Oliver Caswell King and Katherine Rutledge King Papers Collection

The Oliver Caswell King and Katherine Rebecca Rutledge King Papers, 1856 - 1893 is a roughly 200-item collection documenting the courtship, marriage and social lives of a Sullivan County, Tennessee, couple before, during and after the Civil War. The correspondence charts the couple's friendship from student days – Oliver at Emory and Henry College, and Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee; and Katherine at the Masonic Female Institute in Blountville – through Oliver's recovery from a battle wound. The correspondence is notable because it charts the couple's transition to Confederate patriotism in a region that overwhelmingly supported the Union.

The correspondence of Oliver Caswell King and Katherine (Kate) Rebecca Rutledge King is extraordinary in its content and breadth. Documents include personal correspondence, political essays, history themes, unpublished editorials, original poetry, addressed envelopes, a greeting card, and a memorial death card. Numerous postal covers bear Confederate States of America postage stamps.

More than 150 love letters chronicle the enduring relationship between "Oll" and "Toad." Their letters are peppered with humor, teasing, playfulness, gossip, political commentaries, advice, and light-hearted attempts to make the other jealous.

The wartime correspondence largely covers 1861-1863. Oll's letters were usually dated with location, month, day, and year, making it easy to follow his movements. Most of Kate's letters were dated with only month and day, though she often identified her whereabouts.

The Oliver Caswell King and Katherine Rebecca Rutledge King Papers cast an intimate light on period courtship customs, Upper South social and cultural life, contemporary political awareness, and Civil War home front and military life.

For more detailed information about the Oliver Caswell King and Katherine Rebecca Rutledge King Collection, and about the lives and times of "Toad" and "Oll," see the resource guide for this collection.

Tennessee State Library and Archives
403 Seventh Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: 615.741.2764
Email: teva.tsla@tn.gov

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