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Calhoun Co. Gen. Soc.
Vital & Other Records


Ayling and Archer Family Letters

The following Civil War-era letters were transcribed by David Waid, and are from the Ayling and Archer families of the  Homer area. 

Here is the message from David describing their history:  

Here are some letters that I transcribed from relatives who lived in the Homer area. I have transcribed them as they appear spelling, usually with no capitals, and no punctuation. They are from members of Ezra Archer's family - Edwin and Leah (Archer) Ayling and E. F. and Emily (Archer) Champion. One letter is to James Archer who went for a time to California. One from E. F. Champion to Edwin Ayling and James Jucket who were drafted for the Civil War. One from Edwin Ayling to his wife from Nashville just before his death. There is another that is too faint to transcribe, so I will get a new copy and include it later. There is also a biographical sketch of Ezra Archer in one of the histories that I plan to transcribe.

I was born in Hillsdale and raised in Homer, graduating in 1967. Both my mother's ancestors and my father's ancestors have been in the Homer or Tekonsha area since the 1850's.

Many thanks to David for sharing these gems!

Nov 6, 1864

Dear brother  

            I commence this letter with the intention of giving you the particulars of what we are doing at present all the folks do here is hurrah for little me how is it there we are having meetings all over Ech______ & Edd goes to most all of them now I will tell you this news Ech_______ has got another heir itís a little girl and its name is likely lovisia mary & nat was out last week looking for a place but they did not get enny they are well at present but I donít know how long they will be Cousin Edd has lost their little boy and lilly has been very sick & henry wife & jo but they are getting better we are all well at present and I hope these few lines will find you injoying the same blessing but I have had a very bad finger so that I could not do any thing for nine weeks it run in ten different places but the neighbours was very good for they turned out and helped me sew one day and I answerd your letter but I have received no answer in return I want you to write and tell us what you are doing wether you are to work by the mounth or how it is that you do your own washing you wrote that you were a picking peaches the last we herd from you how do you like California who are you going to vote for write & tell us the republicans has got so hard up that they lead a jackass to marshall it rains here to day and we have had about four inches of snow our potatoes are not quite all dug nor our corn all husked yet we are going to make three barrels of cider after election is over Alen Demmusig is married & hiram Smith has married Lusind waltheart corn was hurt here by dry weather and cut some by the hail we are having roasts pig here all the time father was up yesterday with old dick he looks well his keeping is seventy dollars to the tavern It is getting late & I must chose to give Ed a chance so no more at present from your sister lee to her Dear Jim

Brother James

            I suppose you will be mad if I donít write a little to you Leah has wrote about all the news I suppose you have heard that Hank had rather hard luck they lost all their team and baggage they are now Nebraska Old Newman has got Back he says that Idaho donít amount to anything you have done Better in going their Leah answerd your first letter but it seems that you did not get it Dad is a Buchering But I am afraid that he aint a doing very well that Jim McGraw is a dam Skunk I think wee was very sorry to hear that Paul was so hard up I would write to him if I new whair to send it tell him that he is not forgotten I thought by the way you wrote to John that you a little Home sick but keep your head up it is to late to be Home sick now dad has not kept things very snug this summer everything is a going to Hell over to the Old Place all the Wheat on Churchills was Destroid by Sheap and he never got a cent for it it wasnít Harvested So good Buy I will write more next time from your Brother Ed Ayling

Em has got a little one and Molly is Blood for another one  

(this letter is to James Archer, son of Ezra Archer; Leah Ayling was his sister; the Em mentioned at the end is likely Emily Archer Champion, not sure who Molly is)

There is another letter from Ed Ayling to his wife Leah that fits here.  My copy is too faint to make out.  I will need to get a new copy.

Chattanooga , March, 1865

Dear Wife

            I now find time to Write a few lines I am not very well I have had a feavor and HeadAche every since I have Been here wee got here last Sunday morning wee was 20 hours a coming 152 miles they dare not runn very fast for fear of the Rebs they pitch on every Train they can wee had one whole Regament guard us here there was 5 Trains of cars that came the Same time that wee did they dare not get out of Sight of one another wee have Been Building a little house to live in wee have not got it quite done yet for one man had to do the most of it for the most of it for West Walden and me have not Been able to do much Wset has been pretty Sick and Jim wasnt worth a cuss he wont do any thing if he can get rit of it he is as Tough as a Bear everyone that laid in that Jail at nashville has Been sick but him wee have good liveing here Mumbrue the one that maried Allice Roads sister is our Cook there is a Big army here I dont know how many there is tents as far as I can see all around the docktor told me I had not Better Drill this Afternoon he gave me Some powders to take I cough all the time Gene Snyder came to see us last monday he is fat as a hog he has gone to Nashville Some think that wee Shall go there our Picket was fired on yesterday by 8 men and 12 Woman the Woman wass dresed in men's Clothes they were taken Prisoners I think I Shall be all right in a day or two our captain has Been under Arrest the last 2 weeks for getting drunk Jim dont make much headway a Drilling he is a perfect num Skull wee cant get our papers to Draw our Bounty there has so many new men come into the Rigament that they are out of Blanks to make them out but they tell us that wee shall get them in a few days they told me that I should get them before I left jackson but they lied I would Write to the rest of the folks but my head aches So I cant have you got my Town Bounty let me know all the news Direct to Edwin Ayling Company I 9 Michigan Infantry Chattanooga Tenn


(This letter must have been sent just prior to his death)

Homer April the 2 1865

Dear friends it is with pleasure that I now take my pen in hand to write a few lines to let you know that we are all in the land of the living hoping this will find you the same I was taken sick three weeks ago and I cant be up all day yet I could not get to the Barn for two weeks Douglas was taken sick the next day after I was and is just able to walk around the house Lear [Leah?] and Jane have both been here to day the folks are all well thay want you to take care of yourselves and not trouble about them for thay are well and a plenty to eat we are having quite an exciting time here about the draft they drafted eight out of this town Daniel Strang Jerry Foster Nash that lived on Spalding place Filo Gibbs James Archer Mccartny of Homer Hue Gilbert and one of the vanwert Boys and Clark Jim Cook Stage driver Gibbs put in a substitute that cost him eight Hundred and fifty dollars Strang sold off his property at auction and is a going himself they Report to Jackson next Wednesday tomorrow is town meeting and we expect a hard fight the Republicans think that thay can whip us it will be a close rub our ticket is wescot for supervisor Ludow for clerk D Dorsey for treusure and the rest I cant remember

            Lee has wrote two leters to Ed and Jane two to Jim that you will get before you get this the Boys that left before you did has none of them returned Delos Finch is one of the Drafted But is missing I wish you was here to help us tomorrow Natt Strang has taken Nathan Yienger farm for three years thay live on the farm now Ann Ruel and Nathan Eslow is married and moved to Homer Jim we have got the rails split to fence your wheat and I shall draw them as soon as I get able and lay up the fence the wheat looks well I am about tired out so you must excuse me for this time tell wes Walden that I can hear him sing yet and I hope he will keep up good courage write often and I will do the same Your folks are all in good spirits and wish you the same take no trouble about the folks for we have enough to eat here and thay will have two So no more at present from E F Champion to Ed Ayling and James Jucket

With Respect

E F Champion

(little did he know that Ed Ayling, husband of Leah Archer, was buried this very day in Nashville .  He died March 28th).