A Tragic Homecoming

Emery McColley was discharged from the Army on June 26, 1865. He arrived at his parents' farm in Delavan township, Faribault County, Minnesota, on July 20. A letter from Polly Razey McColley to her son, Alonzo, on Sept. 9, 1865, describes his return from the war:

Dear son, you don't know how I miss your dear brother. I looked and waited so long and then when he came, we could not take comfort with him as we expected for he was so sick. He could not talk hardly any. I think he was out of his head when he first came home for when we saw him coming we went to meet him and Emily (his twin sister) got to him first and I see he could hardly walk and when I got to him I said Emery are you well and took hold of his hand. He said, yes I was never weller in my life. But oh you don't know my feeling when I kissed him. His face and breath was as hot as a stove pipe. From that minute, I was the unhappyest mother you ever saw for I knew that I would soon have to part with my darling boy. He got home Thursday night at sundown and died Wednesday morning at six. It was the hardest trial of my life. I have lost two little ones, one was three years old and the other was almost five, and it was nothing like this. It seems as tho I never could get over it. I had counted so much on taking comfort with him and then I could not have any visit with him for he was out of his head all the time. There was one time that he looked at me very steady and I said to him, Emery do you know me and he nodded his head and turned his head over and tears run down his cheeks. He knew me then, oh dear son, how hard it was to part with your dear brother so soon and forever, but I must reconcile myself to my loss.

Reproduced, with permission, from "Pioneer Heritage, A McColley Family History" by Dallas G. McColley. 9240 330th Avenue, Waseca, MN 56093-5010

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Comments may be addressed to Larry Pearson, lpearson@pobox.alaska.net