Notation from Octavia Stephens' Diary
15 March 1864

Octavia Stephens
Octavia Stephens in her late teens
Octavia Stephens
Octavia Stephens in her early twenties
Photographs courtesy of P.K. Younge Library of Florida History, Archivist Bruce S. Chappell

Near Thomasville- March 15, 1864. With a sad heart I begin another journal. On Sunday, February 28, dear Mother was taken with a congestive chill. On Friday, Mar. 4, Davis came with the news of the death of my dear, dear husband. He was killed in battle near Jacksonville on the first of March. Mother grew worse and on Sunday, Mar. 6th, she was taken from us between 12 and 1 O'clock. She passed quietly away, (Typhoid pneumonia). At 7 p.m. I gave birth to a dear little boy, which although three or four weeks before the time, the Lord still spared to me. Mother was buried on the 7th and Rosa was taken with fever, but recovered after two days... I have named my baby Winston, the sweet name of that dear lost one, my husband, almost my life.

God grant that his son, whom he longed for, but was not spared to see, may be like him. I now begin as it were a new life and I pray that the Lord will give me strength to bear up under this great affliction and with His help and the example of those two dear ones now with Him I may be enabled to do my duty in this life and be prepared when the Lord calls me to meet them in that better world, where there will be no parting and no more sorrow.

1st Letter from Captain Winston Stephens
2nd Letter from Captain Winston Stephens

[Archivist Bruce S. Chappell kindly allowed me to sort through the photos of the Stephens family that had been donated to the P.K. Younge Library of Florida History. As I looked at them I wondered how Octavia Stephens would feel if she knew that people would grieve with her for her losses over 140 years later. I also wondered if she ever remarried. However, I was gladdened to learn that Winston and Octavia did leave a family that prospered. The photographs I examined covered several generations of the Stephens family. And it seemed that every generation had a boy named Winston, and one generation was even represented by a set of twins. There wasn't any documentation, except names on the back of the photos, so I don't know if it was Winston Stephens, the great grandson or the great great grandson, who donated the photos to the library. In May 2012, I received an e-mail from Patricia Stephens Haynie, a descendant of Winston and Octavia Stephans, who kindly let me know that the materials were donated by her father, the great grandson of Winston and Octavia.

We often think of the Civil War as having 622,000 soldiers killed in action, died of wounds or diseases. What we forget is that the casualties numbered in the tens of millions among civilians who suffered heartache. - Thomas R. Fasulo, Webmaster]

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