Thursday, November 10, 2016


Air Castles

19th Century Military History of the Elgin Area


Kenneth L. Gough

       In the winter of 2015-2016 a collection of letters written to and from Catherine Thompson of Butlerville, Ohio was found by the Elgin Area Historical Society of Elgin, Illinois.   It took a while but we discovered that Catherine's son George moved to Elgin in 1890 and lived there until his death in 1939.   He was in the Old Settlers Assoc. and their filed were donated to the Elgin Area Hist. Soc. in 1995.   With my background of 45 years of studying Civil War life I was given the honor of transcribing and investigating the contents of each one.

     The original letters have been returned to Ohio and are housed at the Warren County Hist. Soc.   Copies will be housed at the Elgin Area Hist. Soc. in Feb. 2017.   That is when I feel my work on this project will be completed.

     Very little punctuation was used and I've tried to replicate this.   Capitalization was haphazard and for the sake of readability I've corrected this.   Spelling is duplicated as close as I can.   One thing I've noticed is letters from people from Butlerville seem to misspell the same words in the same way.   Is it possible this is how they were taught?   Like many soldiers he wrote with a run-on style.   His writing wandered with his thoughts, changing topic in the blink of an eye, sometimes duplicating words.   This makes following his text a chore sometimes.   For words or phrases that I cant read I've used an underscore, this tells me about how long the missing bits are and may help in deciphering them.

       For many of these letters I'm going to include a 'My Thoughts' section at the end.   This will include my explanations on events covered in the letter that can't be addressed by a name or place covered in 'Historical Notes'.   My Thoughts is completely from my years of both reading and living history and can't be held up though a record source.   This is you might say a weak link for this reason.   As scans of the letters will not be included this is where I will include my impression of the condition of the letters themselves.   In my living history background I've had to fill out many forms in all kinds of whether conditions so I feel I'm qualified to comment on this subject.   When possible I will include information on the envelopes.   Many are not in the correct envelops and I've elected not to try and rearange them.   Please keep in mind I'm working with scans of the letters which in the case of the envelops may only include one side.   Any mistakes are mine alone.

About the author

Ken Gough in the uniform of the Washington Continental Artillery
a pre-war militia unit (1855 - 1861) in Elgin, Ill.
They Mustered In as Co. A, 7th Ill. Vol. Inft. for 3 months service in 1861.
        Ken Gough began studying the Civil War in 1971 and started as a re-enactor for five years and then a Living Historian for the past fourty years specializing in the common mans life during the war.
Ken Gough as Capt. of Co. B, 29th U.S.C.T.

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