Virginia Military Institute
HomeDigital Collections

John F. Early Papers Edit


MS 0012


  • 1848-1850 (Creation)


  • 6 items (Whole)


  • Scope and Contents

    The collection consists of the letters and diary of Cadet John F. Early (b. 1830 in Lynchburg, Va.; d. 1894), who attended VMI 1848-1850. The one volume diary-notebook contains short and sporadic entries; daily routines and special events are noted; one of the earliest references to Superintendent Francis H. Smith as "Spex" (April 30, 1850); lists of cadets; room occupants; poetry of Sarah Henderson Smith ("The Old Gray Coat) and others. The five letters were written to family members and include details of cadet life and family and personal news.

  • Biographical / Historical

    John Fletcher Early, the son of Methodist Bishop John Early and Elizabeth Rives, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on June 7, 1830. He attended the Virginia Military Institute from August 4, 1848 through July 4, 1850, but did not graduate. Prior to the Civil War he moved to Louisiana, where he was affiliated with the Southern Methodist publishing house. In May 1862 he enlisted in Captain C. E. Fenner's Battery, Louisiana Artillery and served until the end of the war. His military records describe him as being 5 ft. 11 1/2 inches and having a dark complexion, gray eyes and dark hair.

    Following the war, Early was employed by railroads in Nashville, Tennessee and Sanford, Florida. He married Eliza Bostwick and the couple had four children. Early died in Sanford, Florida on September 28, 1894.

  • Online Access

    A portion of the diary is available in full text on the VMI Archives digital collections site

  • Conditions Governing Access

    There are no restrictions.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Manuscript collections in the VMI Archives are made available for educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.

  • Preferred Citation

    John F. Early Papers, MS 0012, Virginia Military Institute Archives, Lexington, Virginia.

  • Physical Location

    Manuscripts Stacks