Beginning on June 15, 1850 and ending February 28, 1870, Hiram Fain kept a diary in a bound book (8 x 10"). The first few pages also contain a record of births and deaths in his family through 1880 comparable to what is usually put in a family Bible.
Hiram was born May 19, 1807 as the third child of Nicholas and Sallie Gammon Fain. Hiram's brother Richard Fain was born in 1811 and his wife Eliza kept diaries over a span of 50 years. The diaries are quite different as Hiram tended to record the daily weather while Eliza recorded what the preacher said at church. While Hiram was older than Richard he married 10 years after his brother Richard married Eliza. Hiram married Sarah Petty on April 5, 1842 in Fayette County, West Tennessee. Sarah was born in Northampton County, North Carolina on February 12, 1819 and the book says her maiden name was Sowerby. Springvale the home of Hiram Fain still stand two miles East of Rogersville along with the springhouse mentioned in this diary and a slave cabin on the old stage road (11 W business) but across the road are two automobile dealerships.
Transcription of Hiram Fain's diary runs slightly over 50 pages. The original of the diary has been deposited with the East Tennessee Historical Society along with a copy of the transcript. A copy has also been placed in the H. B. Stamps Memorial Library, Genealogical Collection, at Rogersville, TN.
The home of Richard and Eliza Fain burned around 1897. This home was across the road and down a lane from Springvale. The partial transcription (700 pages) of Eliza Fain's diaries were placed in the archives of Appalachia at ETSU in Johnson City. The originals of the 28 diaries of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain of Rogersville were deposited in the ETHS-McClung library in Knoxville. A copy of these diaries were also placed in the H. B. Stamps Memorial Library, Genealogical Collection, at Rogersville, TN.
At present, Dr. John N.Fain of Memphis, who inherited the family papers of Richard and Eliza Fain, is the owner of these diaries which have recently been published.Dr. Fain is Van Vleet Professor in the Department of Molecular Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain was a distant relative.
These are wonderful diaries. Eliza Fain tells the history of the war as it is happening at Rogersville. She tells of soldiers, even their names, from other places stopping by their home; tells of deaths, the battle at Big Creek; happenings in the area and in town at the time. She tells so much that the reader can take himself back in time to that very day and know all the happenings around Rogersville. Everyone who reads these diaries are in awe of them and so thankful that Dr. Fain has shared them.
Excerpt from Hiram Fain's Diary: June 8, 1861 This is the day in which the election takes place that will determine whether or not the state will become a member of the Southern Confederacy. There is great excitement in this county and all over the state. I went to town and voted for separation and representation. Brother Richard got home this evening from Nashville.
Excerpt from Eliza Fain's Diary: Feb. 10, 1864 Yesterday Gen. Vaughn & cousin Jimmie Rhea took dinner with us. They with other officers of the Brigade had taken a ride to lock out a more pleasant place for an encampment, went and surveyed around the ebbing & flowing spring, do not know what conclusion they came to. Gen. V. is a very pleasant man plain and unassuming. I think he is a good man. May he put his trust in that God who is able to deliver.......After dinner Kit Spears came - was on his way home - from the army at Dalton. He does not look well.
Dr. Fain has recently written me (Sept 2004) to tell me that his book entitled Sanctified Trial, The Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee has just been published by the University of Tennessee Press in their VOICES OF THE CIVIL WAR series. The book is the culmination of a 35 year project that involved his transcribing the more intersting parts of the almost 1,000,000 words that Eliza put down over 57 yers and then preparing about 13% of the original diary for publication. The diary as published is 384 pages of text including copies of 3 maps and 17 documents plus 12 pages of photographs, 63 pages of prefatory remarks, a selected bibliography and index.
The originals of the twenty-eight volumes that comprise the diary as discovered eighty years after Eliza's death have been donated to the McClung Historical Collection, East Tennessee History Center, Knoxville, Tennessee where they are also available on microfilm along with some of the relevant papers that he donated as well. Dr. Fain has assigned all authors royalties to the McClung Collection. The book is available from Amazon.com which appears to have the best price.
(The following description was copied from the UT press web site.)
Sanctified Trial is the riveting Civil War diary of a Confederate woman of strong religious faith and equally strong proslavery convictions. Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain (b. 1816), who lived in Rogersville, Tennessee, kept diaries from shortly after her marriage to Richard Gammon Fain in 1833 until her death in 1892, John N. Fain has prepared this edition of the portion of these diaries that focuses on the war years. Her husband and five of her six sons fought on the side of the South in a sharply divided East Tennessee. With a farm that housed nine slaves, Eliza Fain was no reluctant Confederate but a consistent supporter of secession, while many of her neighbors were equally ardent Unionists. A deep religious devotion, exemplifying that of many nineteenth-century Presbyterians, runs throughout her writing. She demonstrates her convictioin that a leading cause of the war was northern misinterpretation of the Bible with respect to slavery. This diary is distinctive for its account of increasing clashes with Unionist "bushwhackers" and for its graphic description of the atrocities on both sides. The Civil War surged around Rogersville, near the Fain farm, with alternating occupation by both North and South. When her farm was looted in 1865, Fain attempted to defend her family and home from depredations by both Yankee troops and guerrillas. The entries from the period of Reconstruction reveal Fain's concerns about perceived threats from poor whites and freed slaves. Overall, however, this busy mother focuses throughout on the private life of her family, and her writings tell us much about the challenges of everyday life almost a century and a half ago.
Return to Main Page
Copyright © 1999/2000/2001 by Sheila Weems Johnston