Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Louisa A. Reed Papers, 1863-1894

Finding aid created by
Mary Parsons, January 2007, and Shannon Wait, June 2010

Summary Information
Title: Louisa A. Reed papers
Creator: Reed, Enos
Inclusive dates: 1863-1894
Extent: 53 items (0.25 linear feet)
The Louisa Reed papers consist primarily of letters to Enos Reed, of the 34th Iowa Infantry in the Civil War, from his wife, Louisa, and other relatives and friends.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2006. M-4558.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Louisa A. Reed Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The correspondence is arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.


Louisa America Walker was born March 18, 1842, in Jefferson County, Iowa, the daughter of farmer Samuel Walker and his wife, Sarah Allen. On April 27, 1862, she married teacher Enos Reed (b. 1836), son of James Reed and Asenath McWilliams (who later remarried and became Asenath Long). Just three months after their marriage, Enos Reed enlisted as a private in the 34th Iowa Infantry. With his regiment, he participated in the Vicksburg Campaign and the captures of Fort Morgan and Fort Blakely, and was promoted to commissary sergeant on November 12, 1864. Louisa remained on their farm in Black Oak Point, Iowa, but made extended visits to her family and parents-in-law in Belinda, Iowa.

The Reeds' first child, Olive ("Ollie") was born January 19, 1863. After the war, the family settled in Liberty, Kansas, where Enos worked as Superintendant of Public Instruction, 1867-1870. Sometime before 1880, they moved to Palmyra, Kansas, where they lived permanently. The Reeds had a total of ten children: Olive (b. 1863), Alice (b.1868), Almeda (b. 1870), Walker (b. 1873), Anna (b. ca. 1874), Herbert (b. 1875), Ida (b. 1876), Lenora (b. 1878), Alma (b. 1879), and David (b. 1880). Olive and three other daughters worked as teachers, while the sons became farmers.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Louisa Reed papers consist of 53 letters, spanning 1863-1894, with the bulk concentrated around 1863-1865. Louisa wrote 40 letters to Enos, all but 2 during his Civil War service; Enos wrote 1 letter to his daughter, "Ollie," in 1864; Enos' mother, Asenath Long, wrote 3 letters to her son; and other family members and friends contributed an additional 9 letters.

Louisa Reed's correspondence to her husband provides news from home, updates on Olive's activities and development, and observations on the war and on maintaining their home by herself. In nearly every letter, she devoted an affectionate paragraph to Olive's "mischief" and the new ways of playing the child had discovered. Reed also frequently referred to family members and neighbors, recounting her visits to them, but intimated that she sometimes felt "lonely in company" (January 4, 1863). Throughout her correspondence, she showed herself to be astute in management of the home and farm, frequently broaching the idea of selling off livestock and buying land before the end of the war, when she believed that land would become more valuable.

Although Reed's correspondence more frequently addresses personal than political topics, it documents tensions in Belinda over the validity of the war, with frequent references to the Copperhead movement. On February 7, 1864, Reed wrote that war supporters had threatened to tar and feather a particularly vocal Copperhead. She also briefly described fundraising efforts at a "union meeting," and expressed her support for the Union cause. In another letter, she criticized men who both opposed and profited from the war (November 13, 1864).

The conflict over the war is further dramatized by several letters from Asenath Long to her son, who, according to Louisa, attended "every meeting of that kind [Copperhead] within fifteen miles" (January 15, 1865). In Long's correspondence, she expressed her anti-war sympathies and her strong feelings against African Americans: "if it was not on the account of the Negro we could have peace now … if I have raised sons to die for the Negro I shal [sic] go with sorrow down to my grave … " (August 7, 1864). Letters from other writers provide family and neighborhood news, and several letters document the Reeds' movement around the Midwest after the war.

Subject Terms

    • Belinda (Iowa)
    • Black Oak Point (Iowa)
    • Copperhead movement.
    • Family farms--Iowa.
    • Farm life--Iowa.
    • Iowa--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Social aspects.
    • Soldiers--Iowa.
    • United States. Army. Iowa Infantry Regiment, 34th (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Protest movements.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Public opinion.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Social aspects.
    • Harden, James.
    • Long, Asenath.
    • Reed, David V.
    • Reed, Enos, b. 1836.
    • Reed, Louisa America, b. 1842.
    • Walker, Jennie.
    • Walker, Melissa.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Louisa A. Reed papers [series]
    Folder   1  
     January 4-December 9, 1863
    Folder   2  
     January 10-December 9, 1864
    Folder   3  
     April 3-August 7, 1864
    Folder   4  
     August 15, 1864-January 6, 1865
    Folder   5  
     January 15-March 26, 1865
    Folder   6  
     April 2-August 30, 1865
    Folder   7  
     June 7, 1866-January 26, 1894
    Folder   8  
     Undated [Civil War-era]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    Several items are located in the Graphics Division:

    Illustrated envelope of Kansas City Stock Yards, 1899.

    Interesting Guide to see the Oldest Church, Oldest House, Oldest Bell all in Santa Fe . . . By Bro. David [St. Michael's College, Santa Fe, NM]. 1908.

    6 Forget-Me-Not illustrated cards by Raphael Tuck & Sons. Addressed to Amealier B. Weston, from Bettie A. Graham, Christmas, 1894.


    Clark, J. Samuel. The Thirty-fourth Iowa Regiment: Brief history . Des Moines: Watters-Talbott printing co., 1892.