The Margaret B. Burruss Collection

The Margaret B. Burruss Collection, 1786-1912 contains an old family bible, records, photographs, and the love letters of a Virginia couple during the Civil War.

These items have been part of the Special Collections in Carrier Library since 1990.

bibleThe bible in the collection is missing its title page. We know, however, that it belonged to the Hanna family of Virginia because of the two pages of handwritten genealogical information that the bible contains. Those notes and internal evidence from the book suggest that it was printed late in the 18th century.

The bulk of the Burruss Collection is made up of 195 letters of Reuben and Mollie (Saufley) Scott, the great-grandparents of Mrs. Burruss. They lived near Port Republic here in Rockingham County.



In April of 1861, Mr Saufley agreed to let his daughter marry Reuben, who was then about 23 years old. Of course, like many Virginians the two young people were swept into the turmoil of the Civil War before the year was over. Reuben joined the Confederate forces as a private in the Company B, 10th Regiment, Virginia Infantry, shortly after the couple became engaged, delaying their marriage until September.

He was wounded in the arm at Chancellorsville in May, 1863. Later, he was taken prisoner of war at Port Republic in September, 1864, being paroled on May 23, 1865. He returned to live a prosperous life as a farmer in Port Republic and died in 1912.


The couple kept up a vigorous correspondence over the course of the war, with Reuben describing camp life, battles, and the difficulties of life as a prisoner. letter


These letters provide a great resource for understanding the experiences of Virginia soldiers during the Civil War, along with aspects of life back home during the conflict. In fact, several historians have used the Scott letters as sources for their books.

We are lucky to have photographs of both Reuben and Mollie around the time when they wrote most of their letters.











Come check out the Burruss Collection for an honest portrayal of life and love during the terrors of war in the Shenandoah Valley.



About Mark Peterson

Rare Books and Research Services Librarian at James Madison University Libraries.

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