Collection Number: 01258

Collection Title: Sarah Lois Wadley Papers, 1849-1886

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.

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Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 14 items)
Abstract Sarah Lois Wadley was the daughter of William Morrill Wadley (1812?-1882) and Rebecca Barnard Everingham Wadley (fl. 1840-1884) and lived with her family in homes near Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, Monroe and Oakland in Ouachita Parish, La., and near Macon, Ga. Diary, 1859-1884 (6 v.), of Sarah Lois Wadley and a few miscellaneous items. Entries in the diary document in detail opinions and events in the life of an articulate and alert young woman just before and during the Civil War. Early entries include a detailed description of a family trip from Amite, La., to visit relatives in New Hampshire. Entries during the war describe reactions to war news; life in the vicinity of Monroe, Oakland, and Homer, La., including comments on freedmen and federal troops; and some activities of Sarah's father, William Morrill Wadley, who managed the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad and served as Confederate superintendent of railroads. After the war, there are scattered entries, written mostly while living in Georgia, chiefly concerning family matters. One of the diary volumes includes miscellaneous accounts of William Morrill Wadley in Georgia, 1849-1850. Miscellaneous papers include three items relating to the Ladies' Aid Society of Monroe during the Civil War; a letter, 1869, from Sarah Wadley to her mother, Rebecca, describing a meeting with Robert E. Lee in Lexington, Va.; and an essay on etiquette.
Creator Wadley, Sarah Lois, 1844-1920.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the SARAH LOIS WADLEY PAPERS #1258, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Typed transcription of diary and microfilm of entire collection available.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Sarah Wadley Burt of Bolingbroke, Ga., in 1947, except for a "Brief Essay on Manners," by Sarah L. Wadley, which was received from Mrs. M. Raoul Millis of Atlanta, Ga.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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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.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

William Morrill Wadley (1812?-1882), the son of Dole Wadley (who had changed the spelling of his surname from Wadleigh), was born in Brentwood, New Hampshire, moved to Georgia around 1834, and subsequently worked for the Central Railroad of Georgia. He married Rebecca Barnard Everingham (fl. 1840-1884) with whom he had a number of children, including Sarah Lois (b. 1844), Mary Millen ("Miss Mary"), William ("Willie"), George Dole (b. 1857), and John Everingham (b. 1860). After living near Monroe, Louisiana, before and during the Civil War, William Morrill Wadley moved his family back to Georgia in late 1865. Other relatives mentioned in these papers are Sarah Lois Wadley's uncles, David Wadley (d. 1883) and Dole Wadley. Mary Millen Wadley married William Greene Raoul (1844-1913) after the Civil War.

Sarah Lois Wadley was the author of two published works: Brief Record of the Life of William M. Wadley, Written By His Eldest Daughter (1884) and In Memory of Rebecca Barnard Wadley(1906).

(For biographical information on William Morrill Wadley, see The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, I, 201, and The Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy, 422-423.)

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Sarah Lois Wadley kept her diary from August 1859 to October 1865, with occasional entries through 1886. Entries for 1859 and the first part of 1860 concern trips and moves of the Wadley family. From late 1860 onwards, Wadley's entries are flavored by her strong convictions about the righteousness of the South and the Confederacy; after the war, her entries became more scattered, eventually ceasing altogether in 1886 with the death of her father, William Morrill Wadley. Frequently mentioned are details of social life in the beleaguered Confederacy, with occasional details of the activities of her father, who served as superintendent of the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad and railroad manager for the Confederate government, and of her brother William Wadley, who performed quartermaster duty for the Confederate Army in Louisiana. A typed transcription of the diary also is on file.

In addition to the diary, there are ten miscellaneous items, including three Civil War items relating to a branch of the Women's Volunteer Aid Society near Monroe, Louisiana; an 1869 letter from Sarah Lois Wadley to her mother describing her meeting Robert E. Lee at Lexington, Virginia; and an undated essay by Wadley on etiquette.

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Contents list

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Arrangement: Manuscript volumes in chronological order, followed by transcriptions.

Folder 1

Volume 1. 8 August 1859-19 June 1861 (197 pages). #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 1

The diary begins with a description of a trip from Amite, Louisiana, by ship and train to New Hampshire and return to Vicksburg, Mississippi. A number of places are described in varying degrees of detail: Vicksburg, Miss.; St. Louis, Mo.; Chicago, Ill.; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Boston, Mass.; passage through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina; the old homestead near Ouachita, Ga.; New Orleans; Jackson, Miss.; and return to Vicksburg.

Social life and customs are mentioned, including daily events in the life of a young woman and special events including Christmas and Santa Claus (p. 36-39); a Jewish wedding (7 March 1860, p. 44); and the birth of John Everingham Wadley (6 April 1860). Politics are first mentioned in an entry at Vicksburg dated 26 October 1860, regarding the upcoming election, and the "perfidious abolitionists" (p. 98-100). "I shudder to contemplate a Civil War," Wadley wrote (p. 98); and on 4 December 1860, she described reading and hearing about Presbyterian clergyman Benjamin Morgan Palmer's Thanksgiving sermon at New Orleans, which advocated secession (p. 109-112). She also described a stay at Amite, Louisiana, mentioning family life and socializing there (29 December 1860-14 January 1861) and at Terry, Louisiana (14 January-6 February 1861).

Wadley mentioned the completion of the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Texas Railroad link from Vicksburg to Monroe, Louisiana, in the entry of 6 February 1861. In the entry for 16 February 1861, she mentioned the election of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens as president and vice-president of the Confederacy. Also mentioned is the appointment of William Morrill Wadley as superintendent of the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Texas Railroad, and the attack on Fort Sumter (18 April 1861, p. 174).

Other aspects of life mentioned in the diary include reading Sir Walter Scott novels (p. 115 and 27 March 1861); a detailed description of the furnishings in the Wadley household near Monroe, Louisiana (19 June 1861); and Sarah Lois Wadley's philosophy of life (p. 120).

Folder 2

Volume 2. 23 June 1861-17 April 1863 (155 pages) #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 2

Wadley recorded descriptions of the daily life of a young woman and special events, such as men of various ages leaving to join the Confederate army and the formation of a "military sewing society" with Sarah Lois Wadley as secretary (14 July 1861). This society was later called the Ladies Volunteer Aid Society (17 July 1861). Mention is made of church communion, given first to whites, then to blacks (14 July 1861, p. 20-21).

Rumors of war are frequently mentioned, including initial news of the First Battle of Manassas (22-28 July 1861); the Battle of Shiloh (called by Wadley, "Corinth,: 13," 30 April 1862); an erroneous report that generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston were killed at Yorktown, Virgina, and that President Jefferson Davis was personally in command (4 May 1862); and scattered news of Union attempts to capture Vicksburg. William Morrill Wadley predicted that the war would last through Lincoln's administration (15 September 1861), which caused Sarah Lois Wadley to grimly contemplate "four long years of war." She described an incident at Amite involving foreigners in the Confederate army (21 September 1861) in which a civilian's house was burned down. Conscription of men 18-35 is mentioned (20 April 1862), as are Sarah Lois Wadley's concerns for her brother William Wadley's safety.

Wadley mentioned (18 December 1861) that William Morrill Wadley was appointed Confederate superintendent of railroads by President Jefferson Davis, with the rank of colonel and assistant adjutant general. There is also mention of an Indian mound located just north of Bayou de Leard (23 March 1863).

During Union operations against Vicksburg, the area around Monroe and Oakland, Louisiana, where Sarah Lois Wadley lived with her family, was frequently in danger of being raided by elements of the Union army. Wadley wrote often of activities involving soldiers and civilians of both sides. She wrote critically of General Albert Blanchard, who was for a time in charge of Confederate troops defending Monroe (e.g., on 28 December 1862, p. 147: "[I] f we only had a man here for a General instead of the effeminate creature we have... ".)

Folder 3

Volume 3A. 16 May-28 August 1863 (52 pages) #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 3

Folder 4

Volume 3B. 29 August 1863-11 February 1864 (134 pages) #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 4

In entries of July 9 and 12 1863 (Volume 3A, p. 26), Sarah Lois Wadley wrote of reports that Vicksburg had fallen. She wrote, "It is all the fault of General Pemberton ... our pride, our bulwark is gone, this is the end of our confidence and boasting." In an entry dated 2 September 1863, Wadley mentioned a meeting in Marshall, Texas, in which General E. Kirby Smith was given broad powers to control the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department, which had been cut off from the rest of the Confederacy by the surrender of Vicksburg. In September, William Morrill Wadley took his family and many of their belongings by wagon to southern Louisiana, where they hoped to cross the Mississippi and resettle in Georgia. There are long detailed descriptions of this journey, which, after unsuccessful efforts to cross the Mississippi, ended in the family's return to their house near Monroe, Louisiana, in October 1863.

Descriptions of military activities in early 1864 include, in an entry dated 4 January 1864, the murder of a young boy in Monroe by a Mexican member of a Texas regiment, and, in an entry dated 30 January 1864, William Wadley joining the Confederate cavalry, but subsequently performing mostly quartermaster work.

Volume 3B includes miscellaneous accounts of William Morrill Wadley's activities in Georgia, 1849-1850.

Folder 5

Volume 4. 16 February 1864-13 May 1865 (141 pages) #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 5

Once again, this volume provides a record of the daily life a young woman. Particular topics include people having lost their patriotism (25 March 1864); federal troops in the vicinity of Monroe (9-10 April 1864); freedmen bartering and seeking protection with the federal forces (11-15 April 1864); Sarah Lois Wadley's stay in Homer, Louisiana (8 June 1864); Wadley's renewed hope for peace and confidence in General Robert E. Lee, as Lincoln's administration seemed near ending (18 June 1864); destruction of the Oconee railroad bridge, which her father had built (15 August 1864); the fall of Atlanta and hopes that General John Bell Hood had saved his army (16 September 1864); mention of a friend having tea with General Prince Polignac (24 September 1864); appointment of Raoul as superintendent of Confederate railroad car works (27 September 1864); the diarist's distaste for the ideas of reconstruction (27 October 1864); the reelection of Lincoln (28 November 1864: "Nothing remains for us now but to fight bravely ..."); and her confidence in defeating Sherman during his march from Atlanta to Savannah (20 December 1864: "How I wish I were a man and in Georgia ... Sherman's audacity is unequalled ...").

Mention is made of a skirmish between William Wadley's unit and "Luke Earle's robber band" in Tensas Parish, Louisiana (14 January 1865). Other topics include Hood's "shameful defeat" near Nashville and General Joseph Hardee's necessary evacuation of Savannah (14 January 1865, p.112); the diarist's pride in her brother for serving in the Confederate army (25 January 1865); the fall of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, with it's refusal to concede defeat (3 February 1865); a Union raid at Monroe (11 February 1865); rumors that both Lee and Johnston had surrendered (20 April 1865); Lincoln's assassination (26 April 1865); rumors that only Lee's rearguard had surrendered, but that Johnston had won a major victory over Sherman in North Carolina (1 May 1865); and eventual realization of defeat.

The volume ends with a long lamentation over the defeat of the Confederacy (13 May 1865).

Folder 6

Volume 5. 18 May 1865-27 August 1886 (49 pages) #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 6

After an entry written at Oakland, Louisiana, 18 May 1865, describing life in the wake of the Confederacy's downfall, the journal recommences with an entry dated 26 September 1865 that has the same theme. The diarist then described her family's moving from Louisiana to Georgia in a journey that took over a month to complete (November to December). They travelled by a small wagon train to the Mississippi River, then they went by steamboat to New Orleans. By rail, they travelled to the Raoul household in southern Louisiana, where William Morrill Wadley and others formed the partnership of Raoul, Lory and Wadley (11 December 1865 at Columbus, Georgia). The family continued via Mobile, Ala., to Columbus, Georgia.

In an entry dated 30 January 1866, the diarist wrote that her father had been made head of the Georgia Central Railroad. After this entry, the diary has only occasional entries, some long but most very brief, recording mostly births, marriages, and deaths. There is a discussion of a fire at Mary (Wadley) Raoul's home (10 July 1873); indication that William Morrill Wadley had bought Colaparchee, a home fourteen miles from Macon, Georgia (4 November 1973); a description of Christmas at Colaparchee (30 December 1873); and the unveiling of a statue of William Morrill Wadley at Macon (18 June 1885).

Folder 7

Volume 6 (with Volume 7, 397 pages). #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 7

Typed transcriptions of volumes 1-2, made by arrangement of staff of the Southern Historical Collection, 1949-1952.

Folder 8

Volume 7 (with Volume 6, 397 pages). #01258, Series: "1. Diary" Folder 8

Typed transcriptions of volumes 3-5, made by arrangement of staff of the Southern Historical Collection, 1949-1952.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Miscellaneous Materials, 1849-1871 and undated.

10 items.

Miscellaneous materials consist of ten items that were formerly inserted in the diaries at random.

There is a letter dated 8 September 1859, A. F. Simpson at New Orleans to Rebecca Everingham Wadley requesting assistance from William ("Willie") Wadley to number and value the cattle she wanted to sell. Simpson was probably Adelia Forsyth Simpson, wife of Andrew P. Simpson. The Wadleys were probably living on or near the Simpson property in the vicinity of Amite. There is a summary, dated 26 February 1860, written by Sarah Lois Wadley, of the sermon preached by Dr. William Lord, pastor of the Episcopal Church at Vicksburg, Mississippi, earlier that day. There are three items relating to the Ladies Branch Society of the Pine Hills, part of the Ladies' Volunteer Aid Society, constituted to assist Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. All three items were written or transcribed by Sara Lois Wadley, secretary of the Branch Society. The first is a draft of a letter to a Captain Marks of the Vicksburg Blues, ca. 1861, about knitting socks and clothes for the troops. There is a letter dated 25 August 1866, from Mary [Stephens?] at Monroe to Sarah, about their friendship. In a letter to Rebecca Barnard Everingham Wadley, dated 14 July 1869, Sarah at Lexington, Virginia, described Lexington and the pleasure of meeting Robert E. Lee and going to tea in the Lee home with her father.

There is an engraving of two children taken from Peterson's Magazine, inscribed on verso: "Mrs. Wm. M. Wadley, Macon, Georgia, Feb. 15, 1871," and an undated homeopathic cure. There is also an untitled essay on etiquette, 24 small manuscript pages, written by Sarah Lois Wadley for her oldest niece, who was also her goddaughter, discussing general etiquette and table manners.

Folder 9

Miscellaneous materials, 1859-1871 and undated. #01258, Series: "2. Miscellaneous Materials, 1849-1871 and undated." Folder 9

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Processed by: Erik D. France, December 1990

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Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, November 2009

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