1864: Jonas B. Griffith to John Myers

I believe this letter was written by 44 year-old Pvt. Jonas B. Griffith of Co. K, 61st Illinois Infantry. Jonas was a native of Jackson county, Tennessee but was residing in Johnsonville, Wayne county, Illinois, when he was mustered (most likely drafted) into the regiment. Jonas stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, had brown hair and blue eyes.

The letter was addressed to John K. Myers (1822-1886) and Margaret Jones (1821-1877) of Centralia, Marion Illinois, whom he called his “brother and sister.” He was, most likely, a brother of Margaret (Jones) Myers though I could not find a family tree to substantiate the connection. From census records we know that Margaret was born in Tennessee.


DeValls Bluff, Arkansas
November the 17th day, [18]64

Dear Brother and Sister and Family,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well. As to health, I have been afflicted with the chronic rheumatism. I was taken the last of  June. I was three months that I could [   ] my leg from my knee to my feet but I am a doing pretty well at this time. I do guard duty. I expect to come home on furlough this winter and if it is God’s will that I do, I will go and see you. I think by spring the war will be over and we will be mustered out of service and all come home once more.

I understand that you have had bad luck losing your children but God gives and he takes away. So God’s will be done. Your loss is their gain so you must content yourself. I got a letter from home the first of this month. They was all well then. I have no news from the election. I think Old Abraham is elected by a big majority. There is nothing new in this department but Old Price is cut all to pieces. We have all his cannon and his men in a leaving him all the time. He burnt 200 wagons. We got 400 wagons, 900 mules. Our forces is after him. General __ T. Smith, and [W. S.] Rosecrans, and West is all after Old Price. I hope they will get him and kill him.

I want you to write to me. I would like to hear from you often. Tell Colonel to write to me and [n____] to write to me and James fine [?] to me. I hope that I will live to see you all and talk with you. I want to see you all and talk with you once more in time so I will quit for this time. I remain your brother until death, — J. B. Griffith

To John and Margaret Myers

Write soon. If you can’t read this letter, lay it away till I come and I will read it for you. William, I want you to be a good boy and mind your father and mother and go to school, learn to read and write against I come. I want you to catch me some squirrels. Your uncle would like to see you. This is from your loving uncle, J. B. Griffith

To William Myers

John, I will send you directions how to write to me.


One thought on “1864: Jonas B. Griffith to John Myers”

  1. Jonas Boone Griffith (my ggg-grandfather) married Priscilla Jones; sisters Priscilla and Margaret Jones were the daughters of William Jones of Sumner county, Tennessee and Marion county, Illinois. Jonas was actually about 54 years of age. This letter was written shortly before his death. Details remain sketchy (especially since his 2nd pension file went missing a few years ago at NARA), but he was listed as “missing” on 25 December 1864, and as having drowned in the White River in Arkansas when the rest of his company was mustered out. His widow appealed his pension to Congress, but it was denied on the testimony of his commanding officer, who stated Jonas had been drinking on duty when he drowned. Jonas first served with his eldest son, Thomas Paris “Perry” Griffith, in Co. I, 48th Illinois Infantry. He was given a medical discharge for torn ligaments in a knee, but denied a pension for the “War of 1861” as the injury was expected to eventually heal. He had filed an appeal, but reenlisted in Co. K, 61st Infantry prior to the hearing. His son Perry lost an arm serving with the 48th, and became a Baptist minister, passing away at the age of 86. I am so THRILLED to see this letter! My thanks to all involved.


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