Help I can’t read!

Older The Better

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Apr 24, 2017
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I’m new to the civil war forum but I just inherited quite a piece of history from my grandma who was on the verge of throwing it out. She had a tub of old photos and such that she was going to throw out. I sat down to look through it and found this letter I asked her if I could have it and she basically said take what ever you want.

I can read just enough to get the story but it’s hard to truly enjoy it when I can’t read chunks of the letter. I’m trying to write it out so I can read it easier but I’m still struggling to make out some words. I thought maybe somebody here may be used to reading these types of things and could help me to more or less translate.

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Upvote 0
using a large dimeter magnifying lens might help?

see if you can locate on the internet forms of writing for the year the letter was written "Common Handwriting Cursive Letters", or some form of that for a search term. (assuming there is a date on the letter)

What an interesting and exciting challenge and to be able to hold that letter in your own White Cotton Gloved covered Hands (to keep your body oil from smearing the ink). If the writer is known or even somewhat famous then the letter at auction might be valuable, any new ink smears would lower the auction value!............63bkpkr

also, having enough lighting on the letter to keep your Eye Iris diameter as small as possible will improve your sight. possibly back lighting the page could help?
 

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using a large dimeter magnifying lens might help?

see if you can locate on the internet forms of writing for the year the letter was written "Common Handwriting Cursive Letters", or some form of that for a search term. (assuming there is a date on the letter)

What an interesting and exciting challenge and to be able to hold that letter in your own White Cotton Gloved covered Hands (to keep your body oil from smearing the ink). If the writer is known or even somewhat famous then the letter at auction might be valuable, any new ink smears would lower the auction value!............63bkpkr

also, having enough lighting on the letter to keep your Eye Iris diameter as small as possible will improve your sight. possibly back lighting the page could help?

I don’t know if it’s changes in spelling or he wasn’t the best speller but I think there’s a lot of errors, no punctuation, and extra flourishes. There is a date feb 29 1863.

I def understand your concern about the gloves but somebody laminated them for better or worse so I’m safe there.
 

Here you go: Quotes are the modern correction or I can't read it with question marks.

Franklin Ten
Feb the 29 63

Dear Mother I take my pen in hand to informe you that I am well as usual. I received your letter on the 19th of the month. Also one dated the 28th of the month. I was very glad to hear from you. We had very hard times now we (were) are in a scurmick (skirmish) most ever(y) day. I came very near being shot last night (cannot make this word out). I was on picket last night and I of course I was there for, as I never my every duty. I went out from the headquarters of the picket guard to put on a relief. I put on my relief and brought in the old relief.

(There is a line not visible.)

Half way to headquarters and I sent the men into headquarters and I went across to the other picket line to report which was about one mile. I approached the Videt as I supposed and I was halted and I was challenged by the questioning (not sure of that word) who comes there. A friend was my reply. Advance friend the Videt said I advanced when I had got within 10 paces of the Videt as I supposed he was he proved himself to be an enemy by shooting at me the ball past (passed) through my coat and shirt and slightly cut the skin on my shoulder. I drawed my revolver to my face and demanded him to surrender.

Page 3

Which he did not refuse to do I was fired on from a distance but to no avail. The reserve of the line approaching? that I was going to soon reinforced me then I was all right and ready the next time that revisit my neighbor picket, I will take some men with me. I enlisted in the regiment the 1 of September 62 a private. I was soon promoted to a corporal, served until the first of this month as first Cp when I was promoted to first duty sergeant. Pay is $17 per month which is good deal better than private pay.

Page 4
Mother, I would like to have you send me our liking (word?). You wrote that the little children wanted to see me, they don’t want to see me no worse than I want to see them. I lost Luicey Likeny (something like that), when we went over the mountain. I would like you to send another one to me.

Excuse mistakes in spelling and poor writing for I am in a hurry. Write as soon as you get this.

Send me some more Stomky (maybe S turkey, or corrupt language for tobacco?) for I can’t get them here.

Edwin J. Townsend

Ok, so who can figure out Luicey Likeny or Stomky? I actually think it's the same thing he lost going over the mountain he wants more of. You will get a PRIZE for the correct answer! How about a Civil War pair of bullets, genuine of course? No joke.


That is a GREAT LETTER.
 

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Could this be him?
Name:Edwin J Townsend
Residence:Kalamazoo, Michigan
Age at Enlistment:19
Enlistment Date:1 Sep 1862
Rank at enlistment:Private
Enlistment Place:Kalamazoo, Michigan
State Served:Michigan
Survived the War?:Yes
Service Record:Enlisted in Company I, Michigan 2nd Cavalry Regiment on 01 Sep 1862.Promoted to Full Sergeant on 04 Nov 1864.Promoted to Full Qtr Master Serg on 16 Mar 1865.Mustered out on 03 Jun 1865 at Nashville, TN.
Birth Date:abt 1843
Sources:Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers 1861-65Research by R. Ross Houston
 

I'd bet on it. Nice research. I used to have to read document sometimes 300 years old, so am fairly decent with translations.
 

I’m new to the civil war forum but I just inherited quite a piece of history from my grandma who was on the verge of throwing it out. She had a tub of old photos and such that she was going to throw out. I sat down to look through it and found this letter I asked her if I could have it and she basically said take what ever you want.

I can read just enough to get the story but it’s hard to truly enjoy it when I can’t read chunks of the letter. I’m trying to write it out so I can read it easier but I’m still struggling to make out some words. I thought maybe somebody here may be used to reading these types of things and could help me to more or less translate.

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This is a great Historical letter and a personal piece of History. In the letter, Mr. Townsend mentions that he's in Franklin, Tenn. In the Battle of Franklin 5 Confedederate Generals were killed. Among them were Gen. Patrick Cleburne, and General States Rights Gist. This is one Great Historical document you have. Great save. So glad this was not thrown out. You Did Good. Congrat's.
 

Could this be him?
Name:Edwin J Townsend
Residence:Kalamazoo, Michigan
Age at Enlistment:19
Enlistment Date:1 Sep 1862
Rank at enlistment:Private
Enlistment Place:Kalamazoo, Michigan
State Served:Michigan
Survived the War?:Yes
Service Record:Enlisted in Company I, Michigan 2nd Cavalry Regiment on 01 Sep 1862.Promoted to Full Sergeant on 04 Nov 1864.Promoted to Full Qtr Master Serg on 16 Mar 1865.Mustered out on 03 Jun 1865 at Nashville, TN.
Birth Date:abt 1843
Sources:Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers 1861-65Research by R. Ross Houston

I’m not home today but I’ve got a piece of paper with some family history, I think you are right. I have a Edwin Justus Townsend born apr. 03 1843 died may 03 1918. It all adds up except most of that side were Missouri people but my current paper doesn’t say where he was born just that he was married in Missouri in 1867
 

Been having to work long hours once I get some free time I’ll try to figure out what luicey likeny, stomky, are thanks for the bulk of the translation, here is another letter that was in the box of stuff that confirms Alabama has the right guy
ImageUploadedByTreasureNet.com1560999476.177981.jpg
 

Here you go: Quotes are the modern correction or I can't read it with question marks.

Franklin Ten
Feb the 29 63

Dear Mother I take my pen in hand to informe you that I am well as usual. I received your letter on the 19th of the month. Also one dated the 28th of the month. I was very glad to hear from you. We had very hard times now we (were) are in a scurmick (skirmish) most ever(y) day. I came very near being shot last night (cannot make this word out). I was on picket last night and I of course I was there for, as I never my every duty. I went out from the headquarters of the picket guard to put on a relief. I put on my relief and brought in the old relief.

(There is a line not visible.)

Half way to headquarters and I sent the men into headquarters and I went across to the other picket line to report which was about one mile. I approached the Videt as I supposed and I was halted and I was challenged by the questioning (not sure of that word) who comes there. A friend was my reply. Advance friend the Videt said I advanced when I had got within 10 paces of the Videt as I supposed he was he proved himself to be an enemy by shooting at me the ball past (passed) through my coat and shirt and slightly cut the skin on my shoulder. I drawed my revolver to my face and demanded him to surrender.

Page 3

Which he did not refuse to do I was fired on from a distance but to no avail. The reserve of the line approaching? that I was going to soon reinforced me then I was all right and ready the next time that revisit my neighbor picket, I will take some men with me. I enlisted in the regiment the 1 of September 62 a private. I was soon promoted to a corporal, served until the first of this month as first Cp when I was promoted to first duty sergeant. Pay is $17 per month which is good deal better than private pay.

Page 4
Mother, I would like to have you send me our liking (word?). You wrote that the little children wanted to see me, they don’t want to see me no worse than I want to see them. I lost Luicey Likeny (something like that), when we went over the mountain. I would like you to send another one to me.

Excuse mistakes in spelling and poor writing for I am in a hurry. Write as soon as you get this.

Send me some more Stomky (maybe S turkey, or corrupt language for tobacco?) for I can’t get them here.

Edwin J. Townsend

Ok, so who can figure out Luicey Likeny or Stomky? I actually think it's the same thing he lost going over the mountain he wants more of. You will get a PRIZE for the correct answer! How about a Civil War pair of bullets, genuine of course? No joke.


That is a GREAT LETTER.

I think the likney and the one at the top of the page, may be “Likeness” photographs were new at the time and that may be what he is referring to. He lost the likeness of her on the mountain and would like another? Just a guess.
 

And Stomky maybe be “stamps” and I mean he wants a tinotype of his mother and he lost Lucy’s on the mountain and wants another.
 

Awesome translation Smokey really enjoyed reading it....
 

NEWLY REVISED


Franklin Ten
Feb the 29 63

Dear Mother I take my pen in hand to informe you that I am well as usual. I received your letter on the 19th of the month. Also one dated the 28th of the month. I was very glad to hear from you. We had very hard times now we (were) are in a scurmick (skirmish) most ever(y) day. I came very near being shot last night (cannot make this word out). I was on picket last night and I of course I was there for, as I never my every duty. I went out from the headquarters of the picket guard to put on a relief. I put on my relief and brought in the old relief.

(There is a line not visible.)

Half way to headquarters and I sent the men into headquarters and I went across to the other picket line to report which was about one mile. I approached the Videt as I supposed and I was halted and I was challenged by the questioning (not sure of that word) who comes there. A friend was my reply. Advance friend the Videt said I advanced when I had got within 10 paces of the Videt as I supposed he was he proved himself to be an enemy by shooting at me the ball past (passed) through my coat and shirt and slightly cut the skin on my shoulder. I drawed my revolver to my face and demanded him to surrender.

Page 3

Which he did not refuse to do I was fired on from a distance but to no avail. The reserve of the line approaching? that I was going to soon reinforced me then I was all right and ready the next time that revisit my neighbor picket, I will take some men with me. I enlisted in the regiment the 1 of September 62 a private. I was soon promoted to a corporal, served until the first of this month as first Cp when I was promoted to first duty sergeant. Pay is $17 per month which is good deal better than private pay.

Page 4
Mother, I would like to have you send me our liking (word?). You wrote that the little children wanted to see me, they don’t want to see me no worse than I want to see them. I lost Suzy's likeness, when we went over the mountain. I would like you to send another one to me.

Excuse mistakes in spelling and poor writing for I am in a hurry. Write as soon as you get this.

Send me some more S tobacco (smoke tobacco) for I can’t get them here.

Edwin J. Townsend

The changes are in bold.


That is a GREAT LETTER.
 

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Those old letters are interesting to read. They really have a lot of Historical significance with a personal touch and a view through the eyes of those soldiers who fought in the war.
 

Update: I used my letter as inspiration on an old pine box I thought I’d jazz up
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