Julia Isabella Cossitt

Julia Isabella Cossitt was born on February 7, 1858 in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 5, 1936 in Tupelo, Mississippi.  She was the Great Great Great Granddaughter of Ruth and Rene Cossitt.  Belle wrote a 16 page reminiscence dated March 27, 1929. It included admiration for her childhood home in the North Tippah hill country of Mississippi, thoughts on her education, a tribute to her old dog, Pup, and this excerpt about growing up in the 1860's and the memories of a child during the Civil War.

“In those early days, when I was a small child, the dark clouds of the Civil War were growing ominously heavy. Men were restless and women and children more or less frightened, and filled with dread of the impending trouble. Musters and drills were the order of the day. I remember being very much frightened when a neighbor man came by our home beating a drum. I had heard that war was something to be feared, and that drums had something to do in leading to battle, so when the rolling sound of that big drum came into my hearing, I made a dive under the bed, crawling into the very darkest corner which its friendly refuge afforded. There I stayed in breathless fear until the man passed on his way, and my mother came and called me out, assuring me there was no danger.

I remember I was, one morning, playing by our yard gate when three or four men all dressed in uniforms with gay glittering buttons, and riding the most beautiful horses my childish imagination had ever pictured, came down from the public road which was not far away. I always loved horses, and those beauties quite captivated my attention. I suppose the men were Federal cavalry. I heard someone in speaking of them afterwards, call them “Kansas Jayhawkers.” I have never learned what rank in the army that might have been. I suppose I stood there in dumb open-mouthed wonder gazing at them until one of them asked if they could get their canteens filled with milk. Whether my mother could comply with that request, I don't recall, but I remember the men all acted in the most courteous, gentlemanly manner toward her, and wheeling their horses, dashed back to the road where a great regiment was passing by. I must have forgotten for the time that war was such a terrible affair for it was all wonderful in my eyes.

I recall just now an instance to that effect: I was at my grandmother's house one morning, when about half dozen men came riding down to the gate and without stopping, made their horses jump over the fence and came riding into the yard and up to the door, demanding some hams for their head officer, who they stated was in camp just up the road at some little distance. Grandmother told them she had no hams for them. They said they had come for them, and were going to take them. She told them they should not have them, and going out to her smokehouse, she turned her back against the door and stood there defying them to enter, telling them they were a gang of plunderers who were staying out of the army and doing more mischief than the soldiers on either side. I can remember that I was dreadfully frightened for I was sure they would kill her and take the meat. But to our great surprise after trying in vain to run a “bluff” on her, they turned and rode away with the parting threat that they would return and get those hams. But they never came back and her hams remained unmolested. Whether their commander forbid their return or whether they felt a respect for the brave little southern woman who would rather have died than see her property carried off by a lawless gang, none ever knew, but let us hope that her bravery in telling them the truth caused them to meditate a bit on the lives they were leading, and, perchance, make true soldiers ready to protect their homes, and such women. Sure, she was helpless if they had chosen to take those hams, yet after all, however lawless the lives they were leading, they must have held her brave womanhood in some respect.”