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John F. Early papers

Identifier: MS-0012
The collection consists of the letters and diary of cadet John F. Early (1830-1894), who attended VMI from 1848 to 1850. The one volume diary-notebook contains short and sporadic entries regarding daily routines and special events. The diary contains one of the earliest references to Superintendent Francis H. Smith as "Spex" (April 30, 1850). The diary also contains lists of cadets, room occupants, and poetry of Sara 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.


  • 1848-1850


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.


6 items

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 VMI 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 Civil War. His military records describe him as being 5 feet and 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.

Physical Location

Manuscripts Stacks

Online Access

A portion of the diary is available in full text on the VMI Archives digital collections site
A Guide to the John F. Early Papers, 1848-1850
Diane B. Jacob
© 2002 Virginia Military Institute Archives
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2008: Guide updated to reflect addition of new material to collection

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450