William “Getting better fast”

In this July 13, 1864 letter from William Patterson to his mother, William reports that he is getting better fast in the Nashville Officers Hospital and will likely be sent back to the front.  Because of his improvement, he doubts that he can receive a leave of absence to come home.  The rest of the letter discusses his concern about sending $550 home and not hearing whether his mother had received it and how to send letters to him at the hospital.

Transcript of William Patterson letter, July 13, 1864.


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In the Words of Roy Fitzgerald

Roy G. Fitzgerald, Sr., jotted the following lines at the end of a letter to the editor of the Dayton Journal-Herald newspaper on June 15, 1949, after describing a number of items recently donated to the Dayton & Montgomery County Historical Society:

It would be delightful if other descendants of our pioneer families would take thought for the preservation of old letters and documents and heirlooms from the old days.

To read the entire text of the letter (from MS-23 Andrew Iddings Papers), click on the images below to enlarge them:

Roy G. Fitzgerald, Sr. (1875-1962), a local lawyer and Congressman (1921-1931), was a great advocate for the preservation of Dayton’s history in the early part of the 20th century. He was served for several years as President of the Dayton & Montgomery County Historical Society (now Dayton History), as well as on the Board of Trustees of the Dayton Public Library (now Dayton Metro Library), and the local history collections of both organizations benefited greatly as a result of his efforts.

Roy Fitzgerald sharing historical materials (MS-458, DDN Archive)

Roy Fitzgerald sharing historical materials (MS-458, DDN Archive)

It certainly is “delightful” when descendants of our community’s pioneers “take thought for the preservation of” those pioneers’ manuscripts, artifacts, and legacies — especially when they consider placing those materials in the hands of an institution, such as ours or many others in the area, that can make them available for the study and enjoyment of the public at large.

But one does not need to have been born in the Miami Valley or be descended from our early pioneers in order to be “important enough” to have his/her papers preserved. For instance, consider Charles F. Kettering and Ermal Fraze, neither of whom were Dayton natives. For that matter, Fitzgerald himself was not born in Dayton; he moved here from New York with his parents at age 15—and yet, as an important figure in Dayton’s more modern history, Fitzgerald’s papers can be found at the Dayton Metro Library.

Additionally, let’s not forget that it is valuable to preserve the stories of “ordinary” people, as well. One need not necessarily be, or have an ancestor who was, a prominent Dayton pioneer or a famous inventor (although some, like the Wright Brothers, may fit both categories!) or famous at all to be worthy of space in the archives.

This is not to discount the importance of saving the papers of people with names like Patterson, Van Cleve, Newcom, Steele, Peirce, Crane, etc. — but there are plenty of others (old and new!) who belong in the archives as well. Just some food for thought.

Thanks to our student worker Nina, who is currently re-processing the Andrew Iddings Papers (MS-23), for sharing this interesting document when she came across it.

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On the Banks of the Chattahoochee

Since Robert Patterson’s last letter on June 9th, the 61st OVI has been on the move with General Hooker’s XX Corps participating in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and following the Confederate Army towards Atlanta.  Ohio in the War reports the following about the 61st OVI: “On June 17th the enemy was driven and skirmished with, and on the 19th and 21st the regiment reached and moved around the base of Kenesaw Mountain.  On June 22nd it moved up still further and built works at Culp’s farm.  While building these works the enemy made a dash on the National lines, and for a few minutes had things all their own way, but the troops rallied and drove them back.  In this affair the Major was killed (Major David C. Beckett).  The Chattahoochee River was crossed at four o’clock in the afternoon of the 17th of June and the regiment went into camp on its banks.”

Robert Patterson’s letter reports that “the Army is at last on the banks of the river and are taking a long looked for and much need rest.”  The 61st is close enough to Atlanta that they can see the church spires of Atlanta.  He goes on to comment about the poor quality of the land — poor soil and thinly populated, but they have good water and are in good health.  He also notes the death of Major Beckett — “He was universally loved by all who knew him and his loss is very severely felt.”  Finally, he reports that the mail has been very irregular and that he had not heard from his mother in a while.

Robert closes his letter with a report of a “grapevine dispatch” that the XX Corps may be reassigned to the Army of the Potomac and be moved to Virginia.  He hopes the rumor is false.

Transcript of Robert Patterson letter, July 10, 1864.












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