Over the course of this semester, I have been interning at Sandusky in conjunction with a Westover Honors Course at Lynchburg College. The class was about the Common Soldier in the Civil War, and our goal was to create a Digital History website using documents and artifacts from Sandusky as well as a new collection about the Bell Family that had not been studied before. Many of the documents we looked at talk about life in Lynchburg just before, during, and following the Civil War. My work at Sandusky fits into this category. I took photographs of each page and then transcribed the journal of Adeline “Ada” Hutter, the Hutter’s daughter who was living at Sandusky in 1864 when the Union army under General Hunter was based at the house.
Her journal entries begin in 1859, so they offer an excellent account of a young woman’s life in the south just before the Civil War. Many entries are from just after Hunter’s Army was in Lynchburg. Included in her musings and recordings of her days are full and partial poems of her favorite poets and songs. The journal also serves as an autograph album, and multiple entries are words written for her by her friends and family, including members of other prominent families in Lynchburg at the time.
While most of Ada’s thoughts reveal how daily life continued on for those left at home during the war, they also reveal how the war invaded the “every day.” Ada frequently comments on her feelings towards the Union, her hopes for the Confederates, and the excitement and anxieties of receiving news of the war and especially people they knew, like her brother Risque Hutter. Ada Hutter has proved to be a fascinating individual, and her diary, my time at Sandusky, and the Westover Colloquium have greatly increased my interest in the Civil War and the lives of the individuals that made up America at that time.
*access to the website Laura helped to create, and her transcription of Ada Hutters Diary can be found here sanduskydigitalhistory.wordpress.com
About the author: Laura Meisner is a senior history major and museum studies and art history minor Westover Fellow at Lynchburg College. She began work on the Sandusky digital humanities project while in an honors class for Westover Fellows with her work from the class expanded into an internship where she has been able to focus on the journal of Ada Hutter, transcribing the journal and doing further research into the day-to-day life of a woman who came of age during the Civil War at Sandusky.