Letter writer's family sought

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Channa Carsey's quest began with a visit to a rummage sale.

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Channa Carsey, of Enumclaw, Wash., found a stack of letters written by a woman from Camak, Ga., to her sister during the late 1800s.  Special
Special
Channa Carsey, of Enumclaw, Wash., found a stack of letters written by a woman from Camak, Ga., to her sister during the late 1800s.

"My mom loves estate sales and I hate them," she said. "Who wants dead people's stuff anyway?"

Being a good daughter, though, the nursing student from a small village in Washington state south of Seattle accompanied her mom to just such a sale last summer.

As they browsed through crates of old books in a back room, a small box caught her eye. Inside, yellowed from age, was a bundle of letters exchanged more than a century ago between sisters from the tiny Warren County town of Camak, Ga.

"I asked why they would sell someone's personal letters, and they told me they didn't know who the people were," she said.

On a whim, she bought the bundle of letters -- and began reading them.

The author, Sallie Holliman, used rolling cursive to describe everything from weddings and babies to crops and cattle.

Her sister, Anna Holliman, moved from place to place but took great care to fold and stack the letters together.

The correspondence -- dated from 1879 to 1885 -- offers an intimate glimpse into life in the post-Civil War South.

For instance, on Dec. 9, 1884, Sallie Holliman wrote that an outbreak of whooping cough and rough weather had taken a huge toll:

"Charlie Lowe's mother is dead and Sam Swint, too. Lib Kelley's baby and Marie Williford's baby. There is more babys buried out here than I can write -- for I haven't the paper. Lizzie Dixon's was buried at 4 o'clock."

Although she lives 3,000 miles from Warren County, Ms. Carsey hopes to locate descendants of the sisters.

"I want to return them to someone from that family and I've tried to locate them," she said. "I even talked to someone in Camak, and they told me they wanted to put the letters into a historical display. But I don't want them to go to just anybody. I want to find someone on their family."

She even made calls to a few Hollimans she found in phone books. "Nobody ever called me back."

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

CAN YOU MAKE THE CONNECTION?

Do you have information on Anna and Sallie Holliman? Can you connect Ms. Carsey with descendants of the sisters? Send an e-mail to Ms. Carsey at channacarsey@sprint.blackberry.net.

LETTERS IN TIME

Here are more excerpts from other letters, and their dates:

JUNE 15, 1885: "Joe and Susie are very affectionate -- they are as happy as Adam and Eve in Paradise.

"They have had many deaths up here. Uncle Adams Jones, old Mrs. Lane Todd and Mrs Minerva Beall. Hannalain -- John's wife, is dead, left 7 children & little baby 1 day old. Mandy Ladrimus left 6 children, a baby a week's old. Henry Bale's baby is dead and Bill Johnson lost 2. Miss Liza Greene's sister Nancy Grizzle is dead -- left 8 children."

JAN. 5, 1887: "Well, today is the time to elect county officers, and I don't think there will be many votes polled," she wrote. "The weather is bad and I don't think the people will turn out."

"The earth is all covered in snow and I may as well say the house to -- for the children will go out in it and they bring so much in with their shoes you can hardly tell whether the floor is plank or dirt.

"We have had a good many marriages this winter," she wrote. "Susie and Neal, John Swint and Beulah Shellon. Henry Shelton & Mattie Woodward. Lawrence Realey & Ellen Shelton. Emma Hawkens & Charlie Walden.

"Brother David's little Charlie got burned very bad. They were killing hogs and the pot turned over and scalded both his legs from his knees down. All the skin is off."

At the Mill Creek church, that year, members of the Sunday school class were given gifts:

"Clyde got a silk handkerchief. Bob got a wooden doll that would dance. Henry got five ground peas and 1 ear of corn & bottle of cologne. Ben Parham got a pone of cracklin bread and Old Man Freeman Johnson got a doll. Johnnie got a nursing bottle full of milk and a jelly lime. Some got mad, most was well pleased."

MARCH 25, 1887: "Dear Sis, I am very busy building a school house at the cross roads it will be a nice little house with a veranda in front. We will finish in one more day and I am getting along very well with my business. I am done planting corn and will plant about 70 acres in cotton. I am running three plows this year."

APRIL 5, 1888: "We had a picnic at the shoals last Saturday. Had a nice time and caught a good many fish and fried them out there. How are you getting along raising chickens? I am having the worst luck I ever did have. the mites and lice are so bad I can't set a single hen."

SEPT. 8, 1889: "Henry has shipped 6 bales of cotton to Augusta. The children and myself have been picking cotton - I have to pick to get them to pick. Flynn is in Augusta selling machines for Thomas & Barton and I guess Henry will go down soon.

"Leila Carson and Brad has been very sick but they are up and Bonnie's baby turned the coffee pot over and scalded her foot -- very bad & yesterday Annie dropped her and hurt her. It is not well, it looks bad. Carson has gone to walking and is as fat as ever.

"We have two young calves and I will have more milk and butter in a while than I can use. Old Cousin Hubbard Reynolds is dead and Mrs. Alfred Ericson fell dead last week. She went out to feed her chickens and just fell dead and Cousin Lizzie Tool, Brad Tool's wife, went to Johnson's Church one night to meeting & by next day by 10 o'clock she was dead -- left 10 children."

Comments (26) Add comment
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namaste
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namaste 03/31/08 - 12:49 am
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Now that was some interesting

Now that was some interesting reading! Thanks for sharing. It shows just how much has changed since those times.

catfish20
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catfish20 03/31/08 - 06:06 am
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Great story. I would love to

Great story. I would love to read more.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/31/08 - 06:12 am
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Letters for the era contain

Letters for the era contain pure, unadjusted history. Good stuff and interesting reading.

cinhin
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cinhin 03/31/08 - 06:25 am
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What a great story...the

What a great story...the letters are fantastic! Warren Co. is next to the county I live in, McDuffie Co. Thomson, GA. I know a few of the names mentioned in the letters are the same as some people who currently live here....Swint, Shelton, and Hawkens is my mother in laws maiden name, but I'll have to check to see if it is spelled with ens, I'm thinking my mom in laws is Hawkins. You might want to check with the Historical Society in Thomson-McDuffie Co. Camak is a community very close, but outside our city limits. Maybe this will help.

christian134
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christian134 03/31/08 - 06:27 am
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This is so wonderful...I,

This is so wonderful...I, myself, collect old postcards. The ones that are written from here to folks up north during civil war are very touching and interesting to read. Good luck in finding relatives....It is a great venture...

Goaliemom1987
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Goaliemom1987 03/31/08 - 06:36 am
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I too have old post cards,and

I too have old post cards,and love reading them.This is a great story.I hope the AC will keep us updated.Good Luck,Channa with your quest.

avidreader
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avidreader 03/31/08 - 07:00 am
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I hope she finds the

I hope she finds the Hollimans. I once bought a 1912 English grammar book from a yard sale. It was inscribed with a name and address. I found the family in New Orleans and gave the grandson the book. He's a teacher at Tulane and I still have the reply letter he sent me detailing his family's history from that era. The husband of the book's owner died on the Titanic.

channacarsey
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channacarsey 03/31/08 - 07:13 am
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Rob, Thank You!!! I really do

Rob, Thank You!!! I really do hate Estate Sales... I'm very excited to see what happens. I've gotten a couple emails this morning (people are excited and forget the time difference as its 4:13 am right now) I will keep you guys posted!

saintlover
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saintlover 03/31/08 - 08:12 am
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This is the best stuff I have

This is the best stuff I have read in the paper in years. Thank you Ms Carsey for adding your comment.

Seashells
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Seashells 03/31/08 - 08:28 am
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JAN. 5, 1887: "Well, today is

JAN. 5, 1887: "Well, today is the time to elect county officers, and I don't think there will be many votes polled," she wrote. "The weather is bad and I don't think the people will turn out."

Some things never change! Sounds like one of todays elections!
Loved the story Channa. I have old photos from the late 1800's and early 1900's of my family.
Good luck with finding someone to claim the letters.

stillamazed
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stillamazed 03/31/08 - 08:30 am
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This was a great story, I

This was a great story, I truly enjoyed reading it...........hopefully someone from that family will come forward....

pep607
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pep607 03/31/08 - 09:03 am
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Wonderful find and perhaps

Wonderful find and perhaps Augusta Genealogical Society could help. Family is on 1880 census Ga roll T9_170; Enum Dis 119, inage 0335. Husband H. Augustus Holliman. Sallie born 1859 in GA has two daughters, Beulah and Mattie. His brother lives with them and another family named Holliman next door, so possible traces. Quick check shows they all may be gone by next census in 1900. Girls would have different names and be found in marriage records. If she wishes to retain the letters, I hope she will send copies to the Genealogical Society.

karmakills123
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karmakills123 03/31/08 - 09:56 am
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Great story !!! I love

Great story !!! I love history and I too hope you find the families...please keep us posted!

thewatcher
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thewatcher 03/31/08 - 10:01 am
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I recently did a little

I recently did a little research on Camak history. There is a graveyard there that has been left unattended for quite some time, mostly Mayes family are there and a few others. A lot of children' graves are there, which is what made me curious. Right around that time in the 1800's there was a "cyclone" that killed a lot of people in that area. There is a lot of history there in Camak that may be slipping away because all the elders are passing on and the young ones just do not care or were never told some of it.
Camak was a big railroad town at one time, and it could develop back into a booming area again someday. And why didn't anyone consider Camak for the Amtrack depot? With rising fuel costs, the railroad may again become a better alternative for shipping. There is an annual festival in Camak as well.

jack
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jack 03/31/08 - 10:20 am
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Unadulterated history is

Unadulterated history is refreshing to read today. Great story and thanks for sharing it with us.

AsItIs
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AsItIs 03/31/08 - 10:53 am
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Excellent read....thank

Excellent read....thank you.....
If you have a chance, check out
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gawarren/
Good luck & keep us posted, please.

Rob Pavey
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Rob Pavey 03/31/08 - 11:19 am
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best of luck finding the

best of luck finding the descendants of the letter writers!

melbee
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melbee 03/31/08 - 01:33 pm
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This was incredible reading.

This was incredible reading. My dad and step-mom just moved to Camak. They have been doing some research on the area. In fact, they moved right next to the unattended graveyard that thewatcher mentioned. I find local history facinating, even though I'm not from the area.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/31/08 - 01:49 pm
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LOL Jake! That's so mean!

LOL Jake! That's so mean! Doggone, I wasn't going to read them, but now I HAVE to. Are they buzz-killers! LOL. If they are, you gotta tell PTHS. I think he was looking for me this morning, but I was helping out at the hospital.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/31/08 - 01:53 pm
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By looking for me, I meant

By looking for me, I meant PTHS was looking for one of my buzz-killing posts, so he could tease me about it. Instead he asked if the post about the hard to see bicyclist was mine. It wasn't. I didn't see the bicyclist I hit at all. JUST KIDDING!

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/31/08 - 01:54 pm
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Just skimmed the letters. 10

Just skimmed the letters. 10 KIDS! Whew. No more for me. I have four. Don't think I'm ready to drop dead yet. These are a reminder that the good ol' days weren't necessarily as good as nostalgia makes them out to be.

channacarsey
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channacarsey 03/31/08 - 03:41 pm
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Ok so I keep getting calls

Ok so I keep getting calls from my local village people. Asking that I let you all know we do not live in a Village we have stop lights 3 in fact! LOL! Oh and when I said who would want to buy a dead persons stuff I meant that in terms of its sacred family heirlooms! If said dead person didnt want it they would have sold it themselves!

NEOSLDY
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NEOSLDY 03/31/08 - 07:57 pm
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I enjoyed reading the letters

I enjoyed reading the letters also, the entire time I was reading, I was also thinking about all the new technology we have now, it's sad to think, that years from now, no one will be able to buy lettters from our time, we all use email,text, cell ect...there won't be a paper trail to and from loved ones, for someone to find and give to the remaining family..I will be sure to write a few letters every now and again to my dear family, instead of clicking,chatting or texting..who knows where they may end up one day far in the future...

jazzlover3900
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jazzlover3900 03/31/08 - 09:27 pm
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My maiden last name was

My maiden last name was Holliman and I have been doing an ancestry search. They were from the South before the war, but left to escape the fighting and settled in Fremont County, IA. The article about the two sisters letters is very interesting to me. I want to contact the young woman with the letters. Do you have contact information? If so, I am a member and I live in Centennial, Colorado. Thanks for any help you can provide!

ctchpln
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ctchpln 04/01/08 - 08:45 am
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This is a wonderfully

This is a wonderfully refreshing story. I wish there were more news like this.

tallielassie
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tallielassie 04/01/08 - 08:47 am
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What an interesting story!

What an interesting story! The link was sent to me by a cousin (who is related to at least the Sheltons and who currently lives in/around the Thomson area). There are Swints, Waldens, Raleys, Johnsons, and Hawkins who live in and around Mitchell and Gibson, Georgia (Glascock County) -- which is very near Camak. My grandmother was a Johnson before she married a Walden. I would love to see more articles like this, rather than most of the junk that is written in today's papers.

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