May 29, 1861.
“I hasten to write you a few lines to inform you that I am in good health at present. It is rumored in Lincolnton that we had a fight at this place â€“ I am happy to inform you that is not the case, but we are looking for it every hour.”
The flowing script stretches across the yellowing paper. Each line, each word, is a piece of history.
David A. Coon wrote his sister, Barbara Elizabeth Coon, regularly during his time in the Civil War. Their brother Adolphus also sent notes. They, along with another brother, Henry, who was killed in the war, were all from Lincolnton.
Their letters talk about their emotions, their activities, their lives during a war so many years ago.
And now the collection of more than 100 letters is part of the Lincoln County Museum of History.
Descendants of the Coons donated the letters so they would be preserved and other family members would have the opportunity to see them, said Robert Killian, grandson of Elizabeth Coon.
“We felt they ought to be preserved,” he said. “In reading them, you can discover a lot of history.”
The letters give a vivid impression of what the brothers did and saw during the war, said Bill Killian, Robertâ€™s brother.
“The content of these letters is the real value of them,” he said.
The discovery of the letters came as a surprise to Robert Killian.
One day while cleaning out the attic in preparation for a move, Killian stumbled upon a box.
Inside were the letters â€” neatly folded, with black ink telling hundreds of stories.
“I didnâ€™t know I had them until I started moving,” Killian said.
Despite years in the musty attic, the letters were in good shape.
Jason Harpe, the museumâ€™s director, said the benefits of the donation are two-fold.
“Youâ€™ve got a collection of incredible history of the Civil War period from the pen of folks from Lincoln County,” Harpe said.
And the donation shows the familyâ€™s commitment to local history and the faith they have in the museum, Harpe said.
The family also donated a sword and a 3-and-a-half-gallon jug marked in script by Martin Alexander Helton dating back to the late 19th century.
The items are the most recent additions to the museumâ€™s growing number of artifacts. Since 1996, the museum has increased the size of its collections by more than 80,000 objects, artifacts, archives and special collections.
After they are inventoried, the letters will be available for viewing by contacting Harpe at the museum.
The donation was made by Robert Killian, Elizabeth Mosteller, the Frank Killian family and Dr. William D. Killian.
by Alice Smith