Almarinda Kinnison Shaw's 1865 Letter

June 23, 1865

Transcribed by Linda Durr Rudd

Almarinda was born 09 September 1835 in Jefferson County, Mississippi and died 01 October 1869 in Lincoln County. She was the daughter of Nathaniel Kinnison, Jr., and Lydia Stotts. She married Albert Shaw, son of Thompson Breckenridge Shaw and Mary Shaw. Almarinda and Albert had two children; Clarence b. 1859 and Albert b. 1863.

Almarinda's world changed with the Civil War, the death of her husband in 1864 and the emancipation of the slaves. She was a member of a slave owning family; her father Nathaniel Kinnison owned 91 slaves in Jefferson County, MS, per the 1860 Jefferson County Slave Schedule. According to the 1860 Copiah County Slave Schedule, her husband Albert Shaw owned 27 slaves and her mother-in-law Mary Shaw owned 55 in Jefferson County. Almarinda's husband Albert Shaw would recieve two slaves from his father Thompson B. Shaw's estate, Henrietta and William, in 1856.

This letter was written to her mother-in-law Mary Shaw. She writes of her frustrations with the Federal troops, freedmen, and her loneliness.

June 23rd /65

Dear Mother,

Primus and Abe arrived safely at my home wednesday night. I thank you very much for the things you sent me. Only way of my ever repaying you for your kindness is the love I feel for you & your family. There is scarcely a minute in the day but of what I am thinking of my darling husband. but seldom I feel any liveliness about me unless I have very lively company. Oh that dreadful dreary blank feeling I have when I am all alone. No one to go to for advice or assistance when I have my little troubles. but there is no use murmurring We cannot alter anything by it. My neighbors have been kind which helps to console me somewhat. We are suffering very much for the want of rain. I am afraid the corn will be and short. we planted no cotton. it was as much as Mr. Beal could do to get the negroes to half cultivate the corn. The Provost Marshal was here last week making contracts with the negroes. He would not let me give the women but one dollar a month & the men three dollars. I had made a contract with them previous to his coming giving them the highest government price, only for a month. I could scarcely get them to stay with me without turning off Mr. Beal. Before I would feed & clothe a parcel of lazy negroes & have to pay them such high prices & have nobody to make them work. I would turn the last one of them off, They acted like they were crazy until the provost marshal had a chat with them. he told me not to allow any looks of impudence from them to report it to him & he would come out here if he had to walk every step of the way & he would staighten them so they never would look sour again. I would like to have had him for an overseer during the war.

The negroes are not satisfied but they are afraid to say anything. I have taken the oath. will have to take another so I hear. an oath to sustain the emancipation proclamation. I do not care one cent if the negroes are free very little more than I do now for I do just as much work as my negro woman about the yard. If they do anything a little extra, they are so tender thay lay up sick. I could not get them to spin any scarcely. well I thought I would see if I could learn to spin. I carded my own rolls & spun four five cut hanks in four days and it was very nice thread. That proved to me that they idled off their time for none of them spin much more. I have been at it every since the war commenced. I cannot bear the idea of raising up my children with a parcel of negroes. they will do all in their power to ruin them. I am sending Clarence & Nannie to school. Clarence and little Buddy have both been sick but are well now. some of the negroes are sick. My health is very good. I sometimes feel quite feeble but I work that feeling off, did not give up to it. You spoke of my making another bill & sending it to you. The most that I shall want will be clothing for my children. ? domestic bleached. I do not know if it is worth while to bother you, for I shall want to carry some cotton to Natchez in the course of a month & I could go in myself. I do not like to take such a little price for cotton so long as I can do without selling. I will not sell. I must get flour anyhow & some coffee, flour is worth twenty dollars a barrel in Brookhaven. Calico fifty cents a yrd, coffee 45 cents. everything very high. The yankees are continually passing often stop, they try to do as they please whenever they come into the yard. I made some of them terrible angry one day, they marched into the kitchen & Belle was dishing out the milk to about a dozen of them, without ever asking me a word. I made her stop giving it them. it made the Yankees terrible angry. I think I might have done wrong, but how can anybody take everything submit to them & the negroes too. how can anyone do it. I get angry every time I see one of them come in. They try to make us feel humble and dependent on them.

Tell --- see me. I -- not be satisfied with any excess. I am very much obliged to you for the carriage. Mr. Beal says he can fix it up nearly as good as ever. I can take my children with me whenever I go from home. I stay at home on their account. My buggy is so small I never like to take them all at a time & I do not like to them without some white person to watch over them. I will close my letter for my sheet is full nearly. give my love to all & a large portion yourself. Clarence sends love to you & says he will never forget his good Pa.



1860 Federal Census - Copiah County, MS
1860 Slave Schedule - Copiah County, MS
1860 Slave Schedule - Jefferson County, MS
Thomas Breckenridge Shaw's Jefferson County Probate Records - Case Number: D24 - Microfilm Number: 12189
Shaw Family Papers - Special Manuscript Collections - Folder One - Z/2205.000/S
All records found at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

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