Sam and Sally Hardeman

The Saga of Caney Creek

The Hardeman Project 1985-86

The Hardeman Project was conducted in the 1985-86 school year. by students in Bill Coate’s 6th-grade class at James Monroe School and JoAnn Bell’s 7th-grade class at Bay City Junior High School (Bay City, Texas)

Sam and Sally Hardeman were distant cousins. Their parents came to Texas from Tennessee in 1836, when the two were just toddlers. By the time they were grown, they had fallen in love and in 1849, they were married.  

When Texas seceded, Sam joined the Confederacy. Like many of his comrades-in-arms, he never served beyond the borders of his native state, but he might just as well have, as far as Sally was concerned. The task of running the plantation, hiring the overseer, and disciplining the slaves all fell to her. While Sam was away fighting for the South, Sally did her best to hold things together on the plantation.

All the while that Sam and Sally were separated, they carried on a lively correspondence. He wrote of his experiences in the War while she kept him informed of the plantation business. By the time the fighting was over, they had accumulated a trunk full of yellowing correspondence. They kept these letters in an old trunk, and just before they died, they passed them on to their children.

By 1986, one hundred fifty years after Sam and Sally came to Texas, their letters had traveled to Chowchilla, California, where a class of young historians read them and were so gripped, that they decided to write the Hardeman story. The results of their collaborative work was The Saga of Caney Creek, a first-hand account of life in Texas during the Civil War, from a dual point of view — the man with the gun and the woman he left at home.

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