Civil War Stories: The Mystery of the Lost Jewelry

Family hides valuables from soldiers during the Civil War, jewelry is never found.

| Good Old Days

My grandmother was born in 1856 on a farm near Bells, Tennessee. She lived with us all my life, and I grew up hearing stories about the Civil War. Once a year she would open her trunks and show us Confederate money, buttons off a Confederate uniform, old dresses and dishes and all the pictures and keepsakes of her life. Then she would sprinkle snuff among the treasures to keep out the silverfish and pack the things away for another year.

My grandmother's father joined the Confederate Army immediately and fought all through the Civil War. When the battle came so close to their farm that they could hear the cannons fire, the neighbor women told my great-grandmother to dip snuff to calm her nerves.

My great-grandmother dropped the silverware in the well. At night she went into the garden where she had planted flowers and buried what jewelry the family owned. The War lasted for years. When she tried to dig up the jewelry, she could not find it. Had someone seen her bury it? Had she forgotten just where she put it? I've always been fascinated by that story. Perhaps someday someone will plant a tree and find something of value. The Northern soldiers and the Confederate soldiers were both hungry. When they passed through the area, they would take whatever food they needed and anything of value that they could use to finance the war. The milk cow was staked in a ravine so that when the soldiers looked out over the pasture to see what stock was available, they would not see the cow.

The front door opened against a loom where my great-grand-mother was weaving a counterpane. She stored food for her family in the space behind the loom.

Coffee was something that could not be grown in the garden, so they made a substitute out of the skins of baked sweet potatoes. I tried making this drink. It was hot and it was colored like coffee, but I didn't like it. (I didn't like coffee either the first time I drank coffee.)

My grandfather said the most delicious thing he ever tasted was a sunbaked beet. He had found it where a garden had been destroyed by Northern soldiers and the beet had been left in the sun for a couple of days.

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