In Their Own Words
August 23, 1865
Journal Entry on Changed Lifestyle after Civil War
In Washington, Georgia, 25-year-old Eliza Frances Andrews recorded in her journal the changed lifestyle of her family following the Civil War:
“Up very early, sweeping and cleaning the house. Our establishment has been reduced from 25 servants to 5, and two of these are sick. Uncle Watson and Buck do the outdoor work, or rather the small part of it that can be done by two men. The yard, grove, orchards, vineyards, and garden, already show sad evidences of neglect. Grace does the washing and milks the cows, mammy cooks, and Charity does part of the housework, when well. Cora has hired Maum Rose, a nice old darkey that used to belong to the Dunwodys, to wait on her, and she is a great help to us. I worked very hard in the morning because I had a great deal to do. I got through by ten o’clock and was preparing for a nap when Cousin Liza came in with some of our country kin, and immediately after, Mrs. Jordan, with her sister, two children and three servants, came to spend the night. Other people came in to dinner - I counted twenty at table. Charity was well enough to wait in the dining-room, mammy and Emily did the cooking, but Mett and I had the other work to do, besides looking after all the company. I never was so tired in my life; every bone in my body felt as if it were ready to drop out, and my eyes were so heavy that I could hardly keep them open. I don’t find doing housework quite so much of a joke as I imagined it was going to be, especially when we have company to entertain at the same time, and want to make them enjoy themselves. By the way, Mrs. Jordan says I was right in dusting the top shelves first, so the laugh is on the other side. After dinner Mrs. Jordan and Mary Anderson wanted to do some shopping, and then we went to make some visits. On our return home we met [former family slaves] Dick and Emily, with their children, at the front gate, going out to begin life for themselves. All their worldly possessions, considerably increased by gifts of poultry, meal, bacon, and other provisions - enough to last them till they can make a start for themselves, besides crockery and kitchen utensils that mother gave them, had gone before in a wagon. Dick’s voice trembled as he bade me good-by, Emily could not speak at all, and Cinthy cried as if her heart would break. I felt very much like crying myself - it was so pitiful. Poor little Sumter, who has been fed every day of his life from father’s own hand, as regularly as old Toby from mine, was laughing in great glee, little dreaming what is in store for him, I fear. Little Charlotte, too, the baby, who always came to me for a lump of sugar or a bit of cake whenever she saw me in the kitchen, sat crowing in her mother’s arms, and laughed when she held out her little fat hand to tell me good-by. Poor little creature, I wonder how long it will be before her little shiny black face will be pinched and ashy from want! If it hadn’t been for the presence of all those strangers, I should have broken down and cried outright. Father took some silver change out of his purse and placed it in the child’s hand, and I saw a tear trickle down his cheek as he did so. Dick has hired himself out to do stable work, and has taken his family to live in a house out at Thompson’s, that den of iniquity. I am distressed about Cinthy, exposed to such temptations, for they say it is disgraceful the way those Yankee soldiers carry on with the negro women. Altogether it has been a sad, trying day, and as soon as I could go to my room and be alone for awhile, I sat on the edge of the bed and relieved myself by taking a good cry, while Metta, like Rachael - refused to be comforted.”
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-65 (New York: Appleton, 1908), pp. 376-378.