Alexander Family Papers

See finding aids at Kentucky Historical Society.

I looked quickly at correspondence folders in Boxes 12-15, 18-19 looking for references to Zebulon Ward. Only thing I found was a receipt signed by Zeb Ward as superintendent of the Kentucky penitentiary, paying Alexander for about $21 worth of goods on November 19, 1856.1 And also one of the Humphreys letters mentioned below.

Also a letter from D. C. Humphreys, Spring Station, to “Alie,” February 2, 1864, discussing slaves in the area:

I am sorry to have to inform you of the death of Tom. The news came to me through Jacob Harper, who informs me Tom’s wife received a letter informing her of the sad event. His death was occasioned by an attack of jaundice. Tom was down at Christmas, but I did not see him. Armstead, John & Prince have been down also. Armstead the only one I have seen. I don’t know whether he has left the neighborhood yet or not. I sent him a message last Saturday to leave on yesterday and suppose he done so. A part of the time he laid up from sickness and then on account of cold weather. I heard a report coming from Jas Hall of Versailles, that John had stole a horse & put out towards Knoxville, but I don’t believe it. I sent Mr. Hitt down to old Reuben [Hutchens?] farm on Saturday last to enquire about Prince, and he larnt that he left there on Monday 25th ulto. The reason I sent was that some one went into your stable on Thursday night & took the stray horse and rode him off. He was found in my Barley field on Friday morning. I told Joe I thought it strange, that his dogs would allow any stranger to take a horse without giving him notice. The horse was put up in the stable on Friday night, and Joe came over on Saturday morning & let me know the horse was taken again for good, & I feat that is the last of him. I am affraid Armstead Prince or John has had something to do with the business, & if the horse has gone up to Camp Nelson, you might as well look for a needle in a haystack, as to look for him. I have got Mary Eliza off your place. Daniel agreed to take her & old Lydia to clothe feed & pay Doctors bill for Mary Eliza & child, if I would clothe old Lydia. I understand old Lydia refuses to go. What shall I do with her? Your mother is for making her go & says you have no more right to feed & clothe her than her or any of the family. I thought her daughter & grandchildren were her natural & would be her best protectors. Joe is getting on first rate. Nearly finished breaking up the cloverfield & has commenced breaking hemp, your wheat looks promising. Old Elsey is well.2

A subsequent letter from Humphreys to Alie, dated May 3, 1864, enclosed a notice in the newspaper that the U.S. Army would be paying owners of “impressed negroes” who had been working on fortifications near Camp Nelson, and told Alexander who should “send me Power Atty to receive your hire for Tom Armistead John & Prince, and you had better make it full enough to authorize me to dispose of John & Prince, who have I think as far as they can disposed of themselves.”3

Humphreys then wrote again on June 24, 1864, to inform Alexander of the outcome of Morgan’s raid in the area:

You and myself did not suffer in the way of horseflesh. … Your brother Robert lost some farm Horses and the Glenco Mare I sold him, & was very near losing two of his best race horses. Daniel Sargent got them on Saturday night before the fight early on Sunday morning. Z. Ward & Robt Gray sent off their Hourses for safety into Owen County & lost all. I wish I could give you as good news about our losses by the Federal troops under orders from Secretary of War. We are in danger of losing every hand on our farms, before harvest. There is a perfect stampede of “darkies” in Franklin & Woodford. Just before Morgan reached Lexington, Charborn [sp?] Quilla & Beverly put out. Then Henderson, Sam, Chase, & William (Josephine’s husband) & Washington from [Summers Forest?]. Then Harry, Sanford, & your boy Charles. Then Gilles & little George Canada (Ismelda’s son) and then your valuable negro man Armstead. Cottingham’s young boy left with Gilles. All have gone to Camp Nelson, which is a safer place than Canada ever was, as they are fed clothed & paid wages by the Government, and I am told have orders there to receive all that present themselves of both sexes. Bernard [Grates?] & his Father has lost I believe 15, James McKee had 5 to go off Wednesday night. Dr. Hurst 2 or 3. [William?] has lost all of his. You have no idea of the number that are leaving. I don’t know [what] your Boy Dick would have done if he had been well. When Charles left he had been sick for several weeks but is now able to go about & do some work. Joe has been quite sick. He is able now to work some, and commenced cutting your barley yesterday. I requested your Brother to send George home to plough and asked Daniel Sargent yesterday to pay back some of Armstead’s work by sending 2 hands today which if he does will finish your barley. I forgot to say Quilla was rejected in Lexington, as a soldier, and I got him back, but I expect to take a fresh start as soon as he can make his arrangements as he can cook, wait on an officer or find employment in the quartermaster, engineer, or commissary departments. All are wanted that can work, except old Sam, Billy, Frank, & old Peter at Summers Point. We will soon have to wait on ourselves & the infirm negroes, but enough of this sickening business. Your brother has been fortunate so far. He has lost a few only them he purchased to send up to work at Camp Nelson. …4

Humphreys reported in a subsequent letter, dated July 20, 1864, that he was able to get “3 of my hands back that was refused as soldiers” at Camp Nelson.5

A letter from R. A. Alexander to “Alie” or “Alec,” dated January 5, 1866 from Spring Station, Kentucky, states that “I got home on Wednesday morning & found every thing quiet, but the darkies are still unsettled in their minds on the subject of freedom & wages. I have not made up my plans yet, desiring to see a little further before doing any thing. My affairs here have gone on about as usual since I went away, but I lost a fine Lexington colt out of a Glencoe mare found dead in the box where I had two together without any sign of disease or injury.”6

  1. Alexander Family Papers, Kentucky Historical Society, MSS 93, Box 15, Folder 2.

  2. Alexander Family Papers, Kentucky Historical Society, Box 18, Folder 10.

  3. Alexander Family Papers, Kentucky Historical Society, Box 18, Folder 10.

  4. Humphreys to Alie, June 24, 1864, Box 18, Folder 10, Alexander Family Papers, Kentucky Historical Society.

  5. See Humphreys to Alie, July 20, 1864, Box 18, Folder 11, Alexander Family Papers, Kentucky Historical Society.

  6. See Alexander Family Papers, Box 19, Folder 6, Kentucky Historical Society.