SUBMITTED BY: Anne Russell (written by Cheri Todd Molter; transcriptions of a Photograph’s Contents by Caitlyn Keplinger and Cheri Todd Molter)
One of the attached photographs depicts an artistic portrait of the canteen that belonged to Edward Wooten/Wootten during the Civil War that was later decoratively painted by his sister, Ida Eugenia Wooten May. The other, reveals the back of the framed art, on which copies of the letters written about the canteen have been preserved. According to Anne Russell, a descendant of Edward’s and the submitter of these photographs, the family’s surname “has been spelled both ways. In Pitt County it was spelled Wooten, but in Wilmington [they] are the Wootten family, from Rev. Edward Wootten and wife Eliza Jewett Wootten.” To lessen confusion, I’ve used the spelling “Wooten,” which agrees with the spelling recorded on the framed picture of the canteen, Edward’s military documents, and his signature on the letter to his sister, Ida.
According to his compiled military record, Edward Wooten was born in Pitt County, North Carolina. Edward was a twenty-four-year-old student when he enlisted in the Confederate Army on May 13, 1862. He served in Company B of North Carolina’s 5th Calvary. Wooten was mustered in as a Private and promoted to Sergeant on July 8, 1862. He was promoted again on Nov. 30, 1863 to First Sergeant and was listed as present through Dec. 30, 1864.
After the war, Edward became an Episcopal minister and eventually married Eliza Yonge Jewett. They lived and raised a family in Wilmington, North Carolina. Their house was located at 11 South Third St., next to St. James Episcopal Church. After Rev. Edward Wootten died in 1925, he was buried at Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, North Carolina.
The following transcriptions are of the letters that are pictured on the back of the framed depiction of the Confederate canteen that belonged to Edward Wooten/Wootten. (Click on images to enlarge.)
Transcription of the thank-you letter Edward wrote to his sister, Ida:
The dear old canteen with the beautiful & appropriate ornamentation came par Express today. It awakened old & sad memories of the dark days of war. The hardships & the many thirsts that its contents have quenched. Yonge thinks the work beautiful & we shall prize & treasure it. Many thanks to you for your thoughtfulness & taste &c- I had lost sight of the dear old friend & should probably never thought of it again. My Saber I gave to the Iredell Blues at Statesville, N.C. some years ago. They had my name & rank &c carved on it & it hangs in their Armory as a Momento of the late “lost cause” & the poor services that I rendered to that sacred cause. The dear old canteen with its beautiful adornings hangs in the Parlor here & is admired by all who see it. My children will prize it after I am gone to rest where the & unnumbered & unknown dead have gone before. Many mouths have sipped from the contents of this dear old canteen, whose lips are now still & whose parched & dry mouths will never again crave the cool & refreshing draughts it so often contained dipped from a thousand springs & wells from which we quenched our thirst.
This letter if preserved by you may at some distant day be read by a generation yet unborn & so the story now told of 1863 be new to those who may live in 1963 it may be. At any rate I thank you for y[ou]r handiwork that so beautifully adorns the dear old canteen of well nigh a generation ago. God bless you dear Ida for the old reminiscences of 28 years ago.
[Affectionately] y[ou]r brother,
Transcription of Writing Next to the Picture of the Actual Canteen: “Canteen used by Second Lieutenant Edward Wooten of Pitt County. His sister, Ida Eugenia Wooten, painted this canteen with Confederate flags as a gift to her brother in 1891. In a letter thanking her for the canteen he tells his sister, ‘…Many mouths have sipped from the contents of this dear old canteen, whose lips are now still & whose parched & dry mouths will never again crave the cool & refreshing draughts it so often contained dipped from a thousand springs & wells from which we quenched our thirst. This letter if preserved by you may at some distant day be read by a generation yet unborn & so the story now told in 1863 be new to those who may live in 1963 it may be. …God bless you dear Ida for the old reminiscences of 28 years ago.’”
Transcription of the letter pertaining to the display of the canteen at the N.C. Museum of History:
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
March 3, 1997
Dear Mr. M—
I just wanted to let you know the painted canteen of Edward Wooten [Wootten] you recently donated is now on display in the recent acquisitions case in the museum lobby. The exhibit will be up through at least the end of August. We elected to use the wartime spelling of Wooten in our label copy. I hope you will be able to visit and see the canteen while it is on display. Thank you.