Part of the USA Today Network

Letters in the Attic, by Cassandra Small; the Discovery

Cover Scan of “Letters of ’63” from Hathi Trust Digital Library (With the two lower text boxes added by S. H. Smith, 2014)
Cover Scan of “Letters of ’63” from Hathi Trust Digital Library (With the two lower text boxes added by S. H. Smith, 2014)
Cassandra (Small) Franklin photo from 1922 Passport (Source: Ancestry.com)
Cassandra (Small) Franklin photo from 1922 Passport (Source: Ancestry.com)

I wrote three posts about Cassandra (Small) Franklin last month.  Those posts were the result of a reader in Massachusetts providing photographs of several 1916 blueprint drawings for Miss Cassandra Small’s residence in York, PA.  Last week a reader in California sent a link, an idea and questions while searching for more information on Cassandra (Small) Franklin after reading my posts.

This same Cassandra (Small) Franklin discovered letters in an attic that her aunt Cassandra M. Small wrote during the Confederate Invasion of York, PA, in 1863.  Cassandra (Small) Franklin had these letters published as “Letters of ’63.”  I was informed that Hathi Trust Digital Library has scanned images of “Letters of ’63” on-line.  This first part of Letters in the Attic will examine Cassandra (Small) Franklin’s discovery of these letters.

Other posts in this series include:

Continue reading as I examine Cassandra (Small) Franklin’s discovery of the “Letters of ’63.”


Miss Cassandra Morris Blair Small is the full maiden name of the person responsible for discovering the “Letters of ’63.”  Her married name is Cassandra (Small) Franklin following the December 6th, 1919, marriage to Walter S. Frankin, Jr.

Miss Cassandra Morris Small wrote the letters in 1863, while she was still single.  The following year, on May 19th, 1864, Cassandra married Dr. Alexander R. Blair.

The Small family in York County had a propensity to continually re-use given names.  This condensed Small Family Tree shows three generations of Cassandra Small.  At the bottom is Cassandra Morris Blair (Small) Franklin that discovered the letters about 10-years after her marriage to Walter S. Franklin, Jr.  A correction from 1917 to 1920 has been made on the year her mother Kate M. Small died; see this link for details.  As you can see, Cassandra’s full given name is based upon that of her Aunt and Great-Aunt Cassandra.  In the middle of the chart is Miss Cassandra Morris Small, who wrote the “Letters of ’63,” during 1863.

Condensed Small Family Tree is from Family History Research by S. H. Smith, primarily at the York County Heritage Trust, 2013 (Kate M. Small Correction made in 2014)
Condensed Small Family Tree is from Family History Research by S. H. Smith, primarily at the York County Heritage Trust, 2013 (Kate M. Small Correction made in 2014)

Lets look at the Foreword that Cassandra (Small) Franklin wrote in the “Letters of ’63:”

The York Gazette of Tuesday, June 30, 1863, devoted its editorial page to an account of the coming of the rebels to York.  Under the heading, “The Invasion-Occupation of York by the Enemy,” these facts were set forth: “On Sunday morning about 10 o’clock the vanguard of the enemy approached in three columns, the center through Main Street . . . General Early next arrived with another brigade of his division, and after an interview with the Chief Burgess, took possession of the Fair Grounds and Government Hospital.  Thither the forces were stationed with their artillery.”

Also on the morning of June 30th, another account, not only of the facts, but of the thoughts and feelings of the inhabitants of the town was being hurriedly written.  Shocked by the experience, yet breathless with the excitement of it Cassandra Morris Small (later Blair) wrote to her cousin and intimate friend Lissie Latimer, of Wilmington, Delaware, relating with unusual vividness the events that had transpired during those days.

Some sixty-five years later these three letters in an old faded envelope were found in the Latimer attic by another Cassandra Morris Small (Franklin).  In a small wooden box they had lain unseen and untouched through the years, yet time had not dimmed their imagery, nor faded their freshness.

Some sixty-five years later, from 1863, is 1928, for the year of discovery.  In 1928, Walter Franklin is in this fourth year as President of the American Trading Company, with the family still residing in New York.  One can only imagine how Cassandra happened to be in the Latimer attic in Wilmington, Delaware.  Was she visiting a family friend or did someone find the letters, saw Cassandra’s name (even though it was her Aunt’s name) and gave her a call?

A check of Wilmington, Delaware’s Directories from the 1860s through Lissie Latimer’s death in 1895 showed she lived in the same house the entire period, even up through her death per Delaware’s Death Records.  The “Latimer attic” is thru very likely in the building at 828 Market Street in Wilmington, Delaware.  Lissie Latimer never married, did a Latimer niece or nephew inherit the house; that’s possible, but will require more checking.

Stair-Jordan-Baker, Inc. printed the book “Letters of ’63” in Detroit, however no publication year is noted in the book.  A Google search shows that quite a few libraries hold a copy of this book, most list the year published as “1928?”.

In 1929, Walter S. Franklin, Jr. was lured back into railroading; he became president of a Pennsylvania Railroad affiliate, the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad from 1929 to 1931.  The family lived at Grosse Pointe Farms in Wayne, Michigan per the 1930 U. S. Census.  Cassandra likely got the idea for putting the letters in a book while they were in Michigan, since a Detroit printer was selected.

A Google search shows Stair-Jordan-Baker, Inc. published some books in 1929, a lot in 1930 and a reduced number in 1931.  From the Google search, the “Letters of ’63” book is the only book that shows up being published in 1928?, which makes me question a 1928 publication date even more, especially since the Franklin family was still in New York in 1928.

Later in 1931 the Stair-Jordan-Baker, Inc. name disappears because of a name change to Stair-Jordan-Cerre, Inc. per the August 29, 1931 issue of Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record.  I’d say that puts the “Letters of ’63” year printed to 1929, 1930 or 1931.

Check back Sunday for more Letters in the Attic, by Cassandra Small.

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts