4 January 1864: “There was a most horrid murder perpetrated in Monroe the other day; Mr. Baker’s little son, only seven years old was riding through town attended by a negro boy when he was shot through the head and instantly killed…”

Item description: Entry, dated 4 January 1864, from the diary of Sarah Lois Wadley, which includes details about the murder of a young boy in Monroe, La., by a Mexican member of a Texas regiment.

More about Sarah Lois Wadley: Sarah Lois Wadley was born in 1844 in New Hampshire, the daughter of railroad superintendent William Morrill Wadley (1813-1882) and Rebecca Barnard Everingham Wadley (1819-1905). Although born in New England, she appears to have been raised in the South, and lived with her family in homes near Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, Monroe and Oakland in Ouachita Parish, La., and near Macon, Ga. Sarah Lois Wadley died unmarried in Monroe County, Ga., in 1920.

[Transcription available below images.]

Item citation: From the Sarah Lois Wadley Papers, #1258Southern Historical Collection,Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Monday, Jan. 4th. 1864.

        My real New Year commenced this morning, not very auspiciously either, we did not get along quite smoothly in school, I am in hopes we shall do better tomorrow.

        I commenced learning John his letters this morning, the dear little fellow was so good and so funny that he set us all to laughing. Saturday it was so cold we could hardly do anything but keep warm, the thermometer stood at sixteen in the morning, but rose to 32° in the evening; but Sunday was so rainy and cloudy that it was more disagreeable than the two cold days. Willie went down to Millhaven Saturday, returned Sunday morning, he said when he reached Millhaven his feet were frozen to his stirrups; he passed over ice strong enough to bear up him and his horse.

        Mr. Craig was here Saturday morning, said such cold had not been known since 1856, one of the steam pipes of his mill was burst by the frost. Our poor little plants have fared illy, this cold has finished what the last began, the cactus is killed down to the roots, and so is the wax plant, and all the rest. Oh for Spring to awaken life once more, to bid our dead plants to revive, and infuse new life into us as well as the vegetable world. Today has been dark and gloomy, and the atmosphere is very raw. I commenced reviewing my latin lessons today, indeed it can hardly be called a review, for I have forgotten most of what I learned. Commenced reading Gibbon’s Rome abridged New Year’s night, we take it instead of the original, though it is so much abridged that it hardly resembles it except in the bare facts. Dr. McDonough spent part of the morning and dined with us yesterday, said he was very much exhausted from watching and care, had slept very little for three or four nights; they have an insufficient supply of bed clothing at the hospital, and he was obliged to keep up large fires all night, and even then they suffered from cold during those intensely cold nights, they had used seven large wagon loads of wood since the Tuesday after Christmas, but this will appear probable when one knows that they keep up six fires day and night.

        I am sorry for poor Dr. McDonough, he is of a very sensitive temperament, and the sight of so much suffering must be very painful to him.

        There was a most horrid murder perpetrated in Monroe the other day; Mr. Baker’s little son, only seven years old was riding through town attended by a negro boy when he was shot through the head and instantly killed, by a Mexican, in the Texas regiment. The man was delivered over to the civil authorities and his trial is to take place today, from what we can hear, he assigns no motive for this atrocious murder. Dr. McDonough says he heard that the Mexican said he had sworn to kill the first child or woman he met, but this seems to me not worthy of consideration as a motive, for he must have met women and children before, when he had been in Monroe several days. The little boy belongs to an afflicted family, his Mother and a brother died very suddenly last summer, and now the only remaining son is taken by such a dreadful death. The shock almost killed his Grand mother, his Father was absent at the time.

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