The Hunter-Hagler collection provides rare documentation on how women endured the War in the Ozarks. The letters are written by Elizabeth Hunter and her daughters, Priscilla A. Hunter and Charlotte Elizabeth (Hunter) Hagler. The Hunters write Margaret Hunter Newberry, who married and left the family farm. The letters describe how the Hunter family survived harsh winters, sold goods at the market, and provide graphic details of murder, theft and destruction caused by bushwhackers in Jasper and Lawrence Counties. Perpetual violence caused the Hunter family to leave their beloved homestead, and flee to Illinois in late 1864. Elizabeth wrote her daughter affectionately and often, and through these letters Elizabeth relates the brutal conditions in which the family endured.
The collection does not contain any of Margaret’s letters, but it appears she may have been a secessionist. Elizabeth’s passionate belief in the Union and graphic news from home may have caused a rift among her family. It is unknown how Elizabeth’s letters were received, but through their context it becomes clearer Margaret did not always feel loved by her family’s correspondence. Despite Margaret’s political thoughts, Elizabeth remained adamant about her feelings; she believed the suffering of her family, friends and neighbors was the fault of the Confederates and their deplorable tactics. The Hunter-Hagler letters are a powerful collection depicting the hardships many families faced in a politically torn region as neighbors and even families turned on one another.
Contributed by the STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY of MISSOURI RESEARCH CENTER – ROLLA