The Lucy Pier Stevens Diaries at the DeGolyer Library


In 1859, a young woman from Ohio arrived in Texas for an extended visit with her aunt and uncle. Six years later, she boarded a blockade runner sailing to Havana, Cuba, in a desperate attempt to return to the North, having been stuck in enemy territory since the Civil War began. 

Woman seated in 1860s
Lucy Stevens

Lucy Pier Stevens was 21 years old when she departed Ohio to visit family in Travis, near Brenham in south-central Texas. She kept a diary, and modern readers will note her thoughtful observations. Two journals, a photo album, and a keepsake book were found at an estate sale in California and purchased by the DeGolyer Library in 1999. 

The diaries in our collection begin in January 1860 to 1861, pick up again in 1863, and continue through her departure from Texas, through Havana, and back to Ohio, where, on a train heading to Cleveland, the diaries end. 

Page from a diary
The first page of the 1863 diary

During the war, Lucy wrote about day-to-day life on a farm, often noting meals, weather, and the health of family members. Additionally, she kept note of the lives, friendships, and loves of the family and community around her. She also wrote about the enslaved men and women around her, and by the start of her 1863 journal, expresses no rejection of, or abhorrence to slavery. As the years in Texas went on, Lucy seemed to become more aligned with the Confederate cause. 

In 2016, SMU English lecturer Vicki Adams Tongate published Another Year Finds Me in Texas: the Civil War diary of Lucy Pier Stevens, which transcribes the diary alongside in-depth historical analysis and commentary. 

Few diaries written by women in Texas are known to exist in libraries, and Lucy’s is the only known one written by a Northerner.  If you would like to read the diaries, you can do so by clicking here to visit our digital collections 

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