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Sarah V. Elder Dicken Papers - MS 997

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The Sarah V. Dicken Papers consist of original letters, photocopies, and transcripts of a series of Civil War era and late 19th century letters, primarily to and from Sarah Dicken, with some added genealogical information provided by the donor. The collection spans the pre-war and post-war period from 1854 through 1896.

The collection was donated to the Center for Archival Collections by Leanna Jo Elder Shaberly of Phoenix, Arizona on May 24, 2004. Duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and research. The transcripts were completed by student assistant David Kuebeck and the collection was processed and register prepared by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts in July 2004.

 Biographical Sketch

Sarah V. Elder was born December 8, 1840, the eldest child of Achor and Eliza (Cessna) Elder of Centerville, Pennsylvania. In 1854 the family moved to Mahoning County, Ohio. Sarah was married to Joshua H. Dicken on July 5, 1863 in Jackson Twp., Seneca County, Ohio.

At the time of the Civil War Joshua Dicken served initially with the 3 month service of Co.H, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Then in Sept. 1861 he joined Co.K, 49th O.V.I, (being discharged on disability the following year). He was later drafted at the age of 26 on Sept. 29, 1864 for 1 year service with Co.A, 64th O.V.I. One of Sarah's brothers, Curtis S. Elder, also served during the war with Co.K, 9th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and there are additional letters to Sarah from other friends and relatives who served in a variety of regiments.

A biographical sketch of Sarah along with genealogical charts with more information is included in the collection.

 Scope and Content

The Sarah V. Elder Dicken Papers consist primarily of correspondence spanning the years from 1854 through 1898, with some poetry or essays included. The letters were written by a variety of individuals, both family members and friends, but the bulk of the correspondence consists of Civil War era letters between Sarah (also referred to as Sade or Sallie) and her fiancée and later husband, Joshua H. Dicken. In a letter to her dated June 30, 1862 Joshua specifically requested that she keep the letters he wrote to her since he thought they would be interesting to read later.

The content of the early letters from family and friends, many still living in Pennsylvania, deal primarily with the activities of neighbors, friends, teaching school, and social events around the area. Joshua's letters written while in the army cover his service with the 21st OVI early in 1861, continuing service with the 49th OVI until early 1862 when he was discharged on disability, and later duty with the 64th OVI after being drafted in 1864. Additional Civil War letters were written to Sarah from her brother, Curtis who served with the 9th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry during the war. Other friends and relatives with Ohio units included Henry Dicken, John D. and George E. Cessna.

These Civil War letters provide a picture of conditions in camp, where disease was a serious concern, the hardship of long marches and short rations, and specifics of battles in which Joshua took part. Several early pieces in the collection, in the form of poems or "songs", give an indication of the patriotic pride in the actions of the 21st OVI during the 3-month service in its initial actions in West Virginia and the Kanawha Valley. A later letter from Joshua from late December of 1864 describes the situation around the Battle of Franklin.

Due to the deteriorated condition of some of the letters, the difficult handwriting, and for preservation purposes, transcripts have been provided for all the letters and other papers, although a few illegible or damaged sections have been noted.

 Series Description


Arranged chronologically
Originals and photocopies of Sarah Dicken correspondence, with some other letters included. Typed transcripts provided.


Printed genealogical information, both pedigree charts and family group sheets, compiled by Leanna Jo Elder Shaberly. Includes Sarah Elder Dicken biographical sketch and family group sheets for Dicken, Cessna, and Elder families

Inventories of correspondence compiled by Leanna Jo Elder Shaberly, arranged by date and by sender, with a separate date listing of letters available only as photocopies


Box 1


  1. Correspondence, with transcripts, 1854-1859
  2. Correspondence, with transcripts, 1860
  3. Correspondence, with transcripts, March-May 1861
  4. Correspondence, with transcripts, July-Dec 1861
  5. Correspondence, with transcripts, Jan-March 1862
  6. Correspondence, with transcripts, April-June 1862
  7. Correspondence, with transcripts, July-Dec 1862
  8. Correspondence, with transcripts, Sept-Dec 1863
  9. Correspondence, with transcripts, April-July 1864
  10. Correspondence, with transcripts, Sept-Dec 1864
  11. Correspondence, with transcripts, Jan-Feb 1865
  12. Correspondence, with transcripts, March-April 1865
  13. Correspondence, with transcripts, May-June 1865
  14. Correspondence, with transcripts, 1876-1887
  15. Correspondence, with transcripts, 1892-1898
  16. Correspondence, with transcripts, n.d.
  17. Envelopes, n.d.
  18. Genealogical material, 2004
  19. Letter inventories, 2004
  20. Pension File, 1862-1923

MS 997 - Sarah V. Elder Dicken Papers - List of Transcripts
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