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|Size||8.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 150 items)|
|Abstract||The Roach and Eggleston families lived in Woodville, Wilkinson County, and Vicksburg, Miss. Prominent family members included Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston (d. 1895), a member of the Confederate Cemetary Association of Vicksburg; her daughter, Mahala P. H. Roach (1825-1905); and Mahala's husband, James P. Roach (d. 1860), a banker in the firm of Wirt Adams & Co. The 49-volume diary of Mahala P. H. Roach, 1853-1860, 1862, and 1866-1905, comprises the bulk of this collection. Mahala wrote about household chores; her family, including disciplining her children and conflicts with her mother; and neighbors and friends, especially focusing on social activities in Vicksburg. Mahala also described nursing she did during epidemics of yellow fever, cholera, and other sicknesses in Vicksburg. A three-volume diary of James P. Roach, 1858-1860, is also included. Roach, a banker, wrote about banking, civic, and political affairs in Vicksburg. James and Mahala both noted visits from Jefferson and Joseph Emory Davis. Also included are correspondence, financial and legal items, scrapbooks and commonplace books, and miscellaneous diaries of other members of the Roach, Gildart, and Eggleston families. One of these diaries discusses the 1864 banishment from Vicksburg of Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston, who appears to have been running a hospital in the city.|
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
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The major figure in this collection is Mahala P. H. Roach (1825-1905). She was the daughter of Dick H. Eggleston, M.D., and Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston (d. 1895), and grew up in Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. On 26 November 1844, she married James P. Roach (d. 1860). The Roaches lived in Woodville for a few years before moving to Vicksburg in 1848. James Roach was a banker in the firm of Wirt Adams & Co.
Mahala had six children: Tom (b. 1845), who married Loulie Kirkpatrick in 1876; Nora (1847-1881), who married R. J. Turnbull, M.D., in 1865; Sophy (d. 1857); Mahala (1851-1885), who married James B. Browne in 1874; John (1856-1878); and Jim (b. 1859), who married Kate Klein in 1882. All but two of her children died before her.
It appears that Mahala's mother ran a hospital in Vicksburg during the Civil War. Mahala also had some knowledge of nursing and nursed many family members and friends.
Mahala was in Vicksburg during its occupation by Union forces and continued to reside there throughout her life. She was very much involved in the social life of Vicksburg and was visited frequently by many members of the community.Back to Top
The bulk of this collection consists of 49 diary volumes kept by Mahala P. H. Roach, 1853-1860, 1862, and 1866-1905. This extensive diary documents family activities, household chores, social activities in Vicksburg, personal affairs, and affairs in the lives of Mahala's neighbors. Only one volume (1862) dates from the Civil War, but there is further documentation of Mahala's activities and those of her mother, Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston, during the Civil War in the Miscellaneous Diaries Series.
Other items include scattered papers that belonged to Mahala and James Roach or to Mahala's mother; scrapbooks and commonplace books; miscellaneous diaries of members of the Gildart and Eggleston families; and three diaries kept by James Roach, 1858-1860. James Roach's diaries document his business affairs, civic activities, and local politics, as well as his personal life.Back to Top
Correspondence, financial and legal items, and other papers chiefly of Mahala P. H. and James P. Roach, and of Mahala's mother, Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston. A chronological listing follows.
1844: A social note and an election jingle.
1848: Letter to Lizzie Eggleston from her aunt, E. C. Prosser, giving family news, chiefly illnesses and deaths.
1849: Document appointing James P. Roach as agent for creditors of the estate of Silas J. Cary of Clinton, Mississippi.
1853-1854: Two communications to James P. Roach about life insurance. Correspondence of Mahala P. H. Roach and William Parker, after Parker's recovery from an illness in which Mahala nursed him.
1855-1858: Letters to Mahala P. H. Roach from Josephine Wilkinson (her sister?) in New Orleans, cousin Anne M. Archer, William Parker, and others. Also included is a paper relating to the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad.
1860: Several letters reflecting the illness and death of James P. Roach.
1861-1864: Letters to Mahala P. H. Roach and her mother in Vicksburg, chiefly from soldiers, some of whom were entrenched near the city and some whom Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston had nursed in her hospital and befriended in various ways. They include requests for medicines, food, tools, etc. Also included are letters from prisoners-of-war after the fall of Vicksburg, and a series of letters to Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston from her nephew, O. S. Holland.
1865-1867: Papers concerned with the business affairs of Mahala P. H. Roach, who had owned considerable property in Vicksburg. Some city property had been used by the Union forces, and there are items concerning its restoration to her.
18 November 1868: A letter from General Henry W. Slocum in Brooklyn to Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston, thanking her for her letter of congratulations to him.
1870s, 1880s, 1890s: A few scattered personal letters to Mahala P. H. Roach. Also included are some items concerning property, notes due, etc.
Also included are miscellaneous bills and receipts, clippings, and Mahala P. H. Roach's U.S. tax return, dated May 1865. There are scattered undated Papers, including invitations, social notes, and notes of thanks.
This subseries consists of 49 volumes, each devoted to a year's diary entries of Mahala P. H. Roach, 1853-1860, 1862, and 1866-1905. There is no diary for 1861 or for 1863-1865. (Note that the Virginia Historical Society holds three volumes of the Mahala Perkins Harding Eggleston Roach diary, 1851-1852 and 1864-1865.) (See also Series 4, Volume 71, which includes a typed transcription of "Christmas Days," a record made by Mahala at Christmas each year, 1844-1860.)
The annual diary volumes begin in 1853. In them, Mahala described her daily activities and household chores, such as sewing, cleaning silver, writing, and taking care of the children. She apparently had servants to help her, and they did most of the cooking. Other topics are her health and temper, and the health and tempers of her children. When her children were young, she frequently described losing her temper with them, punishing them, and feeling sorry for it afterwards.
Another frequent topic is the social life in Vicksburg where Mahala lived. She described the visits she made and callers she received. Many entries include a list of the day's callers. She described other social events, such as attending concerts and parties, and events in the lives of her neighbors, such as sicknesses, deaths, births, and marriages. There were numerous fires in Vicksburg, and Mahala indicated times of fires and what buildings burned down. At the beginning of each entry, she noted the weather for the day.
In 1860 (Volume 8), Mahala's husband, James P. Roach, suffered and finally died after a long illness. Many of the entries during this year deal with his health and welfare. There was a great deal of sickness in Vicksburg in the spring of 1860, which affected Mahala's own family and other neighbors and acquaintances.
The collection includes only one volume (Volume 9, 1862) from the Civil War period. In January of that year, Mahala mentioned going to a military camp near town and the removal of the company that was stationed there, which she called the "Jeff Davis Rebels." Another indication of the war was a foundry in town that cast shells and cannon and that she visited a few times to watch the casting. In April of 1862, she learned that New Orleans had surrendered. There were rumors that Vicksburg would be attacked and the women and children would have to leave. On 28 April, Mahala wrote that a fort was being erected and a stream of wagons was leaving Vicksburg hauling out cotton and machinery. Mahala also mentioned spending that day at the hospital. In early May, Confederate soldiers moved into town and Mahala provided them with water and allowed some to sleep on her "gallery." On 7 May, Mahala and her family left Vicksburg and went to stay in Woodville with her aunt. Vicksburg was shelled by the Yankees and Federal gunboats were in the river. On 4 July, her son Tommy told her that their house had been struck by a piece of shell. On 31 July, Mahala wrote that the Yankee fleet had left, and many people were returning to Vicksburg. She was afraid to go, but would try to do so if she could. The return of civilians was apparently premature, since on 18 August a visiting friend told Mahala that Yankee gunboats were again at Vicksburg.
Social visits continued in this year, and Mahala mentioned the frequent calls of a Mr. Greve, who she believed to be the admirer of her daughter Nora. When Mahala was living in Woodville, she occasionally returned to town for short periods and became friendly with some of the soldiers. On 28 August, during a brief stay in Vicksburg, Mahala accompanied her mother on a visit to General Van Dorn about business.
The next diary volume (10) covers 1866. Mahala and her children lived at this time with her mother in Vicksburg. Her son Tom had apparently served in the army and was now home and ill. Her daughter, Nora had married Dr. R. J. Turnbull on 17 June 1865 and did not live in Vicksburg. The three younger children, Mahala (Hala), John, and Jim, lived at home and required much care and attention. John and Jim were frequently punished. Mahala spent much time sewing clothing for Hala and the others.
During this year, Mahala began to experience the effects of poverty. On 9 June, she wrote that by a suit brought against Wirt Adams & Co. and an attachment on the bank, she would lose its rent and have but one-third of the income of the past six months.
Mahala's mother was much involved with the Confederate Cemetery Association and spent many days at the cemetery. Mahala was also involved in this organization to a lesser degree. From comments Mahala made during this and later years, it appears that her mother was intensely embittered by the war. On 7 November, at a meeting of the Association, a committee was established to cooperate with the Society for the Relief of Mrs. Davis and Family of Jackson.
Social visits and events continued during this year. Joseph Emory Davis was a frequent caller and assisted the Roach family by driving them various places in his carriage.
In August and September, there was an epidemic of cholera in Vicksburg. Throughout the year, and particularly during those months, Mahala nursed many sick friends and neighbors. She apparently was skilled as a nurse for, throughout the diaries, she recorded attending numerous sick and dying individuals.
The years 1867 through 1873 (Volumes 11-17) were very difficult ones for Mahala and her family. Their greatest trouble appears to have been poverty. There was also a great deal of conflict between Mahala and her mother. The exact nature of their disagreement is never mentioned, but it is clear that her mother was frequently unpleasant to members of the family and to some of their friends. Her mother seemed to direct most of her animosity towards Mahala's younger daughter Hala. Mrs. Eggleston still spent a great deal of time at the cemetery.
On 21 January 1868, ex-President Davis visited Vicksburg, causing great excitement. On 23 July 1870, Mahala wrote that Joseph Emory Davis looked feeble and weak and that they would lose a good friend when he died.
Tom was working at a bank and contributed a great deal to the family income. In 1871, he transferred from an unnamed bank to the Vicksburg Bank. On 7 February, he attended a Banker's Convention in Jacksonville where he represented the Vicksburg Bank.
John and Jim still required much attention. Jim in particular was continually getting into trouble. On 22 January 1872, Jim was expelled from school and had to be started at the public school. Mahala also worried about the few pleasures she could give her daughter Hala. She spent much time sewing clothes for Hala and described what she made.
There was a great deal of sickness during these years, and Mahala spent a lot of time nursing her family and others. In September and October 1867, there was an epidemic of yellow fever, and Tom spent time at a quarantine station. On 22 December 1872, the Roaches learned that Tom had Varioloid, a mild form of smallpox, and were worried and fearful. Tom wanted them to strap down his hands to prevent him from scratching his face. He apparently came through the disease safely.
In 1874 (Volume 18), a new chapter opened in the lives of the Roach family. In January and February, James B. Browne courted Hala and, on 4 February, he proposed to her. Mahala wrote that her son Tom had no objections other than those which only Hala had a right to judge, i.e., his age and his three children. For the next month, until Hala's wedding on 19 March, they were very busy getting her ready and sewing her wedding clothes. The next several years were much happier for Mahala. Browne was apparently quite comfortable financially, and he was provided for one of her children. John and Tom were working full time at a bank. Mahala's relations with her mother improved greatly after Hala's departure.
On 12 February 1874, Mahala wrote that she went to a fair given by Jewish ladies and was received with kindness by her Jewish friends. This is one of a few entries in the diary that refers to the Jewish population in Vicksburg.
Mahala spent a lot of time visiting Hala. On 29 January 1875 (Volume 19), Hala had a baby girl. Ex-President Davis visited again on 8 March 1875.
On 24 February 1876 (Volume 20), Tom married Loulie Kirkpatrick, who was an old friend of the family. Christmas of 1876 was a very happy one for Mahala who now had several grandchildren.
There was an extremely virulent epidemic of yellow fever in Vicksburg during the summer and fall of 1878 (Volume 22). Mahala's son John died from the fever on 5 September 1878. Mahala spent her first Christmas with Nora that year and remained at her house until April.
In 1881 (Volume 25), Mahala's daughter Nora died after a long, debilitating illness. Nora spent most of the year at her mother's house, and Mahala nursed her until her death on 28 September.
Sometime in 1882 (Volume 26), Jim married Kate Klein, and Tom moved his family to New Orleans. Mahala began to split her time between the houses of her two sons, spending half of the year in New Orleans and half the year in Vicksburg. Mahala's mother was still alive and remained in Jim's house in Vicksburg. In January 1885, Mahala was with Tom's family in New Orleans and mentioned attending an Exposition where she saw many wonderful things.
Mahala's daughter Hala and two of her grandchildren died of diphtheria in October 1885 (Volume 29). On 31 December, Mahala wrote that this year had given her more sorrow than any other.
For the next twenty years (Volumes 30-49), Mahala continued to live in the houses of her two sons, assisting with the household chores, participating in family activities, and visiting friends and neighbors. Her mother lived until 9 March 1895 and continued to spend many days at the cemetery. Mahala was also still involved with the Cemetery Association and mentioned, on 2 June 1892, the Association's decision to erect a monument.
In 1905 (Volume 49), another epidemic of yellow fever began in New Orleans and spread up the river. On 25 July, Mahala wrote that fever was said to be of the real old-fashioned virulent type. Members of her family were all immune except for her granddaughter Hala. On 27 July, Mahala wrote that the papers were all much stirred up about the yellow fever and subscriptions were being taken up for cleaning the city; over thirty deaths had been reported. Vessels had been coming in freely from Panama and "fruit countries," and now "everywhere" was quarantined against Louisiana. Oil was put in cisterns to drive off mosquitoes and purify the water. On 4 September, Mahala wrote that yellow fever had definitely reached Vicksburg, and she knew that there would be confusion and evacuation. During the epidemic, she kept lists each day of the new cases and deaths.
Mahala's last full entry is dated 29 September 1905. She suffered from an illness (unspecified, but apparently not yellow fever) and died on 23 October 1905.
Typed transcriptions of Mahala P. H. Roach's diaries, 1853-1860, 1862, and 1866-1875.
Three volumes of the diary of James P. Roach, husband of Mahala P. H. Roach.
Roach worked in the banking house of Wirt Adams & Co. in Vicksburg. Many of the entries deal with affairs in the banking world. The firm's business increased dramatically during the years 1858 and 1859, and Roach frequently commented on busy workdays and numerous transactions. Early in 1858, a number of banks in New Orleans apparently closed or suspended operations due to financial difficulties. Roach often mentioned the owner of the bank, Mr. Adams, with whom he had long discussions about the business. Mr. Adams apparently lived on a plantation near Vicksburg and had another banking house in Jackson. In March 1859, Roach wrote about some counterfeit money that was in circulation.
Roach was also involved in the affairs of the Episcopal church. One of his most frequent callers was Mr. Lord, rector of his parish. He also corresponded with, and was visited by, Bishop William Mercer Green. In entries for Sundays, Roach wrote descriptions of services and noted who attended, who was baptized or confirmed, and his opinion of Mr. Lord's sermon. On 27 April 1859, he attended a church convention at Natchez and served on the finance committee. He was also a member of the vestry, and, in May 1859, described a meeting in which they decided to rent pews to obtain revenue, an action he initially opposed. Roach was also a member of the board of trustees of Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, and periodically attended meetings there.
Roach was somewhat active in civic affairs and local politics. In an entry dated 17 February 1858, he wrote that he had learned that day that he was elected in November by the legislature as a commissioner to organize the Grand Gulf and Ship Island Rail Road. He also mentioned attending a Southern Convention from 9 May to 13 May 1859 in Vicksburg where a big topic for discussion was the African slave trade. He recorded the results of local elections in his diary.
Roach sometimes wrote about social calls and other events. Among others, Jefferson Davis occasionally called when he was in town, and, on 19 April 1859, Varina Davis telegraphed that their son had been born in Washington. Davis's older brother Joseph also called. Roach wrote about events in the lives of his friends and neighbors, such as marriages, births, and deaths. He also wrote about happenings in Vicksburg society, such as quarrels between individuals, murders, and other events.
During the winter and spring every year, the water level in the Mississippi River was a big topic in his diary. He recorded its rise and fall and the difficulties with railroad lines being washed away. In the spring of 1859, he wrote that that the river was the highest it had been in many years, and he was sure that Jeff and Joe Davis's place was now under water.
In the summer of 1859, Roach began to be almost continuously ill. In his diary, he described symptoms of stomach upsets, piles, coughing, and diarrhea. His doctors could not diagnose his disease and tried various treatments. He became too weak to work, and, in January 1860, he arranged for Mr. Newman to take his place at the bank. On 5 January 1860, he resigned from the board of trustees of Mississippi College. The diary entries end on 17 May 1860, and Roach died on 1 July.
Typed transcription of the three volumes of James P. Roach's diary.
Diaries of four members of the Gildart and Eggleston families.
Volume 70 is a typed transcription of a travel diary of an extensive trip to England made in 1825 and 1826 by H. N. Gildart, grandfather of Mahala P. H. Roach. Gildart described the sights in Birmingham, Leamington, Oxford, Windsor on the Thames, London, and many other places. He made comparisons between England and his own country, always preferring the United States. He was surprised by the town of Birmingham, which was much nicer than he had expected. The original of this diary was returned to the donor.
Volume 71 contains three different typed transcriptions. The first, "Here I Rest," includes reminiscences of love affairs written by an unknown author, dated between 1825 and 1847. The second transcription is "Christmas Days," in which Mahala P. H. Roach described events in her life during the previous year and her activities on Christmas day, 1844-1860. This "diary" was kept during the years of Mahala's marriage to James P. Roach and deals chiefly with family health and welfare. At Christmas 1846, Mahala noted that they had spent several days at Hurricane and Briarfield, homes of Jefferson Davis and his older brother, Joseph Emory Davis. The Davises lived near Woodville, which had been Mahala's home as a child and young woman, and were friends of the family. The third transcription is "Papers Relating to the Banishment of Mrs. Eggleston by General Dana, 1864." It contains copies of letters, military passes, and military orders relating to the banishment from Vicksburg of Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston during 1864. She was banished for being a "general busybody with rebel interests, rebel philanthropist, mail receiver, carrier of smuggled funds to prisoners in jail, etc. etc." The letters are chiefly appeals to General Dana and others to have the order of banishment revoked. The originals of these three volumes were returned to the donor.
Volume 72 is a diary and plantation journal kept in 1830 by Dick H. Eggleston, who owned Learmont Plantation in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. He described social life in Wilkinson County, including visits from his neighbors who included Judge Randolph, members of the Gildart family, and others. He also described the work of his slaves on the plantation, where they planted cotton, peas, and corn.
Three scrapbooks and two commonplace books of Mahala P. H. Roach.
Volume 73 is a commonplace book given to Mahala before her marriage in 1836. She later gave it to her son Tom in 1886. It contains poems and quotations written by friends.
Volumes 74, 75, and 76 are scrapbooks, which appear to be from 1857, 1867, and 1868-1899. They contain newspaper clippings of poems, stories, and pictures.
Volume 77 is a commonplace book. It was given to Mahala by her aunt in 1872. Mahala gave it to her son Tom in 1886. It contains definitions and notes about various words such as "character" and "chastity."
A wallet that belonged to Dick H. Eggleston of Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi.
Processed by: Shonra Newman, March 1991
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
The description for Series 1 was taken from a previous inventory.Back to Top