The Fisk-Chalker family collection is made up of 36 letters, 10 land indentures, 42 tax receipts, 2 tintype photographs, and 1 tavern keeper's license, related to the Fisk and Chalker families of Junius, New York; Livingston County, Michigan; and (briefly) Chamberlain, South Dakota.
The Correspondence is largely incoming and outgoing letters of John Fisk, his brother Sumner Fisk, his wife Judith "Judah" Fisk, and his daughter Sarah J. Fisk Chalker. Five Civil War date letters include two letters by Sumner Fisk (August 4, 1862, and June 20, 1864), in which he offers news on Seneca County, New York, soldiers Charley Bush and Capt. Ira Munson (probably of the 126th New York Infantry). John Fisk received two letters from Private George Turk of the First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, Company A (June 18, 1864, and July 23, 1864), with content on soldiers' pay, camp life, and augmenting his military wages by chopping cord wood for the railroad in Calhoun, Georgia, and Bridgeport, Alabama.
In the early days of January 1890, Sarah J. and John Chalker moved to the newly organized state of South Dakota and settled on the Bailey Ranch on the Missouri River, near Chamberlain. In three letters to her mother, Sarah described their arrival, their house, the terrible "gumbo" mud, and other aspects of the "disagreeable country." She wrote of a visit with "an old squaw and Indian" for meat and coffee in their teepee near the Bailey Ranch stable--"the old squaw smoked while we was in there. She carried her pipe on her back." After a month, they received fewer visits from Native Americans. In summation, she wrote "Mother, I would not live here and make it my home for all the land in Dakota." John and Sarah returned to live in Putnam, Michigan.
The Documents series includes 10 land indentures dating between 1849 and 1884 (bulk 1849-1851) largely for property in Seneca and Ontario County, New York. Forty-two receipts for John and Judith Fisk's property taxes in Putnam, Michigan, 1865-1892, and John Fisk's Junius, New York, tavern keeper's license (May 1, 1854) complete the series.
The collection's photographs depict the parents of Sarah J. Fisk and of John G. Chalker. One tintype portrait shows John S. and Judith "Judah" Fisk and another tintype shows Abner and Deliah Patterson Chalker.