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Lydia Elizabeth Brooks Richards
1833 - 1907

The Civil War Diary of

Lydia Brooks Richards


Upton, Maine 

Open Lydia's Diary
In January 1864, Stephen N. Richards left his backcountry farm in the western Maine hills and went to war.  He left behind his 30-year old wife Lydia and their three children, Wallace, 11, Lizzie, 9, and David, 5.  Lydia kept a diary during the twenty months of Stephen's absence.  In August, 1998, it was sold at public auction.   Lydia's diary is presented here in its pure, unedited form.

Lydia Elizabeth Brooks Richards was born 23 December, 1833, the daughter of David C. Brooks and Charlotte Parsons.  She was the second of ten children.  Her family lived in Upton and her two brothers, David and Charles, appear to have provided her with continual support.  Two other brothers, Joseph and Henry, joined the 30th Maine Volunteers with Stephen.

The diary provides a vivid picture of the life of a woman left behind when her man goes to war.  Lydia was strong and capable most of the time, vulnerable and weak some of the time.  But her decision to invest in the farm the money that Stephen sent home proved fortuitous.  The farm grew and thrived.  Crops were successfully planted and harvested, animals were bought and sold.  She maintained her weaving and sewing trade and even let her home be used for a boarding school.  She records the joy she has for the good things in life and the deep loneliness she feels for her missing mate.

There are many published versions of diaries kept by soldiers at war.  Fewer of the women who support them from home.  What makes this diary special is the harshness of the world that Lydia lived in and the remarkable success she had in making it thrive.                         [Back]

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The diary was transcribed by me, a descendant of David Richards, in 1999.  Please feel free to link to this site or to make minor extractions for personal use.  Please notify me in advance if you wish to use any of this material for publication, either in print or electronically.

The transcription of this document is copyrighted by Mark S. Richards, Maynard, MA, 1999. All rights reserved.

Last updated on Friday, 06-Jun-2003 23:39:48 MDT