Valley of the Shadow
The Eve of War
Fall 1859–Spring 1861

Letters & Diaries


Gilkeson Family (1858)

Hugh Gilkeson received several letters from his family over a period of roughly nine years which are documented here. Many topics are covered in the letters, but common themes are family health and the deaths of their parents, farming life, local economy, general views on the confederacy, and attitudes toward slaves. Hugh’s son Willie also writes one letter, discussing his life and studies while living with his uncle.

The following links provide access to the most likely matches in the Valley of the Shadow databases:

Andrew Gilkeson Household

David Gilkeson Household

In these two letters, Andrew and David Gilkeson write to their brother Hugh. They discuss farming, the recent death of their mother, business plans, and offer advice on purchasing a slave.