Sherman Room Spotlight Collection
The Civil War Letters of Abraham and George Cummins
George and Abraham Cummins were no different than the hundreds of thousands of other young men who answered the call of the President to restore the Union that had been torn apart by the American Civil War. Both brothers were members Co. I of the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry--a group organized by their father, William, and made up primarily of young men from the Shelby area. Happily, both men survived the war and returned to Richland County to continue their lives.
Abraham, a graduate of Wittenberg College in Springfield, came to Mansfield after the war and served one term as mayor, staring in 1869. He later held a number of prominant positions, including trustee of the Mansfield Water Works, a member of the board the built the Memorial Building on Park Avenue West, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis and a member of the board of commissioners for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. He married Mary B. Newman in 1864, granddaughter of Jacob Newman, one of Mansfield's founders. He had outlived his wife and all five of his children when he died in 1917 at the age of 81.
George lived a shorter, but perhaps more colorful life--at least based on his correspondence. In his letters, he does not disguise his contempt for some of his commanders, speculates about moving to Maryville, California, after the war, asks if rumors that one of his sisters has become pregnant out of wedlock are true, and talks openly of an encounter with a married woman. After being discharged from the Army, George returned to Shelby, where he died just a few short years later in 1868.
In their letters to their brother David, Abraham and George talk of war, and the need for material goods. They discuss politics, debt, and family affairs. Their entertaining letters give us a snapshot of what it was like for the men of Richland County to serve and fight in the Civil War.
Transcripts of the Cummins letters can be viewed in The Sherman Room at the Main Library. Excerpts from the letters are also featured on the library's Twitter page, with the hashtag #CumminsCivilWarLetters