(Missouri History Museum) -- With its almost 3,000 collections of original manuscripts, the Missouri History Museum Archives is in a unique position to provide first-hand accounts of historic events in St. Louis and across the country. The sesquicentennial of the Civil War has inspired us to showcase one of these collections—the James E. Love Papers.
James Edwin Love was born September 27, 1830, in County Antrim, Ireland. He came to the United States in 1849, settling first in Cincinnati and then in St. Louis, where he worked as a grocer. At some point after his arrival in St. Louis, James met Eliza Mary “Molly” Wilson. She was born October 2, 1833, in Isle McGee, County Larn, Ireland, and came to America after her father’s death in 1849. By early 1861, James and Molly were engaged.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Love enlisted as a sergeant in Company D, 5th United States Reserve Corps, and left St. Louis with his company on June 15, 1861. The following day, James sent a letter home to Molly, and he continued to write to Molly for the duration of his Civil War service. These letters document not only James’s experiences during the war, but also the love story of James and Molly. Will James survive the war? Will he return to his beloved Molly?
The Missouri History Museum is posting letters 150 years to the day after they were originally written on the Civil War blog page in History Happens Here!, the online magazine of the Missouri History Museum.