150 Years Ago, Amanda Wilson Wrote: January 1-7, 1861

Posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Cincinnati's Amanda Wilson kept a daily journal during 1861

Amanda Wilson, a 28-year-old Cincinnati woman, chronicled her daily life amid the chaos of the commencement of the Civil War. Excerpts from her 1861 journal will be posted every week, allowing Amanda to join us at our kitchen tables.

For Amanda Wilson’s entire journal, read the book;

Queen City Lady.

January 1 (Tues.):  Kept open house with Minnie[1]. Day fine and spent pleasantly. Had 25 or 30 calls – a small number but select and worthy friends. Evening played whist with Husband, Mr. Bacheldor and Mr. Wright.[2] My side successful. Minnie remained all night.

January 2 (Wed.): Pleasant morning spent in attending to household affairs. Had complimentary tickets loaned to me to see the painting “Heart of the Andes” but it sleeted in the afternoon and having seen it before, I remained at home and formed good resolutions for the New Year. May it be the best of my life. May my friends be spared to me and may God bless them to me. Had a short call in the morning.[3]

January 3 (Thur.): Went with husband to hear the lecture by Miss Hardinge. Very good lecture. Miss H. is engaged in a most worthy and noble cause. I wish her God speed. Subject of lecture, “Signs of the Times.”[4] Made very pretty remarks about our country.

January 4 (Fri.): Papers filled with rumors of war. Great excitement and hard times promised. But in Him who in death all things [are] well, I put my trust. May he bid these angry clouds disperse and restore that peace won by the Independence fathers and instead of Secession, cause this, our glorious Union, to be more closely united in the bonds of love and good will.[5]


[1] Minnie Bradley was Amanda’s younger sister. She was married to William Bradley. The couple lived in Newport, KY, and had three children; Katie, Carrie, and Will.

[2] William’s Cincinnati Directory: City Guide and Business Mirror, for 1861 (C.S. Williams, 1861), p. 47, and 364. Samuel H. Bacheldor was part owner of the company, Bacheldor, DeCamp, and Company, a paper dealer, which was located at 61 Walnut. He resided in Lockland, OH. William Wright was a commission merchant, of Wright and Company, located as 68 W. 3rd St. They were both business associates of Amanda’s husband, Obed Wilson.

[3] Cincinnati Daily Commercial, 2 Jan. 1861, p.3. The Cincinnati newspaper noted the artwork, The Heart of the Andes, writing, “The exhibition of this magnificent work of art closes today. There will never be another opportunity to see it here, as the picture has been purchased by a private gentleman of New York for his own gallery.

[4] Cincinnati Daily Commercial, 3 Jan. 1861, p.2: The newspaper recorded, “Miss Emma Hardinge, whose earnestness of character and eloquence of expression have enlisted the interest of many of our citizens, will address the public this evening at the Unitarian Church,  … seats are free.”

[5] Cincinnati Daily Commercial, 4 Jan. 1861, p.1. The martial pressures were aptly described in the Cincinnati paper: “It is high time that all conservative men, South as well as North, should look secession in the face and see what it means, and what must be the results.” The paper continued, “The dangers of servile insurrection looms up in frightful proximity to the Southern planters … every branch of the Northern industry must suffer; millions in the free states will be thrown out of employment.” The Commercial stated further, “In the South Carolina convention, on last Monday … three members … declared the Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional.”

Cincinnati Daily Commercial, 4 Jan. 1861, p.3. The paper noted the move to secede arising in Florida: “A large number of delegates to the [Florida] state convention have arrived here [Tallahassee] … Resolutions will be adopted, declaring the right of Florida to secede.”

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