The Diary of Sallie McNeill

Sallie McNeill was Levi Jordan’s oldest grandchild. Born in Louisiana in 1840, she moved to Texas with her parents and grandparents at the age of nine. After graduating from Baylor College at Independence in 1858, Sallie returned to live at the plantation with her grandparents and her mother. While at Baylor College Sallie began keeping a diary, a practice she continued until her death in 1867. At the end of her life, Sallie was living at a Galveston beach home owned by her family, and it is likely that she succumbed to yellow fever.

In 2009, The Uncompromising Diary of Sallie McNeill, 1858-1867 was published by Texas A&M University Press. It was edited by Levi Jordan descendant and area resident Ginny Raska and Dr. Mary Lynne Hill. Sallie’s diary provides a compelling view of 19th century Southern society as shown in the following passages.

On life at her grandfather’s plantation (February 1859):

“I have been teaching the children a month; …To-night seems lonesome. Mollie is asleep, Missie playing, the boys reading, and Grand Parents abed. We must soon follow their example as early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise…”

On her aversion to marriage (September 1859):

“…I believe I am a restless being, and must have inherited the propensity for rambling from the McNeill’s (her father’s family). I soon tire of company, especially the nonsensical talk of young men. It is a poor compliment to my sex (weak though they too often are) to suppose that they can only be amused by flattery and sentiment…”

On the beginnings of Civil War (November 1860):

“Stirring news! Lincoln is elected doubtless, but then will be bloody struggles ere he reaches Washington…Oh, I am just beginning to realize the possibility of a Civil War with all its horrors. God forbid that our glorious Union should be dissolved…Our worst foes are in our midst. Negro insurrections will be constant and bloody under the guidance of abolitionists…I have always pshawed and hooted at the idea of disunion, but I can no longer close my eyes to stubborn facts. It is terrible the thought of fighting against one’s own, for we are one people.”

On the institution of slavery (December 1861):

“Grandpa is summoned to B. [Brazoria] to attend a meeting of the Citizens in order to try suspected abolitionists. I pity the offenders! Calvin and I yesterday almost agreed that we sometimes felt like crying out against slavery.”