Tero, Bessie. Letter, 1865 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of one letter written April 17, 1865, from Bessie Tero [?] in Rockford, Illinois, to her mother, Mrs. B.C. Tero, in Genesee County, New York. The letter includes detailed sections on the public reactions to the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Bessie and her brother, Frank, lived in Rockford, Illinois, at the time the letter was written. The rest of their family, including their parents and grandparents, lived in Genesee County, New York. Their last name may have been Tero, though no additional information has been found about the family. Frank may have owned a shop in Rockford, as Bessie wrote that she was "tending shop for Frank while he did some graining in South Rockford."
This collection contains one letter with its envelope written two days after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Bessie, who lived in Rockford, Illinois, wrote to her mother, Mrs. B.C. Tero [?] in Genesee County, New York. The letter contains descriptions of celebrations in the town of Rockford after the surrender of Robert E. Lee's army. Bessie wrote, "Rockford went wild with excitement" with people in the streets and flags flying. The letter then gives an account of the sadness across town after receiving news of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, in which "the first feeling was profound sorrow." Bessie wrote that, "men old and gray haired went through the streets in tears every store was draped in mourning, and private residences in all directions have crape, or black and white drapery upon them, I was completely unnerved for the day."
Bessie also wrote "after the first outburst of grief, people began to feel indignant and Copperheads have to be very careful what they say." The gossip about town was that "Bolles the artist" said the assassination was the work of Abolitionists, and Rockford citizens responded by going to Bolles' house and asking him to "give an account of himself." Bolles said he was not a Copperhead and that he never said such a thing. While at the house, citizens saw a framed portrait of Robert E. Lee and forced Bolles to stomp on it. Bessie wrote that the citizens "gave him until today to leave town." In her letter, Bessie also noted of a fire in Manny's Paint Shop, a theft at the farm of Solomon Wheeler, and family matters.
The Library purchased this collection in 2022 with support from the Dr. Harlan Horner Estate.