1863: Edgar Williams Stanton to Martha Rounds

Edgar Stanton, ca. 1885

Edgar Stanton, ca. 1885

This letter was written by 12 year-old Edgar Williams Stanton (1850-1920), the son of Fitz Henry Stanton (1823-1906) and Mary Polly Rounds (1822-1897) of Waymart, Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Edgar became a professor at Iowa State University in Ames Iowa and eventually served as its Acting President on four occasions. He married Margaret McDonald in 1877.

Edgar wrote the letter to his cousin, Martha Rounds (1847-1928), the daughter of Levi Rounds (1812-1805) and Catherine Hubbell (1812-1876) of Huntington, Fairfield County, Connecticut. Martha’s older brother, Sylvester Rounds (1843-1899) served in Company D, 17th Connecticut Infantry. While serving with the 17th Connecticut, “Syl Rounds” (as his friends would call him) narrowly escaped capture at Chancellorsville and on July 1, 1863 — the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg — he took a rifle ball in his left shoulder and was taken prisoner. He spent months in various hospitals and never return to the regiment. Eventually he was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps in 1864.

Martha Rounds married Edward C. Wixon (1851-19xx) in December 1873.

Much of the letter describes a stabbing that occurred at a tavern in Waymart in July 1863. Unfortunately I can’t find any notice of it in on-line newspapers.


Waymart [Pennsylvania]
July 8th 1863

Dear Cousin,

Maybe you think I have forgotten you but it is not so although I cannot offer any excuse without it is laziness.

During the last week Waymart has witnessed as much or more excitement than it has witnessed before since the time when the first house was raised on the ground that is now a quiet, but thriving village.

The excitement over the great war news of the total rout of the Rebel Army of the Potomac [Army of Northern Virginia] of General Lee at Gettysburg & his defeat near the Potomac with the news of the surrender of Vicksburg caused great excitement, but that excitement was brought to its climax by the murder committed at Mr. [John D.] Labar’s Tavern just across the road from here. A Mr. Drynan & John Rockwell got into a fight about some coal. Mr. Haley was on Drynan’s side. They were on the front stoop & began to use some pretty hard words when the men made out to stop them. Drynan asked for more drink which Mr. Labar refused to give him. They immediately began to quarrel again & went out to the front stoop. Mr. Labar followed them & had got as far as the front door when he seen Drynan put his hand in his pocket & draw out a knife. He said look out boys, Drynan has got a knife. At that, Drynan turned on Labar who rushed into the bar-room & seized a cane that was a leaning against the side of the house & would of stopped Drynan but as he raised the cane to strike him, Mr. Haley took the cane from his hand. At that time, Mr. Drynan was stopped in his progress by a Mr. Wood from [New] York State who seized him & told him he was using an unlawful weapon for this country when Drynan stabbed him 4 times & then escaped but was caught & he & Mr. Heley are safe fully lodged in the Honesdale Jail. It’s thought that Mr. Woods will get well.

The folks are all well. There is a meeting here this afternoon to prepare things for the soldiers, but I must close as the paper will soon come.

Yours &c. — Edgar Stanton

Pa & Ma send their love to you & all the rest of our friends.

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