1864 Letter from Mary Clark Bell
to her uncle
Benjamin Litchfield Alexander of Elizabeth City, NC
Contributed by Judy Bunch

Middleton, Hyde Co. NC. Sept-30th, 1864

My dear Uncle

No doubt the reception of this letter from your only niece that used to be little Clark but great big Clark now will supprise you a little at first but when you think awhile how fondly I used to love you when a child it will not supprise you when you think I still retain some of the love of old. Yes Clark still loves her Uncle Ben who has been so kind and indulging to her and forever will. Uncle Ben you do not know how sadly changed times are with us we do not have half the comfort that we used to. Bud Jimmie is in the army married and has a fine daughter named Eva. Ma has got three little rebels viz Walter Willie & Charley very fine boy's indeed I guess you have two or three more girls. O Uncle Ben if I could see you aunt Liza Grandma or rather, granny and the children I would be delighted but I fear I shall never be permitted to do so again but I live by hopes We live in Hyde County as you will see at the head of my letter, are situated very comfortably Pa carries on farming & Ma spins and dyes cloth and I go to school I ought not to grumble at the hard times for we have not seen any hard times yet to what we will see in future I fear. Tell Grandma I have to nurse the children and give them biscuits and butter but not light bread butter and, sugar on the butter like she used to give me I often think how kind she used to be to me and how I used to carry Jack around the table suspended to a stick and the night I knocked off her specktacles I shall never forget it as long as I live and when this cruel war is over I hope to be able to repay granny for her trouble she had with me.

We heard that you were at Ocracoke the other day. Jody passed you in a small boat but did not know that it was you until he went to Ocracoke Uncle Ben please excuse this short letter I have not time to write any more as the gentleman that carries this from here is to leave this afternoon. All join me in much love to you and family. Please excuse this bad writing and if you can leave a letter in Portsmouth write us all about the family and yourself!

Your affectionate niece
M. Clark Bell


In 1864, Fifteen year old Mary Clark BELL was writing to her uncle, Benjamin Litchfield ALEXANDER, who was her mother's brother. He was living in Elizabeth City, NC at the time.

Mary "Mollie" Clark BELL was the daughter of Joseph Nash BELL and Ann Elizabeth (ALEXANDER) BELL, m. Mar. 11, 1849. Mary Clark BELLwas born Dec. 15, 1849 in Washington, Beaufort, NC and died Jan. 24, 1929 in Washington, NC. She married Benjamin Dossey BATTLE on Sept. 28, 1876. They had one child, Dossey BATTLE, who was born on June 21, 1880 in Tarboro, NC and died in October 1918.

Benjamin Litchfield ALEXANDER was born c.1830 and died Apr. 2, 1868 in Elizabeth City, NC. His parents were William ALEXANDER and Dorcas LITCHFIELD (Grandma/granny in the letter) who were married in Tyrrell County, NC on June 13, 1818. Ben married Ann Eliza LEWIS (Aunt Liza in the letter) on Feb. 16, 1858. Ben and Ann Eliza had four daughters: Catharine Foreman ALEXANDER, Ann Eliza ALEXANDER, Mary Clark ALEXANDER (my g-grandmother), and Julia Benjamin ALEXANDER.

Identities of other individuals listed above (mostly guesses):

1. I speculate that "Bud Jimmie" in the army is Mary Clark's older half brother (son of Joseph Nash BELL and his 1st wife, Narcissus L. ETHERIDGE, m. June 20, 1840). Therefore, he would be Jim BELL.

2. His daughter Eva would, therefore, be Eva BELL.

3. Little rebels are children of Joseph Nash BELL and Ann Elizabeth Alexander BELL: Walter BELL (died young?); Willie McMellon BELL, b. c1862 (married Jennie Brickman JONES); Charley Styron BELL, b.c.1864 (married a PATTERSON from New Bern)

4. Jody may be Joseph Nash BELL, Jr., son of Joseph Nash BELL and Ann Elizabeth (ALEXANDER) BELL, b. Jan 1850 - d. July 14, 1930, buried in Hyde County in Bell-Tolson Cemetery on Road No. 1327 near Alice Rondthaler's home (from Swindell & Spencer 1973). He appears to have never married.

5. Alexander Sisters:
Catharine Foreman (ALEXANDER) REYNOLDS

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