The pièce de résistance from the Alice Wilcox Collection is this mounted photograph of Civil War nurses. In pencil on the back is this caption:
"Taken during small pox epidemic in Civil War about 1865 in Nashville Tenn. hospital"
It's not known who made the notation, nor when it was made. On the front, another pencil notation indicates that the woman standing in the center was Angeline Tryphena Pettis Wilcox. Angeline was the daughter of Micajah Pettit Pettis and Tryphena Sedgwick, my third-great grandparents, and thus a sister of my great-great-grandfather, Darius J. Pettis. I'd never seen a picture of her before, so it was very exciting to receive this great gift.
But wait, there's more! As if that weren't enough! It appears Angie attended annual conventions of Army Nurses of the Civil War, saving as souvenirs these ribbons which date from the 48th National Encampment in Detroit, Michigan from August 31 to September 5, 1914 through the 57th Encampment dated September 2, 1923. Although she may have attended earlier events, the one in 1923 was her last, as she died January 15, 1924.
The following two newspaper clippings are also part of the Alice Wilcox Collection. They are unsourced but would have appeared soon after Angie's death, possibly in the Rockford Morning Star.
Angie's Civil War Nurse's Pension. She applied in 1892 and the pension was granted. However, she seems to have been a bit disgruntled in 1917 after Widow's Pensions got a cost-of-living increase while Nurse's Pensions did not. The following letter is also part of the Alice Wilcox Collection. I gather it is either a first draft or a handwritten copy of a letter to the editor of a newspaper, possibly the Rockford Morning Star. Whether the letter was ever sent and/or printed in the newspaper, I do not know. I looked for it at Newspapers.com, but the Rockford, Illinois, newspapers are not in their collection. I wonder whether the public library in Rockford would have access to their local Rockford newspaper archives? In any case, page images of the letter will follow this transcription:
Rockford, Ill. Nov. 16, 1917
As your columns have always been open to anything that was loyal to our country & the "Old Flag, I venture this note, to be published in your worthy paper
Having given fifteen months of my time (from Apr, 1864, to close of Civil War) as Nurse to sick & wounded. The appealing call coming from Nashville thru Chicago that scores were dying daily, from that loathsome disease, Small Pox, not knowing how to handle it, as at present. I left my post of support, which was the School room & volunteered my services, as several of my pupils, were already in 74th Ill. Reg't.
When that Hosp. was closed, I with others was tranferred to City Point Va. from there, up the James river to Point of Rocks Hosp. to receive wounded from Petersburg
I stayed till close of War, reaching Chicago about June 1st 65. For this service I was financially rewarded in 1892, $12 per Mo, by the Passage of the Nurse's Pension Bill; Since then there being no addition; have often been asked if my Pension wasn't raised as Widow's
2) On looking over yours of Oct. 18th read "Important to Widows". I scanned it carefully, till at the close, it adds "this does not include "Army Nurses".
"Out again I said to my Friends--Am an Army Nurse & a Widow, but was not Married till close of war, & my Husband not a Soldier - alho' his Father's family gave two Sons to the Service, & My Father's family also two Sons, besides myself, their only daughter; but I came back alive, and am sending you this, to know if you don't think it would be more honor to our government, to get the Nurse's Pension Bill Amended, & passed, equal to what a Widow gets, who never caught the odors from a Pest Hosp. or heard the thunderings of our Artillery on various occasions, & knew its effects by having its wounded br'ot to our Hosp. for care - I know there are Nurse's getting Widow's Pensions; they could, honestly, if a soldier's wife when they went into service, or Married one when they came out - Am a Member of Nat'l Nurse's Association so there must discrepancy, in the Amendments
3) If they had been included in the Oct. 6th gov. would not have been robbed as no one gets two Pensions. This is not Charity I'm asking, it's dues, for past services. My name is on Pension roll, as A. Tryphena (Pettis now Wilcox, for several yrs. have ordered the Pettis dropped, too much work at Pension Office -
If you see fit to add your influence to this regard for Pension equal to Widow's, myself, & I know of another, at least, probably some more, would appreciate it very much. I am glad the Widow's get theirs. We are expecting our Congressman Fuller, will lend his help. My Age is 81 yrs. lacking 2. wks. (over)
Address. A. Tryphena Wilcox
1235 S. Main St.