our little town has been unusually gay this summer, from one to three entertainments every week. I attended two large dancing parties last
week, had a delightful time, courted two or three sweet girls, am engaged
to not more than six, or less than one. I do love the fair creatures
little cousin, and can't help telling them so but don't want to marry any
woman in the world. I have too nice a time keeping "Bachelor's Hall".
Now I have no one to please but myself. I have a good old negro woman
who does my cooking, washing and takes care of my cabin home,
everything is neat and clean, and in order. I wish you could walk into
my sanctum some bright morning, to see what a nice housekeeper your
cousin Willie is. Now I have written you a longer letter than I usually
write to anyone, so will close - Give my love and a kiss to Aunt Mary
and cousins. Write soon - and accept both love and a kiss from your Cousin


In spite of his early resolutions he married Ella McLester and had eight children.