After returning from our non-eventful evacuation to avoid Gustav, we hauled the 650 lbs of photos back into the house, it occurred to me that I have been living in avoidance long enough. Ever since Katrina I have vowed to scan all of the photos into the computer, get them on to DVDs, store those in various locations, and finally quit worrying about trying to save these thousands of photographs. However, vowing to do is not the same thing as doing. But this time when we returned home I took stock of my time wastage and determined that I waste at least an hour before leaving for the office every morning just frittering it away playing computer games. So I started the daunting task of eating the elephant - dismantling the photo books page by page to scan every photograph individually. Here’s some advice in case you should ever have some reason to have to study your youthful photos at great length while waiting for the scanner to do its thing: don’t be sitting near a mirror. Unless you happen to be wearing a paper bag over your head with eye holes cut out.
In between the pages of photos, I discovered a letter written on 28 November, 1862, by Sarah Ann Slade, born 7 September, 1839, to her husband Plummer Ladner. Plummer Ladner was born in Hancock County on 18 January, 1835, the son of Carlos and Anna Rester Ladner. Plummer and Sarah married in Marion County on 15 September, 1859, but they made their home in Hancock County (Salem Community) where they farmed and raised stock. Sarah gave birth there to Butler on 9/9/1860 and to Theodocia Elizabeth on 1/22/1863. Plummer served with the 7th Batt Miss Infantry during the Civil War and was killed while in service on 8 February, 1864. It is believed that he was killed and buried in or near the vicinity of his home by northern marauders. (That would be Yankees.) Here is Sarah’s letter to Plummer:
My Dear Husband,
I received your kind letter you sent after Rutilous got with you. (Rutilous was Plummer’s brother and was married to Sarah’s sister, Elizabeth. He died suddenly on 2/21/1863.) I was very sorry to hear that you were sick, but I cannot expect to hear nothing else while you are in the Army. I am well. Well as can be, I can never say that I am ever right. Well, Butler is fat and hearty. He grows fast. He can talk. Oh, he is so much company to me. When I ask him where you are he will point the way to go and say, "Pa gone way yunder."
Oh, Plummer, I wish you could come home to see us once more. You said you had a good notion to come any how as they would not let you off. Oh, Plummer, I would be glad to see you anyhow, see you anyway you can come. But I can not persuade you to desert. You know best what to do. I know if I was in your place and they would not let me off, I would want to desert too. But I do not know what is best. It looks like they would let you come home now. Oh, Plummer, if you could be with me when I am confined, I would be better satisfied. Oh, Plummer, I wish I could go to see you. No chance for me to go now, but I hope you can come home. Cpt. ___ is gone back. I think he will shortly let you off.
Steed Calvar got out of beef. He sent Elijah up after beef. Elijah (Plummer’s brother) came to see me and Jeremiah (another of Plummer’s brothers) to see about selling your beef. Jeremiah concluded to take some of your beef. They got six head of yours. I reckon they will take more the next time. Elijah went to see if Shaw would take the money you owed him. He refused to take it. I would not care if he got one cent of it.
Pappy and Mama has been sick. They are both mending, the last I heard from them. All the rest of the family is well, I believe. I haven’t received one letter from George yet. Pappy got some letter from the boys. They were all well. Oh, Plummer, you don’t know how dear you are to me. I could not help crying from your letter where you said you kissed mine and Butler’s hair. Oh, Plummer, I wish it could have been me instead of my hair. Oh, Plummer, you don’t know how it hurts my feelings to think you want to see me so bad and cannot come to see me. Oh, Plummer, ain’t this too hard to think we love as well as we do and have to be parted. Oh, Plummer, I look at your likeness and shed tears. To think maybe I shall never see you again. I wish I had my likeness to send to you. Plummer, if you don’t come home, soon as I get able to go, I will go to see you if you are alive. Plummer I know you love me dearly but try and not grieve yourself any more than you can help. I hope and pray the Lord will be with us. I hope these few lines will find you well. Oh, Plummer, I cannot write all I want to tell you, but I reckon these lines will give you satisfaction, so I must quit. So goodbye, Plummer. I remain your true loving wife. I will remember you, Plummer. Three kisses for you, Sarah Ladner.
Dr. Henry Clay Abney served with the Confederate Army until his capture. He was held prisoner in Vicksburg, MS, until his release in 1865. After the War, probably about 1867, the widow Sarah Slade Ladner married Dr. Henry Clay Abney, and they became my great-great-grand parents. (But I still don't know where that damn Be-AT-triss came from.)