January 29th, 1866.—Sister Mag and her family are living with us now, Brother Amos has broken up his plantation in Georgia. He can do nothing there without labor and all the negroes have left that section of country.
We have a pretty good cook and last night Brother Amos brought in a servant he had hired. It seems that some of the colored troops have been disbanded and this one was the drum major (whatever that may be). He is very small, black and wiry and active as a cat. He says he belonged to a maiden lady in Virginia and she trained him for dining room work, so we have put him at the same thing and so far he is acquitting himself very well. Josie and I clean up the house and it is a little easier every day. It is funny to ask a little darky in blue uniform to go to the kitchen for hot biscuits.
January 28th, 1866.—Aunt Sue spent yesterday with us. She is going to have a house-party and says she must have me. I told her I could not be spared but my vanity received a blow, for all at the table insisted that I must go. I love aunt Sue and it is always a pleasure to be with her and then, too, I feel flattered that she should think I am capable of helping her to entertain.
Mother says I need not trouble about clothes, Father has given aunt Sue carte blanche, where I am concerned and Mrs. Brookes lives on Goodwood plantation and she can do any sewing I may need. Isn’t it delightful to be cared for in that manner?
The house-party will consist of two daughters of General Sprague of the U. S. A. It seems he is an old friend of the family; Mrs. Harrison Reed, Mrs. Miller and her invalid son, Charles, who is a lieutenant in this same U. S. A., also Eliza Meginniss and Josie Evans. Mother is so kind as to give Josie two weeks holiday that she may make one of the party. We will have a delightful time, I am sure.
January 9th, 1866.—Aunt Sue’s servants left, too, that is, all but Aunt Susan and Aunt Emily. They are both fine cooks and Aunt Emily’s husband, who has been free all his life, stays at Goodwood and he is “doing the chores,” as Charley says. Uncle Arvah has engaged a cook for her, as Aunt Susan cannot stand the fire long at a time. He says he can find a cook for us in the wilds of Wakulla County where Aunt Sue’s came from. They are white women and sisters, not entirely unencumbered as each has a child four or five years of age, but Mother is glad to get any help she can. A letter from Brother Amos this morning, says he and Sister Mag and the children are coming back to Florida to live. I am so glad, it has been hard to have her so far away, especially since her health has been so bad. Cousin Sallie Bradford sent Father such a fine loaf of bread; it is a kind he is particularly fond of, “salt rising” she calls it. They must have
“Heard her cry in the land of pie.”
for cousin Peggy sent a beautiful sponge cake this afternoon, and Hattie sent a leg of mutton beautifully browned all ready to be eaten. Aren’t they just too good?
January 8th, 1866.—This is Aunt Sue’s birthday and she has invited us to spend it with her. We accepted with pleasure. It is the first time I can remember that she did not spend her birthday with us, but we have no servants. Mrs. James sends milk for Father every night and morning. She, ( fortunate woman) can milk her own cow. I fear I could never learn to do that. You see I am so terribly afraid of Bossy. She looks like a dreadful monster to me. I must stop now and dress for Goodwood.
January 2nd, 1866.—1 have slept well and I feel decidedly better. I am not going to fret because the negroes are gone, nor will I bother my brains as to their whereabouts. I am going to learn to do all these things that need doing and bye and bye I shall do them well. I baked some corn bread for breakfast; batter bread, it was, with eggs and milk. We had plenty of butter to eat with it, then I boiled some eggs and father made the coffee, drip coffee is very little trouble to make when you have boiling water and I put a kettle on the fire the first thing when the fire was made.
This, I find is my stumbling block, I am the poorest hand at making a fire. “Make a note of that and improve,” said I to myself. I cannot milk a cow, neither can anyone else in the house. I think I shall have to hunt me a good milker and get married. Father just lives on milk. Boiled eggs for dinner again and more batter bread. The menu in this house seems to know no change. Supper is yet to come. What shall it be?
January 1st, 1866.—A New Year but a Happy New Year? No, indeed. We got up this morning to find ourselves the only occupants of Pine Hill plantation. It was a clean sweep, all were gone. Nobody to get breakfast; nobody to clean up the house; no maids to look after the wants of “milady;” no butler to serve the meals; no carriage-driver if we should care to ride. Not a servant, not one and we unused to work.
It is night now. Aunt Robinson taught me to make up beds long ago, when she took me to sleep in her room, so we have each of us a neat bed to rest in. Mother said she could mix muffins if somebody would bake them. Father offered to make the coffee, that being his specialty and Mattie said she would eat some when it was done and John Branch, who had spent the night here, stretched himself and said, “I’ll saddle the pony and go to town.” We did not ask him to stay, though I thought he might have brought in some wood as it was low in the wood-boxes.
I am tired—tired tonight, will all the days of the year be like this one? What are we going to do without the negroes? Will we have to do these manifold duties for ourselves? Or can we hire white servants as they do at the North? I wonder where the negroes have gone, and why did they not tell us they were going? Life is a puzzle sometimes.
December 27th, 1865.—Christmas has passed and gone. I shall not try to tell of it; there is too much of pain and sorrow; too much of loss and change to wish to place it on record. No matter how hard we try to be cheerful, the heavy heart is there just the same. We did not invite company for Christmas; of course, our own family were here. Buddy and his wife and children, Brother Junius and Sister Mag and Brother Amos and the dear little ones. They were the only ones who enjoyed Christmas, though all tried to enter into the spirit of the day.
December 19th, 1865.—The party was splendid in spite of the —, there now, I came near writing Yankees, and I promised myself I would never say that again, after General Foster’s kindness. General Foster sent his band to play for us to dance. I had so many of my old friends around, I had not a single vacant space on my card but I saw Sister Mart dancing with Major Conant.
I know I will be lonely enough after Sister Mart has really gone. I am the only one left to Father and Mother. Josie Evans is Mattie’s governess this winter, so I still have company at home. I do not like to entertain young gentlemen by myself, I am afraid they will find it stupid, but Josie is very bright and entertaining. Then, too, she sings delightfully. She was here tonight. She was one of the bridesmaids so she just had to be present, school or no school.
Father is nearly well again and he gave the bride away. We had been afraid he would not be well enough and he looked so handsome in his new dress suit ordered from New York for the occasion. Mother had a new silk, too, and the New York dressmaker fitted her beautifully. She had not made a dress for Mother for more than four years yet she had not forgotten how.
December 18th, 1865.—I thought I would be lonely beyond description when Sister Mart got married. It happened five days ago and I have not had time even to think. Weddings, like funerals, call together kindred and friends.
There was a big wedding; the bride was beautiful; friends flocked from far and near to Pine Hill; the supper was all a supper should be and champagne flowed like water. Again I say, at my wedding there shall be nothing but “Adam’s ale” to drink.
The next night Sallie Ward was married and I was a bridesmaid at her wedding too. It was a church affair, the bridal party, that is the attendants, went to the church in an omnibus. Did you ever hear of such a thing? The bride and the groom went in a carriage but I am sure we had the most fun.
I have been to a big entertainment of some kind every night since Sister Mart was married except the 17th, which was Sunday. Doesn’t the Bible tell us we must rest on Sunday?
Tonight Aunt Sue is giving a large party; “the gem of the season,” we say, for everybody knows the entertainments at Goodwood are not quite equalled anywhere else. There is one thing about this particular party that I dread; uncle Arvah has invited General Foster and his family and the officers in his command. I see Uncle Arvah’s side and he is right, but it will be painful to meet our conquerors. So far I have met only one and I cannot hope they will all be like him. To meet these blue-coats socially ! Will I have the strength of mind to do it? Not much time for you my diary.
It is not difficult to get a dress now, but there are a thousand and one things to get through before tonight. Aunt Sue likes to have help in arranging flowers in the different rooms and the table in the dining room, which she has already dressed, is a dream of beauty.
December 8.—Yesterday was Thanksgiving day. I do not remember that it was ever observed in December before. President Johnson appointed it as a day of national thanksgiving for our many blessings as a people, and Governor Fenton and several governors of other states have issued proclamations in accordance with the President’s recommendation. The weather was very unpleasant, but we attended the union thanksgiving service held in our church. The choir sang America for the opening piece. Dr. Daggett read Miriam’s song of praise: “The Lord hath triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Then he offered one of his most eloquent and fervent prayers, in which the returned soldiers, many of whom are in broken health or maimed for life, in consequence of their devotion and loyalty to their country, were tenderly remembered. His text was from the 126th Psalm, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” It was one of his best sermons. He mentioned three things in particular which the Lord has done for us, whereof we are glad: First, that the war has closed; second, that the Union is preserved; third, for the abolition of slavery. After the sermon, a collection was taken for the poor, and Dr. A. D. Eddy, who was present, offered prayer. The choir sang an anthem which they had especially prepared for the occasion, and then all joined in the doxology. Uncle Thomas Beals’ family of four united with our three at Thanksgiving dinner. Uncle sent to New York for the oysters, and a famous big turkey, with all the usual accompaniments, made us a fine repast. Anna and Ritie Tyler are reading together Irving’s Life of Washington, two afternoons each week. I wonder how long they will keep it up.
This the last post that will be made from this diary as there are no further entries in Miss Richard’s diary related to the war.