A Civil War soldier’s diary is coming home to Illinois. The leather-bound journal of Springfield resident Peter Simon String has been donated by his descendants to the Lincoln Library’s Sangamon Valley Collection. String’s great-great nephew discovered the diary in a dresser. “It basically had been in their possession for about 40 years,” said Curtis Mann, director of the Sangamon Valley Collection.
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String’s descendants decided the diary belonged in the soldier’s hometown, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library gladly accepted the donation. “What we have here in our area, in the Sangamon Valley Collection, is maybe a few letters written to people from soldiers, but we don’t have that day-to-day occurrence of what’s going on,” Mann said. That’s what most of the diary documents from June 1864 to May 1865, though String does touch on national events, such as the entry dated Nov. 16, 1864, where here reacts to the re-election of Abraham Lincoln.
“Got papers of the 11th, glorious election news, Lincoln elected, the country is saved, hoorah, hoorah,” it says. The final entry describes his journey home to Springfield, where he lived until his death in 1921 at the age of 90. Visitors to the Lincoln Library will be able to read a transcript of the diary.