I Seat Myself to Write You a Few Lines:
Civil War and Homestead Letters
from Thomas Lucas and Family

Collected and Edited by Dona Bayard Sauerburger, great-great granddaughter, 2002 and Thomas Lucas Bayard, grandson, 1960
With chapter introductions by Andrew German

Heritage Books, Bowie, Maryland, 2002

History of the letters:
This collection includes about 350 letters that Thomas Lucas wrote to his wife Letty during his three years in the service, as well as several dozen letters written during the war to Thomas by his comrades and family.  In his letter of November 17, 1861, Thomas asks Letty to save his letters in case they are needed for reference, and apparently Letty had already been doing so.  In another letter, Thomas explains that he destroys her letters to prevent others from reading them.  Thus this collection contains only one letter from Letty (March 17, 1863), a letter which very likely was never sent.
     The collection also includes more than 100 letters that Thomas and his family and friends wrote after the war.  Most of these letters were written to Thomas’s daughter Millie.  Millie and her younger sister Elizabeth and their families remained in Pennsylvania when Thomas and the rest of his children and his wife moved to Nebraska.  Millie continued her mother’s tradition of saving letters.  She saved the Civil War letters as well as the letters her family wrote from Nebraska, and passed them on to her children.  Two of her children, Lettie and John, as well as John’s wife Lena lived with her on the farm in Rice’s Landing, Pennsylvania (near Carmichaels).  Another of her children, my grandfather Thomas Lucas Bayard, moved west and eventually settled in California.
     According to Thomas Lucas’s grandson Thomas Lucas, Thomas Bayard visited them in Nebraska in 1950 and asked about Thomas Lucas’s Civil War memorabilia, pictures, and information.  In the fall of 1960, as the centennial of the Civil War approached, Bayard visited his brothers and sister in Rice’s Landing and worked on the letters.  On January 13, 1961, after he had returned to California, he wrote to his cousin Ruth (daughter of Thomas Lucas’s youngest son Thomas):

"You know about the letters, I’m sure, from Lettie and doubtless from others.  There are about 400 of them, written as often as two or three a week from August, 1861, to September 1864.  Lettie has been interested in the letters for a long time and has made typewritten copies of most of them. I became interested in them when I spent three months at Rices Landing last fall, and thinking I might get something about them published, I brought them home with me."

The letters in the collection were copied by typewriter, probably by Thomas and Lettie Bayard.  Those from August 1861 through the end of May 1863 were copied word for word, following the original spelling and punctuation faithfully.  The letters from June 1863 through August 1864 were condensed and excerpted. The former may have been done by Thomas and the latter by Lettie since the former are done on the same typewriter that Thomas uses after he returns to California.
     Thomas Bayard borrowed the letters and worked on them when he returned to California.  He visited the Huntington Library in San Marino where he found a regimental history and a biography of the regiment’s first commander, George D. Bayard.  He got information about Thomas Lucas and his comrades by paying people to send him copies of military service and pension records from the U.S. National Archives.  He was frustrated when they returned the wrong papers or partial records, but as always, he remained polite and gracious, and included in his letter "an allied question, which I hope will make it impossible to answer this letter with one of your handy forms!"  Thirty five years after his experience, I went to the U.S. National Archives, which is not far from my home, and lamented that my grandfather hadn’t had the free access to it that I had.
     In 1960-61 Thomas Bayard also asked his cousins, the grandchildren of Thomas Lucas, to share any anecdotes and stories they remembered about him and his family, and in the 1990's I asked Thomas Lucas’s great-grandchildren (and the son and daughter of his son Thomas) what they remembered about his children.  This information and the stories are included throughout the book.
Thomas Bayard tried to interest publishers or archivists in the letters or articles written from the letters.  The only positive response he got was from the Washington and Jefferson College, which is near Thomas Lucas’s home town of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania.  Boyd Crumrine Patterson from the President’s Office encouraged him to consider their Historical Collection as a repository for the letters, explaining that it contained “considerable original material relating to the westward movement of a century ago and other material concerning southwestern Pennsylvania.”
     When he got a hopeful response from one publisher, Thomas Bayard copied the letters a second time to be considered by the publisher.      The Oklahoma Daily said they had more historical articles on hand than they could publish in the near future.  The Denver Post responded, “Thank you for your inquiry regarding your grandfather’s Civil War letters.  Unfortunately we are overstocked with Civil War material and cannot encourage an article from you at this time.”
     The most encouraging response was from Frederick Hetzel, Associate Editor for the University of Pittsburgh, who wrote on August 3, 1961, “Thank you for writing about your collection of Civil war letters.  Of course the only way any publisher can reach a fair decision about these letters is to read them in typescript.  But I don’t want to cause you needless trouble, I am suggesting, therefore, that you wait until the Director of the Press, Mrs. Agnes L. Starrett, returns from her vacation.  Soon after she arrives in Pittsburgh, on September 5, I am sure that she can give you some indication of whether or not an edition of the correspondence of Thomas Lucas would be suitable for our publishing program.”
     Bayard became hopeful, and immediately began the tedious process of copying the letters a second time.  He responded September 4, 1961, “I thank you for your kind reply to my inquiry about publication of my Grandfather Lucas’ Civil War letters.  When I wrote, the greater part of the letters already had been typed, but unluckily not in form suitable for submission to a publisher.  I have been working to correct this condition by copying them again.  I should complete this typescript in about two weeks, and can submit it to Mrs. Starrett then if she decides this is desirable.”
     On September 6, 1961, Mr. Hetzel wrote, “On August 3 I suggested that you wait until the return of Mrs. Agnes Starrett before sending the University of Pittsburgh Press a transcript of the Civil War letters of Thomas Lucas.  Mrs. Starrett has now returned to Pittsburgh and has considered your proposed manuscript very carefully.  Because she is already engaged in negotiations with the editors of two other collections of Civil War letters, she feels that we can not consider your manuscript.  I hope that this month’s delay has not inconvenienced you, and I wish you the best of luck in finding the proper publisher for your manuscript.”   He typed them double-spaced, as he felt that manuscripts should be, and edited them somewhat, smoothing out some of the grammar and deleting phrases and sections which he considered unnecessary or not suitable for publication, such as Thomas Lucas’s reflections on religion and how much he missed his home and family (see page  for a sample of the editing).
     In spite of his efforts, however, ultimately no publisher or journal even considered publishing anything from the letters.  He wrote to his cousin Kate Kirkhuff on June 29, 1961, “Either the periodicals are finding little interest in the Centennial commemoration ... or else a great deal of material has been brought to light early.  ... I’ve given much thought to the matter of getting the letters or their substance in the hands of the descendants and anyone else interested, but haven’t come up with any solution.”  He also wrote her, “I have had a feeling that I should make duplicate copies of Grandfather’s letters in some way so that all of his descendants might have them.  It would be a time-consuming and expensive project; maybe I will undertake it if I can make some money selling an article about them to some periodical.”
     Thomas Lucas Bayard died a few years later, and for 30 years nothing was done about the letters.

So where did all the Civil War letters, copies of letters, and archival information end up?

And what about the letters from after the Civil War -- the homesteading days -- where did those come from?

     We don’t know where the bulk of the original Civil War letters are, and so we are extremely grateful that Lettie and Thomas Bayard copied them for us to enjoy.  Lettie Bayard or John Bayard’s wife Lena may have given them to someone, or Thomas Bayard might never have returned them.  We also don’t know the whereabouts of the photographic album of family members and Civil War comrades which Kate Rose Kirkhuff, daughter of Lucy Lucas, said was given to her by Lettie Bayard in her letter of January 30th, 1961.  Descendants of both Thomas Bayard and Kate Kirkhuff are not aware of the location of the letters or album.
Apparently Thomas’s daughter Millie, or Millie’s daughter Lettie, gave some of the Civil War letters away, because descendants of other Thomas Lucas children have found among their family papers some letters (or copies of letters) that were not among the letters that were copied by Lettie and Thomas Bayard in 1960.  They must have also given away some of the homesteading letters.  In a letter from Lettie Bayard dated January 9, 1955 to Permelia Gregg Douthit, daughter of Thomas’s daughter Emma, Lettie says, “I was looking through some old letters the other day and found the letter that I am enclosing, thought you might enjoy reading them, we have such a lot of them Grandpa’s letters written during the Civil war letters from his father and sisters and from Grandpa, Aunt Emma, Aunt Lib and Aunt Annie certainly give you a picture of what the family were like and what will be come of them?”
     Some of these letters that were given away to Permelia Gregg Douthit and others might have found their way into this collection.  Two daughters of Permelia -- Helen Douthit Reutlinger and Joan Douthit Wallick -- have found and submitted letters that were among their mother’s things when she died.  One of these is a letter written by Permelia’s mother Emma, one is a letter from Thomas Lucas written New Year’s Eve 1861, and one is from James Gregg written from Stanton Hospital on November 10, l863 --  they each made delightful additions to the collection.
     However there may be other letters missing from this collection.  For example a letter was probably written in June 1863 explaining how Thomas was wounded because he refers to the wound in subsequent letters, but we have no letter describing the event.  We are very grateful to each of those descendants who found and shared letters that were passed on in their family -- perhaps more will show up that can be added if there is a second edition to this book.
     As for the letters written after the Civil War, Thomas Bayard evidently kept those that hadn’t already been given away.  He also kept his second typewritten copy of the Civil War letters (the one that he prepared for the publishers).  He saved the letters and documents that he had accumulated from his search for information and his attempts at publication, and a tintype of a group photo of several of Thomas Lucas’s Company F comrades (page ).  After he died, these were passed on to two of his sons, John and Richard.  Several dozen original Civil War letters as well as the first typewritten copies of the letters were kept by Lettie Bayard.  After she and her brother John died, John’s wife Lena Darby Bayard gave these letters and copies to descendants of Millie’s sister Elizabeth, and they are now with Elizabeth’s grandchildren Max Knestrick, Joanne Moninger Piatt, and Kathy Moninger Ford.  Lena sold the farm soon afterward and later went into a nursing home.
     In 1960, my grandpa Thomas Lucas Bayard stayed with us a few days on his way home to California after working with Lettie on the letters in Rice’s Landing.  I was 14, and can vaguely remember him showing me some of the letters, but I took little interest in them.  Twenty five years later, Grandpa’s papers sat in a box in his son Richard’s garage.  No one even knew that the thick stack of old letters in the back of his son John’s cupboard drawer were written after Thomas Lucas and his family had moved west (these “cupboard-drawer letters” are the bulk of the collection in Section II: “From Home Town to Homestead”).  Grandpa had of course known his cousins (grandchildren of Thomas Lucas) and their families, but my generation didn’t even know they existed and knew nothing about Thomas Lucas.
     However when the descendants of my grandparents (Thomas Lucas Bayard and Mary Frank) began to have family reunions in 1989, their son Richard shared stories about the family history.  He told us we had a great-great grandfather who had served in the Civil War and who wrote letters about it.  This piqued our curiosity, and I finally read Grandpa’s typewritten (edited) copies of those letters in 1994.  I was enthralled, and decided to help achieve my grandfather’s dream of getting copies to Lucas’s descendants.
     My efforts led me to read about the Civil War, investigate records in the U.S. National Archives, and meet many wonderful people who are fellow descendants and relatives, historians, aficionados, and librarians.  Information from these sources, as well as the information that my grandfather Thomas Bayard had gathered, helped provide a rich chronicle of Thomas Lucas, his family, and his comrades.
     For our 1997 reunion of the Mary Frank and Thomas Lucas Bayard family, I organized a tour of some of the sites where Thomas Lucas was during the Civil War.  Among more than 50 family members who attended, we had about two dozen descendants from Millie, several descendants from Elizabeth, and several from Thomas’s youngest son Thomas Martin Lucas, including two of Thomas Lucas’s grandchildren Betty Lucas Osborn and Thomas Lucas.  Our guides, who filled in the historical information, were the late James Moyer, tour guide and co-author of a series of books about John Mosby, and Frank S. Walker, Jr., President of Tourguide, Inc., both from Virginia.  Several homeowners graciously allowed us to visit the houses where Thomas Lucas stayed (houses which he calls the Jackson house and Dr. Slaughter’s  house), and we visited battlefields, Madison Mills where he and his cousin dumped the flour while the enemy watched, and the site near where Mosby’s men attacked and captured his brother Jonas.  I produced a videotape of that tour which is available to those who are interested.
     In preparation for this tour, I printed enough copies of the Civil War letters for people to read.  When my aunt and uncle Shirley and John Bayard realized that the Civil War letters themselves were missing, they thought that the 3-inch stack of old letters in the back of their cupboard drawer might be them.  When they brought them to the reunion, we were bitterly disappointed to discover that they were written 20-30 years after the war, and I put them aside.  Later, after reading a few of them, I realized we had an even more valuable treasure -- letters written by the family after they moved west.  These "cupboard drawer" letters are now included in this collection (Section II).
     My voyage on this adventure of working on the letters and planning the tour has been replete with serendipitous help and connections to such a degree that I sometimes wonder if I am being guided by unseen persons.  The stories behind these incidents and resources and how I found them would fill another book, and I despair of doing sufficient justice to the many people who have lovingly and enthusiastically provided help and information.  I have tried to give credit in this book where appropriate but many people are not named, from the helpful librarian in the Virginia reading room and the desk assistant in the Virginia land records office, both of whom put me in contact with valuable resources, to the delightful “resident historian” of Old Georgetown Pike Road at whose home I randomly stopped in search of the “Jackson House” and the gracious homeowners who allowed us to visit the sites where Thomas Lucas was during the war.  To each person who helped me along the way, I thank you warmly.

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