Bonnie Martland, president of the Temecula Valley Historical Society, is set to share how handwritten documents can reveal a colorful history in a presentation planned for next week.
“Confederates, Etc., In the Mail Pouch” will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 25 at the Little Temecula History Center, the red barn at the corner of Wolf Store Road and Redhawk Parkway.
“There is something intriguing about reading someone else’s mail, or looking into their journals, diaries, and written records. The fact that the words were penned a century and a half in the past doesn’t assuage the pang of guilt for reading what was not intended for your eyes. Also, you understand writers more personally when you read from their handwriting,” said Martland in a released statement.
“After taking a trip to the National Archives at Riverside with a group from the Temecula Valley Historical Society in 2011, I returned to search for documents relating to local military activity during the Civil War. I found the report of Joseph Tuttle, Captain, 5th Infantry, California Volunteers to William French, the 5th Infantry’s commanding officer in Tucson, Arizona Territory, regarding a group of Southern sympathizers thought to be passing through Southern California from the San Bernardino area. The archivist said the report probably hadn’t been viewed since being placed in the collections decades earlier. This document, since put on the archives website, began my quest for primary source materials on our area at the time of the Civil War,” she added.
Martland said that through the letters, she was able to piece together what life in the Civil War era was like for Southern California residents.
“Californians fought valiantly during the war. Though their battles were seldom of a military nature, the results were often just as devastating. The fact that contemporary Californians have a reputation (for) being less inhibited and a bit on the wild side seems based on a precedence of long standing. Observations of California’s earlier citizens may sound strangely similar to today’s goings on,” Martland said.
The public is invited to arrive at 5:30 p.m. for a social time prior to the presentation.
The event is free.
A business meeting of the historical society will follow at 7 p.m.