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Jennie McKay Letter

Identifier: MS-2143

  • Staff Only

In this letter to her cousin Felix, Jennie McKay describes a number of issues of concern to Confederate families during the Civil War. She reports that her home was burned during the same night that the Price raid was camped at the Old Trading Post on its retreat 15 miles from our house. She also discusses her brother James, who belonged to Shelby's Brigade. Old Joe as the boys all called him was too spunky to surrender but took as many of his command as would go: and went to Mexico all of the Thomas boys got through the war Jake and Jimmie come back to Missouri. Additionally, she reports her outrage at the prices of pigs, cows, calves, horses, corn and apples in her area.

Jennie also relates her brother-in-law's report of her older sister Christiana's death of what her family believed to be typhoid fever. Although she was treated and seemed to improve for a week, she eventually developed an abcess on her left-lung and the fever recurred. She declined quickly and died in the morning of October 28, 1865. Although Jennie grieves the only Sister I ever had, she also expresses her confidence that Christiana has passed to That better Land from whose bourne no traveler ever returns.


  • 1865 November 19

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0.1 Linear Feet


In this letter, Jennie McKay discusses her life on the Confederate home front in Missouri. She speaks of her home being burned, family members currently serving with the Confederate Army, what she considers the inflated prices of various goods, and the death of her older sister Christiana.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jane Reese McKay was born to Milton Reese and Jane (Miller) McKay on January 22, 1839 in Williamson County, Tennessee. She had two older siblings: Christiana Miller (1833-1864) and James Madison (1836-1909). Christiana married James Alexander Drennan in 1854, and both families moved to Bates County, Missouri, in the late 1850s.

When the Civil War broke out, James McKay enlisted in the 6th Missouri Cavalry Regiment (CSA). Jennie, Christiana, and James Drennan remained on the home front, where they suffered greatly during the war. Most significantly, Jennie's home was burned, and Christiana died of what the family thought to be typhoid fever. After the war, James McKay returned home to Missouri, where he and his mother and sister rebuilt their home.

Jennie McKay married Elisha Stanley Rector in 1873, and the couple had six children: Charles H., Drennan, Jessie Hulett, Julia M., Jane, and Stanley Porter. The family later moved to Tarrant County, Texas, where Elisha Rector died in 1915. Jennie's fate is unknown.

The cousin Felix to whom this letter is addressed may be James Felix McKay, who was also from Williamson County, Tennessee and who served with the 3rd Tennessee Infantry (CSA). This identification is, however, unsubstantiated.


This collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

The Special Collections Library purchased this collection in June 2002.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA