A trove of letters written during the Civil War and almost destroyed are now telling the life story of a Cook County teenager.
“I regret to announce to you the death of your son Angus,” Tourism Authority member Mary Sue Ward said, reading from a piece of old paper.
It’s the only letter out of 86 not written by 17-year-old Angus McDermid.
The young confederate soldier from what is now Cook County wrote to his family daily, until his death just months before the war’s end.
“A young man who is torn inside," Ward said. "Intrinsically, he’s torn at the thought of war.”
The collection of scraps and notes he sent from the battlefield paint a picture of his everyday life.
“When I come home I want turnip greens and pork," Ward said, reading one of McDermid's letters. "I mean he just longs for the things of home.”
The letters were given to the Adel-Cook County Tourism Authority, by a man named Benjamin Roundtree. He saved them from getting destroyed when his grandmother wanted to get rid of them.
In turn, tourism officials said he preserved an amazing story and a lost art.
“Many times today, we’ve lost the art of good cursive writing, but this young man in the 1860s had wonderful penmanship,” Ward said.
It’s a relic that details the mundane and the tragic.
A piece of history, that if preserved, can tell his story for generations to come.
Some of those letters are also being kept at the Thronateeska Heritage Center in Albany.
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