In doing some family history research today, I discovered a web site that is dedicated to providing ancestry information about residents of my home county. There are the usual records of farmers and businessman within various periods of time, but there are also some more personal artifacts that I found valuable - regardless of their lack of connection to my ancestors.
One of note is a diary from Mrs. Lodema Bayless recorded from 1846 through 1870 (provided to the site by Ms. Sharon Bearce). It is important to mention that Mr. and Mrs. Bayless traveled from the northeast to Illinois in 1846 and bought land in Fulton County IL. In 1848, her husband was injured and passed away, leaving Lodema with four children, Jacob Franklin (8), Sarah Louise (6), and twins, Nancy and Mary (4). Her entries are not long, but they reflect the struggles of a widowed mother trying to keep a farm running in those times. One entry about the death of her son, Joseph Franklin, in 1863 was particularly touching to me and serves as a good reminder in carrying out my life. May each of our testaments show great marks of usage and may we each live to be remembered as a good child of God rather than great in the eyes of men.
Entry: February 1963
I received two letter from the South where Franklin had been sick for a few weeks. Both of which informed me that Franklin was no more. That he had gone the way of all the earth. We had received two letters while he was sick the first written Dec. 7 from Elijah White, the second from Mr. Peterson their chaplain, who said he would get well. Then Jan.7 Franklin himself wrote and said he had had a hard spell of sickness, but that he was better that he hoped soon to join his regiment again. He says in his letter 'Mother this is your own sons writing' thereby letting us know that he was able to write and how glad we were to get another letter in his own hand writing and to learn that he was better - but alas how soon the scene was changed, how soon our joy was turned to grief. The next we heard was those two letters above mentioned, which brought the sad news of his death, but while they brought such sorrowful tidings they also brought some cheering.
Mr. Kelley his first lieutenant wrote that he had no doubt but that in the Lambs book of life was written the name Franklin Bayless. He said he appeared cheerful, contented and happy.
Mr. Vandevander wrote that Franklin was a good boy, a good soldier and that he had no doubt but that he was better off than the rest of us. He said his testament showed marks of usage. How cheering the thought to think that he has given such satisfactory evidence even way there among strangers, that he was a child of God. It cheers my heart. If he must die, how much I would rather that he should die a good boy, a dutiful son, a child of God, than without these to die with all the honors that could be given to him by man. It is better to die good than great. Franklin was 22 years old the first day of Dec. and was taken sick about the same time. He died Jan 27, 1863. Thus Franklin was taken from us while still in the prime of youth and while we needed his help so much, as well as his company. We miss him very much. He was a good boy. He experienced religion under Elder Shaws preaching, was baptised and joined the Free Will Baptist church when he was 15 years of age. From that time to the time of his death, I don't think he ever went to bed over 3 times unless we had company, without first raising his voice in family prayer with the rest of us. If he was tired or sleepy he would say "Mother I want to go to bed." when our work was laid aside. Till we prepared for bed; and then he was satisfied to go to bed. I trust he did not forget to pray while he was in the service of our country, away yonder in the South. He was at Holly Springs in the hospital sick, at the time of the raid there when part of the place was captured and burned. His clothes were burned with the rest. There he was taken to Jackson, Tennessee where he stayed until he died.