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Frontier Cavalry (part of the 26th New York Cavalry)

Frank Dana Hyde Diaries

Pvt Frank Dana Hyde, Middlebury, Frontier Cavalry, January-June 1865

Frank Dana Hyde was born in Middlebury, Vermont on September 16, 1847. At the age of 17 he enlisted in the Frontier Cavalry and the first of twelve diaries (starting January 1, 1865) begins the chronicle of his life and adventures. The back pages of each diary include a record of all letters written, all letters received, as well as all money he received and all money spent. There are many places and people named in the pages of these treasures, so it is not only for the desire to preserve these records for my family that I commit these copies to paper but to share with others who may find familiar names and places as well. For those who may be searching for a clue to their own heritage, or to historians who enjoy fine-tuning their peek into the ways of the past, I delight in the thought that you, too, may enjoy taking this journey with my great-grandfather, and how his life was lived over a hundred years ago.

I must admit that when my mother discovered the diaries and became absorbed into tracing her roots, I was less than enthused about it all. When she would converse about a particular person from the past, or tell me about her search for someone in the line, nothing made sense to me and it all ran together. I just couldn't take it very seriously. However the time came when I was privileged not only to read the diaries myself but to inherit them, my attitude did a complete turn around. I still remember the excitement I felt as I began deciphering the writing and taking those first steps into that journey of the past. That first night I couldn't put them down, reading into the wee hours of the morning. I couldn't get enough and could hardly wait to read what happened next!! The writing is difficult to read in many places due to a combination of smeared pencil, no rules of punctuation or spelling at that time, and faded penmanship from such a long time ago. Some expressions are not used today and I am not sure what some things are that he refers to, such as Singing School. One can only guess at what they are until research can uncover the secret.

And that is how I feel about these diaries - secrets unfolded. Here are the "secrets" of the life of one man and his life, his early years, romance and journeys west, hardships in making a living, health challenges, joys and sorrows, all set down to allow us to walk in his steps for a few years. My mother remembers Great-grandfather coming to our hometown for visits when she was a child, in Clearfield, PA. She used to tell me about how he loved to wear coat tails, and when they would ice skate together on the river she would hang on to his tails as he would pull her across the ice. A rather rotund gentleman, he was affable and kind. It is obvious in the diaries how much he loved his dear wife, Caroline Frances Foote. They were the parents of my grandfather, Royce Dana Hyde, whom I loved and enjoyed. I like to think that his gentleness and fun-loving spirit were like that of his father. So as I re-type these diaries, I visualize someone similar to him. I wish I had known him too.

Enjoy!

Helen Smart,
Brevard, NC
Frank's great-granddaughter.


January - June 1865 - July - December 1865
January - June 1866 - July - December 1866
January - June 1867 - July - December 1867
January - June 1868 - July - December 1868