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Charles F. Tew papers, 1837-1905

1.25 linear feet

The Charles F. Tew papers contain letters and documents related to Union officer Charles Tew and his family. The letters document Tew's early career in the navy, his Civil War service, and his family's post-war activities.

The Charles F. Tew papers contain letters and documents related to Union officer Charles Tew and his family (1837-1905). The 1985 series is comprised of 448 letters, 2 diaries, 19 military documents (including orders, supply notes, commissions, and furloughs), 1 roll call notebook, 1 subpoena, 9 financial records (receipts), 3 printed items, and 11 items of ephemera.

The letters begin in 1841, during Tew's early career in the United States Navy, and were written to and from Tew, his mother, and his brother. Tew's letters detail his experiences as a young sailor aboard the Columbus, and include descriptions of ship life. In one letter, Tew complained to his mother that they begin scrubbing the deck early in the morning, and that "if you go below the mate will lick you with out mercy…I am sick of a sailor's life" (September 16, 1841). Several letters deal with his attempts to obtain a discharge. He explained to his mother that if he is not released from service he will simply run away again: "I will never consent to stay here five years on any account whatever I had rather they would throw me overboard with a forty two pound shot tied to my neck" (January 17, 1842). Soon after, the navy agreed to discharge Tew.

Most of the 1850-1860 items are incoming letters to Tew from friends and family, dealing with daily life, town gossip and scandals (such as an illegitimate birth (January 9 and 10, 1851)), firefighting, and cockfighting. Of note is a letter discussing "spirit rappings" (February 22, 1850), and a letter about newly instated fugitive slave laws (November 28, 1850).

The Civil War letters begin on November 5, 1861, when Tew wrote that he and his regiment had reached Annapolis, Maryland. The majority of the letters from this period are from Tew to his wife and family, with some letters addressed to either Tew or Amelia from other friends and family members. The letters indicate that, though Tew missed his family greatly, he was proud of his service for his country: "I am winning an inheritance for my children, and for them a name and a country that they may never be ashamed of" (November 28, 1861). Tew often exhibited frustration at the men who did not enlist, as he believed their reluctance to join the cause only lengthened the war. Tew suggested that their civilian pay should be cut in order to encourage them to enlist (November 21, 1863). Though the series does not include Amelia's letters to Tew, his responses indicate that she was often frustrated by his absence. Tew's letters contain vivid descriptions of army and officer life, battles and expeditions, and his illnesses and injuries. Tew described his part in the capture of New Bern and the ensuing skirmishes (March 16, 1862), Drewry's Bluff (May 22, 1864), Cold Harbor (June 5, 1864), and the siege of Petersburg (June 12-August 11, 1864). Tew wrote that many of his men had grown hard and accustomed to battle: "They are without fear as you may say, heardened to the sight of blood…O Wife you know not what it is to meat death face to face, yet I fear it not…" (April 9, [1862]). Beyond the battlefield, Tew discussed his impressions of and dealings with Southern civilians. He described commandeering houses and burning the homes of those who gave information to the Confederate Army (June 15, 1862). He noted the capture of several Confederate prisoners, mentioning that he wished he could have killed them in revenge for the death of Union soldiers (July 30, 1862). African Americans and slaves are also a frequent topic of discussion, and Tew claimed that, though the people in Maryland have slaves do all of their work, "they cannot be as happy as we are at home with our wives and daughters to do our work so neat for us" (November 1861). Tew occasionally discussed his views of African American troops.

Tew resigned from the service in August 1864, but reenlisted in 1865, to the consternation of his wife. In a letter from March 18, 1865, Tew defended his actions, claiming that he was not a bad husband, nor was he deserting his family. After his reenlistement, Tew felt unwelcome in his new regiment (March 23, 1865). The letters from this period contain a discussion of Lincoln's assassination (April 26, 1865), as well as a first-hand account of the execution of the assassination conspirators (July 10, 1865).

After the war, the series consists primarily of family letters, including several from Charles F. Tew, Jr (1877-1880), who traveled around the United States working odd jobs, including painting, piano tuning, and picking cotton, until he died suddenly in Colorado of an illness. His last letter is dated February 21, 1880, and is followed by a payment for transporting his body back to Massachusetts, and a letter from the hospital containing information on his death (May 17, 1880). Family letters, written primarily by Amelia, Charles, and their children, continue through the next few decades, providing accounts of late 19th century family life. Topics include illnesses, romances and marriages (accounts of Mabel Tew's wedding are provided in letters from January 8 and 15, 1888), work, births, vacations, and general family events.

Also included in the series are several printed documents, including a navy broadside (1837); a pamphlet providing "Instructions for Officers on outpost and patrol duty" (March 25, 1862); and a subpoena to appear at a court martial for men who had gone AWOL (October 19, 1865). Also present are three bound volumes: Tew's roll call notebook for the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment (1862-1865), and two diaries from 1862 and 1865 that contain occasional brief entries.

The 2015 series consists of approximately 250 items, primarily Civil War-era military documents and returns related to ordnance, camp equipage, and clothing. Other military documents concern details, furloughs, and passes for Tew and members of his companies. Application materials for pensions, disability, and other matters area also included. The series also features seven letters from 1849 relating to Charles F. Tew's travels to California to participate in gold mining. Ten letters from Amelia M. Tew to her mother in the mid-1850s detail her young and growing family. These are accompanied by various other family letters, documents, and receipts from 1809 to 1902.

The series also includes several photographs, ephemera, and two essays. One, "An Incident at New Berne, N.C." relates to a Civil War battle in which Tew commanded. The other, "My Childhood Days in the First Third of the Century," is a partial memoir written by a mother for her child. Two autograph albums, one from ca. 1833-1836 and ca. 1874-1878, are at the end of the series.


Finding Aid for Tyler-Montgomery-Scott Family Album, ca. 1870-1938

approximately 275 items in 1 album

The Tyler-Montgomery-Scott family album chronicles multiple generations of the Tyler, Montgomery, and Scott families of the Philadelphia area from the 1860s through the 1930s. It includes approximately 275 items including studio portrait photographs, informal snapshots, newspaper clippings, postcards, letters, and other ephemera.

The Tyler-Montgomery-Scott family album chronicles multiple generations of the Tyler, Montgomery, and Scott families of the Philadelphia area from the 1860s through the 1930s. It includes approximately 275 items including studio portrait photographs, informal snapshots, newspaper clippings, postcards, letters, and other ephemera.

The album (33 x 25.5 cm) is string-bound with grey cloth covers. Most photographs in the album have detailed handwritten captions identifying people, often with their middle or maiden names as well as the location and date. The presentation of the album is not strictly chronological, especially in the latter half. The early generations of Tylers are represented in photographic formats such as cartes-de-visite, tintypes and cabinet cards, while later generations are represented in snapshots and postcards. When the album reaches the mid-twentieth century, it begins to resemble the modern family album with various forms of ephemera (newspaper clippings, drawings, letters, Christmas cards, etc.) supplementing the photographs of family and friends.

The album begins with a portrait of Frederick Tyler, his daughter Sarah Sophia Cowen, granddaughter Kate “Gwen” Cowen Pratt, and great-granddaughter Kate Pratt. George F. and Louisa R. Tyler as well as their children (including Sidney F. and Helen Beach Tyler) are also featured in the initial section of the album, along with many extended family members, friends, nurses, and pets. Among the family friends pictured are painter Frederick Church, writer Bret Harte, Leonor Ruiz de Apodaca y Garcia-Tienza, Gen. William Buel Franklin, patent lawyer and historian Woodbury Lowery, and the Duke and Duchess of Arcos (Jose Ambrosio Brunetti and Virginia Woodbury Lowery Brunetti). Several interior views of rooms in George F. and Louisa R. Tyler’s home on 201 South 15th St. taken in 1896 are also present, including a photograph of the “Children’s play room” that features their granddaughter Hope Binney Tyler Montgomery holding a doll. Hope, her parents Mary W. and Sidney F. Tyler, her husband Robert “Bob” L. Montgomery, and their children Mary, Ives, and Alexander are well-represented in the album.

Of particular interest are a number of photographs in different sections of the album that depict Theodore Roosevelt and his family. Some of these images are formal studio portraits, while others are more candid snapshots of Roosevelt with other people. One snapshot shows the family at play on the grounds of Sagamore Hill in 1897. Two photos taken at the White House including Helen Beach Tyler, daughter of George F. and Louisa R. Tyler and second cousin to Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, are labelled “taken by Ted Roosevelt,” possibly referring to President Roosevelt’s son Theodore Roosevelt III. Helen Beach Tyler may be the “Nellie” who was the recipient of a partial letter included in the album which describes conditions at a wartime hospital (most likely in Italy) in 1915. Only the first two pages of this letter are included, and there is no indication of the identity of the writer. Helen Beach Tyler may also have been the principal compiler of this album. Supporting this possibility is the presence of an interior view of a bedroom at 201 South 15th St. (George F. and Louisa R. Tyler’s home) captioned as “Mother’s bedroom,” a signed portrait of Englishman Lytton Sothern captioned “Given to me by Mr. Sothern June 1872. Mr. Edward Sothern & his son Lytton Sothern sat at our table on ‘Oceanic’ my first trip to Europe,” and a portrait of Sara Schott von Schottenstein, Baronin von Prittwitz-Gaffron, bearing the inscription “to her friend Helen Tyler 1880.”

Other items of interest include portraits of Col. August Cleveland Tyler; several portraits of Brig. Gen. Robert Ogden Tyler; a portrait of French pianist Antoine Marmontel captioned “Mr. Marmontel Professor au Conservatoire gave us music lessons in Paris 1873-74”; a group portrait of Helen Beach Tyler, Mary L. Tyler, Alice Seward, Kitty Seward, and Ida Vinton posing with a silhouette of Sidney F. Tyler; photographs of painted portraits of George F. Tyler and Hope Binney Tyler Montgomery; a series of photos taken at the Spanish Embassy in Mexico City, some of which include the Duke and Duchess of Arcos, Woodbury Lowery, and Archibald Lowery; portraits of the Prittwitz-Gaffron family in Germany; photos taken around the world in various locations including Egypt, India, Germany, and Italy; images taken during an exhibition of sculpture by Stella Elkins Tyler (wife of George Frederick Tyler, Jr.), as well as a program from the event; and photos showing the family of Helen Hope and Edgar Scott.