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In Their Own Words

August 01, 1870

Financial Woes Lamented

For a variety of reasons, financial problems beset many families in Georgia during Reconstruction. From Richmond County, Gertrude Thomas recorded in her diary the sadness and humiliation of losing their property, which she attributes in part to her husband’s poor handling of their financial affairs:

“… I do not like to record my dull heavy moments in my Journal. I would like for it to record nothing but brightness and sunshine, but life is made up of light and shadows and my own is not an exception… . I well remember going to the rink to witness the skating with the consciousness never absent during the morning that everyone who looked upon me would remember that a few days before, at the market, my husband had had his property sold by the sheriff - and I well remember that never had I looked brighter or jested more merrily, while secretly I writhed in mortified pride. The first bitter agony is over and now I, yes I must be candid, I forget it, at times. You ask me if I am a better woman for this chastening. I answer, No - at heart I am rebellious still. Yet, in my own conscience, I think a great deal of what we call bad luck is bad management.”

Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 333-334.