A Guide to the John F. Early Papers, 1848-1850 Early, John F., Papers mss 00012

A Guide to the John F. Early Papers, 1848-1850

A Collection in
Virginia Military Institute Archives
Collection Number mss 00012


Virginia Military Institute Archives

Virginia Military Institute Archives
Preston Library
Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, Virginia 24450-0304
Phone: (540) 464-7566
Fax: (540) 464-7279
Email: archives@vmi.edu
URL: http://www.vmi.edu/archives

© 2002 Virginia Military Institute

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Virginia Military Institute Archives Staff

Archives, Preston Library, Virginia Military Institute
Collection number
mss 00012
John F. Early Papers 1848-1850
Physical Characteristics
The collection consists of 6 items.

Administrative Information


There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

John F. Early Papers, mss 00012, Virginia Military Institute Archives, Lexington, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to the Virginia Military Institute by descendants of John F. Early, in 1939 and 2006.

Biographical/Historical Information

John Fletcher Early, the son of Methodist Bishop John Early and Elizabeth Rives, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on June 7, 1830. He attended the Virginia Military Institute from August 4, 1848 through July 4, 1850, but did not graduate. Prior to the Civil War he moved to Louisiana, where he was affiliated with the Southern Methodist publishing house. In May 1862 he enlisted in Captain C. E. Fenner's Battery, Louisiana Artillery and served until the end of the war. His military records describe him as being 5 ft. 11 1/2 inches and having a dark complexion, gray eyes and dark hair.

Following the war, Early was employed by railroads in Nashville, Tennessee and Sanford, Florida. He married Eliza Bostwick and the couple had four children. Early died in Sanford, Florida on September 28, 1894.

Scope and Content Information

The collection consists of the letters and diary of Cadet John F. Early (b. 1830 in Lynchburg, Va.; d. 1894), who attended VMI 1848-1850. The one volume diary-notebook contains short and sporadic entries; daily routines and special events are noted; one of the earliest references to Superintendent Francis H. Smith as "Spex" (April 30, 1850); lists of cadets; room occupants; poetry of Sarah Henderson Smith ("The Old Gray Coat) and others. The five letters were written to family members and include details of cadet life and family and personal news.

Diary-notebook Entries

Entries conform to the order in which they appear in the volume.
1. Roster: Names of cadets who were members of the Corps when Early joined in August 1848.
2. "Common Place Book," 1849- 1859. Entries begin April 17, 1849 and contain mostly single line comments about family and VMI events. Includes short account of General Charles P. Dorman's funeral; Christmas celebrations at VMI (1849); reference to Superintendent Francis H. Smith as "Colonel Spex."
3. Copied poetry and ancecdotes. Includes "The Old Gray Coat" composed by Sarah Henderson Smith.
4. Roster: Names of cadets in 1848-1849 (117 names)
5. Occupants of barracks rooms 1 - 8, 1849- 1850.
6. Roster: Names of cadets in 1849-1850 (117 names)
7. Diary. "My Diary Commencing June 7th 1850 My 20th Birth Day." Mentions recitations, dress parade, tattoo, reveille, bathing in the river. The last entry is June 12, 1850.