The latest publication from Coffee County Historical Society is “Letters to Mary, the Civil War Diary of Dr. John Kennerly Farris.”
Dr. Farris of Hillsboro served as a hospital steward and assistant surgeon in Company I of the 41st Tennessee Confederate Infantry and wrote letters home to his wife Mary in the form of small diaries, which he kept until an opportunity arose for him to either mail them or send them home by someone who was traveling to Coffee County.
The diaries follow his journey through that terrible war, encompassing events of camp life, troop movements, battles, tribulations, a week’s list of menus for camp food, and even formulas for some of his medical treatments. It is an extremely comprehensive look at that period of our history, as Dr. Farris was a meticulous record keeper, who included lists of soldiers who served in various units, those who were killed or wounded, and unit reorganizations. These records contained many Coffee County names. His thoughts are alternately sobering, brave, hopeful and at times lonely, as he missed his family deeply. He even penned some lines of poetry during his capture and imprisonment.
The book was originally written by Dr. Farris’s great-granddaughter, Shirley Farris Jones of Murfreesboro. The Civil War historian, community activist and author of four books about the Civil War inherited the diaries handed down in the family. The book was previously published about 20 years ago, but this second printing has a great deal of added material, including many more photos and illustrations, and offers an amazing glimpse into the difficulties of life during that time from a Coffee County resident’s point of view.
The 180-page book sells for $20 plus $3.50 shipping and handling if the book is to be mailed. To obtain the book, contact Shirley Farris Jones at (615) 337-0489 or by email at SJns422@bellsouth.net.
The book can also be purchased through the Coffee County Historical Society at (931) 728-0145 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Historical Society office is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m-1 p.m.. in the historic courthouse on the square in Manchester.