1862: Thirza (Wakefield) Tucker to Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) Butler

Lt. Frank Butler, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

This letter was written to Lt. Benjamin Franklin (“Frank”) Butler (1829-1914) by his mother-in-law, Thirza C. (Wakefield) Tucker (1816-1886), the wife of James S. Tucker (1803-1864), a millman from Cherryfield, Maine, who relocated with his family to Stearns, Minnesota in the mid 1850s. Thirza was the daughter of James Wakefield (1783-1852) and Priscilla Small of Cherryfield, Washington county, Maine.

Benjamin Franklin Butler was born in Cornville, Somerset county, Maine, June 3, 1829, to Benjamin Butler (1779-1851) and Hannah (Hilton) Butler (1787-1861). He settled in Anoka, Minnesota Territory, in 1856. In 1858/1859 he moved to Fairhaven (Stearns County, Minnesota Territory) and bought a farm. He married Eliza Tucker (1840-1927) in July 1860, and lived in Fairhaven where he worked as a farmer, carpenter, and millwright.

On October 8, 1861, he enlisted in Co. D, 4th Minnesota Regiment, as a First Lieutenant. Co. D was ordered to Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory, until March, 1862 when they were relocated to Mississippi. He resigned from the military November 4, 1862, and returned to Fairhaven. In 1874 he moved to Minneapolis, continuing his work as a millwright.

He died at his home at 3206 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, on February 5, 1914. He was buried in Fairhaven Cemetery. He was survived by one daughter, Mrs. Lena Hall, and one grandson, Arthur Butler Hall. Eliza Tucker Butler (born 1840) died in 1927.

See also — 1862: Eliza (Tucker) Butler to Benjamin Franklin Butler and The Benjamin Franklin and Eliza Butler Collection at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Addressed to Lieut. B. F. Butler, Co. D, 4th Regiment Minnesota Vols., Gen. Pope’s Division, near Corinth [Mississippi]
Postmarked Fair Haven, MN July 4, 1862

Fair Haven [P. O., Stearns, Minnesota]
July 4th 1862

My dear child,

I seat myself this very pleasant cool morning to answer your kind and welcome letter which was gratefully received last Tuesday. There was two come for [your wife] Eliza the same day — one dated June 17th [and] I have forgotten the date of the other. I have them done up before me to send to her. In one you wanted her to send you some postage stamps. I will send you a few in this to last until hers gets there. If this goes straight there, it will get there before hers can. I expect she will be at home soon. Think she will come with [her brother] Ambrose [Tucker]. ¹ I had a letter from Dr. [Levi] Butler last Tuesday dated June 22. He wrote that he had that morning approved his [Ambrose Tucker’s] discharge paper. He said he did not think he was dangerously ill but said he needed more comforts than a camp life afforded for his speedy recovery. You can imagine the joy that word afforded me but I can’t express it. I often say is it possible that I shall ever see that dear son again. It seems much more than I am deserving of. I have fears that he will be sick on the road — he is so poorly. Dr. said he would start [home] inside ten days.

I hope the time is not far distant when we shall hear that you are coming home. You have more to induce you to stay than Ambrose does, but I hope if you are not able to do duty, you will come home. Don’t stay there until you are so sick that you can’t get home. I know it must be hard for you. I do pity you and often wish that you had never went but then I have this to console me — you don’t have to stand guard. Your place is not as hard as the poor soldier. I hope you will be kind to your men. Some of the boys write that their officers care nothing about them. They say [the] captain is no better than a wooden man. If you are kind to your men, they will never forget you.

Ambrose wrote to us if his lieutenant ever came here, to treat him as we would a brother for he said he had been a brother to him. He could not eat government fare so he gave him a home with him.

Carrie feels very bad about her husband. Your letter was the latest we have had. You said he was sick but did not say as he was better. I pity her. She looks very hollow. I know all her feelings. I hope we shall never hear that you are sick. I feel very anxious to hear from Mrs. Stanton. I hope you will write to her. How sad she must feel to lose so good a husband, I fear he was dead before she got there. ² Mrs. Prime wrote that Mrs. Vansyckle was most crazy. ³

I feel anxious to hear from the battle at Richmond if we have a great victory as we are hoping we shall. [Then] this war may possibly close. Won’t it be a happy day when we again hear the sound of peace? But how many bleeding hearts there will be that the sound of peace will not reach or affect [if] their dear friends are slain?

This is the Fourth of July. It is very quiet here (I believe you would enjoy it if you were here; you could lay down on the lounge and be so quiet). They have all gone to St. Cloud to celebrate the day. Mr. Patridge’s family is gone. Henry Roots, William Rice, M. Woolcott’s, Mont’s, Mrs. Dean, Eph. W. McCurdy took up Beal & Enoch Eastman. Anna went with Beal. Miss Northrup with Enoch. Ella went with Eph. Mr. Olds is not well enough to go. His health is very poor [and he] is not able to work. He took Mrs. Noyes, myself, & sister Merritt down to Elder Robinson’s the other day. I suppose you can imagine the most of our conversation that day — all about our dear friend in the army.

You will have to excuse a short letter this time. I will write you a long letter soon. The crops are looking finely. We shall have bread enough if nothing happens. I am going to have an Indian pudding for dinner. Wish you was here to eat with us. Mr. Tucker will commence haying next week. You will have a cow next March. I hope you will be at home to enjoy it. I don’t know as I shall direct this letter right as Gen. Pope has gone but I don’t know how to direct any other way. I have feared that his division would go with him. I expect it would be healthy in Virginia but I am afraid you would have to be in a battle. Anna received a letter from Dr. Carter. He expects to be here the last of this month. Tell him we will save eggs for him and enough for you too.

Yours with much love, — Mother

¹ Ambrose W. Tucker was born in Maine in 1834. He served 9 months in Co. B of the 3rd Minnesota in 1861-2.

² 2d Lieutenant Harrison Mayne Stanton (1832-1862) of Co. D, 4th Minnesota Infantry, died from a relapse of the measles at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, on 8 June 1862. He was married in October 1860 to Alida Estelle Parker (1842-1872).

³ 1st Sgt George W. Van Syckle [or Vansickle] (1834-1862) of Roscoe, Goodhue county, Minnesota, died at Hamburg Landing, Tennessee on 17 May 1862. He was married to Eliza Maria Webb (1833-1888) in October 1859 in Cold Water, Michigan.


Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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